Further grace period for migrants in the UK with leave expiring

Grace period during Covid-19

The Home Office has announced further concessions and grace periods for migrants whose leave is expiring between 24 January and 31 July 2020. This announcement brings welcome news to many migrants who are still in limbo during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Home Office has previously announced a concession that allows migrants in this position to extend their visa to 31 July 2020. The concession was available to migrants who could not return to their home country due to the travel restrictions or had to self-isolate due to Covid-19.

As travel restrictions are now lifting, the Home Office said that migrants would no longer be able to extend their visas automatically. The Home Office expects them to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK or to apply for a visa that will allow them to stay.

Migrants leaving the UK

The Home Office will give migrants that will be leaving the UK, with a visa that was due to expire between 24 January and 31 July 2020, a month’s grace period to make arrangements to leave the UK. They will thus only be required to leave the UK by 31 August 2020.

During this grace period, the conditions of their stay in the UK will be the same as their current leave.  Eg. A migrant with permission to work will thus be allowed to work during the grace period.

Migrants do not need to inform the Home Office if they can leave the UK during the grace period up to 31 August 2020.

In cases where a migrant is still not able to leave the UK by the end of the grace period, they can request exceptional indemnity. To obtain this exceptional indemnity, you will have to provide details and supporting documents of why you are not able to leave the UK. 

Please contact your Breytenbachs consultant for further advice in this regard at [email protected]

Migrants wanting to extend their stay in the UK

Migrants whose leave is expiring between 24 January and 31 July 2020, but decide to stay in the UK need to apply for a visa that will enable them to stay.

The good news is that such a visa application can be done from within the UK. You do not need to return to your home country to submit the application. You will have to fulfil all the other normal requirements of the relevant visa.

We understand that this means that migrants with visas expiring before 31 August 2020, can switch in-country.

The conditions of your leave will remain the same until the application is decided. Migrants who are switching into work or study routes will even be able to start work or study while the application is being decided.

Persons who overstayed

If you were in the UK, with leave expiring between 24 January and 31 July 2020, and you did not extend your visa, there will be no adverse immigration consequences. However, the Home Office will require you to regularise stay from 1 August 2020.

How Breytenbachs can help

If you have any questions relating to the above concessions and grace period, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We are also able to assist applicants who still want to regularise their stay by submitting a visa application. In these cases, we recommend that clients contact us without delay.