Have you been affected by the Coronavirus while applying for a UK Visa and need our expert assistance? Call us on +44 (0) 203 178 2048
Breaking Coronavirus UK Visa News – 27.05.2020 – The Home Office announces the UKVCAS Sopra Steria Biometric Centres in the UK will open from 1st June 2020! Read the Opening Soon section below for more detailed information.
27.05.2020 – Some VFS Global & TLS Contact biometric centres announce they are reopening from 1st June 2020 and applicants can begin to book biometric appointments – Read the Applied Outside the UK sections below for more information.
22.05.2020 – The Home Office has just extended its Coronavirus Guidance from 31st May 2020 to 31st July 2020!
28.04.2020 – Home Office releases new guidance for applicants with a 30-DAY VISA stamped in their passport that cannot travel to the UK before the visa expires due to the Coronavirus lockdown. See below for details in the “Our Promise to You” section – you can email the Home Office for a FREE REPLACEMENT 30-DAY VISA until 31st December 2020.
23.04.2020 – All UK Visa applicants submitting their applications outside the UK have to wait to apply as the overseas application process has been placed ON HOLD worldwide. Further applications can only be made once the TLS Contact or VFS centre in your home-country has reopened once the Coronavirus lockdown ends. See below for more info.
31.03.2020 – Visitors in the UK that cannot travel due to the Coronavirus can apply to switch to a long-term UK Visa while in the UK until 31st May 2020!
30.03.2020 – All UKVCAS biometric centres operated by Sopra Steria in the UK SHUTDOWN until further notice due to the Coronavirus lockdown – see the “Applying in the UK” section below for our expert advice about what you should do
We are pleased to confirm that the Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration – UKVI) has finally updated their Coronavirus policy guidance (on 22nd May 2020). The Coronavirus policy guidance explains to all UK Visa holders in the UK and around the world, the changes that have been made to accommodate applicants at this challenging time.
To keep things simple for you, we have broken up their Coronavirus policy guidance into sections below. Each section will explain how the changes made to the immigration rules in response to the Coronavirus pandemic may affect you depending on the stage of the application process you are at. Please also remember that our advice to our clients differs greatly depending on whether they are applying in the UK or have to submit their application outside the UK in their home country (or country of residence).
Last updated 27.05.2020 at 10am (GMT)
The UKVI (Home Office) announces a limited reopening of the UKVCAS Sopra Steria Biometric Centres in the UK from 1st June 2020. Clients who had an appointment cancelled due to the Coronavirus lockdown to attend first and new appointments to be released at an unconfirmed future date.
After many weeks of uncertainty, we are pleased to confirm that the UKVI has finally announced that they will begin limited reopening of the UKVCAS biometric centres in the UK from 1st June 2020. The first appointments available from 1st June 2020 will NOT be available to new applicants, and will only be for the applicants that had a biometric appointment booked before the COVID-19 lockdown led to their appointment being cancelled. The UKVI has not confirmed at this time when the UKVCAS appointments will be open to new applicants that have applied or will apply after the Coronavirus lockdown was introduced. We expect this will occur towards the end of June or early July, but it could happen at any time, so be prepared. rest assured we will update this webpage to inform all of our clients in the UK when this happens, so check this page regularly.
IF YOU HAD A UKVCAS BIOMETRIC APPOINTMENT BOOKED WHICH WAS CANCELLED DUE TO THE LOCKDOWN, WE RECOMMEND YOU LOGIN TO THE UKVCAS SOPRA STERIA WEBSITE NOW TO TRY AND REBOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT AS YOU MAY SEE APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE. PLEASE NOTE THAT APPLICANTS THAT APPLIED AFTER THE LOCKDOWN CAME INTO FORCE WILL NEED TO WAIT A BIT LONGER BEFORE SEEING ANY APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE IN THEIR ACCOUNT.
The Home Office has also confirmed that there will a limited reopening of the 57 UKVCAS biometric centres across the UK, but have not confirmed which centres will open from 1st June 2020. We are confident that the first biometric centres to reopen, will be the main centres based in Croydon, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Belfast, but this is yet to be confirmed. All of the other centres in the UK will be gradually reopened once Sopra Steria has reconfigured their centres to account for the new social distancing measures required by the UK government.
This section will be updated as and when we receive any further information from the UKVI (Home Office) or Sopra Steria as this is breaking news as of 27.05.2020.
APPLYING IN THE UK – Our expert advice for VISITORS currently stuck in the UK due to the Coronavirus with visas expiring before 31st July 2020 that want to switch to a long-term UK Visa without going back to their home country
Extending your Visitor Visa in the UK due to the lockdown & travel restrictions – We are pleased to confirm that the Home Office’s latest UK Visa Coronavirus policy guidance confirms that any short-term visitors in the UK whose visas expiry dates are between 24th January 2020 and 31st July 2020 that cannot travel due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) can notify the Home Office by email to have their current visas extended until 31st May 2020. PLEASE NOTE: all UK Visa holders in this situation MUST contact the Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) via email – CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk – to update UK Visa and Immigration’s (UKVI’s) records.
