UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has revealed that the government will extend visas for people in the UK who are unable to leave due to coronavirus.
Metro UK reported that he said the measure was designed to give people ‘peace of mind’ and to ensure that those working in ‘vital services’ can continue their work. The extension will apply to anyone whose leave expired after January 24 and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation. It will last until May 31, but will be kept under regular review, the Home Office said.
The department is also temporarily expanding the in-country switching provisions to help those who want to apply for visas to stay in the UK long-term – meaning people can apply to switch visa routes while remaining in the country. Ms Patel said: ‘The UK continues to put the health and wellbeing of people first and nobody will be punished for circumstances outside of their control. ‘By extending people’s visas, we are giving people peace of mind and also ensuring that those in vital services can continue their work.’ It comes as commercial flights around the world are cancelled due to the pandemic.
The UK government has urged all British nationals travelling or on holiday to return immediately in case it becomes more difficult for them to do so. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: ‘Around the world, more airlines are suspending flights and more airports are closing, some without any notice. ‘Where commercial routes don’t exist, our staff are working round the clock to give advice and support to UK nationals. If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can.’
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