The Home Office has confirmed that UK visa holders currently unable to leave the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak can apply to have their visas extended until 31 July 2020.
This is a further extension on the previous extended date of 31 May 2020. If you have already applied to have your visa extended to 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.
How to extend your UK visa temporarily
The rule will apply if you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, but you are unable to return home due to travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus.
For the extension to be applied, and if you have not already applied to extend to the 31 May, you will need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to update your records: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
You will be asked to provide basic information, including your name, date of birth, nationality and visa reference number. You will also have to confirm the reason why you are unable to leave the UK, such as flight cancellations or border restrictions.
You will then receive official confirmation of your visa extension.
In a Home Office statement, Priti Patel stated no immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time for those who apply for the extension as above.
However, those whose visas are extended under the coronavirus provisions will be expected to leave the UK as soon as possible once travel and border restrictions are lifted.
The Home Office will continue to assess the situation and this initial period may be subject to further extension if required.
The Home Office is also making allowances for individuals who would ordinarily have to leave the UK to make an application to switch into a long term visa category, such as the Tier 2 General visa. This concession will apply until 31 July 2020.
Applicants must continue to meet the eligibility requirements of the new route and pay the relevant application fee.
Note that processing may take longer as the Home Office deals with the operational pressures of the coronavirus crisis.
30-day vignette expiring
In its latest guidance, the Home Office has advised what to do if a 30-day visa vignette has expired or is about to expire.
Where a 30-day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, the individual can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.
To make a request, the applicant should contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. They will need to include their name, nationality, date of birth and GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. Any applicant who has already contacted the CIHC about this issue should state that in their email.
The applicants will be contacted when the VAC centres reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in their passport.
The guidance also confirms that migrants will not be penalised for being unable to collect their BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.
This measure will be in place until the end of 2020.
If you work for the NHS
Eligible frontline health workers and their families will be given a 1-year extension to their visa for free.
To qualify for the extension:
- your visa must be due to expire before 1 October 2020 and
- you must work for the NHS or an independent healthcare provider in an eligible profession.
Eligible professions include, among others, dental practitioners, health professionals, medical practitioners, medical radiographers, midwives, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics.
If applicable, the visa will be applied automatically from the date your visa is due to expire. Your family members’ visas will also be extended to the same date as yours if their visas are also due to expire before 1 October 2020.
If your visa is due to expire after 1 October 2020, the COVID-19 rule does not apply and you will need to apply to extend your leave in the usual way.
Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions relating to your immigration status or that of any of your employees in the UK.