The Home Office has published further guidance on the measures they have put in place for individuals whose UK immigration status may be affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Previous concessions primarily concentrated on two issues for migrants stuck in the UK as a result of the pandemic:
- extending their leave so that they did not become 'overstayers', and
- allowing those who want to remain in the UK on a longer-term basis to apply to switch into a different immigration category.
The previous provisions for extending leave expired on 31 July. The new guidance now provides for a 'grace period' up to 31 August 2020 which will apply to anyone who has a visa or leave that was due to expire between the 24 January and 31 August 2020. It is not necessary for such individuals to apply to regularise their stay in the UK during this time, but the expectation is that they will leave the UK by 31 August.
This change in approach results from the easing of global travel restrictions.
Additional Time to Stay
For individuals who intend to leave the UK but are not able to do so by 31 August 2020, they may request additional time to stay, also known as 'exceptional assurance', by contacting the coronavirus immigration team (CIT). Those individuals will be told what documents they will need to submit to show they cannot leave the UK.
The concession permitting individuals to apply from within the UK to switch into another immigration category applies to individuals currently in the UK, irrespective of whether their leave applies before or after 31 August 2020. However, for those whose leave expires after 1 September, they will need to show that their application is urgent, for example if they need to start a new job or course of study.
In both cases, in-country applicants will need to pay the relevant application fees and meet all the usual requirements, except the need to submit the application in your home country.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.