I am currently outside of the UK and unable to return. Am I able to extend my leave from outside of the country using the Covid-19 extension form?
The Home Office website has confirmed that a short break in continuous residence will be overlooked if you are unable to travel back to the UK to extend your leave. However it is advisable to make every effort to return as soon as possible and submit an in-country application.
On 11 January 2021, the Home Office announced the Covid Visa Concession Scheme. The scheme is for migrants who held leave to remain in the UK, but their leave expired while they were stuck abroad due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, leaving them unable to return. Provided the migrant meets the eligibility requirements in the guidance, entry clearance will be granted for three months so they can return to the UK, and apply in-country to reguralise their status.
Importantly, however, the scheme is only for those who left the UK before 17 March 2020. Those who left the UK after 17 March 2020 will only be considered for this concession in exceptional circumstances. These include the serious illness or death of a close relative overseas, and travel for the purpose of receiving medical treatment.
If you hold leave on the basis of your private and family life, and are unable to return to the UK to extend it due to Covid, or have had to return with leave as a visitor to then extend your leave in-country, this will not be treated as breaking continuous residence, provided an application to extend your leave is made as soon as possible. The Home Office have confirmed that submitting an entry clearance application rather extending leave in-country will again not prevent eventual settlement on the 5-year route provided this was done due to Covid restrictions.
If you are currently outside of the UK, and your leave is expiring, please contact one of our experts to discuss your options.