Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents (2022)

Table of Contents
If you’re in the UK If you intend to stay in the UK If you have overstayed your leave Application and service centres in the UK If you’re a Student or Child Student applicant in the UK and have given your fingerprints before English language testing centres in the UK If you have a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and your business has been disrupted If you have a Start-up visa and your business has been disrupted If you’ve applied for a Student or Child Student visa (including Tier 4 visas) and are waiting for a decision on your application If you’ve applied for a Health and Care Worker visa and are waiting for a decision on your application If you need more information about the measures in place for students and their sponsors If you’re working for the NHS If you’ll be working at a different NHS site than your usual place of work because of coronavirus If you do any different or extra work due to coronavirus Changes to the current restrictions on the number of hours you can work or volunteer If you’re outside the UK Applying for a UK visa Visa Application Centres (VACs) Applying for a visa if your visa application centre (VAC) is closed Getting your documents when a VAC is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport If you’re applying for a Global Talent visa If you’re applying for a Start-up or Innovator visa If your 90 day visa vignette to work or join family has expired If you are a student and your 90 day student visa vignette has expired If you’ve remained outside the UK for over 2 years and due to coronavirus travel restrictions your indefinite leave has lapsed If you’re applying to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life Changes to the minimum income and adequate maintenance requirement If you’re unable to provide specified documents Changes to the English language requirement If you want to cancel your visa Videos

If you’re in the UK

You are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so 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. You must follow current COVID-19 rules for where you live, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you intend to leave the UK to return to a country or territory but have not been able to do so and you have a visa, leave or ‘exceptional assurance’ that expires before 31 October 2022 you may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’.

Exceptional cases could include where you may be unable to return to a country or territory you are resident in, as that nation has closed their borders or where quarantine facilities are temporarily over-subscribed.

Please submit your request for an ‘exceptional assurance’ by emailing cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following details:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
  • type of visa
  • expiry date of visa
  • reason for request
  • evidence showing reason you can’t leave

The subject header of your email should read “Request for an assurance”.

In your email you should attach evidence to show why you cannot leave the UK. For example, evidence of your inability to book quarantine accommodation in your country of residence.

During the time in which your request for ‘exceptional assurance’ is pending you will continue on the conditions as per your current or most recently expired visa.

If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your ‘exceptional assurance’. ‘Exceptional assurance’ does not grant you leave. It is a means to protect those who are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions and not to facilitate travel, other than to return home.

If you’ve already been given assurance but your circumstances have changed or you’re unable to leave the UK by the assurance date previously given, you must reapply using the process above. You will need to clearly state that you’re making a subsequent application. You’ll be asked to provide new supporting evidence.

If you intend to stay in the UK

In order to remain in the UK, you will need to apply for the relevant permission to stay. Where eligible, you’ll be able to submit a permission to stay application form from within the UK.

You can make an application for permission to stay in the UK if you hold permission in a route that would normally allow you to do so.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee. You will not be able to apply for a route for which there is no provision in the Immigration Rules for making an in-country application, such as Youth Mobility Scheme, or Adult Dependant Relative.

The terms of your current permission will remain the same until your application is decided. If you are switching into work or study routes you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration, depending on the terms of your current permission.

You are also able to apply for permission to stay to remain in the UK if you have been issued with an ‘exceptional assurance’. You must submit your application before the expiry of your ‘exceptional assurance’.

If you have overstayed your leave

If your visa or leave expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 there will be no future adverse immigration consequences if you didn’t make an application to regularise your stay during this period. However, if you have not applied to regularise your stay or submitted a request for an exceptional assurance you must make arrangements to leave the UK.

Application and service centres in the UK

UKVCAS Service Points are essential services and will remain open throughout the UK so customers can continue to book and attend appointments to progress their visa applications.

Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are essential services and remain open. SSCs are offering a reduced number of appointments because of coronavirus. As more appointments are made available UKVI will invite you to arrange an appointment by email or post.

If you’re a Student or Child Student applicant in the UK and have given your fingerprints before

If you’re applying in the UK as a Student or Child Student (including Tier 4 student), UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may be able to reuse your fingerprints.

