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How to Extend/Renew Your Visa in the UK

If you currently hold a UK visa, it is important to be aware that not all visas can be extended or renewed. Some notable visas that cannot be renewed include the UK graduate visa, the youth mobility visa, and the start-up visa. In addition, if you hold a visa that is now closed to new applicants (e.g. the UK investor visa), you can still either apply for an extension or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) if you meet the eligibility criteria.

While certain visas cannot be extended, you can consider switching to a different type of visa in the UK. For example, if you hold a graduate visa that is due to extend, you may be able to consider applying for a Skilled Worker visa if you have a job offer from an approved employer. That said, if you hold a UK visitor visa, you will not be able to switch to a different visa from within the UK. However, you can return to your home country from where you can submit a new visa application.

For specific guidance on extending some of the most popular UK visa types, please see the following:

Please note this guidance is by no means exhaustive. If you need any assistance with applying for an extension of your visa, speak to one of our immigration lawyers who will be pleased to assist you on 020 3744 2797 or by emailing info@reissedwards.co.uk.

When can you apply for a visa extension?

You must apply for your UK visa extension before your current visa expires. This is also referred to as further leave to remain application. The UK visa expiry rules state that your application must have been received by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) before your visa expires. This is essential as if you apply after your visa expires, you may be treated by the Home Office as an overstayer.

As an overstayer, you are technically in the UK unlawfully. As such, your visa extension UK application may be refused because you have breached the immigration rule on leaving the UK before your visa expires. However, depending on your situation, some rules for overstaying UK visa may apply to you.

The earliest that you can apply for a UK visa extension depends on the type of visa you hold. For example, if you have a Skilled Worker visa, you can apply up to 60 days before your visa expires. If you have a Student visa, the earliest you can apply to extend your visa (i.e. if you have been accepted on a new course of study) is 3 months. As such, it is important to check the rules that apply to your specific visa type.

How to extend/renew your visa in the UK

To extend or renew your visa in the UK, you will need to complete the following general steps (please note the exact process, forms, and fees you will need to pay depend on the type of visa you hold):

  1. Ensure any preparation is complete before you apply. For example, if you have a work visa, you will need to secure a new Certificate of Sponsorship showing your new duration of employment in the UK. Likewise, if you have a student visa, you will need to get a new Certificate of Acceptance for Studies for your new course. It is also important to check that you meet all of the eligibility criteria for the visa you are extending. You should not assume that because you were granted your visa initially, you will automatically be eligible.
  2. Complete the online UK visa renewal form (the form you need to complete depends on the type of visa you hold).
  3. Pay any fees – this includes the UK visa extension fee and healthcare surcharge
  4. Book and attend an appointment at your nearest UKVCAS office to have your identity checked and provide your biometrics (i.e. your fingerprints and photo).
  5. Provide any documents requested by UKVI to support your application – e.g. your new Certificate of Sponsorship, Certificate of Acceptance for Studies, or letter confirming your ongoing business endorsement etc.

You can expect to receive a decision on your extension application within 8 weeks, however, this may be much sooner if you have a straightforward case and you have provided all of the necessary information and evidence. You can remain in the UK while you are waiting for a decision on your application, even if the expiry date of your visa has passed (assuming your application was received by UKVI before your visa expired).

Can you apply to extend your visa after its expiry?

If you find yourself in a position whereby you have not submitted your visa extension application in time, it may be possible in very limited circumstances to apply after your visa expiry date.

Under the ‘14-day good reason rule’, you may be able to make a successful visa renewal UK application as long as it is submitted no more than 14 days after your visa expires if you have a valid reason. You will need to prove that there were exceptional circumstances which prevented you from being able to apply in time. Such exceptional circumstances may include if you were receiving emergency medical treatment in a hospital or a close family member died.

It is important to provide strong evidence within 14 days of your visa’s expiry date proving why you could not make the deadline (e.g. a letter from your doctor explaining the circumstances and your dates of hospital admission). Telling UKVI that you simply forgot or were too busy will most likely result in your application being refused.

What if your visa extension is refused?

Visa extension applications may be refused for a wide range of reasons, including because

  • you no longer meet the eligibility requirements,
  • you do not meet the suitability requirements or,
  • your application was invalid – i.e. it was late, not complete, or you have not paid the required fees.

Regardless of the reason for the refusal of your visa renewal, you may have several options available to resolve the matter, including:

  • Submitting a fresh application
  • Applying for a different type of visa
  • Appealing – this option is only available in very limited cases where your human rights, protection or humanitarian rights are affected
  • Administrative review – if UKVI made a mistake when they refused your application, or
  • Judicial review – if the refusal of your visa extension application is unlawful.

It is important to seek expert legal advice from an immigration lawyer if your visa renewal application has been refused to ensure that you understand your options and the best route forward in your circumstances.

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