The UKVI has today updated its Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for visa applicants for those both within and outside the United Kingdom.
Please note, the guidance is subject to change, and therefore the current position should be checked before taking any action relating to it.
If your visa status falls within one of these categories, RLegal solicitors are available to provide immigration assistance and can be contacted on +44 207 038 3980, through our online form or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Visa expiry between 1 December and 31 January 2021
Individuals who fall into this category are ‘expected’ to leave the UK and take all ‘reasonable steps’ to do so or apply to ‘regularise’ their stay in the UK. If you are unable to leave the UK during these dates, an application for ‘exceptional assurance’ can be requested from the UKVI but supporting evidence should be provided.
Whilst such an application is under consideration no adverse action will be taken and the current visa conditions remain in force until a decision is made.
Please note, the grant of exceptional assurance is not automatic – the UKVI will assess whether it is possible for you to return to your home country, which will include the reasons for the request and whether there are flights available at an affordable rate.
For those already granted exceptional assurance and whose circumstances change or are unable to return home within a date already previously specified, must submit a new application for an assurance with supporting evidence.
Visa applications within the UK
The UKVI continues to allow applications to be submitted within the UK, but with caveat that the requirements of the relevant immigration route can be met and there is an urgent reason - such as impending study or work dates.
Visa expiry between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020
Individuals whose visas expired between these dates and failed to submit, an application to regularise their stay or request an exceptional assurance, are expected to leave the UK
UKVCAS centres are designated as an ‘essential service’ and will remain open along with Post Offices for submission of biometrics, but a check should be made to see whether the appropriate centre or office is open.
The UKVI will use existing fingerprints where possible, eligible individuals will be contacted with information on how to provide documents and an image of their face. Where this is not possible, biometrics will be undertaken in the normal way through a service centre.
Students can commence their course where this has started but must stop if the application is subsequently refused.
English language testing
Service centres at most approved centres remain available but individuals should check with the relevant body.
Tier 1 Entrepreneurs
Multiple jobs can be used to meet the requirement of employing 2 people for 12 consecutive months.
A furloughed employee can count towards this requirement so long as they have been paid 80% of their wages.
Additional 12 months permitted, but the endorsing body must provide a supporting letter explaining the impact of COVID-19 on the business, and the application otherwise meets the relevant rules.
Skilled workers can commence employment whilst an application is under consideration subject to the following conditions:
Supplementary work is allowed with no restriction on hours.
Free extensions available for key workers and their dependants up to 31 March 2021 even if their visas have expired.
Out of country
Visa application centres (VAC)
Most VACs) are open and if not, an individual can use one in any other country up to 31 March 2021.
Applicants should check with the specified English providers as to testing availability.
Priority services may be available but again should be checked locally.
British passport applications
Applications can be made online but if the VAC is closed in the home country, this will not be possible.
Those who need to travel urgently should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advice and assistance.
Expired 90-day vignettes
An application for a replacement vignette will need to be made where the 90-day period has expired at a cost of £154. Further 90-day extensions can be made where necessary subject to the same fee.
Family & Private Life applications
Applications can be made from within the UK where leave expired after 31 October 2020, but you will need to show:
For those in the UK with leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner who require additional time are able to submit an application either for exceptional assurance or an extension of stay.
A concession is in place for those who left the UK with valid leave before 17 March 2020 but were unable to return and will be considered on a case-by-case basis for both indefinite and further leave to remain.
Loss of income
Individuals who have lost income up to 1 January 2021 can use a period before the loss, so long as this period met the financial requirement for at least 6 months.
Furloughed income as an employee will be treated at the normal full salary rate.
Loss of income through self-employed income between 1 March 2020 and 1 January 2021 will be disregarded.
Specified documents unavailable due to COVID-19, may still be considered without them or be submitted later.
An exemption is possible for those unable to take an English language test due to closure of a testing centre or inability to travel due to COVID-19.