As countries across the globe have ordered travel restrictions to stop the further spread of the (COVID- 19) so named coronavirus, in particular to foreigners coming from the most affected countries.
The immigration system is not an exception: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk
However, we would like to highlight that the guidance is mostly based on Chinese nationals as they were the most affected when it has been written in mid- February. Thus, the guidance has still not been updated to cover other nationalities.
Subsequently, no new legislation adopted, no new Immigration Rules announced, all that is in place is a policy announcement on a government webpage. The legal starting point is unclear to this stage.
However, the Home Office can carry automatic extensions under section 3(3)(a) of the Immigration Act. This is referred to the regular power used to extend visas where an application is made. To note the section is silent on any procedural requirement to give notice in writing or make an individual decision in a particular case. The section states the following: a person’s leave may be varied, whether by restricting, enlarging or removing the limit on its duration, or by adding, varying or revoking conditions
On the other hand, section 4 of the Immigration Act 1971 seems problematic in these circumstances. This refers to and goes as far as to say that: unless otherwise allowed by or under this Act, those powers shall be exercised by notice in writing given to the person affected, except that the powers under section 3(3)(a) may be exercised generally in respect of any class of persons by order made by statutory instrument.
The above explains that the Home Office is supposed to extend the visas of those who complied with the immigration requirements of their visas. It appears to leave a gap of how possibly to be effective.
At Quantum Law Associates, we can offer you a free consultation to discuss your matter and look for possible solutions as well as explain unclarities in relation to any immigration matter.
Please contact at 020 3693 7593 or leave an online enquiry and one of our team members will get in contact with you.
In addition, if you have entered the EU on a Schengen visa, and now your flight back home is cancelled due to coronavirus, there is no need to alarm yourself.
You will very likely not face penalties for overstaying a Schengen visa during this period. If you are unable to leave before the expiration of your Visa, you can apply for an extension at the competent authorities of the Member State where you are located. This is indicated in Article 33 of the EU Visa Code:
“In case a visa holder who is already present on the territory of the Member States is unable to leave before the expiry of his visa for reasons of force majeure, humanitarian reasons or serious personal reasons, he should address the request for extension of the visa to the competent authorities of the Member State where he is present even if that is not the Member State whose consulate issued the visa.”
Contact Quantum Law Associates should you need assistance and further information.