Travel restrictions are among the many regulations brought by the coronavirus pandemic that caused and still cause an immense burden on people worldwide, brining economic and mental stress.
The rapid viral transmission of COVID-19 has caused the closure of borders and the cancelation of flights, resulting in many people unable to leave the country they are in with a visa to expire or have already passed its validity.
Thus, many governments have proposed extending visas for foreign nationals by applying for an extension. Accordingly, visas for foreigners outside the sovereign state will be suspended.
Various governments implemented measures allowing visitors to remain within the borders if they are unable to travel. Others guaranteed that no stranded travelers are subjected to penalties for overstaying their visas relating to the present circumstances.
Getting a Visa During Covid
What does Visa Expiration Mean?
There is a difference between the visa expiration date and the length of time a foreign international is allowed to remain in a foreign country, which can be confusing for people to understand. The former is shown on the visa along with the visa issuance date.
On the other hand, the latter is the time between the visa issuance and visa expiration date. It is called visa validity – which is the length of time people are allowed to travel to a country’s port of entry.
How Do I Extend My Visa in the UK?
Foreign nationals in the UK can extend their visa as long as the time they spend as a visitor is not longer than six months. After three months as a visitor, people can apply to extend their visas for three months more.
For those unable to return to their home countries due to travel restrictions or self-isolation, they are required to update their records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team or CIT. People need to apply for relevant permission to stay in the UK. If found eligible, they can submit a permission to stay application form. People need to remember to apply before their current visa expires.
Alternatively, people can change their visa to a long-term one which may require the assistance of a Visa Agent.
How to Handle Visa Overstay in the UK?
A person is considered an overstayer should he or she stay longer in a foreign country more than the time allowed under the visa. Thirty days from the date the visa expired is given to an overstayer to leave the country.
During this pandemic, people must follow the coronavirus visa guidelines on GOV.UK before their visa expires on March 2021. Should they fail to leave on time leading to an overstay, they should present evidence that their reasons are valid and are brought upon by the coronavirus pandemic.
Fortunately, people in the EU and Schengen Area unable to return to their countries due to the coronavirus are granted a free Schengen visa extension under Chapter V Article 33 of the EU Visa Code regarding Extensions.
They can also contact relevant authorities or the nearest embassy of their own country if they are worried about overstaying.
The coronavirus has brought unprecedented changes in travel. Stricter protocols are imposed on various airlines, including quarantine, banning travel from high-risk areas, and administering screening. Many countries now require travelers to take a Fit to Fly COVID Test and present a negative result before crossing borders.
As everything remains uncertain, it is important to stay informed of the latest updates on travels amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For specific updates on getting a visa during the pandemic check the following pages: