Coronavirus (COVID-19): Visa Applications

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. 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. This was extended to the end of August but no further as it was felt that the situation was improving. We will have to wait for further announcements now restrictions are being reintroduced.

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.

If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a visa or leave that expires between 1 September and 31 October 2020 you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by contacting the coronavirus immigration team (CIT).

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.

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

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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