(Video) UK Visas & Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

If UKVI can reuse the fingerprints you’ve already given, you’ll be emailed with instructions on how to send them an image of your face and your supporting documents.

This will mean you do not have to attend a UKVCAS or an SSC service point appointment to provide biometric information.

If you cannot send the information through the instructions given, you’ll be able to book an appointment.

English language testing centres in the UK

You can book a test at most of the approved English Testing Centres in the UK.

For more information on how you can book your English Language Test, contact either:

If you have a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and your business has been disrupted

You no longer need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months. The 12 month period you’re required to employ someone for can be made up of multiple jobs across different months but this must be equivalent to 2 full time jobs.

Time when your employees were furloughed will count towards the 12 month period if they have been paid at least 80% of their normal salary.

If you’ve not been able to employ staff for 12 months by the time your visa expires, you’ll be allowed to extend your stay for a further 2 years, if you can show:

  • you‘ve created at least 2 jobs by the date you apply
  • you’ve been unable to employ staff for 12 months due to coronavirus

If you have a Start-up visa and your business has been disrupted

You can apply for additional leave of 12 months. This will allow your Start-up visa to go beyond the normal maximum 2-year period for a maximum of one additional year so you can continue developing your business against your agreed business plan. Applications for an additional year as a Start-up migrant under these arrangements will not be accepted after 30 September 2022.

You must meet the requirements of the route as normal, including being endorsed by an endorsing body. Your endorsing body must assess your business and be satisfied that reasonable progress has been made, taking into consideration the impact of coronavirus and that the business remains viable.

Your endorsing body must provide you with an endorsement letter. This must state it is an application for a temporary extension by completing the relevant sections and providing the required information, within the endorsement letter.

If you’ve applied for a Student or Child Student visa (including Tier 4 visas) and are waiting for a decision on your application

You can start your course or studies before your visa application has been decided if:

  • your sponsor is a Student sponsor
  • you have been given a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the course you start is the same as the one listed on your CAS
  • you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must stop your course or studies.

If you’ve applied for a Health and Care Worker visa and are waiting for a decision on your application

The concession detailed in the ‘If you’ve applied for a Health and Care Worker visa and are waiting for a decision on your application’ section will end on 4 October 2022. Applicants with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned after this date cannot begin work until they have received their visa.

You can start work before your visa application has been decided if:

  • you’ve been assigned a CoS and you’re applying under the Health and Care visa
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the job you start is the same as the one listed on your CoS

If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused your sponsor will stop sponsoring you and you must stop working for them. You should either leave the UK or seek to regularise your immigration status if this happens.

If you are not applying under the Health and Care visa, you must wait until your visa application has been granted before starting work, unless your current visa allows you to work in that job.

If you need more information about the measures in place for students and their sponsors

You can read detailed guidance on the temporary measures in place for Student sponsors, their students and short-term students in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

If you’re working for the NHS

The concessions detailed in the ‘If you’re working for the NHS’ section will expire on 4 October 2022.

(Video) UK VISA Application Update COVID 19 advice for visa and passports

If you’ll be working at a different NHS site than your usual place of work because of coronavirus

You can work at any NHS hospital during the coronavirus outbreak if your sponsor can maintain their sponsorship duties.

Sponsors will not need to notify UKVI of the change in your place of work.

If you do any different or extra work due to coronavirus

You can carry out supplementary work in any role at any skill level during the coronavirus outbreak. There is no restriction on the number of hours you can work.

Changes to the current restrictions on the number of hours you can work or volunteer

There is no longer a limit on the number of hours you can work or volunteer each week if you’re a:

  • Student (including Tier 4 student) working for the NHS in a list profession
  • worker with a Skilled Work, Health and Care Work, Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker, Intra-company Transfer or T2 Worker visa and your NHS job is a second job
  • visiting academic researcher
  • holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer

If you’re outside the UK

Applying for a UK visa

If you’re planning to travel to the UK, you’ll need to make sure you comply with all COVID-19 travel restrictions. Please check the travel advice issued by your carrier and check what you need to do before entering the UK.

Separate guidance is available if you’re entering Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

UKVI are currently experiencing high global demand, meaning some visa applications are taking longer to process.

