Further update – Coronavirus (COVID-19) and UK immigration

25th March 2020

Following our previous update on non-EEA nationals who have been impacted by Covid-19, the Home Office on 24 March updated their guidance. All non-EEA nationals who are presently in the UK and whose leave has expired or will be expiring but are unable to leave due to the impacts of the Coronavirus, will be able to request an extension of their visa from the Home Office. The guidance states, ‘if you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, 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).’ The Home Office have confirmed in their factsheet that this same group of affected individuals will not be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future.

Unfortunately, it does not appear leave will automatically be granted and as a starting point, those affected will need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team and provide the following details so that electronic records held by UK Visas and Immigration can be updated:

  • Your full name (include any middle names)
  • Date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Nationality
  • Your previous visa reference number
  • Why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

Individuals will be informed by the relevant department once your request has been safely received and your details updated to reflect your new visa extension date.

Individuals applying to remain in the UK long-term

The same guidance document also states that until 31 May 2020, individuals will be able to switch to a long-term UK visa providing they ‘meet the same visa requirements pay the UK application fee’. Unfortunately, no further information has been provided by the Home Office on exactly what type of applications will be covered and what process should be followed; whether an individual who cannot sit an English language test will be exempt from the requirement etc. We are continuing to obtain clarification from the Home Office on many unanswered questions but considering how busy that department is during this crisis, it may be some time before we get a response. We are continuing to monitor the situation carefully and will provide updates as and when announcements are made.

The above arrangements apply initially until 31 May 2020.

We appreciate these are uncertain times and those whose immigration status may be affected will be anxious for a resolution or at least clarification.  Any individuals or organisations who are seeking assistance on specific immigration matters or who need assistance with making a visa application or applying for a Sponsor Licence should contact our Head of Business Immigration, Sundeep Rathod.