This is advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus.
Last updated 24 September 2020
If you had a visa that expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 you were able to request an extension if you were not able to return home because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Additionally, if you had leave which expired between 24 January and 31 August 2020, including those who received an extension between this period, you were able to take advantage of a grace period between 1 August to 31 August 2020. The conditions of your stay in the UK were the same as the conditions of your leave. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you were able to continue doing so during August 2020.
Now travel restrictions are lifting globally you will no longer be able to extend your visa on this basis and 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.
If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a visa or leave that expires between 1 September and 31 October 2020 you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by contacting the coronavirus immigration team (CIT).
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.
After you’ve completed the form, you’ll be told what you’ll need to submit to show why you can’t leave the UK.
For example, if you can’t leave the UK because you can’t find a flight before your leave/visa expires, you’ll need to submit a copy of a confirmed flight ticket. If you can’t leave the UK because you have coronavirus, you’ll need to submit confirmation of your positive coronavirus test result.
If you have already completed the form to request exceptional assurance, you do not need to contact us again. We are considering all requests and will be in touch to inform you of the outcome. During this time, you will not be treated as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in any future immigration applications for this consideration period.
If you do require longer and/or are unable to leave the UK by the assurance date given, you must reapply nearer this date by resubmitting the online form with supporting information.
If you decide to stay in the UK, you should apply for the necessary leave to remain in the UK. You’ll also be able to submit an application form from within the UK where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.
You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee.
The terms of your leave 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.
You can submit an application form from within the UK where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.
You’ll need to show your application is urgent, for example if you need to start a new job or course of study, please provide full details of this in a covering letter with your supporting documents.
You’ll need to pay the fees and meet all requirements of your visa as normal, except the need to submit the application in your home country.
This is being kept under review.
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 did not apply for an exceptional assurance by 31 August 2020 you must make arrangements to leave the UK.
Some UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) have reopened for existing customers. You can check which UKVCAS centres are open.
Service and Support Centres (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 applying in the UK as a Tier 4 student, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may be able to reuse your fingerprints.
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.
Some English Testing Centres are resuming services. For more information on how you can book your English Language Test, contact either:
We have contacted you if you made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS or SSC that is still temporary closed to let you know it has been postponed. You’ll be contacted when you can book a new appointment.
Your immigration status in the UK will not change as a result of you not being able to attend an appointment.
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.
Time when your employees were furloughed will not count towards the 12 month period.
If you’ve not been able to employ staff for 12 months by the time your visa expires, you’ll be allowed to temporarily extend your stay to give you time to meet the requirement.
These arrangements will continue for applications made after 31 May 2020, where the jobs you’re relying on were disrupted due to coronavirus.
You can start your course or studies before your visa application has been decided if:
If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must stop your course or studies.
You can start work before your visa application has been decided if:
If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused your sponsor will stop sponsoring you and you must stop working for them.
Some health workers and their families will get their visas automatically extended because of coronavirus. The extension will apply from the date your visa is due to expire.
If your visa is due to expire after 1 October 2020, you’ll need to apply to extend your visa as usual.
These changes will apply to you if:
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.
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.
There is no longer a limit on the number of hours you can work or volunteer each week if you’re a:
If you’re a pre-registration nurse in the UK, the deadline for you to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been extended to 31 December 2020. If you do not pass on the first attempt, you’ll have until 31 May 2021 to pass the exam.
If you’re a scientist researching coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be able to apply for a Global Talent visa using the UKRI endorsed funder option. Find out about the requirements for coronavirus researchers.
There are changes at the border because of coronavirus. Check what you need to do before you travel.
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:
Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.
Some English Testing Centres are also resuming services. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website, the Pearson Test of English website or the LanguageCert website or contact your test centre for more information on where we are reopening and how you can book your Secure English Language Test.
If your VAC is still closed due to coronavirus restrictions, you can apply online and select a VAC in any country worldwide, subject to that country’s entry requirements, to submit your application and biometrics.
You’ll be able to make any type of application, but at the start of your application you must select the country where you will submit your biometrics.
This temporary concession will be reviewed by 30 November 2020.
If you’ve already applied online and you now intend to submit your application at a different VAC than the one you selected, you need to make a new application and select the VAC where you intend to submit your application.
You’ll need to pay the fee for your new application and then request a refund for your original application.
As VACs reopen their services, we will prioritise returning customer passports.
If the VAC where you applied is still 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:
We are continuing to reopen more VACs where local restrictions allow and social distancing can be maintained.
Her Majesty’s 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 your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you’ve not been able to make an application for a visa, you may still be eligible.
Your endorsement will be accepted if both:
Applications that do not meet these requirements will be considered on a case by case basis.
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 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year. This does not apply to other types of visas.
This process will be in place until the end of 2020.
To request a replacement visa you can either:
Contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre:
You’ll need to include your name, nationality, date of birth and your GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. If you’ve already contacted us about this, please let us know in your email.
We are dealing with a high number of requests and will reply as soon as we can. Please do not contact us again unless you need to tell us about a change in your circumstances.
You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport. Your replacement visa will be valid for 90 days.
Alternatively, you can arrange to return your passport to your VAC if it has re-opened.
Please do not travel to the VAC with your passport until you have checked our commercial partner websites for the process in place for re-submitting your passport for your replacement visa, as this may vary depending on your geographical location:
The guidance is different if you applied through an enrolment location operated by Immigration New Zealand.
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’re unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus travel restrictions and your leave has expired, a short break in continuous residence will be overlooked. You are expected to make your next application as soon as possible.
There will be no future adverse immigration consequences if there has been a short break of continuous residence if your leave expired between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020. However, if you did not make a valid application to stay by 31 August 2020, you must now make arrangements to leave the UK.
If you intend to leave the UK but were unable to do so by 31 August, you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by completing the online form.
If you’re here with 6 months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and your wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to coronavirus you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by completing the online form and providing evidence of when your wedding will take place.
Otherwise, you can apply to extend your stay for a further 6 months to allow the ceremony to take place.
If you’ve experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 31 August, we will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income due to coronavirus, provided the requirement was met for at least 6 months up to March 2020.
If your salary has reduced because you’re 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 August 2020 will generally be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.
In some cases, we will be able to decide your application without seeing certain specified documents if you cannot get them due to coronavirus. Otherwise, you may be asked to submit the specified documents after the date of application.
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.
Read the guidance on how to cancel your visa, immigration or citizenship application because of coronavirus.
If you have immigration queries related to coronavirus, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre.
Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email must be in English.
You will usually get a reply within 5 working days. Do not send follow up emails - they may delay you getting a reply.
You can also call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If you’ve emailed the help centre already, please do not contact them by phone.
Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Calls to this number are free of charge within the UK.
Check call charges with your phone provider if you’re calling from abroad.
If your query doesn’t relate to immigration provisions associated with coronavirus, please contact the general immigration helpline.