When you email the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT), you must provide the following details:
- your full name (include any middle names)
- your date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
- your nationality
- your previous UK Visa reference number
- Explain why you cannot go back to your home country – for example, if the border has closed or you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, etc.
The Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) at the UKVI will confirm when they have received your request AND when your UK Visa has been extended. We recommend that look after this evidence (either an email or letter from the Home Office) in the future to ensure you can always prove you never broke the UK immigration rules during the Coronavirus crisis when applying for any further UK Visas.
Anyone that has already contacted the Coronavirus Immigration Team and received an email back confirming their short-term UK Visa has been extended due to the lockdown will automatically have their visa extended again until 31st July 2020. The Home Office has stated that you can stay until that time (unless they extend the date further in the future), but should leave the UK as soon as it is safe for you to do so. Should you wish to ensure that you have no issues in the future when applying for a further UK Visa regards “overstaying”, we would recommend you email the Coronavirus Immigration Team at the Home Office and ask them to confirm in writing that your visa has been extended until 31st July 2020. That way, you can show you have notified the Home Office of your situation regularly, and you can submit the email chain as evidence you did jot overstay in the UK on your current trip when you apply for your next Uk Visa.
Applying within the UK to switch from a short-term (i.e. Visitor Visa) to a long-term UK Visa to be able to live here (such as a UK Spouse Visa, or Tier 2 (General) Visa – We are even more pleased to confirm that due to he extraordinary circumstances caused by COVID-19 & the Coronavirus, the Home Office have relaxed the rules for the first time ever! All visitors that cannot leave the UK due to the Coronavirus AND their current visa will expire before 31st July 2020 can apply for a long-term UK Visa WITHOUT having to return to their home country or country of residence to apply! This is fantastic news for hundreds of our clients, as the latest Coronavirus guidance update permits you to switch Visa in the UK until 31st July 2020. This policy will be reviewed closer to 31st July 2020 and may be extended depending on whether the lockdown and crisis are still affecting applicants at that time.
IF YOU ARE A VISITOR IN THE UK AND WANT OUR EXPERT ASSISTANCE AND FIVE-STAR SERVICE TO ASSIST YOU, REQUEST A CALL-BACK NOW OR CALL US ON +44 (0) 203 178 2048.
APPLYING IN THE UK – Our expert advice about the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown if you wish to apply for a long-term UK Visa in the UK shortly
We are pleased to report that it is BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR FIRST MIGRATION when applying for our clients in the UK to secure their UK Visa or British citizenship approvals. We recommend all clients provide us with their supporting documents electronically (via Dropbox or Google Drive) to ensure we can prepare and submit their applications online as planned before their current UK Visa expires.
We are currently monitoring all the Sopra Steria UKVCAS biometric centres spread throughout the UK, and will update this webpage as soon as they begin to reopen in the coming weeks or months. We recommend that all clients check the Sopra Steria UKVCAS website daily to see when they reopen and click on the news link at the top of the page – click here.
Even though the UK government has closed the Sopra Steria biometric centres as part of a UK-wide lockdown, we will continue to submit our clients’ online applications and upload their supporting documents to the online system.
Should your UK Visa be expiring shortly, rest assured that the date of application is the date you submit the online form and pay the government fees online. This must be carried out before your current UK Visa expires. Should the Home Office & the UKVI temporarily close the UKVCAS biometric centres in the UK due to the Coronavirus lockdown, we will still submit your application in-time. In this situation, we will wait for the UKVCAS centres to re-open and reorganise your biometric appointment. Rest assured we would work to ensure you have your biometrics taken at the earliest opportunity to enable us to secure your UK Visa or British citizenship approval ASAP. All applicants in the UK should note that while we can still submit our clients’ UK Visa & British citizenship approvals during the UK Coronavirus lockdown, the Home Office online system will only permit the UKVI caseworker to approve your application once your biometrics have been recorded on the biometric system. This is a fail-safe procedure built into the UKVI system, and if our clients cannot have their biometrics taken during the Coronavirus lockdown, a decision can only be made once the biometric centres re-open.
Should you be looking to apply for a UK Visa or British citizenship in the coming weeks or months, why not call our UK Visa Experts (or request a call-back on this page) to see how we can assist you in ensuring you secure your future in the UK.
