Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Visa applications still accepted in the UK till 31 October 2020

Updated: Sep 23



Updated on 23 September 2020


If you wish to apply for leave to remain in any visa category

If your visa/leave expires between 1 September 2020 and 31 October 2020 and you intend to apply for a visa/leave to remain in the UK, then you can submit the application from within the UK, where you usually you need to apply for the visa from your home country.


The Home Office has stated that you need to show a reason to file the application within the UK, for example you are required to start a new job or you are required to start a course of study.


However, from our experience, for all the applications that we have filed, the Home Office has exercised discretion in favour of the applicant and have accepted the application. Hence, in practice, it seems the Home Office are broadly accepting all in-country switching applications. It is always advisable to have some evidence of the urgency.


Please see below a copy of our successful switching application filed from within UK wherein the Home Office exercised discretion in our client's favour and approved the application (see the last paragraph on "Decision on Discretion factors")


Successful Approval allowing switch with
.
Download • 134KB

If you wish to leave the UK and are not able to leave the UK and your visa/leave/exceptional assurance expires between 1 September 2020 and 31 October 2020, then you should apply to the CIT and request additional time, know as 'Exceptional Assurance'. (see details below: How do I apply for Exceptional Assurance? )


Also, if you have already applied for exceptional assurance and have been granted exceptional assurance, and you are unable to return by that date, then you should reapply with the last 7 days. For example, if you have been granted exceptional assurance till 31 October 2020 and you are unable return by 31 October, then you should submit another exceptional assurance application with evidence, between 25 October to 31 October. (see details below: How do I apply for Exceptional Assurance?)


See Example of an Exceptional Assurance letter below:



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New Guidance - 29 July 2020

The Home Office has provided a grace period till 31 August 2020 to allow individuals to either leave the UK or to apply for another visa from within the UK.


If you wish to apply for leave to remain in any visa category, you should file an application latest by 31 August 2020.

  • For example, if you are on a visit visa or any other visa in the UK (including if your visa has been extended due to Coronavirus) and you want to apply for a Family Route Visa(Spouse, Unmarried Partner, Civil Partner, Fiance, Fiancee, Parent, Child, etc.), Tier 2 visa, Tier 4 visa, etc., you can file the new visa application from within the UK up to 31 August 2020.

  • Further, if there are any exceptional circumstances, you may also be able to file your new visa application beyond 31 August 2020, however, you will have to produce evidence regarding the exceptional circumstances and have detailed legal representations. The Home Office will consider matters on a case by case basis.

We have helped many clients to switch into various categories of visas from within the UK using the Covid-19 exemption and have saved our clients considerable costs and stress of applying the visas from outside the UK. If you are planning to apply for any visa from within the UK, please fill our contact form , you may also consider booking a paid 30 minute video consultation


If you wish to leave the UK, then you can leave the UK latest by 31 August 2020, you do not have to inform the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT)


If you wish to leave the UK and are not able to leave the UK latest by 31 August 2020, then you should email the CIT at CIH@homeoffice.go.uk and request additional time.

In the email, you will have to provide detailed reasons as to why you are not able to leave the UK and also provide any supporting documents such as:

  • if the borders of your home country are still closed, then a copy of the Government website which confirms that

  • if there are no flights available to your home country, then you need explain the efforts you have made to book the flight and any evidence (emails, webpage copies, etc.)

  • if you tried, but you were unable to book a flight latest by 31 August 2020 and you were able to book a flight at a later date then you should email a copy of the confirmed flight booking with a date after 31 August 2020

  • if you tested positive for Coronavirus, then you should provide evidence of a positive coronavirus test result.

What is Exceptional Indemnity?

The additional time, if granted, is called as 'exceptional indemnity'. Please note that the Exceptional Indemnity does not extend your visa, it only acts as a temporary short-term protection against any adverse action by Home Office, such as administrative removal from the UK.

If you are unable to return latest by 31 August 2020, then it is advisable that you should apply for the exceptional indemnity, it will help with future immigration applications that you tried to regularise your stay by applying for the exceptional indemnity. It is always better to have clean records with UK Home Office, if you foresee coming to the UK in future.

If you wish to apply for Exceptional Indemnity and wish to take our legal advice and/or representation please fill our contact form , you may also consider booking a paid 30 minute video consultation


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Previous guidance:

The Home office has published its latest guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents, below are the important points to note:


The main difference between previous guidance(extension upto 31 March 2020) and this one is as follows:

  1. If you have already applied and received the extension upto 31 May 2020, then the Home Office will automatically extend your visa till 31 July 2020.

  2. If you were unable to return to your home country and hence you requested the Covid-19 extension, then you should return as soon as it is safe and possible for you to do so, which implies that if there are any flights available to your home country and you are able to travel considering your health, then you should return as soon as possible, even if you have already received extension till 31 July 2020. From this new guidance, it implies that the Home Office may ask for reasons and evidence for any overstay which was unreasonable, in any future applications/entries of the individual. If you don't want to return for any other reason, then you should take legal advice from an Immigration Lawyer, such as ourselves.


