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
Latest Coronavirus UK Visa News – 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 31.05.2020!
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 24th March 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 difficult 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 30.03.2020 at 9am (GMT)
APPLYING IN THE UK – Our expert advice for VISITORS currently stuck in the UK due to the Coronavirus 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 May 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.
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 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 May 2020. This policy will be reviewed closer to 31st May 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 couple of weeks, 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).
Our advice to all our clients looking to apply outside the UK that has not already applied in a country that the VFS Global or TLS Contact centre has been closed due to the Coronavirus lockdown is DO NOT APPLY UNTIL THE VISA CENTRE IN YOUR COUNTRY REOPENS. Having said this, we still recommend that clients consider starting the UK Visa application process with First Migration now (as everything is now digital and can be done remotely). This will enable us to work with you during the lockdown to FULLY PREPARE your application and get it ready for submission. This will enable our clients to submit their UK Visa applications immediately on the visa centre in their home-country reopening.
We sincerely recommend this course of action considering the worst-case scenario (as we always do here) of the Coronavirus flowing around the world in waves. Should this happen, and God-forbid it will, the visa centres could reopen temporarily, and then be closed a second time in some countries if the infection rates start to increase again. This could further delay your arrival in the UK for quite some time to come.
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 see when 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 we will be able to advise you about these changes should they be introduced.
Should you have any queries, doubts or concerns about your application due to the scenario explained above, do not hesitate to contact 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
We currently have many clients that have recently received their UK Visa approvals outside the UK and have received a paper UK Visa Entry Clearance (paper vignette) sticker in their passport that is valid for 30-days. Due to the Coronavirus lockdown restricting global travel, we understand that many clients may be worried about the impact on their UK Visa if they cannot travel to the UK before the expiry date on their visa in the passport.
Rest assured that we have contingency plans in place for all clients covering every possible eventuality. For any clients that find their UK Visa paper vignette stamped in their passport expires before the global travel lockdown ends, we will enact the following plan at the earliest opportunity:
- We would apply for a Transfer of Conditions (ToC), which currently costs £169 per applicant, which would enable us to get a new 30-day Entry Clearance sticker issued into your passport.
- This application will be made online, and you will submit your passport to the local Biometric centre you previously attended in your home country or country of residence.
- The local British Embassy/High Commission will then stamp a new 30-day entry Clearance Sticker in your passport, and you will receive your passport back from the visa centre by courier (which you will need to pay them to do as part of the application process).
- You will then need to ensure that you fly to the UK before the new Entry Clearance sticker expires and can begin your new life here.
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 IN APPLYING FOR A TRANSFER OF CONDITIONS IF NEEDED. 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.