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COVID-19: Temporary Changes to Visa Extensions and Switching

If you are in the UK on a visa, you may be deeply concerned about your right to remain in the country and what the situation is if you want to extend or switch your visa.

This article is a comprehensive guide to government advice regarding visa extensions and switching as of 4 May 2020. As with all information relating to Covid-19, things can swiftly change, so it is vital to continue to keep checking the official government guidance.

NHS and frontline health workers

During the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS and frontline health workers have become the nation’s heroes. Many of these people are in the UK on a visa. For example, 13 percent of doctors and 7 percent of nurses report an Asian nationality and over 18,500 NHS staff are Filipino.

If you are an NHS worker, the British government will extend you and your families’ visas for one year if the following conditions are met:

  • your visa is due to expire before 1 October 2020, and
  • you work for the NHS or an independent healthcare

The one-year extension will apply from the date your leave to remain is due to expire.

The following professions are eligible:

  • biochemist
  • biological scientist
  • dental practitioner
  • health professional
  • medical practitioner
  • medical radiographer
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • ophthalmologist
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • speech and language therapist

Your employer will tell you if you need to apply for an extension.

Pressure is also mounting for the government to scrap the migrant healthcare surcharge that non-EU migrant NHS and frontline healthcare staff must pay. Doctors, nurses, and carers argue that as they are risking their lives on the Covid-19 frontline, they should not have to pay to access NHS services.

`Carl Perez, a Filipino nurse who contracted Covid-19 whilst working in a care home where several residents died, told The Guardian:

“It feels unfair that we are risking out [sic] lives on the frontline, and we are being penalized by having to pay this large sum out of our own pockets. We’re already paying for the NHS through our national insurance and tax. It doesn’t leave much left for accommodation and living costs.”

Dr Zakiuddin Mohammed, an Indian doctor who is treating Covid-19 patients daily, added:

“Much more than the monetary burden, it makes me feel as though the government doesn’t value our contribution. It is extremely unfair because we’re paying taxes and national insurance and being told: if you’re to access the services of this wonderful organization that you’re contributing so much to, you will have to pay a surcharge. It feels very ungrateful to us.”

In a statement, the Home Office stated that:

“It is in the public interest for migrants to be financially independent and not burden UK taxpayers. Those who benefit from the state should be contributing to it.”

Related article: Read also 'Health Surcharge fee scrapped for non-EU migrant NHS workers in May 2020 - Update'

Visa holders whose leave to remain expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

If you cannot leave the country because you are self-isolating or because of travel restrictions, your visa will be extended until 31 May 2020. You will not be classed as an overstayer or suffer any detriment to further visa applications you may make in the future.

Note – this only applies to people who do not plan to extend their leave to remain. For example, you may be on a Standard Visitor Visa which expires in mid-May. If you suspect you have Coronavirus symptoms, you need to self-isolate and should this happen in early-mid May; you will be unable to leave the country.

You must apply to extend your visa because if you allow it to expire, you may not be granted a Standard Visitor Visa in the future.

Your 30-day visa to work, study, or join family is about to expire

You can request a replacement 30-day visa by emailing CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email must be in English. Remember to include your name, nationality, date of birth, and your GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line.

At present, all UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed; however, you will be contacted when they re-open.

Changes to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa requirements

Many businesses have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus nationwide lockdown. Therefore, the government has stated that you do not need to employ at least two settled workers for 12 consecutive months. Instead, you can hire someone to do multiple jobs across different months.

Note that if you furlough any employees, the time they spend off work will not count towards the twelve-month period required to gain an extension on your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa or Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If you have been unable to meet the 12-month total by the time your visa expires, you can apply to temporarily extend your leave to remain to try and meet the requirement.

Awaiting a Tier 4 Visa decision and starting study

You can begin your course of study even though you have not had a decision on your Tier 4 Student Visa if:

  • your sponsor is a Tier 4 sponsor
  • you have received confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you have documentary proof of this to present to your sponsor
  • the course you start is the same as the one listed on your CAS
  • you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

If your visa application is rejected, you will have to cease studying immediately.

Beginning work if you have not received a decision on your Tier 2 or 5 Visa application

The government has temporarily changed its rules to allow applicants to start work if:

  • you have received your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and you can prove this to your sponsor
  • your position is identical to the one listed on your CoS

You are applying to switch your visa to stay in the UK long term

Until 31 May 2020, applicants can apply from within the UK to switch their visas. This includes switching to a visa where you would generally have to return to your home country to make the application. You will still need to meet all the eligibility requirements for the route you are switching to.

If you have any further questions about visa extensions or switching during the Covid-19 epidemic, please get in touch with our Immigration Solicitors.

Related articles:

COVID-19 update: UK based immigration application and service centres re-open

COVID-19 update: UK visa application service points worldwide - Reopening plans in phases

Some of our Happy Clients

Reiss Edwards Awards

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Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
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ACQ5 Awards Award ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated Three Best Rated
Department For International Development Department For International Development
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O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

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"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

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"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

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"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

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"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

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"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

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"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

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Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

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Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

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Fong Li

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Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

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Salisu Ibrahim

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Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

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O.L

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