The British government have taken a number of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 disease. This may have affected your travel to and from the UK and in some cases even your immigration status if you are in the UK on an expiring visa and unable to leave because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.
On 24 March 2020, the UK Government updated the immigration guidance for those affected by Coronavirus travel restrictions.
We advise all our clients that due to the situation changing rapidly, to please check the latest developments before travelling.
The guidance issued today, at the time of writing this, 24 March 2020, states that:
If you’re 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). You must contact the Home Office with the relevant data and evidence as well as information about why you are unable to leave the UK. Anyone in this situation needs to contact the COVID-19 immigration team via the email address: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.
IMPORTANT: Please take a cautious approach to the new coronavirus extension policy. If your leave to remain in the UK is about to expire it is important to note that providing the details requested by the Home Office does not extend leave under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. This advice will be reviewed in line with any guidance received from the Home Office.
If your reasons are not accepted, you may become an overstayer. If your leave is about to expire and you wish to remain in the UK, you MUST submit an extension application (please see below for the possibility to switch in-country).
Those who contact the Home Office for the visa extension under the COVID-19 immigration guidance will be expected to return to their home countries as soon as possible once flight and border restrictions are lifted.
Stage 1, Endorsement applications are not immigration applications. Preparation of the evidence to be submitted in support of Stage 1, Endorsement application is not affected by the pandemic. You can use this time to make sure you have the required Letters of Recommendation, Personal Statement (if applicable) and other evidence in support of the application.
Applicants for Stage 2, Immigration Stage can benefit from the possibility to switch to this visa, in-country. This means that if otherwise required to leave the UK and apply from their country or origin or residence, it is now possible to submit the application without leaving the UK (please see below).
If you’re applying to stay in the UK long-term – switching in-country
During these unique circumstances you’ll be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.
You’ll 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 (under the previous guidance mostly affecting Chinese nationals and residents).
At Osbourne Pinner we fully understand that many businesses are adversely affected by the spread of the coronavirus. We would therefore reiterate that we continue to serve our clients. We provide legal advice and assistance on UK Visas and Immigration, as well as nationality matters.
We are therefore offering flexible payment plans to our clients. In light of the current circumstances we require only 40% of the agreed fixed fee to be paid in time of instructions which will enable us to start preparing your application.