The Home Office has extended the provision for people where they need to leave the UK because their immigration permission is due to expire but where they cannot leave because of Coronavirus-related restrictions, known as ‘exceptional assurance’ (EA). The provision is now available for those with a visa, leave or EA expiring on or before 30 September 2021, rather than on or before 30 June 2021.
To extend this provision, the Home Office has made relevant changes to its guidance, Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents, under the heading 'If you are in the UK'.
Importantly, the guidance now makes a distinction between those who are unable to return to amber or red countries and, in ‘exceptional cases’, those unable to return to green list countries. It gives two examples of where the Home Office will consider requests for EA from people unable to return to green list countries. However, it is not clear if these two examples are the only two situations where a request for EA will be considered from a person unable to return to a green list country.
Here is a paste of the relevant wording in the three amended paragraphs in the guidance, Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents:
“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’.”