Home Office launches visa extension scheme to non-residents unable to return home

Non-UK residents who are unable to return home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be able to apply to extend their visa, the Government has revealed.

The measure forms part of the state’s emergency package for individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19 – such as flight cancellations and border restrictions.

According to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January 2020 and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation will be able to apply to extend their visa until 31 May 2020 – although this date will be kept under “regular review”.

To aid foreign nationals during this time, the Government has launched a new “COVID-19 immigration team” to ensure the extension process is “as straightforward as possible”.

To get started, foreign nationals unable to leave the country should email the Home Office at this address: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk, and outline their circumstances and desire to extend their visa.

To support those wanting to apply for visas to stay in the UK long-term, meanwhile, the Home Office has confirmed that it is “temporarily expanding the in-country switching provisions” – which may enable people to switch visa routes, for example, from a Tier 4 Student to a Tier 2 General Worker.

Commenting on the extended schemes, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The UK continues to put the health and wellbeing of people first and nobody will be punished for circumstances outside of their control.

“By extending people’s visas, we are giving people peace of mind and also ensuring that those in vital services can continue their work.”

The news comes as the Home Office urges British travellers abroad to return to the UK while commercial flights are still available.

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