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Updated 3 weeks ago

In this article, we try to outline the changes you should expect when moving to England after the COVID-19 crisis: visa changes, the labour market, healthcare, property, etc.

What are the current regulations for entering England?

Current regulations depend on where you are travelling from. Visitors and residents travelling to the UK are required to provide their journey and contact details upon arrival. Failing to provide this can result in a fine. Self-isolation is also compulsory during the first 14 days in the UK. Anyone refusing to self isolate is liable to a fine of £1,000. However, travellers from Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and a number of counties, territories and countries are exempt from this requirement. Find more information here.

Have there been visa changes recently?

Whether you are looking to start a new job or a new study program, or you are about to switch to a new profession and are not able to apply for a visa from overseas due to current travel restrictions, you can still apply in the UK. You also have to get a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). If you are an entrepreneur on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa and your business has been disrupted due to the COVID-19 crisis, you are exempt from the obligation of employing at least 2 people for the next 12 consecutive months. During that period, you can have a single employee performing different jobs. In case you haven't been able to employ anyone during these 12 months, and your visa expires, you will be eligible for a temporary visa extension until you meet all requirements. If you have applied for a Tier 4 visa, you can start your studies or course until a decision had been taken regarding your application, provided you have a Tier 4 sponsor, you have received a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS), you have applied before your current visa expires and the course is the same as stated on your CAS. However, you will have to quit if your application has been rejected. Those who have applied for a Tier 2 or 5 visa can start working until their visa application has been processed, provided they have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), have applied before their current visa expired and the job is the same as the one indicated on their CoS. But they will also have to quit in case their application is rejected. Regarding health workers, some of them will get their visa extended automatically due to the COVID-19 crisis, and this also applies to their family members. For visas expiring after October 1st, 2020, a new application for extension has to be made. Besides, earlier this year, the UK announced extensive changes to work visas post-January 1st; 2021. Basically, all nationals will now have to meet the same standards. You will find more information here.

Is it easy to find work in England following the crisis?

Currently, some 7.6 million jobs, that is around 24% of the workforce are at risk due to COVID-19-related issues. As at April 2020, nearly 22% of the active population had been temporarily laid off, even though many sectors are benefiting from government support. Accommodation, food, retail and wholesale, construction, and arts and entertainment are some of the most vulnerable sectors. It would be fair to say that unless you have a key skill that's currently in high demand, finding a job in the UK after the crisis isn't going to be easy.

How has the British healthcare system performed in light of the crisis?

Taking into account the drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, it would be wise to say that the UK's National Health Service (NHS) performed relatively well during the crisis. Today, virtual consultations are the new norm, whether to contact your GP, order repeat prescriptions, manage long-term health conditions, enquire about dental treatment or maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing. This had been largely accepted by the population as going to the hospital is currently recommended in case of serious emergency or illness. Still, the NHS is facing a shortage of doctors and nurses. At the same time, the emergency hospitals that have been built during the crisis have remained largely unused. However, you should expect longer waiting lists, deprioritisation of non-urgent procedures, and find it harder to get routine appointments after the COVID-19 crisis.

Has anything changed regarding universities and schools?

Schools are aiming at fully reopening in September 2020. Also, when all of them reopen, teachers will be required to keep classes or year groups in separate bubbles. Regarding universities, the next student intake is scheduled for September/October 2020 as planned, and applications are being processed as normal. While distance learning has become the new norm, as in many countries, many universities in the UK are looking to offer in-person teaching and sports and other activities to students at the start of the next semester, while following social distancing guidelines. Many universities are also considering other ways to provide education, especially for students who are unable to join in September, like starting some key subjects in January 2021.

How is the real estate market following the crisis?

The year 2020 already started in uncertainty for the UK property market following the Brexit, so it's clear that the COVID-19 crisis had an additional impact. With current border restrictions, students and professionals are unable to settle in England, which means that a number of properties are not finding renters or buyers. Add to that the number of people who left the UK before the lockdown. You can, therefore, expect a greater housing supply when moving to the UK after the crisis, which also suggests price drops. Knight Frank research, for example, predicts a 3% price drop until the end of 2020 followed by a 5% rise in 2021. Besides, a recent rumour hinting that the government was about to cancel stamp-duty on top-end house purchases, has contributed to the collapse of the expensive housing market. Hence, such housing is probably not the best place to invest in at the moment.

Has the cost of living changed because of the crisis in England?

According to the Mercer Cost of living report, London is among the world's most expensive cities, so even more with the COVID-19 crisis. Obviously, the cost of living depends on the city you're living in. In general, prices have increased all across the country, and there have been shortages due to consumers' panic buying during the lockdown. The shelves in the supermarket are still not as full as before, but the prices have remained high, especially when it comes to food. Also, pubs have increased their prices after reopening. Currently, according to Expatistan, the cost of living is around £2,249 per month for a single person and around £3,803 per month for a family of four. On the other hand, housing prices are expected to fall significantly in the coming months.

How about the lifestyle in England? Have there been major changes in habits following the sanitary crisis?

As with anything else, it depends on where you live. It's quite common to see people in the cities going about wearing personal protective equipment. In the countryside, especially in areas that had very little exposure to COVID-19, people tend to live as before. That being said, more people are now working from home, and they generally tend to wash their hands much more. Also, social distancing has become the new norm. When using public transportation in the UK, the law requires you to wear a face-mask. If you don't wish to wear a mask, you can just walk.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.