Overseas nationals who cannot return home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be able to extend their visa until the end of July to give them peace of mind that they can stay in the UK until they are able to return home safely.
The extension will last until 31 July and will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.
While the government has offered this extension to help those who are unable to get home prior to 31 July, those currently in the UK on temporary visas, such as visitor visas, should return home as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
By extending people’s visas further, we are giving them peace of mind that they are able to stay in the UK until the end of July if they are unable to leave the country safely.
This is one of a number of unprecedented measures the government has made to support people during this time, however, as we begin a cautious return to normality those currently in the UK on expired visitor visas should return home as soon as possible.
Today’s announcement builds on the previous extension which lasts until of 31 May, and ensures people who are not able to leave the UK are not impacted by circumstances outside of their control.
A dedicated coronavirus immigration team is continuing to work with individuals to make the process as straightforward as possible. Anyone in this situation, who has not contacted them already, just needs to contact the team via an online form to let them know their visa has expired and they will be issued with an extension.
To help those who want to apply for visas to stay in the UK long-term, the Home Office is also extending the in-country switching provisions until 31 July.
This will mean people can apply to switch into long-term routes whilst remaining in the UK. UKVI will continue to process applications as quickly as possible, however some applications may take longer than usual due to coronavirus related operational pressures.
Many foreign nationals have found themselves unable to return home since the outbreak of coronavirus due to flight cancellations and border restrictions.
Those who contact the Home Office for these visa extensions will be expected to return to their home countries as soon as possible once flight and border restrictions are lifted. No immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time for those who email the Home Office as outlined above.
In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is also waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors, such as allowing non-EU nationals here under work or study routes to undertake their work or study from home.