Throughout the last few months, the UK Government has taken several measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19. One of those measures was the closure of international travel borders. The inability to return to the countries of permanent residence due to flights restrictions and cancellations caused by the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in many people overstaying their UK visas.
The UK Government acknowledged the situation and to date has made several concessions. As such, the Home Office’s initial guidance conferred leave to remain until 31 March 2020 to Chinese citizens only, whose UK visas had expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020. The same was allowed to non-Chinese nationals who were normally resident in China.
The UK Government’s guidance was updated on 24 March 2020 to cover all nationalities, enabling people to extend their visas until the 31st of May.
On 22 May 2020, the UK Government extended its concession to 31 July 2020.
The travel restrictions have now been lifting globally. As a result, the Home Office is now expecting that people take all reasonable steps in order to regularise their immigration status in the UK or to leave the country by the 31st of July 2020. However, the announcement created somewhat of a confusion, since many countries worldwide are still in lockdown, hence, will not be opening their international travel borders at least by the end of August.
The UK Government was prompt to provide further clarifications. On 30 July 2020, amended guidance was published on GOV.UK website stating as follows:
“To allow time to make the necessary arrangements to leave the UK, if you have a visa or leave that was due to expire between the 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020, you’ll be able to stay within the UK to 31 August 2020.
From 1 to 31 August 2020, the conditions of your stay in the UK will be the same as the conditions of your leave. So, if your conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during August 2020 ahead of your departure.”
The announcement further goes on to clarify that those, who intend to leave the UK but unable to do so by the 31st of August, may request additional time to remain in the UK by contacting coronavirus immigration team.
Most importantly, the Home Office has now confirmed that the period of overstaying in the UK between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 will have no future adverse immigration consequences for those, who did not make an application to regularise their immigration status.
If you are concerned about your immigration status in the UK, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team for advice.
Please note that requirements may vary from case to case based on the nuances of your situation, and the information on this page is not intended to replace legal advice.