COVID-19: Update on UK overseas Visa Application Centers, visa extensions

29 Jul 20

UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – HIGH

The government has provided additional information on the reopening of visa application centers abroad and guidance for those whose visas expired between Jan. 24 and July 31.

Key Points on visa application centers:

  • Centers are opened this week in the following cities: Georgetown, Islamabad, Karachi, Kingston, La Paz, Lahore, Port of Spain, Rio de Janeiro, Sabah, Sao Paulo, Tehran, Thimphu and Ulaanbaatar.
  • This is the latest round of re-openings. At the beginning of June, visa centers in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand opened their doors.
  • Other centers are still closed, including in the U.S., where no official date has been given for visa center services to resume.
  • As the situation remains fluid, the government continues to review the opening of VACs daily and advises that this be checked with the most up-to-date information on the relevant websites. For Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East: uk.tlscontact.com and for all other countries: vfsglobal.co.uk.
  • Priority and Super Priority Visa services continue to be paused for now in all locations.
  • If an individual’s 30-day visa to work, study or join family has expired, overseas customers can now contact their visa application center to request a replacement. Details of how to do this can be found here.

Key Points on Visa Extensions:

  • Visa holders in the U.K. who could not leave because of COVID-19, had their visas extended to July 31 if their visas expired between Jan. 24 and July 31. They will no longer be able to extend their visa automatically and must take reasonable steps to leave the U.K. or regularize their stay in the U.K. Visa holders who fall into this category will be given an additional month’s grace period within the U.K. (until Aug. 31) to make the necessary arrangements to leave the U.K. Conditions of their stay in the U.K. will remain the same, allowing them to work, study and rent accommodation until Aug. 31.
  • Visa holders who cannot leave the U.K. because of COVID-19 and intend to remain in the country beyond Aug. 31 may request additional time by contacting the coronavirus immigration team.
  • Visa holders may be granted short-term special protection against any adverse action or consequences after their leave has expired by evidencing why they are unable to leave.

Analysis & Comments: The reopening of additional VACs is welcome news, though applicants should be aware that services are limited and some VACs, especially in areas where COVID-19 is not under control, remain closed. Visa holders with visas that expired between Jan. 24 and July 31 should follow the steps listed above. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available. Please check Deloitte’s COVID-19 Digital Map, available here, for information on travel restrictions and immigration changes in other countries.

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