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Immigration policy on Coronavirus updated to include all foreign nationals

25 March 2020 #Immigration

The Home Office has finally updated its immigration policy on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Previously this policy only related to Chinese nationals, and automatically extended their leave until 31 March 2020, provided certain conditions were met. The updated policy provides an on-request extension to 31 May 2020 for all foreign nationals, if the requirements are met.

If you are in the UK and your visa expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

If you are a foreign national in the UK, and your visa expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, you may be able to seek an extension up to 31 May 2020. However, you must show that you are unable to return to your home country as a result of travel restrictions or you are in self-isolation due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must request this extension by contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline (by email or telephone), as the extension is not automatic. In your request, you must include the following:

  1. Your full name (include any middle names)
  2. Date of birth (in the dd/mm/yyyy format)
  3. Nationality
  4. Previous visa reference number(s)
  5. Reasons why you cannot return to your home country, for example if the airports/border are closed.

Switching to a long-term visa in the UK

The Home Office has also stated that you may be able to switch to a long-term visa in the UK until 31 May 2020, including for circumstances where you would normally have to return to your home country to apply.

You will still have to meet all the other requirements and pay the usual application fee.

Applying for a UK visa from outside the UK

The processing of UK visa applications has been significantly affected because of Visa Application Centre (VAC) and Secure English Language Test (SELT) centre closures. Unfortunately, this means that many applicants will not be able to apply for their visas until the VACs/SELT reopen

In some areas, the UK cannot send passports/visa vignettes across borders because of travel restrictions, however, if you have opted for courier service (and courier service is available), the documents will be returned by courier. In some cases, you may be able to opt for courier service now (if previously not opted) by contacting your local VAC centre.

British nationals abroad

If you want to apply for a British passport from abroad, you would not be able to do so if your country’s VAC is closed. However, you may still be able to apply for an emergency travel document.

Clarkslegal, specialist Immigration lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Immigration matter please contact Clarkslegal's immigration team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Hamza Malik

Hamza Malik

T: 0207 539 8020
M: 07990 595 483


Immigration team
+44 (0)20 7539 8000