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COVID-19: New guidance for UK visa holders and short-term residents in the UK

(Partner Content) The UK Government made further immigration provisions for individuals affected by travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Image courtesy of Anna Shvets from Pexels

How has COVID-19 affected visa holders and residents in the UK?

COVID-19 affecting UK Visa holders currently in the UK 

Persons who are in the UK legally and whose visa is due to, or has already expired, and cannot leave because of travel restrictions, will NOT be regarded as overstayers or suffer any disadvantage in the future.

Contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Team 

The visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if a person cannot leave due to travel restrictions, or self-isolation related to COVID-19. However, you must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to advise of the situation at The Coronavirus Immigration Team will update the person’s details on the UKVI database. The requirement to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team applies to persons of all nationalities whose leave to stay in the UK expires between 24 January 2020 and 30 May 2020.

You are also welcome to contact your Breytenbachs Immigration consultant for more advice.


Persons would usually be required to return to their home country and apply from there if they wish to switch to another category. However, they will now be able to apply to switch from within the UK. They will still have to fulfil the relevant criteria and pay the same application fee. This rule also applies to persons whose leave have been auto-extended to 31 March 2020.

Applicants will be able to apply online and select a biometric submission appointment to attend. The terms of their current leave will remain the same until the application is decided. If a person is not able to attend a biometric appointment due to COVID-19 related issues, or if there are delays in the processing of the application, such person will not be regarded as an overstayer.

Breytenbachs will be able to assist clients with switching from within the UK. Please feel free to book a SKYPE or telephone consultation today.

Tier 4 students in the UK 

The following arrangements will apply until 31 May 2020, at which time it will be reviewed.

Distance learning 

Because of current exceptional circumstances, Tier 4 Students will be allowed to undertake distance learning. It will not be a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing students in the UK, or to those students who have returned overseas but wish to continue their current studies.

In the case where a student has permanently withdrawn from or formally deferred their studies, the sponsor will have to follow the standard reporting requirements.

New overseas Tier 4 students 

New overseas students with a Tier 4 Student visa who are not able to travel to the UK due to travel restrictions can undertake distance learning. The Tier 4 sponsorship need not be withdrawn.

Tier 2 and Tier 5 workers in the UK 

The UK Home Office is aware that many Tier 2 and Tier 5 workers will now be working from home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the current exceptional circumstances, sponsors will not be required to report this. Sponsors will be required to report any other changes as usual.

How Breytenbachs can help you during the COVID-19 pandemic

Clients can be assured that Breytenbachs are doing all we can to assist you during this difficult time. We do all we can to disseminate information from the Government and our professional bodies as to how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect immigration application processes and timelines. We will deal with each case as it comes. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss your matters and make your plans for when this pandemic has run its course.

Please feel free to contact us for any further queries at or visit our website at 

Please note that the information in this article does not constitute professional advice. It is provided for general information purposes, without giving any warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.