APPLIED IN THE UK – Our expert advice about the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown if you have ALREADY APPLIED for a UK Visa or British Citizenship in the UK
If you have applied for a UK Visa or British Citizenship within the UK, our advice about the impact of the Coronavirus and COVID-19 lockdown depends on the stage of the application process you have reached. For our clients in the UK where we have already submitted your application, the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown will affect you in the following ways:
- If we have submitted the online UK Visa application form(s) and you have NOT attended your biometric appointment – Firstly, do not panic. The most crucial thing is that you have submitted the online application form and paid the government fees so you will be protected under Section 3c leave of the immigration rules. This will automatically extend your current expiry date if no decision is made before the expiry date, and you will remain in the UK lawfully. AS ALL UKCVAS BIOMETRIC CENTRES IN THE UK ARE TEMPORARILY CLOSED, we will book your biometric centre appointment as soon as the biometric centres begin to re-open – Click here for the Latest Coronavirus UKVCAS Biometric Centre Closures.
Once the UKVCAS centre you want to attend re-opens after the UK Coronavirus lockdown ends, and you have booked your biometric appointment, you just need to take your passport, BRP Visa ID Card, the appointment confirmation printout, and copies (or the originals) of all of your supporting documents to your biometric as planned. Rest assured your dedicated UK Visa Expert will rearrange the earliest biometric appointment for you once the centres opened again and the UK lockdown ends (which it will).
- If we have submitted the online UK Visa application form(s) and you have ALREADY attended your UKVCAS biometric appointment – You are in the fortunate position that the Coronavirus lockdown should not impact your application (at this stage). The UKVI is currently working from home, and they were forward-thinking enough to move the entire application process fully digital in November 2018. As your biometrics will have been recorded on the UKVI system, the Home Office caseworker can still review your digital supporting documents we uploaded onto their system and approve your application thanks to the perfect application First Migration submitted on your behalf. PLEASE NOTE THE UKVI HAVE WARNED OF DELAYS IN APPLICANTS RECEIVING THEIR DECISION DUE TO THE LOCKDOWN. Your dedicated UK Visa Expert will receive your positive decision email from the Home Office caseworker at the Home Office’s earliest opportunity. You will eventually receive your new BRP card at your home address after we receive your approval email, and you will have no more UK Visa worries for some time.
If you have any doubts, queries or concerns about the impact the Coronavirus and COVID-19 lockdown will have on your UK Visa application, request a call-back from our UK Visa Experts (on this page) to enable us to give you the peace of mind you deserve.
APPLYING OUTSIDE THE UK – Our expert advice if you are looking to apply for a UK Visa outside the UK during the Coronavirus lockdown
Over the past few months, we have been working with our clients around the world (from Chile to New Zealand) to rush the preparation of their applications to beat the gradual worldwide closure of the UK Visa biometric centres. Sadly, we are now at a stage of the Pandemic where almost all the UK Visa biometric centres globally have closed due to the unprecedented global lockdown. For your information, the UK Government have outsourced their biometric centres to two companies globally, and they are VFS Global (the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia) and TLS Contact (Africa, Europe and Russia).
As of 27th May 2020, the VFS and TLS websites have started to announce that visa centres in some countries have begun to unlock and we can begin to submit overseas UK Visa applications again and start booking our clients’ biometric appointments. Please check the website links above and check the country where the application will be made to see if the news banner at the top of the webpage confirms if the visa centre in that country has reopened yet. If the visa centre has reopened, please contact us and we can either start the application process or complete the process if we have already applied and are waiting to book the biometric appointment.
If you find yourself stuck in a country in lockdown and were hoping to apply for a UK Visa, we would recommend that you check the website page for your local VFS or TLS Contact centre daily to seewhen they reopen (and you can apply again):
- VFS Global (the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia) – Click here to access the VFS website & select the country you are looking to apply in for a UK Visa
- TLS Contact (Africa, Europe and Russia) – Click here to access the TLS Contact website & select the country you are looking to apply in for a UK Visa
You will need to select the country you are looking to apply from and check to see if the biometric visa centre in is closed. If it is open, we can still assist you in applying, and if it is closed, you should check if it is reopened daily.
If you would like to discuss your situation and see who we can assist you throughout the Coronavirus crisis, why not call or request a call-back from one of our UK Visa Experts.
APPLIED OUTSIDE THE UK – Our expert advice if you have already submitted your UK Visa online application but NOT had your biometrics taken as the visa centre in your country has closed due to Coronavirus
For all our clients worldwide, that have submitted their online UK Visa applications, but have NOT had their biometrics taken as their local VFS Global or TLS Contact centre has been temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus, we can confirm the following:
- We have ensured that all your supporting documents have been submitted using the online document upload portal on the VFS and TLS websites. This will ensure that although you cannot have your biometrics taken, the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) can still review your case and make a provisional decision on the UKVI system.
