Today UKVI releases their staff guidance on Covid Visa Concession Scheme. This is aimed for individuals who leave has since expires while overseas and unable to return to the UK due to COVID-19.
- Individual who were in the UK as a Visitor is not eligible for this concession
- This route only applies if the individual would be able to apply for leave to remain in the route they now want to apply for. An example will be for individual who would have qualify to extend their visa in the UK, or switching into a new visa category in the UK, or applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
To be eligible the person must be abroad and all of the following must apply:
- they left the UK before 17 March 2020
- their leave expired and they were unable to return to the UK before its expiry due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
- they intend to return to the UK once confirmation they are eligible is given by UKVI, not less than 21 calendar days’ notice of their date of travel, unless either:
- they cannot travel because travel restrictions remain in place
- they choose not to travel due to a COVID-19 risk to themselves or their family, for example, showing symptoms, a requirement to self-isolate or being high-risk and unable to travel
All those affected will be told to complete a SMART Form on the Gov.UK website to commence the process. They will not be required to attend a Visa Application Centre overseas as they are not making an application for entry clearance.
Where a person indicates they have already made an application for entry clearance solely to facilitate their return to the UK, they will be issued Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR) for 3 months with the same conditions as their previous grant of leave. This will avoid the application having to be withdrawn and save the migrant from having to reapply into the CVCS process and prevent additional delays.
Where a person does not meet the eligibility criteria, UKVI can also consider those who left the UK after 17 March 2020 as eligible if they had good reason for leaving the UK, on a case by case basis under exceptional circumstances.