Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 04 June 2021)

People stuck outside the UK

On 11 January 2021, the Home Office published a Covid Visa Concession Scheme. It is designed to help people who had permission to live in the UK but whose permission expired while they were stuck abroad due to coronavirus travel restrictions, leaving them unable to return. Provided they meet the eligibility criteria in the guidance, such people will be granted entry clearance valid for three months to allow them to travel back to the UK and apply properly to extend their stay. 

Those who left the UK after 17 March 2020 will only be considered for this concession in “exceptional circumstances”. These include “serious illness or death of a close relative overseas” and “travel for the purpose of receiving medical treatment”. The concession is also due to come to an end on 21 June 2021.

EU Settlement Scheme

The telephone helpline for EU settled status enquiries was closed for some time, and documents were not being accepted by post. But both services are now back up and running, according to a Home Office email bulletin of 22 May 2020:

We are pleased to confirm that Home Office support services and application routes have now all fully reopened in line with public health guidance. This includes the reopening of the postal route for submitting identity documents for applicants who are unable to use the EU Exit: ID Document Check app to verify their identity.

However, for those who prefer to scan their own ID document if unable to use the app, rather than posting it away, scanning service locations remain closed.

There are no plans to extend the application deadline beyond 30 June 2021. The Home Secretary said in April 2020 that “we see no reason to extend the deadline when there’s still over a year to apply”.

There was guidance for EU Settlement Scheme applicants affected by coronavirus, published on 15 December. This has been withdrawn following a legal challenge and a revised version was due by 31 May 2021 (at time of writing it had not yet emerged).


As of 04 June 2021 the following amendments are made for this visa category:

  • Distance learning: now permitted. This is both for existing students, and for new students “provided they intend to transition to face-to-face learning from 27 September 2021″ (previously this read ” once circumstances allow”).
  • Students who do not intend to travel to the UK and will do the course entirely from abroad “do not require sponsorship”.
  • Working hours: students working for the NHS in various listed professions are exempt from the normal 20 hour a week cap “until 30 September”.

Asylum support

In June 2020, support payments to destitute asylum seekers increased from £37.75 a week to £39.60 a week. The Home Office has since decided to increase it by a further 3p a week, to the giddy heights of £39.63. Regulations to that effect have been laid before Parliament and came into force on 22 February 2021.

The Home Office has since resumed evictions of those granted refugee status, who should be able to apply for other sources of support. Some providers have been a little more flexible than usual if the person has no other accommodation lined up, but in general it is back to “business as usual”.

The position is different for those refused asylum and housed under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. A series of legal challenges has delayed the restart of evictions, including one by Greater Manchester Law Centre which has seen the Home Office agree to withdraw its decision to resume evictions for the time being.

Posted on Jun 04, 2021.

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