The Home Office has amended its policy guidance to reflect the pledge it made to ensure that family and private life applicants are not unfairly affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Home Office guidance now confirms that whilst in normal circumstances there is no flexibility to exercise discretion, in the current climate, discretion may be exercised in order to allow an applicant to “start, stay on (extend – apply for further leave) or complete a route to settlement”. This may be applied to applicants who:
- are in the UK as visitors;
- are in the UK with leave of six-months or less;
- spent a short period of time in the UK without leave or;
- spent a short period of time overseas.
If the applicant falls into one of the above categories, they will be required to evidence to the Home Office that they were not able to travel or make the required application due to COVID-19 between March and 31 August 2020. In cases where applicants were forced to spend a short period of time outside of the UK (usually as they were unable to travel), the guidance indicates an application for entry to the UK must be made as soon as “practicable”. In these circumstances, discretion may be applied to waive a break in continuous residence which will avoid undue delay in an applicant becoming eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement).
The above clarifies initial information published on 30 July 2020 in our earlier blog, specifically in relation to those in the UK on visit visas or those who held leave of 6 months or less.
If you have been affected by the pandemic, have queries regarding your current status in the UK or want to discuss your eligibility for settlement in the UK in light of COVID-19, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please note that the information in this blog is current at the date and time of posting. The situation regarding policy and guidance based on the COVID-19 pandemic is subject to change at short notice. We shall be monitoring all aspects of UK immigration which may be impacted by the coronavirus closely, so please do keep updated with further blogs and articles which we will be posting on this site.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Trainee Solicitor in our corporate team