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Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents – Updated 7th January 2021

08 January 2021 Grace McGill Blog

If you're in the UK

If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a visa or leave that expires between 1 December 2020 and 31 January 2021 you may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’.

Please submit your request for an exceptional assurance by emailing 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.

If you’ve previously completed the online form to request exceptional assurance and you’re waiting on the outcome and your flight is imminent, please email the above address with the requested details. We are considering all requests and we will contact you to let you know the outcome as soon as we can. During this time, you will not be treated as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in any future immigration applications for this consideration period.

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

If you decide to stay in the UK, you should apply for the necessary leave to remain to regularise your stay. You’ll be able to submit an application form from within the UK, whereas you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

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

The terms of your leave 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.

You’ll need to show your application is urgent, for example if you need to start a new job or course of study, please provide full details of this in a covering letter with your supporting documents.

You are also able to apply for leave to remain to regularise your stay if you have been issued with ‘exceptional assurance’. You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for, pay the UK application fee and you must submit your application before the expiry of your ‘exceptional assurance’.

If you have overstayed your leave

If your visa or leave expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 there will be no future adverse immigration consequences if you didn’t make an application to regularise your stay during this period. However, if you have not applied to regularise your stay or submitted a request for an exceptional assurance you must make arrangements to leave the UK.

If you have a Start-up visa and your business has been disrupted

You can apply for additional leave of 12 months. This will allow your Start-up visa to go beyond the normal maximum 2-year period so you can continue developing your business against your agreed business plan.

You must meet the requirements of the route as normal, including being endorsed by an endorsing body. Your endorsing body must assess your business and be satisfied that reasonable progress has been made, taking into consideration the impact of coronavirus and that the business remains viable.

Your endorsing body must provide you with an endorsement letter. This must state it is an application for a temporary extension by completing the relevant sections and providing the required information, within the endorsement letter.

If you’ve applied for a Student or Child Student visa (including Tier 4 visas) and are waiting for a decision on your application

You can start your course or studies before your visa application has been decided if:

  • your sponsor is a Student sponsor
  • you have been given a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the course you start is the same as the one listed on your CAS
  • you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme(ATAS) certificate if required

If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must stop your course or studies.

If you’ve applied for a work visa and are waiting for a decision on your application

This includes:

  • Skilled Worker visa
  • Health and Care Worker visa
  • Intra-company Transfer visa
  • T2 Worker visas
  • T5 Temporary Worker visas

You can start work before your visa application has been decided if:

  • you’ve been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and either:
    • you’re applying under the Health and Care visa
    • it was assigned before 1 January 2021
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the job you start is the same as the one listed on your CoS

If you’re outside the UK

There are changes at the border because of coronavirus. Check what you need to do before you travel.

Most UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) have resumed services where local restrictions allow.

Priority and Super Priority services are only available in some locations. If available, you’ll be able to purchase these services when booking your appointment.

For more information, and for updates to the status of VACs, including opening times in your country, check with:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS globalf or all other countries

Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.

English language tests are available in most countries but may be temporarily suspended in some countries due to coronavirus restrictions. You can find a list of all approved test centres outside the UK. PSI (Services) UK Ltd

Applying for a visa if your visa application centre (VAC) is closed

You can apply for a visit visa from any UK VAC. You should apply for all other UK visas from the country you’re living in.

If your VAC is closed due to coronavirus restrictions, you can apply online and select a VAC in another country worldwide to submit your application and biometrics. You’ll need to make sure you’re permitted to travel to that country beforehand.

You’ll be able to make any type of UK visa application. You must select the country where you would like to submit your biometrics at the start of your application.

This concession has been extended to 31 March 2021.

If you’ve already submitted your application through Access UK and now intend to submit your new application at a different VAC from the one selected in that application, you’ll need to make a new application and select the VAC where you’ll submit your application.

You’ll need to pay the fee associated with your new application and request a refund for your earlier application.

British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport

Her Majesty’s Passport Office is accepting online passport applications.

If you’re advised that you must book an appointment at your nearest VAC to submit your passport application, you should check if it’s open.

If your country’s VAC is still closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport until it reopens.

If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to discuss your options.

Source : https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

 

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