The United Kingdom has decided to extend visas for Bangladesh nationals, who are currently unable to return home at the end of their visas due to COVID-19, to May 31, according to a press release of the British High Commission in Dhaka.
The extension, announced on March 24 by home secretary Priti Patel, will be applied to anyone whose leave expired after January 24 and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.
Visa extensions will be kept under review in case further extension is needed, it said, adding that people willing to seek further extension of the visas should proactively inform the British Home Office.
A dedicated COVID-19 immigration team has been set up within UKVI to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Anyone in this situation just needs to contact this team, via this email address [email protected], to let them know that their visas have expired and the tenure of the visas should be extended.
To help those who want to apply for visas to stay in the UK for long time, 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), while remaining in the UK.
UKVI will continue processing applications as quickly as possible, however some applications may take longer than usual due to COVID-19-related operational pressures.
Many foreign nationals have found themselves unable to return home since the outbreak of COVID-19 due to flight cancellations and border restrictions, the high commission said.
The extension has been put in place to give these individuals peace of mind that they will not be penalised for overstaying their visa when the situation is out of their control due to COVID-19.
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.
Individuals who have emailed with an application for a visa extension will receive an automated message to acknowledge receipt of their e-mail, which will be responded to within 5 working days to confirm that the individual’s immigration records have been updated.
The Home Office may ask individuals to complete a short template to provide further details and ensure the correct record is updated.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs