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Coronavirus: advice for UK visa applicants, temporary UK residents and returning residents updated 26 March 2021

01 April 2021 Grace McGill Blog

The Home Office policy for visa customers and applicants in the UK affected by coronavirus restrictions has been updated, extending the exceptional assurance or leave expiry date to 30 June 2021. Concessions for returning residents were also introduced in February to allow those with ILR lapsing on or after 24 January 2020 to apply to return to the UK after being away for more than 2 years.

Exceptional Assurance Extension

The coronavrius exceptional assurance policy provides UK visa holders with an assurance that they will not be penalised for overstaying their leave if they cannot leave the UK due to coronavirus related issues. On 26 March 2021 the policy was extended to allow those with leave expiring by 30 June 2021 to request additional time to stay.

If you want to make a requst for exceptional assurance, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the following details:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
  • type of visa
  • expiry date of visa
  • reason for request
  • evidence of flight or evidence showing reason you can’t leave

The subject header of your email should read “Request for an assurance”.

In your email you should attach evidence to show why you cannot leave the UK. For example, if you can’t leave the UK because you can’t find a flight before your leave/visa expires, you’ll need to submit a copy of a confirmed flight ticket. If you can’t leave the UK because you have coronavirus, you’ll need to submit confirmation of your positive coronavirus test result.

During the time in which your request for ‘exceptional assurance’ is pending you will continue on the conditions as per your current or most recently expired visa.

If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your exceptional assurance. Exceptional assurance does not grant you leave. It is a means to protect those who are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions and not to facilitate travel, other than to return home.

If you’ve already been given assurance but your circumstances have changed or you’re unable to leave the UK by the assurance date previously given, you must reapply using the process above. You will need to clearly state that you’re making a subsequent application. You’ll be asked to provide new supporting evidence.

If you intend to stay in the UK

In order to remain in the UK, you will need to apply for the relevant permission to stay. Where eligible, you’ll be able to submit a permission to stay application form from within the UK.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee.

The terms of your current permission will remain the same until your application is decided. If you are switching into work or study routes you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration, depending on the terms of your current permission.

You are also able to apply for permission to stay to remain in the UK if you have been issued with an ‘exceptional assurance’. You must submit your application before the expiry of your ‘exceptional assurance’.

Returning Residents 

Your Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (ILE) will lapse if you are absent from the UK for over 2 years. If your ILR/ILE lapsed on or after 24 January 2020, and you’ve been unable to return to the UK due to travel restrictions in place relating to coronavirus, you may apply under the Returning Resident visa route to return to the UK and get indefinite leave.

You need to complete the online Returning Resident application form and pay the fee. As part of your application you’ll need to explain how coronavirus restrictions prevented your return to the UK.

You’ll receive a refund of the application fee and, where applicable, a refund of £55 if you submitted your application at a Mandatory User Pay Visa Application Centre. Confirmation of your refund will be sent to you by email once we’ve made a decision on your application.

Full details on the Home Office coronavirus policy for UK visa holders and applicants can be found here.

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