Updated 19 August 2021
If you’re in the UK
You are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so or apply to regularise your stay in the UK. You are allowed to access Visa and Immigration services as these are considered an essential public service. You must follow current COVID-19 rules for where you live, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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’.
Please submit your request for an ‘exceptional assurance’ by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details:
- full name
- date of birth
- Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
- type of visa
- expiry date of visa
- reason for request
- evidence of flight or evidence showing reason you can’t leave
The subject header of your email should read “Request for an assurance”.
In your email you should attach evidence to show why you cannot leave the UK. For example, if you can’t leave the UK because you cannot find a flight before your leave/visa expires, you will need to submit a copy of a confirmed flight ticket or evidence of flight unavailability.
During the time in which your request for ‘exceptional assurance’ is pending you will continue on the conditions as per your current or most recently expired visa.
If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your ‘exceptional assurance’. ‘Exceptional assurance’ does not grant you 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.
If you’ve already been given assurance but your circumstances have changed or you’re unable to leave the UK by the assurance date previously given, you must reapply using the process above. You will need to clearly state that you’re making a subsequent application. You’ll be asked to provide new supporting evidence.
If you intend to stay in the UK
In order to remain in the UK, you will need to apply for the relevant permission to stay. Where eligible, you’ll be able to submit a permission to stay application form from within the UK.
You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee.
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 to remain in the UK if you have been issued with an ‘exceptional assurance’. You must submit your application before the expiry of your ‘exceptional assurance’.
UKVI: COVID-19 Guidance
The key point is that whilst the conditions of your visa continue, exceptional assurance is not a grant of leave. This means that it is not a visa and if you choose to benefit from this scheme, we strongly advise that you keep a record of this and the number of days you remained in the UK beyond the original expiry date of your visa to provide in future immigration applications.