This blog entry has been updated to reflect the guidance issued by the Home Office on 6 April 2020, asking individuals who cannot leave the UK because of coronavirus to submit an online form to apply to extend their leave.
On 24 March, the Home Office first published guidance for migrants affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
If your visa expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020
If your visa expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, and you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus, you will be able to apply for an extension.
There are a couple of points to note, however:
- Your visa will not be automatically extended. You must apply for your visa to be extended. The guidance previously asked that you contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team and provide your details and an explanation of why you cannot return to your home country. Starting from 6 April, you should complete and submit a form online, which you can find here. You should then receive an email to confirm your email address. Once you have confirmed your email address, the Home Office should, within 5 working days, confirm to you that your request has been received, and until when your visa has been extended.
- This is a form for those who intended to leave the UK at the end of their stay here. If you always intended to extend your stay in the UK, you should submit the relevant form applicable to your route.
If you wish to remain in the UK long-term
Some applications would usually need to be made from your country of origin. For example, if you are in the UK as a student and wish to apply under the Global Talent category, you would usually need to leave the UK and apply for a Global Talent visa from abroad. Similarly, if you are in the UK as a visitor and wish to apply to remain on the basis of a relationship with a British citizen, you would usually need to leave the UK and apply for a partner visa from your country of origin.
The Home Office guidance confirms that, if your visa expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020, you will be allowed to make such application from within the UK. You will still be expected to pay for your application and show that you meet the relevant immigration requirements. At the moment, such application must be made before 31 May 2020.
If you have reporting conditions
The Home Office has also updated their guidance for those who are required to sign at a Home Office reporting centre on a regular basis. It states that:
Following Public Health England’s advice on coronavirus (COVID-19), the Home Office has decided that reporting as a condition of immigration bail should be temporarily deferred while it reviews how frequently people should report. You will receive an SMS text message soon with details of your next reporting date.
Still many unanswered questions
Overall, this is good news for many migrants in the UK, however a lot of questions remain unanswered. For example, we know that some people are struggling to take English language tests or Life in the UK tests because the centres are closed. We also know that some are worried about losing their jobs and not being able to meet the Immigration Rules of their applications. Others are worried about losing their jobs but not being able to access benefits. We urge the Home Office to issue guidance on this as soon as possible.
In the meantime, if you are concerned about your immigration status in these uncertain and unprecedented times, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.