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This is a followup to my question originally asked here: UK Standard Visitor Visa implications during travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19 outbreak?

As stated there, I am a British national, and my Kazakh wife is visiting me and our family here in the UK. She has a Standard Visitor Visa, good for six months. She has been here since February 1st, and her visa lasts until July 21st.

The UK are offering extensions to visa customers who are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19. Here's the specific instruction from the website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents#inside-UK

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. No individual of any nationality whose leave has expired or is due to expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, and who cannot leave the UK because of COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer or suffer any detriment in the future.

So here's the situation for my wife. She has been unable to leave since March, as KZ closed their borders and stopped all flights from coming in. There were no flights available at all. We were aware of the visa extensions before but since her visa lasts until late July in any case, we'd hoped that applying wouldn't be necessary, that the situation would improve and she'd be able to leave on time. This is becoming increasingly unlikely. Since late June, KZ has slowly been opening up and allowing flights to and from CERTAIN countries, but not the UK. For example, Turkish Airlines are flying to KZ via Turkey. My wife would need to fly to Turkey for a layover before flying on to KZ.

However, the COVID situation is becoming increasingly bad in KZ, and we are worried about my wife's safety and the safety of her family. We'd want her to get a direct flight where possible, and avoid layovers as they would only increase the risk. Looking at the UK specifications for the extension, it is for individuals who "cannot leave the UK" - how literal is this? She can technically leave before July 31st (via Turkey), but it's very difficult and, moreover, dangerous. What's more, "You are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK before this date where it is possible to do so." Again, what is reasonable here? Is expecting her to fly an indirect route with few available flights to a country with a slowly deteriorating situation "reasonable?"

To sum up, based on her situation, does she have reasonable grounds to apply and be granted the visa extension?

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    My anecdotal impression is that the process is essentially automatic, with no assessment of whether you could, if you tried hard enough, leave the country. It's hard to find any documentation of this, however. – MJeffryes Jun 26 at 16:56
  • That's also my understanding: if you manage to correctly file the form, the extension is pretty much automatic. This only really buys you 10 days, though, and it's not really possible to predict what will happen between now and 31 July. – Michael Hampton Jun 26 at 21:08
  • Indeed, but 10 days is still more time. Plus, the extensions were originally until 31 May; as that date approached, all granted extensions were AUTOMATICALLY renewed through the end of July. Since the situation certainly hasn’t improved, the same thing may happen again. – marc Jun 26 at 21:12