Renewing Your Visa During COVID-19

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Renewing Your Visa During COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused worldwide travel restrictions, leaving many people unable to travel to other countries. If you are currently in the UK on a visa or with leave to remain, we’ve written a quick summary of the government’s guidance[1] on your rights to stay if you are unable to return to your home country before your permission has expired.

Applying for Permission to Stay if You Are Stuck in the UK

If you have been unable to leave the UK before your visa has expired because of travel restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the government has been allowing people to request additional time to stay. This is known as exceptional assurance.

To request exceptional assurance, email cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following details:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
  • type of visa
  • expiry date of visa
  • reason for request
  • evidence of flight or evidence showing reason you can’t leave

You are expected to attach evidence to show why you are unable to leave the UK, such as a positive Coronavirus test or being unable to find a flight before your leave or visa expires.

You are, however, expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK, or apply to regularise your stay in the UK.

Whilst you are awaiting approval for exceptional assurance, you will continue to have permission to stay in the UK on the conditions of your current or most recently expired visa.

What Will I Be Able to Do if I am Granted Exceptional Assurance?

Exceptional assurance will not grant you leave – it is simply a short-term protection for those who are currently unable to leave the UK. If you have permission to work, study or rent on your most recent visa, then you will be able to continue to do so for as long as your exceptional assurance is valid.

If you are unable to leave the UK by the assurance date you have been granted, you must reapply in the same process as before. You will need to specify that you are reapplying and submit new evidence.

If You Want to Stay in the UK

You will need to apply for the correct permission to stay in the UK. You will be able to do this from within the UK, even though you usually would have to from your home country. The requirements and permissions will remain the same, though you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

If You Have Overstayed Your Leave

If you have overstayed your leave and have not applied to regularise your stay or requested exceptional assurance, you must make arrangements to leave the UK immediately. If your visa or leave expired between 24th January 2020 and 31st August 2020, then you will not be adversely affected if you didn’t make an application to stay during this period. 

Stella Maris Solicitors are expert immigration solicitors. If you are looking to regularise your stay in the UK, renew a visa or apply for a visa from outside the UK – we can help. Contact us on (01793) 296118 or email mail@stellamarissolicitorsllp.co.uk.


[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

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