Given the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 and the various travel restrictions imposed by the governments of various countries in light of the same, we have come across numerous enquiries by those visitors who have been stranded in the UK and unable to travel back to their home countries.
Though various countries seem to be easing their internal lockdown restrictions, many have still been stringent with their domestic and international travel restrictions. Given the present situation, many visitors are currently in the UK without valid leave as their visit visas have expired or are nearing expiry and they see no hope of returning to their home countries before they expire.
You should know What documents do you need to apply for UK Visit Visa?
What to do if I am in UK on a Visitor Visa during Covid-19 lockdown and my visa is expiring?
The Home Office has issued a publication stating that visitors and temporary residents who have been unable to travel back to their home countries due to travel restrictions or due to self-quarantine and whose visas have or are due to expire between 24th January 2020 and 31st May 2020 may reach out to the Home Office’s CIH (Coronavirus Immigration Helpline) and request for an extension on their visas by updating their records. This may be done by filling out the form provided on this link:
This instruction, however, is very vague and no specific guidelines have been provided as to whether or when such requests would be granted or if there is a criteria to be fulfilled and circumstance when the said request may not be granted and the applicant becomes an over stayer etc. Supposing extension requests through this process are accepted, it grants valid stay in the UK only until 31st May 2020. What happens to the immigration status of those who are unable to travel back to their home countries by the 31st of May 2020 due to continued travel restrictions?
To avoid becoming an over stayer in the UK, in light of the insufficient information provided by the Home Office with regard to this matter, it is prudent to explore legal and pre-existing ways to extend your stay in the UK without having to rely on this unspecific information or deal with the negative implications of breaching the Immigration Rules.
Read applying for Visit visa to UK
You, as a visitor, would be able to make an in-country (i.e. from within the UK) application to extend your stay until you are able to travel back to your home country. These legally viable options are as follow:
Apply for further leave to remain
In certain instances the Home Office permits applicants to apply for further leave to remain if they are in the UK as a visitor and meet the general grounds of eligibility in terms of availability of funds for their stay including the suitability requirements. It is possible to add dependants to the application if the permission to stay is as academic visitor.
Read The Time Required For ILR
How long can I stay if I am given an extension during Corona Virus lockdown in UK?
For most visitors, the total amount of time you can be in the UK is 6 months. This includes both the original permission to enter and any extension of stay e.g. if you have already been in the UK for 3 months, you may apply for an extension of stay for another 3 months.
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What is the government fee for the extension of visitor visa during Covid-19 situation?
£ 1,012 per applicant.
If the applicant intends to remain for longer period then they can apply for further leave to remain on Human Rights – this is used for applications for leave outside the Immigration Rules under compassionate and compelling circumstances or ‘other claims not covered by another form’. Persons currently on visitor visas, in the UK, may also use this form.
Applicants cannot use ‘further leave to remain on Human Rights’ route if they intend to:
- apply for asylum or international protection (including applying for humanitarian protection or an Article 3 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) application made on protection grounds)
- make further submissions on asylum or human rights grounds after the refusal or withdrawal of an earlier asylum or human rights claim
- apply for leave to remain based on family or private life in the UK. In this circumstance, you should apply on the FLR (M) or FLR(FP) forms.
What to do if the UK visit visa is refused?
What is the fee for the extension of visitor visa during Corona Virus lockdown situation?
£ 1,052 per applicant.
Whilst it may seem that in the current uncertain situation which the world finds itself stuck in and it is not fair that the applicants have to bear the costs of these applications for no fault on their part.
It is possible that applicants may be able to travel once the lockdown is lifted however there could be instances where the applicants apprehend concern to return their home country as the home country may not be coping effectively with the crisis and would like to remain in the UK.
In such a scenario having an option to extend stay can be an effective option.
If you are in the UK and would like to discuss the feasibility of extending your visas in the UK you can speak to our Immigration experts on firstname.lastname@example.org to consider applying for extending their visit visas from within the UK.
Read Examining the validity of Home Office decision to expand visas