The government has issued a Press Release finally confirming that further visa extensions will be granted to 31 July 2020 to everyone whose visa expires before this date if they are unable to leave the country safely due to the COVID pandemic. This is relevant both to visitors to the UK and those who have held a longer term visa for work or studies.
You still need to update the Home Office by completing a form on this page. The form has not yet been updated and at the time of this post still refers to 31 May, not 31 July.
The government announcement states that no one whose leave to enter or remain expired between 24 January and 31 July 2020 and who was unable to leave due to coronavirus will be considered an overstayer. The relevant legislation will have to be updated for this to become law, but we are keeping screenshots of these announcements in case there is change of mind.
Visitors can apply for a long-term visa from within the UK
Exceptionally, visitors to the UK whose leave expires by 31 July are allowed to apply for a long term visa without leaving the country. This includes switching to a partner visa, ancestry visa, sponsored employment, student visa or Global Talent visa. The applications are made online and will be kept on hold until visa applications centres are re-opened.
If you have a certificate of sponsorship from an employer or a certificate of acceptance for studies, and you have made an application for leave to remain in Tier 2, Tier 5 or a Tier 4 category before the expiry of your previous leave to remain, you can start the work or the course of studies without waiting for your application to be processed.
Changes to the restrictions to the number of hours students are allowed to work
Tier 4 students who are working for the NHS are allowed to work unrestricted number of hours.
All other Tier 4 students are subject to the usual restrictions. However, if the college suspended the course of studies, the period is treated as holiday time.
Applications for entry clearance to the UK
All visa application centres remain closed. Visa applications can be made online and the appointments will be available as soon as the visa application centres reopen.
There is no indication as yet of the likely timing.
Those who were granted initial leave to enter for 30 days as part of family or work related visa, and who were unable to travel within the 30 day period due to the pandemic, are promised another another visa free of charge once the borders reopen.
There is an indication that applicants for work related visas, start-ups and innovators will not be prejudiced by the expiry date of the certificate of sponsorship or endorsement. However, the government website states that all applications will be treated on a case by case basis.