Coronavirus (COVID-19): Visa Applications

4 February 2021 | Jonathan Martin

In these times of changing restrictions many visa applicants will be wondering what this would mean for 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 was improved by concessions made by the Home Office. During the first lockdown it was announced that 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. Since then the guidance has been updated.

Individuals are 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.

The Home Office also accepts that people who were due to leave the UK may struggle to do so and could request additional time to stay until they were able to arrange their departure. To do this, they have to apply for an “exceptional assurance” by email. This currently applies for people whose visa expires between 1 January 2021 and 28 February 2021.

If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your exceptional assurance. Exceptional assurance does not grant you leave to remain and so  a further application would have to be made.

Visa application centres in the UK are open but are still coping with the backlog of applications that have been made over the last few months.

Individuals who have obtained their visas overseas and are arriving in the UK need to meet the current rules for new arrivals. These currently state that arrivals can only enter if they have proof of a negative coronavirus test and a complete passenger locator form and they must self-isolate for 10 days. The current guidance can be found here.

For overseas applicants, guidance on the website states as follows:

“Most UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) have resumed services where local restrictions allow.

For more information, and 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.”

As the situation is subject to change it is important to check the websites for up to date information. 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.

The author

Jonathan Martin
Senior Consultant
Business Immigration
Global Mobility
D: +44 (0) 207 036 8397
T: +44 (0) 203 051 5711
F: +44 (0) 203 051 5712

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18 May 2021
How Changes to the Immigration System Could Affect Your Clients' Operations
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