Home Office Increases Temporary Visa Extensions for Migrants in the UK
Throughout the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, migrants across the UK have found themselves stuck in limbo, uncertain as to how and when they will be able to either return to their home countries or apply for further immigration permission to remain in the UK.
Thankfully, the Home Office softened the blow by assuring all of those whose leave to remain expired after 24th January that they would be granted automatic visa extensions until 31st May 2020.
However, as May nears its end and the UK remains in lockdown, many have questioned whether these temporary visa extensions will be increased. On 22nd May, the Home Office confirmed that this will be the case, with temporary extensions now in effect until 31st July 2020.
What this means is that those who are stranded in the UK – perhaps with expired Visit Visas, for example – will not be penalised for remaining in the country, as their visa will now be valid until the end of July.
This certainly provides some much needed relief for those who are, as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, unable to leave the UK thanks to travel restrictions or the need to self-isolate.
Switching to Long-Term Visas
In addition to being granted a visa extension, those who arrived to the UK on a temporary visa now have the ability to apply to switch to a long-term visa from within the country.
In conventional circumstances, those who arrive to the UK under a temporary visa such as a Visitor Visa must first leave the country before applying for long-term permission to reside in the UK.
Since this is no longer an option as a consequence of the Coronavirus, the Home Office is allowing those who wish to apply for a long-term visa to apply from within the UK.
Those who arrived to the UK on a temporary visa now have the ability to apply to switch to a long-term visa from within the country
This exception – as with the temporary visa extension – only applies to those whose leave expired after the 24th January until the 31st July 2020.
Crucially, to either receive the government’s temporary visa extension or to switch to a long-term visa, the individual must apply to qualify; neither are automatically granted.
In March, the Home Office announced it had set up a dedicated team to deal with the implications of the Coronavirus pandemic on immigration permission. This team is responsible for dealing with the government’s temporary visa extensions, therefore those with expired leave must apply via an online form to ensure that they receive the extension and thus do not breach any conditions.
On 22nd May, the Home Office confirmed that temporary extensions will remain in effect until 31st July 2020
When announcing the government’s increased extension period, Home Secretary Priti Patel explained: “This is one of a number of unprecedented measures the government has made to support people during this time, however, as we begin a cautious return to normality those currently in the UK on expired visitor visas should return home as soon as possible.”
It seems important to note, then, that the Home Office remains dedicated to ensuring that those whose leave has expired must return home as soon as they are able to.