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Dealing with Work Absences Caused by The Coronavirus Pandemic - Tier 2/4/5

The breakout of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has caused a major global disruption that has affected lives daily. While the headlines will rightly be dedicated to the victims of the virus, there are effects that will be felt in the daily lives of many of us for some time to come. Some of the most significantly affected areas are education, employment, and the economy. While these areas affect almost everyone, one set of people who may be more worried than most are those in the UK on a visa.

In order for the virus to pass swiftly, it is necessary for many businesses and education establishments to put their activities on hold or greatly reduce them. All educational establishments have been closed and a number of businesses have chosen to furlough their staff. If these changes have affected you then you may be concerned as to the effect that these drastic moves have had on your ability to remain in the UK.

In this article, we will have a look at the knock-on effects of the Coronavirus outbreak on migrants currently residing in the UK on one of the country's visa routes.

Tier 2 Visa Migrants

Many Tier 2 General Visa holders are likely to be affected by the government's newly introduced Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which allows companies to furlough staff to reduce wage expenditure during this pandemic and ensure that staff receive up to 80% of their wages while away from work. Due to the rapid economic slowdown, many businesses throughout the country have chosen to use the scheme to protect jobs for the long-term, while reducing costs. Of course, with time away from work comes the worry over absences and wages, a major condition attached to the Tier 2 General Visa is that staff absences must be managed and that Tier 2 General Visa holders must maintain a specified salary.

So far, the guidance released at this stage shows that Tier 2 General Visa holders will not have their absence from work held against them due to the outbreak. All we'd advise is that companies keep their Sponsor Management System up to date with the details of the visa holder's absence and the reasoning for it. By doing this, you can ensure that you have kept your records up to date, and satisfy the current recommendations. What is less clear is the situation on furloughing Tier 2 General Visa holders. Fortunately, guidance has been released in the last few days that confirms that Tier 2 General Visa holders are eligible to be furloughed. Though, frustratingly there has been no guidance as to whether the drop in wage should be reported. We believe that it is prudent to update your Sponsor Management System to reflect the wage change, and note that it is related to the government-backed scheme.

Will my absence be held against me if I’m stuck abroad?

Another potential issue for a Tier 2 General Visa holder is if they are stuck abroad. Many countries around the globe do not allow citizens to move freely, and even when they can, there are so few flights that people cannot get home while most country’s borders are closed. In this instance, it is advisable to communicate this to your employer if you are stuck abroad, so the Sponsor Management System can be updated to reflect that your absence is related to the Coronavirus outbreak. If the guidance remains the same, as a visa holder you will not have your absence held against you.

Tier 4 Student Visa Holders

With all of the UK’s educational establishments closed, it is currently impossible for students to study at their sponsor’s education establishment in a physical capacity. There are also several factors that have affected the Tier 4 Student Visa route. Below we have addressed some of the different scenarios to help you to understand your rights according to the guidance released by the home office.

Students Currently Studying In The UK

  • If you are currently in the UK then you will be able to continue to study if your educational establishment offers distance learning options. While you cannot normally take on a distance learning course, as long as you are already in the UK on a Tier 4 Student visa, or are abroad and wish to continue your studies, you will be permitted to do so via distance learning.
  • You are permitted to leave the UK early and return at a later date to continue your studies as long as you have consulted your educational establishment. You will need to return to the UK before your visa expires.
  • If your visa is due to expire between the 24th of January 2020 and the 31st of May, you will be offered a free extension until the 31st of May. This will prevent those currently unable to leave the country from being considered an overstayer.
  • Though you are not likely to be currently studying, you must still follow the specific guidance on working.

As mentioned earlier, Tier 4 students can continue with distance learning if their educational system offers such options. Educational sponsors do not need to withdraw their sponsorship if students are unable to attend for more than 60 days. But in a case where a student quits the course altogether, educational sponsors are expected to report this issue as usual.

What can I do if I have my visa to study in the UK but cannot travel?

If you have received approval for your visa but cannot travel to the UK at this time then you are able to start learning with your provider in a distance capacity (usually online) and travel to the UK at a later date. It is important that you maintain regular contact with your sponsor educational establishment to ensure that they have not withdrawn your sponsorship due to your inability to make it to the UK to enroll.

Currently, there are few options for those who have not yet received a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) or a Tier 4 Student Visa. As many visa agencies around the world are currently closed (as well as the educational establishments themselves), it will be very difficult to get a visa to come to the UK to study in the near future. We will keep you updated on the situation as things become clearer.

Tier 5 Migrants

Tier 5 Visa holders are also likely to be heavily affected by the economic changes inflicted by the spread of COVID-19. Recent guidance updates have finally confirmed that Tier 5 Visa holders (like Tier 2 General Visa holders) are eligible for the government-backed Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This means that employers can furlough these staff members and claim up to 80% to cover their salary costs (up to a maximum of £2,500). The guidance also specifies that Tier 5 Visa holders can work from home (if that option is available) and that this change of workplace will not need to be reported if it is related to the outbreak (removing the necessity of reporting such a change within 10 days).

The Home Office has also reported that it will not pursue sponsors who allow extended absences to sponsored staff due to the outbreak. This is whether the absence is paid or not, and whether the visa holder is sick, self-isolating, or stuck outside of the country. In these cases, the sponsor does not need to withdraw their sponsorship or report the absence. It is hoped that these changes will encourage businesses to take a long-term view, and protect jobs for when things return to some level of normality.

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O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee...

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Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A mas...

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Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigrat...

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Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija ...

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Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into st...

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Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy. As a family, we...

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Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva th...

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Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recomme...

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Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listen...

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Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter a...

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Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled ...

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Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration...

Read More

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They ac...

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Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the a...

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Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

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Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my expe...

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Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a ...

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Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused...

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Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people....

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