Find out more on the visa decision waiting times page.

UKVI are working hard to process applications as soon as possible.

You will be contacted by the Visa Application Centre (VAC) when your passport is ready for collection. Do not attend the VAC until you have been invited to do so.

You are not required to book any travel before you apply or before a decision is made on your application. You’ll only be refunded if we have not started processing your application.

If you need to travel urgently to the UK for compassionate reasons, you’ll still need to apply for a visa in the usual way, including submitting biometrics at your chosen VAC. You should clearly explain the compelling or compassionate reasons in your application form and must alert the VAC staff during biometric submission. You’ll be contacted by UKVI once your application has been received.

If you do not hear from UKVI or your request is exceptionally urgent, you can also contact UK Visas and Immigration for help. Please note that this is a chargeable service for overseas customers.

Visa Application Centres (VACs)

Most UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) have resumed services where local restrictions allow.

Priority and super priority services are only available in some locations. If available, you’ll be able to purchase these services when booking your appointment.

For more information, and for updates to the status of VACs, including opening times in your country, check with:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS global for all other countries

English language tests are available in most countries but may be temporarily suspended in some countries due to coronavirus restrictions. You can find a list of all approved test centres outside the UK. Check the SELT provider’s website to find out when tests are available and to make sure the test centre is open. Do not contact the test centre directly.

For more information on how you can book your English Language Test, contact either:

(Video) Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents (15/04/2020)

Applying for a visa if your visa application centre (VAC) is closed

If your VAC is closed due to coronavirus restrictions, you can apply online and select a VAC in another country worldwide to submit your application and biometrics. You’ll need to make sure you’re permitted to travel to that country beforehand.

You’ll be able to make any type of UK visa application. You must select the country where you would like to submit your biometrics at the start of your application.

If you’ve already submitted your application through Access UK and now intend to submit your new application at a different VAC from the one selected in that application, you’ll need to make a new application and select the VAC where you’ll submit your application.

You’ll need to pay the fee associated with your new application and request a refund for your earlier application.

Getting your documents when a VAC is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions

We will prioritise returning customer passports if a VAC has been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

If the VAC where you applied is closed we will not be able to return your passport.

If your passport is in a VAC, and a decision on your application has been made, the VAC will contact you to arrange collection.

If your application has not been decided, we will not contact you to return your passport until it has. If you would like your passport returned, even if your application has not been decided, please contact the VAC to arrange collection.

To see if the VAC is open for passport return in your country, check with:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS global for all other countries

Depending on the location of the VAC, local restrictions and social distancing may be maintained.

British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport

HM Passport Office is accepting online passport applications.

If you’re advised that you must book an appointment at your nearest VAC to submit your passport application, you should check if it’s open.

If your country’s VAC is still closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport until it reopens.

If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to discuss your options. You can also check the latest travel advice from the FCO.

If you’re applying for a Global Talent visa

If you received an endorsement from a Global Talent endorsing body and you have not been able to apply for a visa within the 3-month deadline due to COVID-19 related reasons, you may still be eligible.

You should provide an explanation of the delay when you submit your application.

Applications of this kind will be assessed on a case by case basis.

If you’re applying for a Start-up or Innovator visa

If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you’ve not been able to travel to the UK, you may still be eligible for a visa. We will consider all applications on a case by case basis.

If your 90 day visa vignette to work or join family has expired

If your 90 day vignette has expired, you will need to apply for a replacement by completing the online form. The cost of replacing an expired 90 day vignette is £154 and you will need to make an appointment to resubmit your biometric information.

(Video) U.K. VISA UPDATES - advise for VISA applicants and temporary residents during COVID19 - Pandemic

We strongly advise that you only apply for a new visa, or apply to replace an expired vignette, when you are confident you can travel to the UK. The new vignette will be valid for a period of 90 days. If you cannot travel during this time, you may need to apply again to update your vignette.

If you have submitted an application for a replacement vignette, and are still awaiting a decision, but now no longer intend to travel, you should submit a withdrawal request at the Visa Application Centre that you applied from in order for your passport to be released back to you.

