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

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19)

You must request an extension by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term.

If you have already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020 you visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.

You will be expected to return to your home country as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.

If you’re applying to stay in the UK long-term

You can apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 July 2020 if your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020. This includes applications 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 are applying for and pay the UK application fee.

This includes those whose leave has already been extended to 31 July 2020.

You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.

If you’re outside the UK

Many UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed or offering limited services. For advice on visa services in your country, contact:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East

  • VFS global for all other countries

In some areas the UK cannot send visa vignettes across some borders and routes due to border restrictions.


If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.


English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre for more information.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors

If your student or employee is absent

The Home Office will not take enforcement action against sponsors who continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences due to coronavirus.

You do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus. This can include illness, their need to isolate or inability to travel due to travel restrictions.


You do not need to withdraw sponsorship if:

  • a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days

  • an employee is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks

If you’re sponsoring a student who is distance learning

You can continue to sponsor existing Tier 4 students continuing their studies through distance learning, whether they are in the UK or another country.


If a student has permanently withdrawn from or deferred their studies, you must report this as usual.


You do not need to withdraw sponsorship for new students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but are distance learning because they have been unable to travel to the UK.


New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course by distance learning do not require sponsorship under Tier 4. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK.


You do not need to tell the Home Office when students have moved to distance learning.


These arrangements will apply until 31 May, when they will be reviewed.

If you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home

You do not have to notify the Home Office if you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home due to coronavirus.


Other changes to their working arrangements must still be reported as usual.

EU Settlement Scheme update - Covid-19 impact on support services

While applications continue to be processed, during this challenging time they will take longer than usual. In addition, in line with the latest Public Health England advice some of the support services and application routes have temporarily changed. Please find an outline of these changes below. This situation is being kept under constant review and we will continue to keep you updated.

Settlement Resolution Centre (SRC)

The SRC will no longer be answering telephone calls. It will, however, continue to respond to email enquiries and provide a call back function when required. Emails from support organisations will be prioritised where possible. 

ID document scanner locations

The ID document scanner locations are following all the latest Public Health England advice to protect staff and the decision has been made, to suspend them at this time.

Postal route for submitting Identity evidence

The postal route for submitting identity evidence is currently suspended. We are unable to accept any documents by post at this time, but all documents already sent to us will be returned as quickly as possible. Applications can still be made online using the “EU Exit ID Document check app”.

57 grant funded voluntary and community sector organisations

Some services have been suspended but organisations are seeking to provide support in other ways, in line with social distancing guidance, for example via telephone and online. Please check with the individual organisations for further details.


Further information

There are still 15 months before the deadline of 30 June 2021 for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme, and there is plenty of support available online to support those looking to apply.

Additional support is available to those EU citizens in the UK who do not have the appropriate access, skills or confidence to apply online through Assisted Digital, which can offer assistance over the phone.

We have also translated communications materials into 26 languages and alternative formats can also be requested.

The support services outlined above will be kept under regular review. 

© 2020 by GDB Legal

Authorised to provide Immigration advice at OISC Level 1
Registration number: F201700019