Applying for a visa within the UK during COVID restrictions.

Visa Application

COVID-19 and how it has affected visa applications within the UK 

With the current climate many aspects of the immigration system have been temporarily altered in order to help those who have been affected by coronavirus. The Home Office has published a guidance for those hoping to make an application within the UK, albeit not a very detailed guidance and one that continues to be updated as the current situation unfolds. Therefore, the information provided on this page should not be taken as final legal advice. If you wish to find further information regarding this matter, check regularly at the Home Office website.

Up until 4th March 2021, there was an expansion for in-country switching provisions granted by the Home Office to allow all visa holders in the UK to be able to switch from their current visa category if they were looking to remain in the UK long-term which they would otherwise have had to do so by returning to their country of residence and applying through an entry clearance basis. However, after 4th March, this concession was removed. Those who wish to remain in the UK on the basis of family or private life may still be able to apply in-country if they satisfy the requirements. Also, it is still possible to switch visa categories if you have been granted exceptional assurance. 

Exceptional Assurance

Those who have not been able to leave the UK due to coronavirus restrictions and are here on a visa that expires between 1 March 2021 and 31 March 2021 can make a request for exceptional assurance to extend their visa and avoid any consequences or actions that may arise after your leave has expired. 

A request for exceptional assurance must be made by emailing cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following information: 

  • Full name
  • Date of birth 
  • Nationality
  • Home Office, GWF or other reference number
  • Type of visa
  • Expiry date of visa 
  • Reason for request 
  • Evidence of flight or evidence showing reason you cannot leave 

The subject header of the email should say ‘request for an assurance’. Attached to the email should be evidence showing why you are not able to leave the UK. If your reasoning is because you have COVID, then a positive coronavirus test result must be attached.

If you already possess exceptional assurance, you can apply for permission to stay to remain in the UK. Your application must be submitted before the exceptional assurance expires.

Remain in the UK on the basis of family or private life

You may be able to switch from your current visa category to a family visa where you would normally have had to apply from your home country if your visa expires after 31st October 2020 and either your application is considered pressing because you might have a family emergency and find yourself unable to apply from outside the UK or due to COVID-19 you are unable to apply from outside the UK. 

You must be able to satisfy the requirements of the family visa and pay the UK application fee.

As the coronavirus situation is constantly evolving, the information on this page may no longer be relevant or accurate at the time you are reading. For more updated and further guidance on making applications within the UK when your visa category normally wouldn’t allow, check out the Home Office Guidance.

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