COVID-19: Latest UK
Immigration update

Updated government guidance has been released today for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents, as COVID-19 related travel restrictions begin to ease around the globe.

The latest update states that automatic visa extensions in light of COVID-19 will no longer be granted, and individuals with leave expiring between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 are now expected to prepare to leave the UK or apply for the necessary leave to remain in the UK.

Previously, individuals with visas expiring between 24 January and 31 July 2020 were able to request an extension if they were unable to return home due to travel restrictions or if they were self-isolating.

The government has confirmed that individuals who have overstayed their leave due to COVID-19 will not face adverse immigration consequences if they did not apply to regularise their stay during this period. However, from 1 August, individuals will be required to make an application to do so if they wish to stay in the UK.

Leaving the UK

If your leave was due to expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 and you now intend to leave the UK, you will be granted an extra month’s grace period to stay in the UK until 31 August 2020, to allow time to make the necessary travel arrangements.

During this grace period, the conditions of your leave will still apply, meaning you will be allowed to continue working, studying or renting accommodation during August if you were previously permitted to do so.

If you are unable to leave the UK by 31 August 2020 but do not intend to stay in the UK long term, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional indemnity’.

If granted, this will provide you with short-term protection against any adverse immigration consequences after your leave has expired. However, in order to obtain indemnity, the CIT may require evidence to prove you are unable to leave the UK. This could include confirmation of a positive coronavirus test result, or a confirmed booking for a flight dated after 31 August 2020.

Those with leave expiring in August who cannot leave the UK before 31 August may also contact the CIT to request an indemnity.

Applying to stay in the UK

If you wish to stay in the UK, you will need to make an application for leave to remain in the UK under the normal immigration routes. This includes those whose leave has already been extended to 31 July 2020 and the grace period until 31 August 2020.

Applications will be considered under the usual immigration criteria, therefore you must meet the requirements of the visa route you are applying for, and pay the appropriate application fee.

You will be able to submit an application from within the UK, and will not be required to return to your home country to apply. Whilst your application is under consideration, the conditions of your leave will remain the same.

The concession relating to in-country switching remains in place, and applies to those with leave expiring in August.

Get the latest immigration advice

Smith Stone Walters will continue to provide updates on the latest immigration and visa advice in relation to COVID-19. If you need some more clarity on the current guidelines, or if you need assistance with managing your business’s immigration needs during this time, we are here to help.

Our team of immigration experts can provide up to date, practical advice on a range of immigration areas, helping you to work around barriers and achieve your global mobility goals. You can call us on 0208 461 6660, or email

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