UK assures stranded Indians on visa status
The assurance was conveyed to the Indian high commission in the context of anxiety and worse among many Indians who are unable to return after New Delhi stopped incoming flights.Updated: Mar 22, 2020 22:05 IST
The Boris Johnson government on Sunday assured Indian citizens whose visas may be ending and are stranded due to the lack of flights to India that no one will be “unfairly penalised” for events related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The assurance was conveyed to the Indian high commission in the context of anxiety and worse among many Indians who are unable to return after New Delhi stopped incoming flights as well as citizens from the UK and the European Union from entering the country.
The Foreign Office said: “The Home Office is working urgently on guidance for Indians and those of other nationalities in the UK whose visas are due to expire but are currently unable to leave due to the impacts of COVID-19”.
“While that work is ongoing, foreign nationals in the UK do not need to be concerned about their immigration status: no one will be unfairly penalised for events beyond their control as a result of COVID-19”, it added.
Some Indian students keen to return home demonstrated in the high commission over the weekend. They were told of the travel ban and inability of the mission to arrange flights until the ban is in place, while officials arranged food and stay for many in the group.
Indian high commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam said: “I appeal to all Indian citizens to stay calm and follow the advisory issued by the National Health Service…At the moment, flights to India stand temporarily suspended till 31st March”.
“We will keep you all updated about the resumption of flights…These are trying times…The High Commission has been getting encouraging response from individuals and organisations who are coming forward to help stranded Indians”, she said.
Student visas are tied to teaching and universities are obliged to report any absences by visa holders to the Home Office, but it recognised that Indian and other international students and professionals with work visas may be prevented from attending their studies or employment due to illness.
“The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason”, it said.