COVID-19: New Home Office guidance extends UK visas to 31 May 2020

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COVID-19: New Home Office guidance extends UK visas to 31 May 2020

Published 25 March 2020

On 24 March 2020, the Home Office issued three new guidance documents which introduce various exceptional measures to help people manage practical difficulties presented by the coronavirus.

No detriment principle

The Home Office has declared that no individual who is in the UK legally will be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future if their visa is due to expire or has already expired and they cannot leave the UK due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus.

The significance of this is not to be underestimated as this policy is likely to impact many applicants for years to come as they accumulate the required time for indefinite leave to remain and British citizenship.

Visa extensions to 31 May 2020

Following on from the initial Home Office guidance which extended some visas to 31 March 2020 (covered in our article of 13 March), new guidance issued yesterday confirms that all visas with an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 will be extended to 31 May 2020 if individuals are not able to leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to the coronavirus.

To benefit from this, individuals will need to contact the Home Office by email at CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk or by phone on 0800 678 1767 and provide the following information:

  • Their full name (including any middle names)
  • Their date of birth
  • Their nationality
  • Their previous visa reference number
  • Why they cannot go back to their home country

Once the request has been made, the Home Office will confirm receipt and confirm again when the visa has been extended. If you have not received these confirmations, please ensure that you contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre on the number above.

Removing the requirement to apply from outside the UK

Until 31 May 2020, the Home Office is removing the requirement to apply from outside the UK where ordinarily an individual would be expected to do so. Applicants will need to meet all the other criteria as usual and pay the relevant fees.

This policy includes individuals whose visa has already been extended to 31 March 2020.

Applicants outside the UK

Many application centres outside the UK are now closed or operating a reduced service. Affected individuals will need to contact TLS contact or VFS global for details of how to progress their applications.

English language testing centres are also placing restrictions and individuals will need to visit the IELTS website for further details on how test centres in their locations are affected.

The Home Office will be able to return documents held by VACs if the courier routes remain open. Those who have not paid for their documents to be returned by courier can contact TLS contact or VFS global in order to have their documents to be returned by courier but will have to pay for this service.

British nationals who are residing overseas and the VAC in their area is closed, can apply for an emergency travel document if they need to travel urgently to the UK.

Sponsors’ reporting requirements

Ordinarily, sponsors would need to report a change to the location at which sponsored migrants are working. However, the Home Office has relaxed this requirement so that sponsors do not have to report if individuals are required to work from home for reasons directly related to the coronavirus.

We will continue to review updates from the Home Office and issue new guidance in due course.

Authors

Shahjahan Ali

Shahjahan Ali

Bristol, London - Walbrook

+44 (0)117 918 2677

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