Rishi Sunak eases residence test rules for highly skilled foreign workers engaged in Covid-19 battle

FILE PHOTO: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. (Photo:HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. (Photo:HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak has temporarily eased the tax criteria for highly skilled foreign workers, including those from India, engaged in the coronavirus fightback.

The chancellor wrote to the House of Commons Treasury Committee on Thursday (9) to announce that the so-called Statutory Residence Test (SRT) will be waived between March 1 and June 1, which means there would be no change in the tax status of international workers joining the British government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“We welcome the expertise and resource from those who wish to come to the UK to combat COVID-19 from anaesthetists through to engineers working on ventilator design and production,” noted the letter.

“Under normal circumstances, the actions and presence of these individuals in the UK could affect their own tax residence status, potentially bringing their global earnings within the purview of the UK taxation.

“We will amend the Statutory Residence Test (SRT) to ensure that any period(s) between March 1 and June 1, 2020 spent in the UK by individuals working on COVID-19 related activities will not count towards the residence tests. It is right that these changes are time limited and only support those people whose skill sets are currently required,” it adds.

The minister said that the measure will provide flexibility and support to those coming to work in the UK to serve the coronavirus fightback, and was required in these “extraordinary circumstances”.

Sunak, however, added that “the qualifying criteria will therefore be designed so that the relaxation of the rules is tightly targeted, minimising the risk of abuse”.

“We will also keep the duration of this measure under review as the situation develops, in line with the other support already provided,” he added.

Sunak, 39, has been leading the UK government’s charge on the economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak and mass social distancing measures, which have put the future of many businesses in disarray.