As the UK relaxed the lockdown this weekend, many visa applicants will have been wondering whether this would mean they could finally progress their applications.
The position is different depending on whether the application is made inside or outside the UK.
For those in the UK, the position is improved by concessions made by the Home Office. For example, where leave to remain was due to expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, it was possible to extend the leave until 31 July 2020 by simply contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Team. Individuals were also permitted to make some applications in the UK, where they usually would have to leave the UK to do so. Workers who had been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship can start work for the employer before their application is granted.
Some application centres in the UK are reopening but are starting on the backlog of applications that have been made over the last few months.
For overseas applicants, guidance on the website states as follows:
“The reopening of VAC locations remains subject to local circumstances. For updates to the status of VACs, including opening times in your country, check with:
- TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
- VFS global for all other countries
Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.”
For those in the VFS global area there is good news that the VACs in the US will be opening on 13 July 2020 and those in Canada on 17 July 2020. Most of the others in the visa application centres in the Americas are closed whereas a significant number in Asia and Oceania are open. Those operated by TLS in Europe and large parts of Africa and the Middle East have reopened. Where the centres have opened, not all services are yet online, and it is important to check what is available. However, in a number of cases, it is now possible to make appointments to submit applications, and it is hoped that the number will increase in the coming days.