My visa is about to expire, can I apply to extend it?
Yes, you should submit a new visa application before your current visa expires.
The visa application is a two stage process:
- First you submit the online application and pay the fee
- Second you attend a visa application centre to enrol your biometrics and verify your passport.
Submitting a valid online application before your current visa expires secures your right to continue living and working in the UK, even after your current visa has expired.
Visa application centres across the world have been closed due to covid19 but are now mostly re-open to enable you to book an appointment to complete your application, albeit some are experiencing a backlog of applications.
It is envisaged that employees of organisations falling into the first two categories set out above and won’t be eligible for the job retention scheme in relation to the majority of their employees. It is envisaged that NHS Trusts for example are going to require their staff to be working at full capacity where possible. However, the guidance doesn’t definitely exclude public sector organisations from furloughing employees and notably the government expects such organisations to use public money to continue to pay staff and not furlough them, rather than say requires. In reality, it is difficult to see how such an organisation will be able to rely on the scheme, but the guidance doesn’t completely rule it out.
The government has also confirmed it will match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser on 23 April – pledging a minimum of £20 million.
You had until 23 April 2020 to submit your return in order to be considered for eligibility.
This is critical. The guidance remains clear – IF YOU CAN WORK FROM HOME YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO DO SO. Bringing people back into work unnecessarily is a big mistake.
Think about how many employees should physically return to the workplace – the fewer the people on site, the lower the risk AND the less pressure on public transport.
Employers will need to be very careful to recognise workers in vulnerable groups or who develop or live in a household with someone who develops symptoms of Covid-19 – again, look at government guidelines. You should understand that this will mean a higher number of staff absences and consider how this might be managed.
Look to keep smaller teams of workers together, minimise physical meetings and if you MUST have them, keep them short and under 15 minutes. Be imaginative – use online platforms like Teams and Zoom wherever you can.
During these unusual times, we are all having to adapt to what has become the ‘new normal’ and implement changes in how we carry out civil cases. If you are to give evidence in a remote hearing, whether this is by Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business or the Cloud Video Platform, we have pulled together a quick and useful guide below on what would be expected by the courts:
Before the hearing
- Make sure that you have access to the video-conferencing software that will be needed for the hearing. We will tell our clients and their witnesses in advance which platform will be used. The courts have increasingly been using Skype for Business to conduct the hearings (but you may find other platforms being used)
- Test that your camera and microphone are working and it is clear to see/hear you.
- Dress appropriately, as if it was an in-person hearing, and use the same formalities.
- Ensure that the background which is visible on your screen is appropriate and allows for your face to be clearly seen. A ‘blur background’ option may also be available on your settings which you may prefer.
- Make sure that your mobile phone is on silent and you are in a location where there will be no/minimal distractions. You should be on your own in a room when giving evidence, however, as we have all experienced with working from home, sometimes interruptions such as children appearing cannot be avoided.
- Join the call ahead of the allocated time, in order to allow for any small technical difficulties.
During the hearing
- Have a copy of the hearing bundle to hand, so that you can follow the proceedings (this may be in hard copy or soft copy). You are not allowed any other notes or papers, whether hard copy or electronic, in front of you when giving evidence.
- Unless addressing the Judge or you have been directly asked a question, keep your microphone muted.
- When giving evidence, you must make sure both your camera and your microphone are switched on.
- Remote hearings can be difficult and if you do not understand or you do not hear a question properly, then do ask for the question to be repeated/re-framed.
- You should not move away from the screen without permission from the Judge. The Judge will allow time for breaks.
- Address the judiciary and other advocates the same way as you would if you were in a physical courtroom.
- It is permitted to drink water throughout the hearing, but mugs of tea and/or coffee are probably best avoided. It is also not permitted to eat food during the hearing.
- Don’t panic if someone walks into the room or the dog starts barking because there is a knock at the door. Judges are only too aware about what might happen. Communication is key and if the interruption has interfered with your train of thought or the evidence you are giving then do say so.
- Be aware that all evidence is recorded and that a transcript of all evidence can be obtained at a later date.