New Delhi: In fresh guidelines, the UK government on Thursday said that it will offer a one-month grace period for all expiring or expired visas of foreign nationals, including Indians, who are  unable to return to their home countries due to the coronavirus pandemic, until August 31. This will apply to anyone whose leave to remain in the UK expired after January 24 and they are still unable to leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation. Also Read - Rare Shiva Statue From 9th Century Which Was Stolen From Rajasthan & Smuggled to UK, To be Returned to India

As global travel restrictions have started to lift, it is right this generous, but temporary concession, be brought to a close with a month grace period until 31 August to make the necessary arrangements to return home, a UK Home Office spokesperson said. Also Read - UK, India Set to Collaborate For Anti-Microbial Resistance Research Worth 8 Million Pounds

Right across the immigration system, this government has introduced measures to help those who have been impacted by global travel and health restrictions throughout this pandemic. Also Read - UK Travellers Arriving From Spain Ordered to go For Quarantine

“This has included providing over 40,000 visa extensions for those whose visas had expired between January 24, 2020, and July 31, 2020, and relaxing the rules on switching in the UK, the spokesperson said.

The Home Office said that it will also keep in place the relaxation of the visa switching rules to enable those who wish to stay in the UK to submit an application to enable them to do so during the grace period.

It pointed out that anyone wanting to remain in the UK long-term should use the grace period to apply for the necessary leave to remain in the UK.

We recognise that during this period individuals may have overstayed their leave due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” a Home Office guidance notes.

“Therefore, for individuals whose visa or leave expired between January 24, 2020, and July 31, 2020, there will be no future adverse immigration consequences solely on the basis of any periods of overstaying leave that took place between January 24, 2020, and August 31, 2020. We will formalise this specific commitment within the Immigration Rules, the guidance notes.

The latest grace period extension until August-end comes as the fifth phase of the Vande Bharat mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad gets underway, including flights scheduled from London’s Heathrow airport back to various Indian cities over the next few weeks.

Many foreign nationals, including Indians, found themselves unable to return home since the outbreak of coronavirus due to flight cancellations and border restrictions.

(With agency inputs)