The Boris Johnson government on Friday extended until July 31 the visas of Indian and other non-EU citizens currently in the UK whose visas have expired or are about to expire and are unable to return to their home countries due to lockdowns imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Their visas had previously been extended until May 31, but a large number of Indians and others are still unable to leave the UK. Over 2,000 stranded Indians have so far returned home in repatriation flights.
The visa extension will apply to anyone whose leave expired after January 24 and cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation, the Home Office said, adding that those currently on temporary visas, such as visitor visas, should return home as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
Home secretary Priti Patel said: “By extending people’s visas further, we are giving them peace of mind that they are able to stay in the UK until the end of July if they are unable to leave the country safely”.
“This is one of a number of unprecedented measures the government has made to support people during this time, however, as we begin a cautious return to normality those currently in the UK on expired visitor visas should return home as soon as possible”.
A dedicated coronavirus immigration team in the Home Office is working with individuals to make the process as straightforward as possible, officials said, adding that anyone in this situation needs to contact the team via an online form to let them know their visa has expired and they will be issued with an extension. No immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time against those who contact the Home Office.
The Home Office also extended the in-country switching provisions until July 31, which means that people can apply to switch into long-term visa routes whilst remaining in the UK.
In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is also waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors, such as allowing non-EU nationals here under work or study routes to undertake their work or study from home.