02 Apr Concession: Switching visa in the UK
On 24 March 2020, the Home Office updated its guidance for UK visa applicants to address the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
If you are in the UK and cannot return to your home country due to COVID-19 outbreak and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended until 31 May 2020.
In addition, if you wish to switch visa categories and would usually need to make an entry clearance application, you will be able to apply from the UK prior to 31 May 2020. However, you will still need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the online application fee.
The Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Helpline (CIH) states that:
“No individual of any nationality whose leave has expired or is due to expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future.
Where you would normally be required to return to your country of residence to apply for a visa in a different category, you’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch.
This will only apply if your leave has expired or will expire on or after 24 January 2020 to 31 May 2020; including those individuals who have already had their leave extended to 31 March 2020.
You will need to be switching from/to an eligible route and you’ll need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the same application fee.
You should apply online but you will not be able to book a biometric appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centre Services (UKVCAS) service point or a Service and Support Centre (SSC). This is because we have temporarily closed these biometric enrolment services.
If you are intending to enrol your biometrics at a Post Office you should check the availability of services through the Post Office finder, as advised on your Biometric Enrolment letter, or through updates on GOV.UK.
You will not be regarded as an overstayer or be subject to enforcement action if you are unable to attend a biometric appointment due to COVID-19 or if there are delays in processing your application. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.”
For instance, if a migrant is currently holding a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) visa with an expiry date on 15 April 2020, and he/she is going to apply for a Tier 2 General entry clearance, then the migrant will be able to switch from a Tier 5 YMS visa to a Tier 2 General visa in the UK. However, if his/her leave will expire in January 2021 (after 31 May 2020), the migrant will still need to return to his/her nationality country to submit a Tier 2 General entry clearance application unless the Home Office updates further guidance in relation to COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact Our Immigration Team
For expert advice regarding any aspect of the UK visa application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075.