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Updated Home Office Guidance published 24th March 2020 for those who are unable to leave the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic (24 March 2020)

Date: 24/03/2020
Duncan Lewis, Business Immigration Solicitors, Updated Home Office Guidance published 24th March 2020 for those who are unable to leave the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic



If you are someone who was intending to travel back to your own country but are unable to as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, you might be feeling overwhelmed, worried, and anxious about becoming an ‘over-stayer’ in the UK.

This issue is no longer limited only to Chinese nationals and today, the Home Office has published new guidelines.

If you are in the United Kingdom where your leave expires between 24th January 2020 and 31st May 2020 and you cannot depart due to travel restrictions or self- isolation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic you must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.

You should provide:


  • 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/travel restrictions/self- isolation.


  • The Coronavirus team will then let when your update has been received and when your visa has been extended.

    Where you are applying to stay in the UK long term you can apply from the United Kingdom to switch to a long term visa until the 31st May 2020. It is important to note that you will need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the UK application fee. You will be required to apply even if your visa has already been automatically extended to 31st March 2020.

    We can assist with online applications where the terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided. Please see Home Office guidance for more details.

    Given the implications of becoming an over-stayer, this should be avoided where possible, it is therefore extremely risky not to take any action in the hope that the Home Office will make provisions.

    It is vital to keep the Home Office updated and make them aware of your circumstances by making an application to extend your leave to remain in the UK. One option to do this is to make an application outside the immigration rules, this may allow you to rely on compelling and compassionate factors in order to extend your stay.

    Factors which should be considered following the Home Office guidance include ‘emergency, or unexpected events’ which would cover a crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The evidence needed in support of such an application would include border closures, restrictions on flights, medical evidence, and government advice on self-isolation which would show that it would not be reasonable to leave the UK as originally intended.

    A valid application would need to be made to extend your existing leave. This means that the application must be made with the correct fee and Immigration Health Surcharge.

    After making such an application the Home Office could grant an extended period of leave or defer removal until circumstances have changed.

    If you have any concerns or questions please contact Immigration Director b>Ayan Yalchin on 020 7275 2011 or at ayany@duncanlewis.com.


    Author Ayan Yalchin has is a director in the immigration department at Duncan Lewis Solicitors and has been following the developments surrounding leave to remain and Home Office policy carefully in order to provide the most effective and up-to-date advice and information. Ayan has more than 18 years’ post-qualification experience acting on behalf of businesses and individuals in a variety of immigration related proceedings.



    Duncan Lewis Immigration Solicitors

    Our private and business immigration department is ranked in the 2020 edition of The Legal 500 independent legal directory. As leading immigration specialists we advise on business immigration, right to work in the UK, Tier 2 visa applications, student/ graduate visas, spousal visas and visa overstays.

    Our broad practice provides a full service to SME business clients across the UK in relation to the Points Based System (PBS); Sponsorship license applications and immigration strategy/compliance advice. Our specialist solicitors are also able to advise businesses and individuals on any changes to UK immigration law resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union.


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