Guidance

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

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.

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.

Application and Service Centres in the UK

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You cannot book an appointment.

If you’ve already made an appointment

If you’ve already made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS or an SSC, you will be contacted to be informed that it has been cancelled. You’ll be advised 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.

If you are on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa and your business has been disrupted

You no longer need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months each. The 12 month period you are 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 have not been able to employ staff for 12 months in total by the time your visa expires, you will 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 are relying on were disrupted due to COVID-19.

If you’ve applied for a Tier 4 visa and are waiting for a decision on your application

You can start your course or studies before your visa application has been decided if:

  • your sponsor is a Tier 4 sponsor
  • you have been given a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the course you start is the same as the one listed on your CAS
  • you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must stop your course or studies.

If you’ve applied for a Tier 2 or 5 visa and are waiting for a decision on your application

You can start work before your visa application has been decided if:

  • you have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you show your sponsor evidence of this
  • the job you start is the same as the one listed on your CoS

If your application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused your sponsor will stop sponsoring you and you must stop working for them.

If you need more information about the measures in place for students and their sponsors

You can read detailed guidance on the temporary measures in place for Tier 4 sponsors, their students and short-term students in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you’re working for the NHS

Some frontline health workers and their families will get their visas automatically extended because of coronavirus.

There are also changes to the conditions of visas for some frontline health workers. These changes will apply to you if you work for the NHS or independent health and care providers as a:

  • biochemist
  • biological scientist
  • dental practitioner
  • health professional
  • medical practitioner
  • medical radiographer
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • ophthalmologist
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • speech and language therapist
  • therapy professional

Check with your employer if you’re not sure whether you work in an eligible profession.

If you will be working at a different NHS site than your usual place of work because of coronavirus

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.

If you do any different or extra frontline work due to coronavirus

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.

Changes to the current restrictions on the number of hours you can work or volunteer

There is no longer a limit on the number of hours you can work or volunteer each week if you are a:

  • tier 4 student
  • tier 2 worker and your NHS job is a second job
  • visiting academic researcher
  • holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer

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 will have until 31 May 2021 to pass the exam.

If you’re outside the UK

All UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed. For updates to the status of VACs 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 UKVI cannot send visa vignettes across borders and routes due to 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 the LanguageCert website or contact your test centre for more information.

Getting your documents

Due to worldwide border, travel and public health restrictions it may not be possible to return your passport at this time.

If you have submitted your passport and would like it returned, you must contact the visa application centre where you logged your application to see if courier return is available in your location.  

British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport

If your country‘s VAC is closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport. If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you can apply for an emergency travel document.

If you are applying for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa

If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you have not been able to travel to the UK you may still be eligible for a visa. You should make your application as planned and we will consider all applications on a case by case basis.

If your 30 day visa to work, study or join family has expired

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.

To make a request, contact 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.

You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport.

You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.

Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre

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.

We aim to reply to your email within 5 working days.

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.

Published 24 March 2020
Last updated 22 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Visa extensions for those unable to leave the UK because of coronavirus have been extended to 31 July 2020. The deadline for making an application from the UK to switch to a visa that would normally require you to apply from your home country has been extended to 31 July 2020.

  2. Updated Secure English Language Test (SELT) contact information.

  3. Updated information about calling the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre: check call charges with your phone provider if you're calling from abroad.

  4. Added further guidance for frontline health workers on working in different locations, carrying out supplementary work. The list of frontline workers affected has been expanded to include more occupations.

  5. Added information on what to do if your 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired or is about to expire.

  6. Added a link to coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance: Tier 4 sponsors, migrants and short-term students.

  7. Added link to Tier 2 worker guidance to explain that some NHS workers and their families will get their visas automatically extended because of coronavirus.

  8. Information added about applicants who can start work or study in the UK before their visa application has been decided.

  9. Added link to form for visa holders to update their information with the Coronavirus Immigration Team.

  10. Guidance added for NHS staff, holders of Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas and those applying for a Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visa.

  11. UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS), Post Office enrolment services and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  12. Updated to add information on the 5 working day response time for helpline emails.

  13. First published.