Who is eligible to apply for a short visa extension?

You should apply to the Coronavirus Immigration Team, for your visa to be extended till 31 July 2020, if:


  • You are in the UK and your visa expiry date is between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020

And

Either you are unable to travel to your home country due to travel restrictions such as no flights available to your home country or you already booked a flight/attended the airport to board a flight, but the flight was cancelled or since your home country has stopped all incoming flights either from the UK or has fully closed its borders.

Or

You are in Self - Isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). You will have to describe any reasons as to why you are in self-isolation, for example, you came in contact with someone affected by coronavirus or travelled to a high risk country such as USA, Italy, Spain, China, etc.


Do I have to submit any explanation or evidence with my application?


Since there is decision to be made by the caseworker so there is some level of discretion in the decision-making, hence it is advisable to submit some evidence, however, as per the update on 6/4/2020, the Applicant is required to fill up an online form(see below) instead of an email application, hence, it is not possible to submit any evidence through this online form.


However, during the consideration of your request/application, if the caseworker contacts the applicant for any further information/documents, then we strongly advise that you give your reasons in detail and send the caseworker any evidence such as flight tickets already booked, cancellation emails from the Flight Carrier, any emails or links of reputed Government Websites of your home country, confirming that you will not be allowed to enter or flights are not allowed to land either from the UK or borders have been closed completely, etc.


How do I apply for Exceptional Assurance?

You should fill up the online form at the below link:

https://gov.smartwebportal.co.uk/homeoffice/public/webform.asp?id=199&id2=5C97E7


You will need to provide the below information:



Then you will receive an automated reply confirming that your request is received asking you to confirm your email address, then you should confirm your email address within 48 hours, by clicking on the link in the email received.


The Caseworkers will decide the cases in the order of receipt on a first-come-first-served basis, you will be sent an email with the decision within 5 working days.


Please note that most of the Home Office caseworkers are also working from Home and some are also self-isolating, hence, there may be a delay in receiving a response.


When should I file this email application?

File the email application within time:

It is advisable to send the request on or before 31 March 2020 or latest by the expiry date of your visa, if your visa is valid beyond 31 March 2020, in order for you to be able to stay in the UK legally till the date when a decision is made on your application.


You will receive a decision by email within 5 working days.


The Settlement Resolution Centre telephone lines(for EU Settlement Scheme) are currently closed since the coronavirus situation, hence we are expecting that the staff would have been diverted to the Coronavirus Immigration Team to support the increased caseload.

Who is eligible to apply for a Long Term UK Visa from within the UK?

  • If you are in the UK and you intended to leave the UK and then apply for a Long term UK Visa(Entry Clearance Application) since you were not allowed to switch to the Long Term UK Visa from within the UK,

For example - Tourist(visa/entry) switching to Settlement visa(Spouse, Partner, Fiancé/ée", etc.) or Tier 2 visa, etc.

And

  • You had a valid leave to remain in the UK till 23 January 2020 or later

OR

  • Your respective Long Term UK visa category excuses/pardons any of your Overstay(beyond visa expiry date) in the UK.

For example - an Individual without leave or with expired leave who is applying for a Settlement visa as a Spouse or Partner(Unmarried or Civil Partner), etc.


Then, you will be able to apply for the respective Long Term visa from within the UK, please note that your online visa application for the Long Term visa should be submitted and fees paid latest by 31 July 2020. It does not matter if your Biometrics appointment at a Sopra Steria Location is later that 31 July 2020

Please note that you will have to meet the respective Long Term visa requirement and pay the required fees (including the Immigration Health Surcharge, if applicable)

If you are outside the UK and you are unable to attend your appointment to enrol your biometrics and/or submit your documents because your appointment was cancelled by the UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) , then on a regular basis, you should keep checking the website UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) for any updates and your emails to see if your appointments have been rebooked.


If you already had booked an appointment with the VAC which has been cancelled, you should have already received an email informing you that the appointment has been cancelled.


If you are awaiting your documents from the UK Visa Application Centres (VACs), then you should directly contact UK Visa Application Centres (VACs), details in the below link:


UKVI Guidance link below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents?utm_source=31202869-fd45-4fbc-bc79-e169265b1978&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate#helpline

If you have any specific questions about your UK visa vis-a-vis the Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation, please feel free to ask your questions through any of the following links:

  1. COVID-19 Immigration Forum at https://www.visa-solutions.co.uk/uk-immigration-forum/coronavirus-covid-19

  2. Email @ info@visa-solutions.co.uk

  3. Fill our “Ask for Consultation” form on our website at:

https://www.visa-solutions.co.uk/


We request you to avoid calling us(unless really necessary/urgent), as we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes and we are working from home as well.



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