Skip to main content

UK Immigration 2021:

Covid Visa Concession Scheme (CVCS)

12th January 2021

The Nathanson Partnership have more than 20 years’ experience and provide a comprehensive range of immigration services. Our aim is to ensure that your business immigration program runs efficiently and with compliance. With our handheld service, we will support you through the visa or work permit application process from start to finish.

What is it?

On 11th January 2021, the Home Office published guidance on the Covid Visa Concession Scheme (CVCS) which applies to UK visa holders overseas who left the UK before 17 March 2020 including those who:

  • cannot return due to COVID-19 travel restrictions or
  • had existing leave when they left the UK which has expired or is about to expire before they can return to the UK.

Summary of the Guidance

The Home Office has clearly stated that visa rules and requirements must continue to be met.

If your leave has expired while being aboard and you are unable to return to the UK Your leave due to the pandemic will not count as a break in continuous residence.

Border Force* will process the authority for you to travel without a visa under the concession scheme where 3 months will be granted as leave outside of the Immigration Rules (LOTR) on arrival

Family and Private life routes Those affected and within scope are not disadvantaged or penalised.
If you are in the UK with previous leave You may apply for leave to remain in the route you now want to apply for:

  • by extending the leave,
  • switching into a different route, or
  • applying for indefinite leave to remain.
Visitors Visitors are not eligible for this concession.

* Visa nationals will still be required to complete identity and security checks by the Border Force Officer.


Crucially, the Home Office has stated that this scheme is only available to those who are abroad and:

  • left the UK before 17 March 2020;
  • their leave expired and they could not return to the UK before its expiry due to 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.

What next?


  • The UKVI will contact those who have informed the CIH that their leave would be expiring while they were outside the UK.


  • The process and steps for returning to the UK will be provided. CIH will have full records (including email addresses) of all those who have previously contacted CIH whilst stranded overseas, and whose leave has expired or is about to expire.


  • A SMART Form will need to be completed to start the process. Visa nationals do not need to attend a Visa Application Centre overseas.


  • The individual may travel back to the UK to make a LTR or ILR application within the Covid Visa Concession Scheme (CVCS).

Important notes

  1. If the individual has already applied for entry clearance solely to facilitate their return to the UK, they will be issued Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR) for 3 months with the same conditions as their previous grant of leave. This will avoid the application having to be withdrawn and save the migrant from having to reapply into the CVCS process and prevent additional delays.
  2. The Home Office will consider those who left the UK after 17 March 2020 as eligible on the condition they had good reason for leaving the UK. This will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
  3. 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.
  4. On arrival to the UK, application for LTR or ILR must be submitted, the required fee/s and any Immigration Health Charge must be paid. They must follow the normal process for submitting an application before their LOTR expires.

Bee has more than 18 years’ experience in UK immigration and nationality law and has been advising businesses that have been expanding into the UK or growing their UK presence or workforce.