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UK: International students can request one-month visa extension

UK study visa 2020
Foreign students in the UK can request for a one-month visa extension if they cannot return home due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19. Source: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

UK study visa expiring by July 31, 2020? You can request a one-month visa extension you they cannot return home due to travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

The UK Home Office has announced that foreign nationals can stay in the UK until Aug. 31, 2020 to allow them to make necessary arrangements before leaving the country. 

“From Aug. 1, 2020 to Aug. 31, 2020, the conditions of your stay in the UK will be the same as the conditions of your leave. So, if your conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during August 2020 ahead of your departure,” it said.

Under the guidelines published on Gov.uk, temporary UK residents in the UK will not need to contact the Home Office about leaving the UK during the grace period.

However, those who intend to leave the UK but are not able to do so by the grace period may request additional time to stay, also known as “exceptional indemnity,” by contacting the coronavirus immigration team (CIT).

The indemnity will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after their students’ leave has expired.

The CIT will provide temporary UK residents with further advice on what they need to do to request an indemnity. 

“This will include providing details of the reason why you are unable to leave the UK and supporting evidence, for example, a confirmed flight ticket with a date after Aug. 31, 2020 or confirmation of a positive coronavirus test result,” it said.

According to government guidelines, those who intend to stay in the UK can submit an application form from within the UK.

Visa extension concerns for international students in the UK

UK study visa 2020

You can request for a one-month extension for your UK study visa 2020 if you cannot return home due to COVID-19 travek restrictions. Source: Glyn Kirk/AFP

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) notes that the update informs about the position of people whose leave expires between Jan. 24, 2020 and July 31, 2020:

“It will come as a relief to people whose leave was extended to July 31, 2020, under the ‘free extension’, and who are not sure what their position will be immediately after that (on August 1, 2020),” said UKCISA on its website.

It does not, however, appear to apply to those whose leave expires after July 31, 2020.

“We understand this is a concern to many students whose leave is expiring soon after July 31, 2020 and who may still not yet be able to leave the UK, or make any plans to, because of COVID-19 travel restrictions,” UKCISA

UKCISA is the UK’s national advisory body supporting international students and those who work with them.

They add that the guidance does not appear to require that someone must have used the “free extension” to qualify for the grace period.

“It is not clear what will be recorded about people’s immigration position during this grace period, or where it will be recorded. It is not clear whether or how this could affect future immigration applications,” said UKCISA.

They add that it is unclear how people will be able to prove without documentation that they are in this grace period and have the same conditions of stay in the UK, which could be particularly challenging for those who need to demonstrate this to employers, educational institutions or landlords.

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