If you are a student and your 90 day student visa vignette has expired

If your 90 day visa vignette has expired and you either:

  • have been unable to travel due to coronavirus, but have been undertaking your studies remotely from overseas and intend to travel to study the same course in the UK
  • have completed an eligible course by distance learning under coronavirus concessions and are coming to the UK by the relevant date to apply under the Graduate route. Read the guidance for further information

You will need to make a paid application for a vignette transfer by completing the online form. The cost of replacing an expired 90 day vignette is £154 and you will need to make an appointment to resubmit your biometric information.

If your 90 day visa vignette has expired and you either:

  • have deferred your course start date due to coronavirus but have been unable to undertake your studies remotely, meaning that your course cannot be completed during your existing visa period, and you now intend to travel to the UK
  • can still complete your course within the dates covered by your existing visa period, but your course end date has changed, and you would like a new visa with a revised end date

You will need to submit a new paid student visa application with a new Certificate of Acceptance of Study (CAS) to cover the revised dates of your course. You will also need to make an appointment to resubmit your biometric information.

When you arrive in the UK you will not be penalised for being unable to collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) while coronavirus measures are in place.

If you’ve remained outside the UK for over 2 years and due to coronavirus travel restrictions your indefinite leave has lapsed

Your Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (ILE) will lapse if you are absent from the UK for over 2 years.

If your ILR/ILE lapsed on or after 24 January 2020, and you’ve been unable to return to the UK due to travel restrictions in place relating to coronavirus, you may apply under the Returning Resident visa route to return to the UK and get indefinite leave.

You need to complete the online Returning Resident application form and pay the fee. As part of your application you’ll need to explain how coronavirus restrictions prevented your return to the UK.

If you’re applying to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life

If you have been unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions and your leave expired between 1 March 2020 and 19 July 2021, a short break of up to 6 months in continuous residence will be overlooked and you will face no future adverse immigration consequences as a result. However, you are expected to make your next application as soon as possible on return. Those who have returned to the UK and did not make a valid application to stay upon re-entry, are expected to make arrangements to leave.

If you’re here with 6 months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner the current family Immigration Rules allow you to apply for an extension of leave if there is good reason for your wedding or civil partnership not taking place during the initial 6 month period of leave to enter. Cancellation of a wedding or civil partnership ceremony due to COVID-19 will be considered a good reason under this policy.

Changes to the minimum income and adequate maintenance requirement

If you’ve experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 31 October 2021, we will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income, provided the minimum income requirement was met for at least 6 months immediately before the date the income was lost.

If your salary was reduced because you were furloughed we will take account of your income as though you’re earning 100% of your salary.

If you’re self-employed, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 31 October 2021 will usually be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.

The concessions have not been extended beyond 31 October 2021. Any income loss after this date will not be taken into account within the financial concessions listed above and applicants will be expected to meet minimum income and adequate maintenance requirements as per pre-pandemic levels.

If you’re unable to provide specified documents

In some cases we will be able to decide your application without seeing certain specified documents, if you cannot get them due to coronavirus, until 31 March 2022. Otherwise, you may be asked to submit the specified documents after the date of application.

Changes to the English language requirement

If you’re asked to take an English language test as part of your application, you can apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or you couldn’t travel to it due to coronavirus when you applied.

If you want to cancel your visa

Read the guidance on how to cancel your visa, immigration or citizenship application because of coronavirus.

(Video) UK Visas Extended Due To COVID 19 & British Passport Delays

If your query doesn’t relate to immigration provisions associated with coronavirus, please contact the general immigration helpline.

Videos

1. UK VISA GUIDANCE FOR NEW VISA APPLICANTS AND BRITISH NATIONALS | COVID-19 | APRIL 2020
(Visa and Immigration Updates)
2. UK VISA AND IMMIGRATION PROBLEMS DUE TO COVID-19: TOP 5 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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3. UK IMMIGRATION STATUS IMPACT BY COVID-19: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | PART -1
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4. Coronavirus & Immigration Law Update: FTT Appeals and Minimum Income Concession
(Adam Pipe)
5. Coronavirus Immigration Update: No more automatic extensions but grace period until 31.8.20
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6. UK MIGRANTS GET COVID-19 SUPPORT BY THE UK GOVERNMENT
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