- Your dedicated First Migration UK Visa Expert will be checking your local VFS Global or TLS Contact centre website daily, and we recommend that you do the same using the following links:
- As soon as your local biometric centre opens (VFS Global or TLS Contact) in your home country, please contact us your UK Visa Expert will contact you instead. Subject to the country you are applying from, we will reorganise the earliest biometric appointment for you to complete the application process.
- As the Home Office has been able to work on your UK Visa application throughout the Coronavirus crisis using the digital application system, we expect to receive positive news about your application reasonably quickly (by email).
- Be warned that there may be new procedures relating to your passport introduced when the biometric centres open, and you may be required to purchase the Express Return Courier service from TLS or VFS when a decision is made on your application, so they can return your decision letter and passport with your Entry Clearance paper vignette stamped in it. We are being advised this will most probably become standard practice as the visa centres worldwide no longer want applicants to collect their passports in-person.
Should you have any queries, doubts or concerns about your application due to the scenario explained above, do not hesitate to call one of our UK Visa Experts today.
APPLIED OUTSIDE THE UK – Our expert advice if you have ALREADY SUBMITTED your UK Visa online application & HAD YOUR BIOMETRICS TAKEN as the visa centre in your country
For our clients around the world that are fortunate enough to have already submitted their online application, had their documents submitted, AND had their biometric data taken, they must wait to receive your decision by email from the Home Office or British Embassy/High Commission.
An important point: if you have already paid the biometric visa centre (VFS Global or TLS Contact) for their PASSPORT RETURN COURIER service, the visa centre you attended will courier your passport back to you. If you did NOT purchase the PASSPORT RETURN COURIER service, you should be contacted by VFS Global or TLS Contact (depending on which company took your biometrics) to arrange for you to pay for this service to return your passport back to you when the visa centre reopens. Please note that in light of the Coronavirus crisis, many biometric visa centres worldwide are restricting applicants from collecting their passport when a decision has been made. Moving forward, it appears at this stage that the VFS or TLS will look to courier all passports back to applicants when a decision has been made, rather than permit them to return to the visa centre to collect the decision.
If you have any queries about this information, please do not hesitate to contact us so we can fully brief you with the latest information we have received from other clients that will receive their decisions before you.
APPLIED OUTSIDE THE UK – Our expert advice if you have been APPROVED and received your paper vignette in your passport and cannot fly to the UK due to the Coronavirus global lockdown
On 28th April 2020, the Home Office released new guidance for any applicant that has had their UK Visa APPROVED, received the 30-day paper vignette visa stamped int their passport, but CANNOT fly before their visa expires.
- In the email’s subject line, you must state clearly “REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA“
- The visa holder’s name.
- The visa holder’s nationality.
- The visa holder’s date of birth.
- The visa application’s GWF reference number (found on the top of the online application form or Document Checklist).
Once you have sent this email, make sure you look after a copy of the email for your records. The Home Office will email you when the visa centre in your home-country reopens to arrange for the replacement 30-day visa to stamped in the passport
THE HOME OFFICE HAS CONFIRMED IN WRITING THAT NO UK VISA HOLDER THAT IS UNABLE TO TRAVEL TO THE UK TO COLLECT THEIR BIOMETRIC RESIDENCE PERMIT (BRP) CARD DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN WILL BE PENALISED.
Important point: you do NOT have to reapply for your UK Visa all over again in this situation as the visa is NOT cancelled if you fail to arrive in the UK before the Entry Clearance sticker expires. Once the Coronavirus lockdown ends, you simply must organise for a new Entry Clearance sticker to be issued at the earliest opportunity and get to the UK as soon ASAP.
ANY FIRST MIGRATION CLIENTS THAT HAVE APPLIED AND FIND THEMSELVES IN THIS SITUATION WILL NOT BE CHARGED FOR OUR EXPERT ASSISTANCE TO ORGANISE FOR THE VISA TO REISSUED. Rest assured that when you signed up for our service, we advised you that we would work with you until you set foot on British soil (for a fixed fee). As you would expect, WE WILL HONOUR OUR PROMISE and work with you until you get here at NO EXTRA COST considering this unprecedented crisis.
Our UK Visa and British Citizenship services are tailored to your needs, so you can choose the price you want to pay, for the service you require.
For access to our knowledge & experience, we offer consultation services via Skype or Phone Call. If you want to be cost-effective and secure your UK Visa or naturalisation approval by yourself, consider our Expert Checking Services. For an extra fee, we’ll even provide our Expert Document List & bespoke templates to save you time.
If you want a guaranteed approval though, you are looking for our Full Representation Services. With this service, you are allocated your own dedicated UK Visa Expert to manage the entire process, with a no-win, no-fee guarantee. Whichever service you choose with First Migration, expect a professional and stress-free service.