The following section is for staff who are from overseas. If you are looking for institutional advice on immigration matters, please see the Visa and Immigration section on the ‘Advice for Institutions’ page.

Travelling to the UK

At the moment, the UK border is still open and flights are still operating to the UK. However, this may change at short notice.

From 8 June new rules are in place for entering the UK because of coronavirus. You will:

  • Need to provide your journey and contact details to the Government by way of an online form before you travel to the UK.
  • Remain in self-isolation in the place you are staying for the first 14 days you are in the UK, except in very limited situations.

Further details can be found on the UK border control website.

New starters with UK visas

If you are a new staff member or visitor who has successfully gained a UK visa, you should discuss the best way forward with your line manager. If travel and visa restrictions allow, you should aim to arrive at least 14 days before your agreed start date to allow for a period of self-isolation.  

Where this is not possible, you may need to self-isolate for some or all of the first 14 days of your contract. During this time, you should work from home if you can. 

Alternatively, your line manager may suggest that you either commence work overseas (if immigration rules permit), or delay your start date.


Applying for a visa

Completing the visa process requires you to attend a local Visa Application Centre.

Some of these centres may currently be closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. VFS Global, which runs the Visa Application Centres on behalf of the Home Office, has updates on which centres are currently open or closed.

If you are required to sit an English language test as part of your visa application, be aware that many IELTS centres are also temporarily closed. This may affect your ability to apply for a visa. For further details visit the IELTS website.

If your passport is currently held in a Visa Application Centre which has closed, the Home Office will return passports via courier, where courier return has been requested. This will not be possible in all locations.


Current situation for Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders

The Home Office will not take any compliance action against visa holders who are unable to attend work due to the coronavirus.

However, the University will still need to make notes of reportable events for audit purposes.


If your visa has or is about to expire

If you’re in the UK and your visa expired/expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you are unable to leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). This applies to all nationalities.

If you have already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020 under the previous coronavirus provision, your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.

If you have not yet requested an extension by updating your records with the Home Office, this extension will not be applied automatically. In these circumstances, you must contact the Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) by completing an online form. The Home Office will contact you once your visa has been extended. You will not be required to enrol biometrics or attend any further appointments.

If you meet the visa requirements to make a longer-term visa application, during these exceptional circumstances up until 31 July 2020 you will be able to apply without the need to leave the UK even where this would not usually be possible (for example, switching into another visa category from a visitor visa, which normally could only be done from outside the UK). This includes where your current visa will expire beyond 31 July 2020, provided you apply for the new visa before 31 July 2020.

Please note if you intend on applying for another visa inside the UK, you will have to attend a biometric appointment. All biometric enrolment service points were closed in March owing to the coronavirus outbreak but some centres will start to re-open from the 1 June. The service point in Cambridge Central Library remains closed at this time. The Home Office advises that if the nearest service point is closed you may be offered an appointment in a different location but that you can ask to wait for an appointment at a closer service point if you wish. This will not affect your immigration status.


New process for Right to Work Checks

If you are a new or existing staff member and need to provide evidence for a Right to Work check while working remotely, please see the new procedure:

  • You will need to provide a scanned copy of your passport or visa/Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This can be as simple as taking a photo of it and sending it to your Department.
  • You may have to have a short video call with your Department to determine that you are the rightful holder of the documentation

If you are working from overseas, you will not be required to undergo a Right to Work check. However, if you enter the UK, the above process will need to be followed.


Access to the NHS for visitors to the UK

If you need to access treatment or diagnosis for coronavirus (COVID-19) from the NHS, you will not be charged.

All overseas visitors, including anyone living in the UK without permission, should be aware that:

  • no charges apply to testing for COVID-19, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for COVID-19 if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.
  • NHS trusts have been advised that no immigration checks are required for overseas visitors that are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for COVID-19.

For further advice on this, view the Government’s guidance on NHS entitlements.


Further information

For staff immigration matters, please contact the HR Compliance Team.