UK visa extensions for foreign nationals stranded by coronavirus

Sanwar Ali comment:

Being able to extend your UK visa to 31 May 2020 easily, must be an enormous relief to many overseas nationals currently in the UK who will have difficulty travelling out of the UK.  Those who need to extend their visa should contact the UK visa COVID-19 immigration team via this email address CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

In addition many people who would previously have had to leave the UK to apply for a longer term visa can now switch to say a Tier 2 visa from within the UK.  However, detailed information on this is yet to appear on the Government’s website.

The Home Office has announced that UK visas will be extended for people unable to leave the country due to coronavirus. Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said that the measure has been put in place to ‘reassure foreign nationals that their immigration status in the UK is safe’, while allowing those working in vital services to continue doing their work.

It’s understood that the measure will apply to foreign nationals whose UK visa expired on or after 24 January, 2020. Extended visas will be valid until 31 May, but the Home Office has said that this will be reviewed at regular intervals in case further extensions are necessary.

UK visa switching expanded

The Home Office also announced that in-country UK visa switching provisions will be expanded, including Tier 4 visa holders who want to switch to Tier 2 general work visas, to allow people to apply for visas to remain in Britain long-term.  Many people who would normally need to apply for a long term visa from outside the UK can now apply to remain from inside the UK.

The Home Secretary 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.’

Coronavirus travel restrictions around the World

The Home Office’s announcement comes amid worldwide restrictions on commercial flights and cross-border travel.

Meanwhile, the UK government has instructed all British citizens currently on holiday or travelling overseas to return to the country immediately, before it becomes impossible.

Dominic Raab, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, said: ‘Around the world, more airlines are suspending flights and more airports are closing, some without any notice.’

‘Where commercial routes don’t exist, our staff are working round the clock to give advice and support to UK nationals. If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can,’ Raab added.

UK Visa extension applicants expected to return home

Priti Patel did state that anyone contacting the UK Visas and Immigration department for a visa extension will be expected to leave the country as soon as flight and border restrictions around the world are lifted. The Home Secretary added that people contacting the Home Office to extend visas will face no immigration enforcement.  This is obviously not relevant for those who apply for long term visas.

It’s understood that the Home Office has set up a dedicated coronavirus immigration team to help expired UK visa holders extend their visas as easily as possible.

The coronavirus death toll in the UK has now risen to 422 and as of 24 March, there were 1,400 new cases confirmed, bringing the overall total to 8,077.

The latest figures represent the biggest daily increase in deaths and new cases in the UK so far. However, experts have warned that the UK is still two to three weeks away from the disease reaching its peak.

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has urged the British public to stay at home, unless going to the shops to buy necessary supplies, doing their once-daily permitted exercise, providing care to vulnerable people or travelling to essential work. Gatherings of two or more people have also been banned, unless they’re family members or meeting as part of work.

Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions

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