This post has been updated 24 March 2020: The World Health Organisation (“WHO”) has declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and the Prime Minister is giving a speech with daily updates outlining important measures which need to be followed in an attempt to try and reduce the spread of this highly contagious virus. During this deeply unsettling time, it is important to know how any travel restrictions may affect you and how to protect your visa status in the UK if your leave is about to expire. Our Immigration Solicitors in London are keeping up to date with the latest developments and are still available to provide bespoke immigration advice to suit your needs. If you are unsure about how COVID-19 may affect you then please get in contact with us so we can assist you with your UK immigration matter.
How will an application for further leave to remain, settlement or citizenship made from within the UK be affected by the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic?
Over the last year, the application process for in-country UK visas has become mostly digitalised, meaning most applicants for extension applications, switching visa categories, settlement (“indefinite leave to remain”) or citizenship applications have been able to upload their documents to the Home Office commercial partner before attending their biometric appointment. This means that original documents do not need to be sent to the Home Office. This is proving to be helpful during the current COVID-19 pandemic we find ourselves in as the virus can last up to days on surfaces; including documents. Current advice from the Gov.uk website after an in-country application has been paid for and submitted online in relation to the upload of documents and attending biometric appointment is as follows:
“CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE 1: If you have Coronavirus symptoms and should be self-isolating, or if you have Coronavirus, you must not attend your appointment. Please email with ‘COVID-19’ and your UAN in the subject to say that you cannot attend. We will refund your fee and will tell the Home Office.”
Applicants should follow the advice given by the Government and Home Office in that if you feel unwell or have come into contact with someone showing symptoms, you should not attend your biometric appointment and contact the Home Office commercial partner as outlined above.
Furthermore, Home Office decisions and Tribunal determinations are being sent electronically via email to applicants or their legal representatives which prevents the spread of transmission and shows that the Home Office is continuing to function as normal.
In terms of citizenship ceremonies, local authorities have announced these will be suspended for the time being. Hackney Council has also stated that according to the Home Office, they have also suspended the issuing of naturalisation certificates until further notice. The effect of this means that the process of becoming a British citizen has been halted as applicants cannot become British until they have attended a citizenship ceremony further to section 42 of the Nationality Act 1981.
Therefore, if your UK visa is due to expire in the coming weeks or months, you should still apply to extend your visa as normal to avoid become an overstayer and being in the UK illegally. Contact our specialist immigration solicitors in London to get advice on all of the visa requirements for your application and how we can assist during this pandemic, making it easier for you during this already challenging and stressful time.
How will Tier 4 international students be affected by the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic?
Schools and other academic institutions in the UK have been told to close in order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Therefore, many students, including Tier 4 international students, may be able to access certain courses and learning material online. Any Tier 4 student who is feeling unwell and showing signs of COVID-19 should be self-isolating and may not be well enough to complete any necessary work. Tier 4 students should not put others at risk and should contact their school or other academic institution if they are unwell. It is ultimately down to the Tier 4 sponsors whether they decide to withdraw an international student from their course. However, the Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students who are unable to attend their studies due to the Coronavirus outbreak, or against Tier 4 sponsors who authorise absences and continue to sponsor students despite absences for this reason. Advice for Tier 4 sponsors is briefly outlined as follows:
- Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised;
- Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when a student will be unable to attend for more than 60 days.
If you are currently in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa and you have been affected by Coronavirus or your course is coming to an end but you are unsure how the current situation could affect an application for further leave to remain in the UK, then you should contact our COVID-19 specialist immigration solicitors in London for an assessment of your situation.
How are entry clearance applications affected by the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic?
Over the last week, visa application centres run by VSF Global have been closing their centres and suspending their visa services in light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. UK Visas and Immigration applicants who are currently overseas are unable to book their biometric enrolment appointments or access any of the services that are offered at these VFS Global centres until further notice. Depending on the country you are applying from, applications may not be processed at all if made after a certain date. Similarly, TLSContact has also published new measures and procedures for submitting documents for settlement visa applications to ensure the safety of applicants and centre staff. The current travel restrictions that have been put in place and with the Government advising against all but essential travel it appears for the meantime, Applicants may not have their applications processed however applications may still be prepared and ready for when the situation improves; although this will then likely result in an influx of applications and consequential delays. Overseas applicants should contact our immigration solicitors in London for advice on the practicalities and current procedure for processing applications from overseas.
Can I still see an immigration lawyer given the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic?
Yes. We are a technologically advanced law firm and are well equipped for the current situation and have the resources and infrastructure to support you with any UK immigration issue.
The well-being of our team and our clients is our priority. We are following the advice to maintain social distancing, therefore we will hold all meetings with clients via video conferencing or via our telephone conferencing facilities for the foreseeable future.
Please contact our Immigration Team to arrange a consultation with us so we can assess your case in more detail and give you advice specific to your individual circumstances.
Using our Immigration Solicitors in London for advice regarding UK Visas and Immigration during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative in order to advise on a UK Visa and Immigration application.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful applications using our Immigration Solicitors in London during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your visa and immigration application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department.
We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to speak with one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.