Covid Visa Concession Scheme

As a result of COVID-19 global travel restrictions, some persons who had leave to enter or remain in the UK have been unable to return to the UK to make an application for leave to remain (LTR) or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) before their current leave expires.

If they are a visa national, as they no longer have valid leave, they may not be able to return to the UK due to the carriers’ liability regime. The government’s position is that those affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions should not be penalised for circumstances beyond their control.

This scheme applies to the migrants who left the UK before 17 March 2020 when FCO travel guidance changed. For these migrants whose leave has subsequently expired, provided the eligibility criteria set out in this guidance are met, authority for the passenger to travel without a visa will be processed by Border Force to allow travel under the concession scheme. Migrants, subsequent to the Border Force Officer being satisfied on arrival following the completion of identity and security checks, will be granted leave outside of the Immigration Rules (LOTR) on arrival for 3 months with the same conditions as their previous grant of leave. A migrant will not be able to leave the UK and return under the same concession.

Eligible immigration routes

Those who were in the UK as Visitors are not eligible for this concession. The other routes eligible for this concession are all those where, if the person was in the UK with their previous leave, they would be able to apply for leave to remain in the route they now want to apply for: by extending their leave, switching into a different route, applying for indefinite leave to remain. 

Eligibility criteria

This section outlines the eligibility criteria for the Covid Visa Concession Scheme.

To be eligible the person must be abroad and all of the following must apply:

  • they left the UK before 17 March 2020
  • their leave expired and they were unable to return to the UK before its expiry due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
  • they intend to return to the UK once confirmation they are eligible is given by UKVI, not less than 21 calendar days’ notice of their date of travel, unless either:
    • they cannot travel because travel restrictions remain in place
    • they choose not to travel due to a COVID-19 risk to themselves or their family, for example, showing symptoms, a requirement to self-isolate or being high-risk and unable to travel

If the eligibility criteria are met

If the person is eligible you should tell them that they may benefit from the Covid Visa Concession Scheme (CVCS) allowing them to travel back to the UK to make a LTR or ILR application. You must explain that the CVCS is not a guarantee that any application for LTR or ILR will be successful, nor is it a guarantee that permission to enter the UK will be granted on arrival.

It will be the responsibility of the person concerned to check the exit requirements of the country they are currently in, as not all authorities will permit exit without a valid visa being issued by the destination country. In these circumstances, or if the customer requests a visa, the person can apply for entry clearance in the relevant route. 

Exceptional circumstances

This section gives examples of exceptional circumstances that may justify consideration under the CVCS even if the eligibility criteria are not met.

The person may have left the UK after FCO travel advice changed on 17 March 2020 for compelling or compassionate reasons which include, but are not limited to:

  • serious illness or death of a close relative overseas
  • travel for the purpose of receiving medical treatment

Where there are compelling or compassionate circumstances explicitly raised or implied in the information the person provides, Home Office officials must consider whether the concession should exceptionally apply to such migrants.

Posted in English on Jan 14, 2021.