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The visas of 12,708 stranded Indians were extended due to Covid-19-related issues until June 2020, mainly because they were unable to travel home due to flights being discontinued.

Curbs by the United Kingdom, India and other countries due to the coronavirus pandemic led to a ‘significant’ fall in the number of UK visas issued, according to latest immigration figures for the year ending June 2020, by when the virus was rampant.

The Home Office figures reflect the impact of the pandemic until June, but later figures are expected to show a bigger fall in visas issued to Indian students, since most such visas are issued in July and August, before the academic year begins in September.

The visas of 12,708 stranded Indians were extended due to Covid-19-related issues until June 2020, mainly because they were unable to travel home due to flights being discontinued.

Overall, in the year ending June 2020, there were 1.7 million applications for Visitor visas, a decrease of 37% compared to the previous year, largely as a result of the pandemic, officials said, adding that the largest falls were for Chinese (272,105, down 44%) and Indians (206,206, down 41%).

During the same period, Indian professionals granted Tier 2 work visas accounted for 48% of all visas issued, but their number decreased by a quarter (25%) to 42,196. For those already in the UK, Indian professionals were granted the highest number of all work-related extensions during the year (41% of the total).

Officials said overall, there was a “notable increase” in the number of Tier 4 student visas issued to Indians during the year, but “very few” were granted in the latest quarter until June. From 21,868 visas granted to Indians, the figure until June 2020 was 48,297.

The Home Office said: “Indian nationals saw a notable increase in the number of Tier 4 visas granted, more than doubling (up 121% to 48,297) compared with the year ending June 2019, and continuing an increase seen since 2016”.

“Although very few Tier 4 visas were granted to Indian nationals in the latest quarter (down 100% compared to the same quarter in 2019), there was a 136% increase in grants in the first three quarters of the period (July 2019 to March 2020), leading to an overall increase for the year ending June 2020”.

“The majority of study visas are granted in the third quarter of the year (July to September) and as such, the full effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will not yet be fully apparent”, it added.

The figures show that the top non-EU nationalities being granted British citizenship after fulfilling requirements were Indian (13,564), Pakistani (12,607) and Nigerian (8,080) nationals. The largest number of recorded voluntary returns was of Indian nationals (1,290, or 16% of the total).