COVID-19: What happens if your visa has expired

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Published 2020-05-19 07:34

Today, many expats around the world are worried about their stay abroad, especially those whose visa expires soon or has already expired. Given the current travel restrictions, they are not able to go back home. Many countries have thus resolved to grant visa extensions and other benefits to foreign nationals who are already on their territory, but this comes with certain conditions. Here is what you should know.

Canada

One of the top expat destinations, Canada is being lenient towards foreign nationals who are already on its territory. Holders of a valid immigrant status and a work permit, as well as those who are exempt from work permit obligations and have already found a new job, are authorised to work until their work permit application is approved. However, the job offer has to be accompanied by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). However, this does not apply to business travellers and those who are exempt from the work permit obligation for short-term assignments under the “Global Skills Strategy”. Regarding foreign employees whose status has expired since more than 90 days, they must be able to support their request for a temporary residence permit or change of status. All visitors, as well as international students and foreign employees whose legal status is about to expire, can request for a visa extension if they are eligible. Besides, holders of permanent residence visas can request the extension of their confirmation of permanent residence if their visa expires in the next 90 days and they are unable to travel to Canada.

Belgium

Belgium has extended the residence status of non-European nationals whose residence permit has expired and who have not applied for renewal because they were initially planning to go back home, and those whose short-term C visa has expired. If you are concerned, you are required to call at the nearest town hall to your place of residence with your travel insurance and passport and a document proving that you are not able to go back to your home country. You will then receive a declaration of arrival which is valid for two months. Those who are stranded in Flanders can request for a renewal of their work permit for an additional three months. However, the duration of this permit will not exceed that of the declaration of arrival issued by the town hall.

Germany

If you are currently in Germany and your residence permit has expired during the coronavirus pandemic, you will not be penalised during the period when the immigration authorities are closed. However, you will not be allowed to return to Germany without a valid residence permit in the event of departure. To stay in Germany when your residence permit has expired, you can request an extension. Make sure, however, that you have obtained a confirmation letter or other proof of submission. Regarding the C visa, the possible extension depends on the local jurisdictions.

Italy

In Italy, the duration of all permits, including those for work, residence, study, among others, has been extended until August 31, 2020. Seasonal permits expiring between February 23 and May 31 have also been extended until December 31, 2020. However, European Union nationals who have been transferred or recruited in Italy between February 23 and April 15 are required to register with the nearest town hall to their place of residence no later than June 15, 2020, to be considered legal residents.

The Netherlands

The Dutch government is also being lenient towards foreign nationals who are currently unable to leave the country due to the expiration of their residence permit. Thus, those who would like to extend their temporary residence visa expiring within a month are exempt from administrative fees. Regarding foreign nationals whose resident permit application (through sponsorship) has been approved but who have not yet received their residence permit, they are allowed to work in the meantime and benefit from all the rights associated with this permit.

Australia

If you are currently in Australia and have been fired by your employer, you have two choices: either find a new job within 60 days or make necessary arrangements necessary to leave the country. If you are unable to go back to your home country, you will need a valid visa to be able to stay. Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Australian economy, companies are now allowed to reduce the working hours of their employees. Rest assured, however, that this will not affect your work visa. For holders of subclass 457 work visas who have been stood off economic reasons but haven't been laid off, the validity of their visa is unchanged. In addition, companies are allowed to apply for a visa extension for these foreign nationals under normal provisions.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, holders of a temporary visa and working in essential services are allowed to work for 4 to 6 weeks after the end of lockdown even if their visa has expired. Regarding student visa holders who are employed in essential services, including supermarkets, they are allowed to work 20 hours a week up to 3 to 4 weeks after the end of lockdown. International students working in the health sector are also allowed to work full time during the holidays, until July 3, 2020, provided they meet the requirements of their studies. On the other hand, less-skilled foreign workers in the health sector are allowed to work for 12 more months before having to leave New Zealand. Note that the spouses and dependents of the visa holder are also allowed to stay.

United Arab Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates, resident visas that expired on May 1st have been automatically extended. These visas are now valid until the end of December 2020. Besides, residence and work visas will no longer be stamped on passports. The entire procedure will now be done online. Note that all entry visas, including tourist visas and visas on arrival, which expired on March 1, 2020, have also been extended until the end of December 2020 for those who are already in the UAE.

United Kingdom

In the UK, Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa applicants who are awaiting a decision can start working provided they have obtained a sponsorship certificate. This document proves that their employer had already applied for a new visa before their current visa expired. However, in case the application is denied, the applicant will have to stop working. Besides, no action will be taken against holders of Tier 2 or Tier 5 visas who have been unable to go to work for health reasons or due to current travel restrictions. Arrangements have been made for employees to be able to work from home as far as possible.

USA

As of May 1st, employers in the United States can accept documents such as a driver's license even if it expired on March 1st and the holder has not been unable to renew it. However, the employee is required to produce the renewed document or another acceptable document, according to lists A and B, within 90 days to be authorised to be legally allowed to work. Regarding visa-exempt foreign nationals in the USA, they have up to 30 days to leave the country. In case they are still not able to leave for COVID-19-related reasons, the USCIS may grant them an extension of 30 additional days.