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My wife (a Kazakh national) is visiting in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa, staying with my family. She arrived on Feb 1st. Her original intention was to stay for approximately 3 months, until April 30th, and stated as such on her application form. She had been to the UK twice already, and had always departed in line with her intentions as originally stated during her previous applications. Her current visa expires in July.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Kazahkstan will institute a one-month travel ban from tonight, preventing flights into the country. I'm a little concerned about what should happen if the ban is extended beyond that.

I understand that the Home Office generally frowns upon visitors who stay longer than their stated intentions, even if they do not overstay their visa lengths. But if the Kazakh travel ban prevents her from travelling back to her country until a date beyond April 30th, might this cause a problem in her future visa applications? Or is it a reasonable excuse, and provided she explains the extended duration of her previous stay during the future application, might it be okay?

Edit: On that note, she applied for this UK visa from China (where we lived at the time). Obviously, returning to China at this point, while theoretically possible (though we'd have to apply for new Chinese visas; they expired in February, a fact that she readily disclosed in her application), is hardly desirable. This is a circumstance that we could hardly have predicted beforehand. Her Chinese visa was temporary and she acknowledged this fact during her application. Might the UK officials think "well, you couldn't fly to Kazakhstan, sure, but why not go back to China? After all, you applied from there" ? I must stress that she never stated during her application that she intended to go back to China; indeed our plan was always for her to fly to Kazakhstan around April 30th, the original envisaged date of departure. Am I overthinking this, and would the specific country that she'd go to after departing the UK be of no concern to them whatsoever?

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    UK Standard Visitor visas allow up to 6 months’ stay except in very rare instances. It’s highly unlikely that future visa applications would be jeopardised due to a longer stay than originally envisaged because of an inability to leave by the original date in these circumstances. Particularly if your wife has a previous record of compliance. All she’ll need to do is mention the reason in her next application. – Traveller Mar 15 at 19:25
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    I think you are, yes. There will be 000’s of people in a similar situation all over the world. Although China could well be the safest place right now... – Traveller Mar 15 at 20:06
  • In the interest of clarity, I'll point out that the above answer refers to my later edit. Thanks for the answers and comments so far; I am likely overthinking it. – marc Mar 15 at 20:18
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    They don’t care where visitors depart to, only that they leave. Given too that the UK permits applications from anywhere rather than requiring it to be from country of citizenship/place of residence. – Traveller Mar 15 at 20:26
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    You are worrying unnecessarily IMHO. I’ve financially sponsored my partner for three UK visit visas in the last 5 years. We said he’d stay one month the first time (he stayed two), and two months the second (he stayed three). The 3rd time he stayed the length of time stated in the application. The reason he stayed longer was simply because we wanted him to; all I did was state that in the applications. Your wife would have a pretty cast-iron, credible reason for staying longer. (Ps there’s no need to post the same comment twice) – Traveller Mar 16 at 13:58
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Normally, the UK authorities take a dim view of significant changes because they consider that someone who applies for a short visit but then stays very much longer is probably working illegally.

However, these are extraordinary times, and if your wife finds herself stuck because of travel restrictions she should have no problem if she explains that in future visa applications.

Note, however, that if she finds that she needs to stay beyond her visa she must contact the authorities to make arrangements for a longer stay.

FWIW, the countries that have imposed travel bans (there's a list on the NY Times) have not applied them to their own citizens. Your wife is likely to be allowed to travel, but might find it impossible to do so because flights are not available.

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    Indeed, both Kazakh and UK authorities should be informed the moment it looks inevitable to overstay. They'll understand given the circumstances (what choice do they have?), but they can't help if you don't tell them. Since you might need their help both this and next time you travel, try to play by their rules as much as possible. – Mast Mar 16 at 7:02
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According to the official guidance, current visas will be extended to 31 May 2020. In case your wife needs that extension, she has to apply for it. If she stays longer than the original intention but her visa doesn't expire, she must be perfectly fine.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.

EDIT: The official guidance states a further extension to 31 July 2020.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must request an extension by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term.

If you’ve already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.

You are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK before this date where it is possible to do so.

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  • Thanks for that. Her visa expires end-July. She'll probably be able to leave before then but if not, she'll certainly inform the authorities as soon as it becomes inevitable. – marc Mar 29 at 21:46
  • Current visas are now being extended to 31 July 2020. Since her visa is set to expire on 21 July, she hasn't applied for this extension just yet. International flights are slowly returning to Kazakhstan, so we are monitoring the situation. If she is still unable to reasonably fly to KZ by the end of June, I think she will apply for that extension. Probably she won't need to. – marc Jun 16 at 14:04
  • @marc Thanks for notice, I've updated my post accordingly. – ahmedus Jun 16 at 15:23

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