There is conflicting information regarding this, as the Home Office announced that people who could not leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation should contact them to be considered for a visa extension. This was initially reported as an automatic extension, but that is not the case. The extension is at the discretion of the Home Office and there is a specific form that must be completed. In addition, the extension process is only aimed at those who were or are due to leave the UK before the end of May, it doesn't cover someone seeking to extend their visa or switch to another visa from inside the UK.
Many people are in the situation where they want to apply for a visa extension from inside the UK, but are finding that all visa centres are closed. This understandably causes some concerns, as people are worried that they won't be able to attend visa appointments or get decisions before their current visa expires. However, there is no need to be concerned about visa centres being closed as it is not the date of appointment or decision that is crucial to in-country applications.
Instead, the date of the application is the date the online form is submitted and paid for. Once this is done, the individual and any dependents can stay in the UK until a decision is made on their case. This is due to section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971, so while it's not new legislation it is more important than before social distancing. It is not possible to travel while the application is considered, although this is currently less of an issue than it used to be. The individuals can also continue to work while the application is considered.
The timing of an application is still important, as regardless of when centres reopen the Home Office will have to consider if someone meets the rules at the date of the application and not the date of the visa centre appointment. Therefore, it's vital that anyone submitting an application makes sure they have the correct evidence before applying otherwise they could find themselves facing a refusal in the future.
One issue that needs to be considered is that the Home Office have withdrawn the priority services which led to faster decisions, and it is likely there will be delays to applications once the centres reopen. This means applicants should prepare for longer than usual waits for decisions, and those who don't have imminent visa expiry dates may benefit from waiting to see if the priority services are reinstated.
We can assist anyone with an upcoming visa expiry date. Our team of experts are working remotely and can videocall clients to discuss:
- The documents needed for their application;
- The timing of their application;
- How to use the application process to protect their right to work; and
- How to demonstrate continued right to work to their employer.
If you have any questions regarding your visa application please get in touch.