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UK immigration: COVID-19, furlough and your immigration status

(Partner Content) The COVID-19 pandemic is currently causing a lot of distress to migrants in the UK. Many people are unsure what the effect will be on their UK immigration status.


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At Breytenbachs we are doing all we can to source information from the Home Office and our professional bodies, in order to provide readers with official confirmation.

In this article, we will look at some of the most pressing issues, including furlough for migrant workers and not being able to find work as an ancestral worker.  

Furlough and sponsored workers 

Breytenbachs is delighted to bring some good news for Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsored workers. Many of these workers are being put on the Job Retention Scheme by their employers. The concern for many workers is whether being put on the Job Retention Scheme, or furlough, will be considered as a public fund. This concern is due to the fact that these types of visas explicitly state that people on these visas do not have recourse to public funds. 

Fortunately, the No Recourse to Public Funds Network (NRFP) has provided confirmation in this regard. The following assistance can be claimed by persons who do not have recourse to public funds for immigration purposes. 

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  • Contributory-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 
  • Wages paid via the Job Retention Scheme – better known as furlough 

Sponsors of Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders can temporarily reduce the pay of their employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is lower. However, these reductions must be part of the company-wide policy, in order to avoid redundancies. All workers must be treated the same. The reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to previous levels once these arrangements have ended. 

Ancestral workers and furlough 

If you are in the UK as a UK Ancestry visa holder, and placed on furlough, this will not have an effect on your immigration status. The same rules as for the Tier 2 and Tier 5 workers apply. Furlough is not classified as ‘public fund’ for immigration purposes. Therefore, being on furlough will not have an impact on your future ILR application under the UK Ancestry category. 

If someone is on furlough, he/she remains a worker. 

Ancestral workers not being able to find work because of COVID-19

We also had queries from Ancestry visa holders who are in the unfortunate position of not being able to find work during the COVID-19 pandemic. These persons are worried about whether this could affect their UK immigration status. The UK Ancestry visa rules states that you must “intend to take or seek work in the UK.” Therefore, if a UK Ancestry visa holder has been seeking work, but not able to find work for a period of time, due to the COVID-19 crisis, they would still be meeting the basic requirement of the Ancestry visa route. 

Breytenbachs recommends that you retain evidence of the job-seeking undertaken during this period, so that you can evidence that your intention to work was there. 

For more answers to your FAQ on COVID-19 and your UK immigration status, please check our website at bic-immigration.com/immigration-news/faq-covid-19/

To arrange a consultation with Breytenbachs to discuss your immigration matter, please contact us at info@bic-immigration.com or visit our website at www.bic-immigration.com You are also welcome to fill out the form below. 

Please note that the information in this article does not constitute professional advice. It is provided for general information purposes, without giving any warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.