Coronavirus and the UK immigration system (as of 28 May 2020)
Visa centres overseas
All UK visa application centres overseas are closed but some are about to re-open.
VFS Global, which runs some of the centres on behalf of the British government, tweeted on 31 March: “Please be advised that our UK visa services have been suspended globally until further notice”. That tweet was deleted in late May, when the company announced a “phased resumption of services in certain Visa Application Centres” from 1 June. They are:
- Hong Kong
- Kuala Lumpur
The other outsourcing company that runs visa application centres overseas, TLScontact, does not have such a list. Applicants can go to the company’s UK website and select the country they are applying from to bring up the status of the application centre(s) in that country.
Applications from within the UK
All visa application centres within the UK closed in late March. Some are now about to reopen.
Sopra Steria, which runs the network of Visa and Citizenship Application Centres on behalf of the Home Office, has the following message on its website:
UKVCAS Service Status – Reopening
Following government guidelines and Public Health England advice on COVID-19, UKVCAS, in conjunction with UKVI, will begin a controlled, phased re-opening of Service Points from 1 June 2020.
But no new appointments can be made for now. The centres will only be working through customers who had an appointment cancelled: “if you did not have an existing appointment, prior to the suspension of the service, you will not be able to book an appointment at this time”.
Those who are being offered a rescheduled appointment should get an email “explaining the next steps they need to take to rebook their appointment”.
The non-outsourced Service and Support Centres remain closed.
To reiterate: anyone stuck in the UK on an expiring visa can request an extension online. As of 14 April, it is also possible for people waiting for a decision on a student or work visa to start working/studying in the meantime, so long as they meet certain conditions.
No recourse to public funds
The High Court found on 7 May that aspects of the no recourse policy are unlawful. As a result, the Home Office updated its information on applying to have the condition lifted where the person is only “at risk of becoming destitute”, as opposed to already destitute. A change to the substantive policy, also because of the High Court judgment, is due no later than 28 May.
Posted on May 27, 2020.
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