For those whose visa validity and travel plans have been affected by COVID 19 restrictions, an extra grace period & indemnity has been introduced.
With only two days to spare until the end of July, the Home Office have released their policy update for people in the UK with expiring visas, who are unable to leave due to travel restrictions.
So far, the government had been automatically extending visas expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 through a simplified online application process. With travel restrictions being lifted globally this concession is now coming to an end. Visas will no longer be automatically extended on this basis, instead people are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so or apply to regularise their stay in the UK.
There will however be a ‘grace period’. Those who have previously had their visas extended under the coronavirus concession have until the 31 August 2020 to make necessary arrangements to leave the UK.
During the grace period, the conditions of stay will remain the same. So, if you were previously allowed to work, study, or rent accommodation you may continue to do so until the end of August.
You only need to contact the Home Office if you are unable to leave the UK by 31 August 2020. In this case you can request additional time, called ‘exceptional indemnity’ by contacting the coronavirus immigration team (CIT). The indemnity acts as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired but does not grant you leave. If you need to request exceptional indemnity you will need to provide details of the reason why you are unable to leave the UK and supporting evidence such as a confirmed flight ticket with a date after 31 August 2020 or confirmation of a positive coronavirus test result.
On the face of it, exceptional indemnity seems only to be available to those whose visas expired between 24 January and 31 July.
However, UK Visas & Immigration have confirmed to the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) that it also applies to visas that expire between 1 August and 31 August 2020.
The position on leave expiring after 31 August has not been finalised.
If you intend to stay in the UK long-term
Those who wish to remain in the UK long-term will need to apply for leave to remain and meet the requirements of the route they are applying for.
The terms of their leave will remain the same until their application is decided.
The guidance continues to allow for people to apply in country to switch to a long-term UK visa, including applications where they would normally need to apply for a visa from their home country.
This includes those whose leave has already been extended to 31 July 2020 and the grace period until 31 August 2020, as well as those whose leave expires in August.
If your leave expires after 1 September 2020 you can apply from within the UK where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.
This concession is reserved for urgent cases , when for example you need to start a new job or course of study.
Applicants still need to meet all other requirements of their visa route and pay the relevant fees
Migrate UK can assist with an application for a long-term UK visa.
If you have overstayed your leave
If your visa or leave expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 there will be no future adverse immigration consequences if you did not make an application to regularise your stay during this period. However, you must now do so from 1 August.
Migrate UK can provide advice on how to regularise your stay
Migrate UK has extensive experience in this area of immigration law.
Contact us for free initial advice on 01235 841 568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org