Measures announced over recent weeks to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) have seen people’s day to day life be drastically altered. These changes are essential to beat coronavirus and protect our NHS.
The government acknowledges that the order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is unacceptable in any situation, no matter what stresses you are under.
For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you. Guidance is also available to help perpetrators change their behaviour.
The government supports and funds a number of charities who are able to provide advice and guidance and we are in regular contact with the charity sector and the police to ensure that these support services remain open during this challenging time.
Domestic abuse is more than physical violence. It can also include, but is not limited to:
If you believe you are being abused, or worried you may commit domestic abuse, please use the following services which can help you.
If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of domestic abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police - the police will continue to respond to emergency calls
If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones. They can also be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247. The website also has a form through which women can book a safe time for a call from the team.
Womens Aid has provided additional advice specifically designed for the current coronavirus outbreak, including a live chat service.
The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. It can be contacted on 0808 8010327.
New public health regulations will strengthen enforcement powers to reduce the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.
Published 26 March 2020
The government has today (26 March 2020) made new public health regulations strengthening police enforcement powers in England, to reduce the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.
To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, from today, if members of the public do not comply the police may:
Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.
However, in the first instance the police will always apply their common sense and discretion.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
The Prime Minister has been clear on what we need to do: stay at home to protect our NHS and save lives. All our frontline services really are the best of us and are doing an incredible job to stop this terrible virus from spreading.
That’s why I’m giving the police these new enforcement powers, to protect the public and keep people safe.
In addition to the new powers, a package of support has been unveiled to boost police resources.
Around 1,500 additional police officers have already joined forces across England and Wales since September 2019 as a result of the police recruitment campaign.
Today, the government is leading by example and will ensure that existing Civil Servants who are already volunteering as Special Constables are able to assist in the national effort to the greatest extent possible.
Additionally, in recognition of their value and expertise and in order to increase capacity and resilience, the government has committed to relaxing tax and pensions rules which could deter officers nearing retirement and those recently retired from returning to serve.
The government is also speaking to the Security Industry Authority about what more they can do to encourage the private security sector to support the national response.
The Home Office has been working with police and fire services to understand their requirements for Personal Protective Equipment over the coming months. The National Police Chiefs’ Council has confirmed that police currently have a good supply and they are overseeing distribution to forces but the government will continue to work with them to ensure that emergency service workers can get the equipment they need, when they need it, in order to carry out their jobs safely.
Individuals will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
Participating in gatherings of more than two people in public spaces is also not permitted except in very limited circumstances, for example, where it is for essential work purposes.
You do not need to withdraw sponsorship for new students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but are distance learning because they have been unable to travel to the UK.
New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course by distance learning do not require sponsorship under Tier 4. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK.
You do not need to tell the Home Office when students have moved to distance learning.
These arrangements will apply until 31 May, when they will be reviewed.
You do not have to notify us if you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home due to coronavirus.
Other changes to their working arrangements must still be reported as usual.
Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.
You should provide:
We’ll let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.
During these unique circumstances you’ll be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.
You’ll need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the UK application fee.
This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020.
You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.
UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
You cannot book an appointment.
If you’ve already made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS service point, or a Service and Support Centre (SSC), you’ll be contacted and told what to do next.
Your immigration status will not be negatively affected as a result of you not being able to attend an appointment.
Many UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed or offering limited services. For advice on visa services in your country, contact:
In some areas the UK cannot send visa vignettes across some borders and routes due to border restrictions.
If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.
English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre for more information.
If you’ve paid for courier return, your passport will be returned if courier routes remain open.
If your passport is currently held in a VAC and you would like it to be returned by courier, please contact either TLS contact or VFS global directly if you haven’t already paid for courier return.
We will prioritise the return of all documents once VACs are open.
If your country‘s VAC is closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport. If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you can apply for an emergency travel document.
Leave extended to 31 May for individuals who are currently unable to return home at the end of their visa.
Published 24 March 2020
Visa nationals who cannot return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to extend their visa.
The extension, announced today (24 March) by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.
This will last until 31 May but will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed.
A dedicated COVID-19 immigration team has been set up within UKVI to make the process as straightforward as possible. Anyone in this situation just needs to contact this team, via this email address CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk, to let them know their visa has expired and they will be issued with an extension.
To help those who want to apply for visas to stay in the UK long-term, the Home Office is also temporarily expanding the in-country switching provisions.
This will mean people can apply to switch routes, such as from Tier 4 (student) to Tier 2 (General Worker), whilst remaining in the UK. UKVI will continue to process applications as quickly as possible, however some applications may take longer than usual due to COVID-19 related operational pressures.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
The UK continues to put the health and wellbeing of people first and nobody will be punished for circumstances outside of their control.
By extending people’s visas, we are giving people peace of mind and also ensuring that those in vital services can continue their work.
Many foreign nationals have found themselves unable to return home since the outbreak of COVID-19 due to flight cancellations and border restrictions.
The extension has been put in place to give these individuals peace of mind that they will not be penalised for overstaying their visa when the situation is out of their control due to COVID-19.
Those who contact the Home Office for these visa extensions will be expected to return to their home countries as soon as possible once flight and border restrictions are lifted. No immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time for those who email the Home Office as outlined above.
In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is also waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors, such as allowing non-EU nationals here under work or study routes to undertake their work or study from home.