How Will My Visa Application Be Affected By COVID-19?
Visa Applications and COVID-19
Whether you are inside or outside the UK, COVID 19 will without a doubt be causing you a great deal of uncertainty regarding your visa application.
We are on hand to assist whether your plans to travel to the UK have been disrupted, or whether you are currently in the UK and are unsure of your status and what you can do next.
Visa applications from outside the UK
If you’re currently outside the UK and hoping to apply for entry clearance to the UK, whether that be to join a spouse, a parent, or to begin studying or working, COVID 19 will certainly have thrown a spanner in the works.
Most Visa Application Centres (VACs) are now temporarily closed. If you’re in Europe, Africa, or some areas of the Middle East, you would need to attend a biometric appointment after you have submitted your application at a TLS Contact centre. You can check whether the TLS centre near you is open using this link. For all other countries, you would attend a VFS Global centre to complete your biometrics, you can check their availability here. English language test centres are also affected.
This essentially means that visa applications from overseas are on hold for the time being until clients are able to attend a visa application centre. Whilst this is the case, we are continuing to assist our clients by providing specialist advice and preparing applications. This means we will be able to fast track our client’s applications for submission once the visa centres are due to re-open.
Our immigration solicitors Manchester are expecting a huge influx of applications when the centres re-open and are ensuring our client’s applications are ready in advance.
Visa applications from inside the UK
If you are currently in the UK with leave to remain, and you are looking to extent your leave, or apply for settlement or naturalisation, we are continuing to progress these applications. We continue to ensure that our client’s applications are submitted prior to the expiry of their current leave.
The main delays when applying inside the UK relate to being able to submit your biometrics at a UKVCAS centre. At present, UKVCAS centres that are inside libraries are now temporarily closed, with all other sites remaining open for the time being. The status of UKVCAS centres can be checked here.
If your biometric appointment is booked at a centre that is now closed, Sopra Steria is automatically rebooking appointments for the same location in 6 weeks time. The delay in attending an appointment will not adversely affect your application. One benefit of the current system is that your application is recognised as having been submitted on the date you submit the online application. In most cases, this secures your leave to remain in the UK.
If you are looking to switch visa categories and the immigration rules do not normally allow in country switches under those categories, the Home Office is temporarily extending their in-country switching rules. Contact us for specialist advice if you are looking to switch in-country.
If you are in the UK with a short term visa (such as a visit visa), or were planning to leave the UK and you are now unable to, the Home Office is providing short term visa extensions. If your leave expired after 24th January and you have not been able to leave the UK due to travel restrictions of self-isolation, you will need to contact the Home Office for an extension until 31st May. It is important to do this even if you are planning to leave the UK as periods of overstaying can have a negative impact on future visa applications. Contact us if you require assistance in requesting an extension from the Home Office.