International students in the UK whose visas are due to run out by July 31 will be given a “grace period” of one month in which they can arrange travel back to their country of origin.
The UK Government issued fresh guidance offering a one-month grace period for all expiring or expiring visas of foreign nationals, including Indians, who are unable to return to their homeland due to the coronavirus pandemic until August 31.
These rules were put in place in response to Covid-19, which meant foreign nationals whose visas expired between January 24 and July 31 could apply for extensions if they could not return home. Now that travel restrictions are lifting globally, people will no longer be able to extend their visa on that basis automatically, and either has to leave the country or apply for regularization of their stay in the UK.
However, the UK Home Office has announced that it will grant a one-month extension to foreign nationals (until August 31), allowing them to arrange before leaving the country.
The Study Group CEO, Emma Lancaster, said, “We welcome the more pragmatic and supportive approach taken by the UK Government towards international students at this challenging time”. “It is clear that they listen to the voices of international students and alumni as well as the education sector, which welcomes their focus on a more welcoming strategy for international education.
The conditions of a person’s stay will remain the same over the grace period. The Government’s guidance reads: “If your conditions allow you to work, study or rent accommodation, you may continue to do so before your departure during August 2020.”
However, the details of the new guidance and how it will affect international students still have some concerns. A statement from UKCISA noted that it is not clear what will be recorded, or where it will be recorded, about the immigration position of people during this grace period.
The statement read,” It is unclear if or how this might affect future immigration applications “Additionally, it is not clear how people can prove, without documentation that they are in this period of grace and thus have the same conditions of stay in the UK.
For people who need to demonstrate this to employers, educational institutions or landlords, this could be particularly challenging.
The guidance does not seem to provide a grace period, of any length, for people whose leave expires after July 31, according to UKCISA.
“We understand that this is a concern for many students whose leave expires soon after July 31, 2020, and who may not yet be able to leave or plan to leave the UK due to travel restrictions on coronavirus,” read the statement.
Under the new rules on visas, if a student intends to leave the UK but is unable to do so by August 31, they may request additional time as part of a ‘exceptional compensation’ policy.
“The compensation does not grant you leave but, after your leave has expired, will act as short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences,” the Government’s guidance said.
The Coronavirus Immigration Team will give you further advice on what you need to do to apply for an allowance.
“This will include details of why you can not leave the UK and supporting evidence, such as a confirmed flight ticket with a date after August 31 or confirmation of a positive coronavirus test result.”
Those who intend to remain in the UK should apply to remain in the country for the necessary leave.
Foreign nationals will be able to submit a UK application form where they would generally need to apply for a visa from their country of origin.