Individuals in the UK on a visa, who are unable to return home due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be able to extend their visa.
The extension was announced on Tuesday (March 24) by Home Secretary Priti Patel, read a press release.
This will apply to anyone whose leave expired after January 24 and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.
The extension will last until May 31 but will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed.
A dedicated Covid-19 immigration team has been set up within UK Visas and Immigration to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Anyone in this situation must contact this team via CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk to let them know their visa has expired and they will be issued an extension.
To help those who want to apply for a visa to stay in the UK long-term, the Home Office is also temporarily expanding the in-country switching provisions.
This will mean people can apply to switch routes, such as from Tier 4 (student) to Tier 2 (general worker), whilst remaining in the UK.
UK Visas and Immigration will continue to process applications as quickly as possible. However, some applications may take longer than usual due to Covid-19 related operational pressures.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said, "The UK continues to put the health and wellbeing of people first and nobody will be punished for circumstances outside of their control."
"By extending people's visas, we are giving people peace of mind and also ensuring that those in vital services can continue their work," he continued.
Many foreign nationals have found themselves unable to return home since the outbreak of the coronavirus – due to flight cancellations and border restrictions.
The extension has been put in place to give these individuals peace of mind – they will not be penalised for overstaying their visa when the situation is outside of their control due to the virus.
The extension will be kept under review in case further extensions are needed in the future.
Those who contact the Home Office for these visa extensions will be expected to return to their home countries as soon as possible once flight and border restrictions are lifted.
No immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time for those who email the Home Office as outlined above.
In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is also waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors – such as allowing non-EU nationals in the UK for work or study to undertake their work or study from home.