The Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on 24 March 2020 that visa nationals who cannot return home due to covid-19 pandemic can extend their stay in the UK until 31 May 2020 and it will be subject to reviews depending on travel restrictions and country conditions. Please see the government website for more information.
The Home Office has now established a dedicated covid-19 team to assist with the applications.
To help those who want to apply for visas to stay in the UK long-term, the Home Office is also temporarily expanding the in-country switching provisions.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“The UK continues to put the health and wellbeing of people first and nobody will be punished for circumstances outside of their control.
“By extending people’s visas, we are giving people peace of mind and also ensuring that those in vital services can continue their work.”
Visa Holders in the UK
No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to covid-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future.
A visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if an individual cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (covid-19).
Workers in the UK
We are aware that many workers sponsored under the Tiers 2 and 5 immigration routes are now working from home rather than their normal workplace due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tiers 2 and 5 sponsors are normally required to notify the Home Office of such changes of circumstances. However, due to the current exceptional situation, the Home Office will not require sponsors to do so if working from home is directly related to the pandemic. Other changes must still be reported as usual.
Students in the UK
Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies. Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship in these circumstances. If a student has permanently withdrawn from, or formally deferred, their studies, the usual reporting requirements apply.
New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.
New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.
Can an individual now apply to switch visa types in the UK?
They will be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa, including if they would usually need to apply for a visa from their home country. They will need to meet
the same visa requirements and pay the UK application fee. This includes those whose leave has been automatically extended to 31 March 2020.
Those that wish to switch visa types should apply online. They should select a biometric submission appointment to attend in line with public health guidance. The terms of their leave will remain the same until their application is decided.
They will not be regarded as an overstayer or be subject to enforcement action if you are unable to attend a biometric appointment due to coronavirus or if there are delays in processing your application.
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.
If you have any question or would like assistance please contact our immigration directors Tamana Aziz, Vicash Ramkissoon, and Ayan Yalchin.
Contact Tamana Aziz on 0203 114 1130 or 0792 077 022, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Vicash Ramkissoon on 0203 114 1105 or 07920 077 012, or at email@example.com
Contact Ayan Yalchin on 0207 275 2011 or 07920 077 045, or at firstname.lastname@example.org