Home Office offers visa applicants ‘exceptional assurance’ amid pandemic

Visa applicants and temporary UK residents with a visa or leave that expires by 30 June 2021 may be able to request ‘exceptional assurance’ from the Home Office to remain in the UK for a further period.

Individuals with immigration permission due to expire are expected to take reasonable steps to leave the UK or apply to regularise their stay in the UK. However, for those who are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19 related reasons, the exceptional assurance concession is intended to grant additional time in these circumstances.

What is exceptional assurance?

Exceptional assurance does not grant you leave in the UK, but it will protect you against adverse action from the Home Office if you are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions.

If your application for exceptional assurance is approved by the Home Office, this will act as a short-term protection against any consequences that may otherwise arise from overstaying your permission.

If your visa conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation, you will be able to continue to do so during the period of your exceptional assurance.

How to apply for exceptional assurance

If your current immigration permission expires by 30 June 2021 and you intend to leave the UK but have been unable to do so due to COVID-19, you can make a request for exceptional assurance by emailing the Home Office on cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Your email subject line should read “Request for an assurance”, and you should include the following details in your email:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your nationality
  • Home Office, Global Web Form (GWF) or any other reference number
  • The type of visa
  • The expiry date of your visa
  • The reason for your request
  • Evidence to show the reason you are unable to leave the UK

You should attach any evidence to your email which shows why you cannot leave the UK. For example, if you are unable to leave because you have COVID-19, you will need to submit proof of a positive coronavirus test result. If you cannot find a flight out of the UK before your visa or leave expires, you should submit a copy of a confirmed flight ticket.

After you apply

If your request is successful, the Home Office will send a letter via email confirming the exceptional assurance has been granted and the date it is granted until.

Whilst your request for exceptional assurance is pending, you will be able to continue on the conditions of your current or most recently expired visa.

If you have previously been granted exceptional assurance but your circumstances have changed or you have been unable to leave the UK by the date previously given, you will need to re-apply using the above process with new supporting evidence, and clearly state that you are making a subsequent application.

Applying to remain in the UK

If you intend to remain in the UK, you will need to make an application for the relevant permission to stay. You will need to meet the requirements of the route you are applying for and pay the application fee. Where eligible, you will be able to submit your application from within the UK.

Whilst you are waiting for a decision on your new application, the terms of your current permission will remain the same.

If you have previously been granted exceptional assurance due to COVID-19, you must submit your application before the expiry date of your assurance.

Find out the latest immigration news

More information on COVID-19 visa concessions can be found on the government website here.

To keep up to date with current guidance relating to COVID-19 and UK immigration, please subscribe to Smith Stone Walters’ free news service to receive weekly updates on the latest immigration news direct to your inbox.

If you have a specific enquiry, our immigration advisors are on hand to help. You can call us on 0208 461 6660 or email info@smithstonewalters.com.

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