News & Insights

Coronavirus (COVID-19) UK visa and immigration guidance 

The Home Office has issued its latest guidance for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The full collection of Home Office guidance for Coronavirus (COVID19) immigration and borders.

Travel restrictions and quarantine measures for entering the UK remain in place for some countries, so please check before you make any travel plans.

UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

  • Migrants in the UK with leave or a visa that expires before 30 November 2021 who intend to leave to return to a country or territory currently listed as red, but have not been able to do so, may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’. Requests for an exceptional assurance must be sent by email to [email protected].
  • Migrants who intend to stay in the UK must apply for a visa to remain if they hold permission in a route that would normally allow switching. In-country applications for T5 Youth Mobility Scheme, or Adult Dependant Relative will not be accepted.  Those with exceptional assurance can also switch to another visa or extend exceptional assurance before the current permission expires.
  • Migrants working for the NHS:
    • Visas cannot be extended for free, if they expire after 30 September 2021
    • can work at any NHS hospital during the coronavirus outbreak if their sponsor can maintain their sponsorship duties (sponsors do not need to notify UKVI of the change in workplace)
    • can carry out supplementary work in any role at any skill level during the coronavirus outbreak (no restriction on the number of hours worked)
    • no limit on the number of hours worked or volunteer each week for, Students working for the NHS in a listed profession, worker with a Skilled Worker, Health and Care Work, Intra-company Transfer or T2 Worker visa and the NHS job is a second job, visiting academic researcher or holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer
    • Pre-registration nurse or midwife on the Temporary Register in the UK, the deadline for to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been extended to 30 September 2021. Retakes must be passed by 31 December 2021.
  • Migrants working on coronavirus research, who are scientists researching coronavirus (COVID-19), may be able to apply for a Global Talent visa using the UKRI endorsed funder option. Requirements for coronavirus researchers.
  • Migrants who are applying for a Global Talent visa, if the endorsement from an endorsing body has expired, they may still apply, if it was granted on or after 24 January 2020 and they apply for a visa before 1 January 2021.  Applications that do not meet these requirements will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Migrants who apply for a Start-up or Innovator visa, if the endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because they could not travel to the UK, they may still be eligible for a visa. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Overstayed leave

  • If a migrant’s visa or leave expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 there will be no future adverse immigration consequences if they didn’t make an application to regularise their stay during this period. However, migrant’s must now make arrangements to leave the UK, apply to remain under a suitable visa category or request exceptional assurance.

Family or private life

  • Breaks in residence, if a migrant’s leave expires while overseas, the Home Office will overlook a short break in residence if a new application is submitted as soon as possible.  There will be no future adverse immigration consequences if there has been a short break of continuous residence if the leave expired between 1 March 2020 and 19 July 2021.
  • Migrants in the UK with 6 months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and the wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to coronavirus they may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by emailing [email protected] and providing evidence of when the wedding will take place.  Otherwise, they can apply to extend stay for a further 6 months to allow the ceremony to take place.
  • Financial requirement, if a migrant has a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 31 October 2021, the Home Office will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income, provided the minimum income requirement was met for at least 6 months immediately before the date the income was lost. Those on furlough will have 100% of salary counted.
  • For self-employed persons, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2021 will usually be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.
  • Specified documents, applicants should aim to provide the mandatory documents and supporting documents for their applications.  In some cases, the Home Office will be able to decide applications without seeing certain specified documents, if these cannot be obtained because of Coronavirus.  The Home Office may ask for documents at a later date or wait until documents can be provided before deciding an application.  They will decide applications on a case-by-case basis.
  • English language, migrants can apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed, or they couldn’t travel to it due to coronavirus.

Returning residents

  • Migrants who have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (ILE) and remained outside the UK for over 2 years, due to coronavirus travel restrictions may apply to return to the UK under the Returning Resident visa route to return to the UK.  They will need to explain how coronavirus restrictions prevented their return to the UK.
  • Those already in receipt of a Returning Resident visa and unable to return to the UK due to travel restrictions in place relating to coronavirus, may be eligible for a refund of your visa fee.  Contact email [email protected].
    • Use the subject heading ‘Returning Resident Refund Request’ followed by the GWF number received on submission of the application.  Provide, full name, date of birth and any unique Home Office reference numbers, including payment reference for the visa fee.

Cancel a visa

  • Migrants who want to cancel their visa must follow the guidance.

Applying for a British passport overseas

  • Her Majesty’s Passport Office is accepting online passport applications for those who are eligible.  Applicants should check if the VAC is open to submit the passport application.  If VACs are closed, applicants cannot submit their applications.
  • British nationals who urgently need to travel to the UK, should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to discuss all options.  The FCO may issue an emergency travel document to those who are eligible.  Check the latest travel advice from the FCO.

FSP can advise you on all aspects of inbound immigration to the UK and will keep you up to date with the latest developments as they are released from the Home Office.

If you require our assistance, please contact our Head of Immigration, [email protected].