COVID-19 Update: Guidance for visa applicants in limited circumstances
Between 14th and 24th August, UK Visas, and Immigration (UKVI) have decided to make temporary concessions for new visa applicants and current visa customers to facilitate travel and immigration in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Additional guidance is now available for those wishing to apply for a visa but their Visa Application Centre (VAC) remains closed and for current visa customers who wish to enter or stay in the UK on the basis of family or private life. The breakdown of this guidance is as follows:
Individuals seeking to apply for a visa are still able to complete and submit their visa applications regardless of whether their local VAC remains closed. It is now at their discretion to apply online and choose a VAC in any international country to submit their biometrics and individual applications.
This concession is scheduled to remain in place until 30th November 2020. At that point it will be reviewed again.
Regardless of the decision on their visa applications, individuals who would like to request the return of their passports from the relevant VAC must contact their VAC directly. Unfortunately for individuals whose VACs remained closed, they will not be able to have their passports returned to them until their VAC has reopened. This same principle applies for British nationals abroad wishing to apply for a passport from their local VAC.
Applications based on family or private life
An alternative route has now been created for individuals who do not satisfy the conditions of the Family Immigration Rules because of COVID-19 but would like to enter or remain in the UK. If such persons meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules and either have visitor status or leave for up to 6 months can switch visa routes to family or private life.
For those whose leave has expired and have been unable to travel back to the UK because of the travel restrictions associated with the pandemic, they will too benefit from another concession. Their short break in their continuous residency in the UK will not be accounted for nor considered by the UK government. All individuals are required to do is make their next applications as soon as they possibly can.
Equally, they will not face any negative immigration consequences because of not being able to travel following from the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic. However, this is on the basis that individuals make an application to stay by 31st August 2020 or make suitable travel arrangements to leave the UK. Individuals who seek to leave the UK but are unable to do so by 31st August 2020 are advised to apply for an extended stay, notably ‘exceptional assurance’. This can be completed online.
Finally, those who are either unable to supply the required documentation or satisfy the English Language requirement for reasons specifically related to coronavirus may either not have to supply such documents to have their applications determined. They may however be requested to submit them at a date after their application has been decided. Additionally, individuals may apply for an exemption to the English Language requirement if their test centre was or is still closed.
Should you have any further questions regarding this information or if you require specialist legal assistance with your visa application, please get in touch with a professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at email@example.com or by telephone +44(0)20 3318 5794.