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Exceptional Assurance and Switching to a different visa route from with the UK – Home Office COVID-19 Policy updated

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

The Home Office has updated its ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents’ guidance on 29 June 2021 to extend the ‘exceptional assurance’ policy.

The latest version of the policy reads:

If you intend to leave the UK to return to a country or territory currently listed amber or red but have not been able to do so and you have a visa, leave or ‘exceptional assurance’ that expires before 30 September 2021 you may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’.

There may also be exceptional cases where you may be unable to return to a country or territory listed as green where that nation has closed their borders or where quarantine facilities are temporarily over-subscribed in which cases you may also request ‘exceptional assurance’.

It is important to note that an ‘exceptional assurance’ will act as short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired, but it is not considered to be ‘immigration leave’. It is a means to protect those who are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions and not to facilitate travel, other than to return home.

During the time in which your request for an ‘exceptional assurance’ is pending, you will continue to be subject to the same conditions as per your current or most recently expired visa.

If you are unable to leave the UK before the expiry of your leave or your visa, please contact Gherson urgently.

The policy has not been updated to allow exceptional switching to long-term visa routes from within the UK after 1 July 2021.

The policy reads:

You can make an application for permission to stay in the UK if you hold permission in a route that would normally allow you to do so, or if your current permission or visa expires before 1 July.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee. You will not be able to apply for a route for which there is no provision in the Immigration Rules for making an in-country application, such as T5 Youth Mobility Scheme, or Adult Dependant Relative.

The terms of your current permission will remain the same until your application is decided. If you are switching into work or study routes you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration, depending on the terms of your current permission.

You are also able to apply for permission to stay in the UK if you have been issued with an ‘exceptional assurance’. You must submit your application before the expiry of your ‘exceptional assurance’. Therefore, those migrants whose leave expires after 1 July 2021, and who wish to switch to long-term work or study routes in the UK, will not be able to do so. In these circumstances, it is mandatory to leave the UK before the expiry of your leave, to avoid becoming an over-stayer in the UK.

It is possible to switch to long-term visa routes from within the UK for those individuals who have been granted an exceptional assurance to remain in the UK.

If you have any queries relating to the blogs published, or are interested in talking to us about your specific circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice, send us an e-mail, or alternatively, follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn to stay up-to-date.


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.

©Gherson 2021


Navka Raja 

  Navka Raja

  Immigration Consultant and Trainee Solicitor in our Private Client Department

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