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UK Immigration rules relaxed during coronavirus pandemic

After Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown on Monday 24th of March 2020 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many people are worried what would happen to their current visas that they need to renew or applications they must make. Advice published today by the Home Office sheds a bit of light on the situation and applies to both temporary residents in the UK and visa applicants from abroad that cannot travel or are in self-isolation.

Stay in the UK during coronavirus pandemic

If you are a foreign national that are currently in the United Kingdom on temporary visa such as work or study visa and it expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended till 31 May 2020.

What you need to do

To make sure you stay in the UK legally, please send your details (full name, date of birth, etc.) to the Coronavirus Immigration Team at CIH@ homeoffice.gov.uk or call them on 0800 678 1767. You must also provide a reason why you cannot extend the visa yourself. They will get back to you to confirm if your visa is extended.

Apply for a long-term visa in the UK

Say, you have come to the UK on a visitor visa in order to take an English exam and were planning to go back to your country of residence in order to make an application for a work, study or business visa from there. Normally you would not be allowed to switch from a visitor visa to a long-term visa in the UK, but due to current situation the Government has eased these rules.

Can I apply for a visa in the UK if I am here on a visitor visa?

Because the current situation in the world is not normal, all applicants, including those who would usually not be permitted to do so, can apply online for UK long-term visas inside the country if they are already here. All other requirements including visa fees remain the same.

UK visa applications overseas

If you are planning to apply or have already applied for a UK visa from your home country, but have not attended a biometric appointment yet, you should contact a visa application centre and enquire about further actions.

Who do I contact about my UK visa application?

Get in touch with TLS centres if you are in Europe, Africa and some Middle Easter countries, and VFS Global centres in other countries. You will be either told to go to a centre that is still open, if there are several in your country, or notified that your appointment is cancelled.

How to get your passport back

If you received an email saying that your visa has been approved and you have paid for courier return, then you will receive it provided relevant borders are open. If you have not paid for a courier but wish to do so, contact your visa application centre directly (see above).

British nationals living abroad

If you have a UK passport that expires soon and you cannot apply for renewal because of closures, and you need to go to the UK urgently, apply for an emergency travel document here.

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