written by Judit Adorjan

Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

If you are in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020 your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Individuals affected must contact the Coronavirus immigration Team (CIT) via: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk to update their records if their visa is expiring.

You should provide:

  • Full name (include any middle names)
  • Date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Nationality
  • Previous visa reference number
  • Why you cannot go back to you home country, for example the border has closed.

The Home Office will be in contact when the request is received and when the visa has been extended.

Please note this has not been written into law and at this moment it is not clear whether the extra stay will be covered by the immigration health surcharge. A new BRP card will not be issued for this extension. Therefore, it is very important for employers to keep records of when the email was sent to the Home Office to protect against any illegal working penalties.

If you are applying to stay in the UK long-term

You will be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31st May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

You will need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the UK application fee.

This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020.

The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.

Please note “long term” here does not mean indefinite leave to remain. It includes for example switching from a Tier 4 (student) to Tier 2 (General) or from PBS dependent to Tier 2 (ICT), which would normally require a fresh application for entry clearance to be made from abroad.

If you wish to extend your leave under the same immigration route it is important to note that providing the details requested by the Home Office will not be considered a pending application under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 and you will therefore become an overstayer. In this case you will need to submit your extension application before the expiry of your current leave.

If you are outside the UK

Many UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed or offering limited services.

For advice on visa services in your country contact:

In some areas the UK are not able to send visa vignettes across borders or routes due to border restrictions.

English testing centres are also affected. For more information visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre.

UKVCAS Centre closures

As of 24 March 2020, 31 of the 57 nationwide were listed as closed, including the core centre in Manchester.

Here is a list of the closed centres.

If you are affected by the cancellation of an appointment you do not need to do anything. Sopra Steria will automatically rebook appointments at the same location in 6 weeks’ time and inform the Home Office.

Relaxation of Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 sponsor duties regarding absences due to coronavirus

Sponsors are not currently required to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which the sponsor has authorised.

Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship for:

  • Affected students unable to attend for more than 60 days
  • Employees who have exceeded 4 weeks of absence without pay

Any decision on whether to withdraw a student from their studies, or terminate employment, are for sponsors to make. The Home Office will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason.

The Home Office will keep this under review, especially if the length of absences means a potential repeat of period of studies become necessary.

Sponsoring employers will not have to report a change of location for all sponsored migrants working from home.

Should you have a query, that does not relate to immigration matters associated with coronavirus (COVID-19), please contact us.