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Last Updated: Monday, September 6, 2021

Visas and Immigration during Covid-19

Visa Extensions

As part of the UK’s pandemic response, the government had previously allowed many people visas a grace period to stay in the UK after their visas expired. However now that travel restrictions are lifting globally, this has changed. If your visa is expiring, you are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK or apply to regularise your stay in the UK. You are allowed to access Visa and Immigration services as these are considered an essential public service. 

In some special circumstances, if you are still unable to return to your country due to Covid-19 regulations, you may be able to apply for ‘exceptional assurance’ by emailing cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk More information about how to apply is available here: 

 

For longer-term applications

You can apply from the UK to change to a long-term UK visa. For example, if you are in the UK on a Tier 4 Student visa you can apply to change to a Tier 2 working visa. This includes visa applications that state that you need to apply for a UK visa from your home country.

You must meet the necessary visa requirements and pay the UK application fee. You can apply online here. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.

For some UK visa and settlement applications, you’ll need to make an appointment at a Service and Support Centre (SSC)Check if there have been any changes to your service point location because of coronavirus (COVID-19)Do not go to an appointment if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.

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Registering your asylum claim and asylum decisions

The Home Office are still registering asylum claims. Details of how to make an appointment for a screening interview are available online hereIf you are at immediate risk of destitution or you have no where to live, you may not need an appointment. Click here for more information.                                      

Travel to the appointment at the asylum registration centre is considered essential. Arrangements have been put in place in the Asylum Intake Units to adhere to social distancing and safety rules.

If you are at immediate risk of destitution you may attend your nearest Asylum Intake Unit without an appointment. Click here for more information.

If you have already had your interview with the Home Office and they have had enough information to make a decision on your application, they will contact your legal representative to confirm some specific details. The outcome of your asylum claim will then be sent to you and your legal representative. If your claim is rejected, you will not be forced to leave your accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic and your financial support will continue. 

Immigration Reporting

Some reporting centres are now open and operating. You’ll get a text message, email or letter when you have a new appointment. You should attend as normal unless you are self-isolating because of Covid-19 regulations. If you cannot attend, you should contact your local reporting centre to inform them. A full list of contact details for all UK reporting centres can be found here

 

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The deadline for EU nationals and eligible non-EU nationals to apply for settled status through the EUSS scheme was 30th June 2021. However, you can still apply if you can prove you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for why you missed the deadline. This could be for many reasons, such as being unwell or not having internet access to obtain relevant documents. More information is available here

Having settled status is very helpful when seeking financial support in the event of losing a job or struggling to pay rent as it automatically proves that you have a right to reside in the UK.

 

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If you would like to return to your country and require support with the process, you can contact the Voluntary Returns Service (VRS) at the Home Office to see if they can help you:

This service is usually available to those with an irregular immigration status (e.g. those who have overstayed their visa), those who have withdrawn or want to withdraw an asylum application or other application to stay in the UK.

You may be subject to a re-entry ban by returning through the Voluntary Returns Service. More information is available on the link provided above.

The Voluntary Return Scheme is implemented by Immigration Enforcement in the Home Office which means that you are sharing your details with them if you choose to apply. If you withdraw your application or don’t follow the application process then your details may be referred to an enforcement team.

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