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Guidance for Self-Employed UK Visa Holders During Covid-19

The UK Government has imposed a strict lockdown in the country after observing a massive rise in the positive Covid-19 cases. Although there may be a slight easing of the restrictions, the lockdown seems set to continue for several weeks.

A large number of workers, including self-employed individuals and on-job workers, have been affected financially due to the ongoing restrictions.

Thanks to the HMRC Income Support Scheme, self-employed migrants are now eligible to claim a grant of £7500 (taxable) or around 80% of your average monthly income for a 3-month period. Note that non-UK nationals, including those holding the Tier 2 visa, are prohibited from claiming NRPF.

In addition to the HM Revenue & Customs grant scheme introduced on 13 May 2020, there are a number of other key considerations for self-employed workers.

It is, however, important to understand that there are certain criteria to follow to be eligible for this grant. For instance, you must have submitted your tax returns and also traded for 2018/2019.

According to the UK Government, foreign nationals holding a work visa that enables them to be self-employed can obtain relief by accessing this income support scheme.

Eligibility Criteria

The current official guidelines clearly specify that for a foreign national to be eligible, certain criteria must be fulfilled. Also, there is an online tool available that you can use to gauge eligibility.

  • In order to qualify, you must apply personally. The UK Government will not accept third-party applications made on your behalf
  • The applicant must be self-employed or should be a part of the legal partnership in the country
  • Your trade must have been severely affected by the crisis. For instance, you have been advised to go in quarantine, or you are affected by the virus or are feeling unwell
  • You are caring for a dependent family member vulnerable to the virus (for instance, if you have a family member with underlying health conditions)
  • Your business supply chain and day-to-day operations have been severely impacted. Your regular business flow has been affected, or your regular working staff are not able to continue work
  • You must have traded for the tax years 2018-19 and 2019-20. Also, you must be willing to continue business during 2020-21
  • You must have filed tax returns for the year 2018-19 before 23rd April, 2020

You are ineligible to apply if:

  • You failed to submit your tax returns before 23rd April, 2020
  • If you operate through a trust

Required Documents to Make a Claim

Make sure you have all the relevant documents available before you apply for the HMRC grant scheme. These documents include:

  • Your Government Gateway ID. You may need to register yourself for the Government Gateway ID and password if you don’t have an account. Also, if you have forgotten your login information, you can reset credentials to access your account
  • Your self-assessment tax reference, also known as UTR. If you are not aware of this information, you can easily find it on the top right hand corner of any notice sent to you by HMRC
  • Your NI number
  • Sort code & bank account number

Remember, any false claims or misleading information will result in HMRC taking strict action to recover the grant money. This is even applicable if your business has not been impacted by the crisis. HMRC will report any false claim to the UK Visas and Immigration authorities. Also, if there is evidence that you intentionally misled the authorities or deliberately submitted any false/wrong information, any upcoming UK Visa/Citizenship application process will be seriously affected.

To recall, UKVI has refused numerous ILR and British Citizenship applications in the past based on evidence provided by HMRC.

Final Words

The current visa and immigration situation is uncertain during the crisis. The UK work visa holders and those non-UK citizens whose visas are about to expire are particularly confused.

Although the UK Government has announced an extension for Tier 2 visa holders (those working in the healthcare sector), people working in other sectors have been stuck in limbo.

The UK currently has over 269k positive Covid-19 cases with a 37,837 death toll. While this situation is improving with each passing day, it is still not sure when routine immigration process will be resumed.

Those desiring to have updated information about the immigration process and visa extensions should keep themselves updated with the GOV.UK website.

Also, make sure to constantly keep in touch with your immigration lawyer to know more about your options (if you are on a work visa).

Last, but not least, this is a difficult situation not only for the UK but for the entire world. So, make sure you stay patient and follow the government’s guidelines to keep yourself safe.

Feel free to drop your comments/feedback below as we would love to know how you are dealing with the current situation.

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