Travel advice for visitors stuck in the UK due to Coronavirus

We understand that there is currently a large pool of people in the UK with valid visas that are soon to expire. The UK government has been clear with its travel advice asking everyone to respect the lockdown in an attempt to slow down the spread of the deadly coronavirus. It is inevitable that some visa holders will be in a position where their visas may have expired or about to expire within the lockdown period. The UK Visas and Immigration has now published formal guidance for Applicants who are in the UK and their visa is about to expire. It is extremely important for Applicants to understand the guidance and not to make an error when following the new procedures.

Travel Advice – How to extend your UK Visa during Coronavirus?

The UK Visas and Immigration department of the Home Office has acted rapidly to publish travel advice guidance for UK visa holders who are currently stuck in the UK. The government understand that by implementing a national lockdown there will be a large number of people who will miss their return flights and in some circumstances overstay their visa. It is important for Applicants to understand the published travel advice guidance so that they can follow the advice correctly. There is a fine line between overstaying and extending your visa. Applicants should contact our specialist immigration team for further advice on how to remain compliant with the published guidance. It is likely there will be further updates to the guidance as time goes by. The current guidance covers travel advice for Applicants in the UK whose visa expires after 24 January 2020 and before 31 May 2020. Applicants can apply to have their visas extended to 31 May 2020 if they cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to Coronavirus. For example, if your visa expires on 1 April 2020 and you cannot return for the reasons mentioned above you can apply for your visa to be extended to 31 May 2020. Please note this is not an automatic entitlement and Applicants must follow the instructions below:

Applicants are required to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) with an update so that they can record if your visa is expiring.

Applicants should provide the following mandatory information:

  • your full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

In addition to the above, you can also provide the following to assist the Home Office identify you and communicate with you:

  • copy of your current passport and entry stamp;
  • UK address and contact details i.e. phone number; and
  • details of your legal representative (if you have one).

Once you have submitted your request the UKVI will notify you as soon as your visa has been extended. It is recommended you keep a copy of all communication with the coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT)

Travel Advice – How to apply for a long term UK visa during Coronavirus?

As we are in unprecedented times, the UK government is doing everything in its power to avoid disruption and to keep its visitors safe. The government has also announced in its travel advice guidance that anyone in the UK with a valid visa (this includes applications where Applicants would usually need to apply for a visa from their home country i.e. tourist visa) would be able to switch into a long-term visa until 31 May 2020. The visa requirements and application fee will remain the same as if the application was submitted from overseas. This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020. Applicants can apply online and the terms of their leave will remain the same until your application is decided.

Travel Advice – How to apply for a UK visa from outside the UK during Coronavirus?

This is an area where there is limited information available. UKVI is yet to provide a detailed statement explaining what the current situation is regarding entry clearance applications. Nearly all the visa application centres around the world are closed due to Coronavirus. Before submitting an entry clearance application Applicants should contact their closest visa application centre (TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East and VFS global for all other countries. If you have already submitted your application and you are waiting for a decision this could be delayed as the UK cannot send visa vignettes across some borders and routes due to border restrictions. If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.

If you’ve paid for courier return, your passport will be returned if courier routes remain open. If your passport is currently held in a visa application centre and you would like it to be returned by a courier, please contact either TLS contact or VFS global directly if you haven’t already paid for courier return. Contact the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline if you are concerned about your passport.

British nationals abroad that need to apply for a passport won’t be able to apply for a British passport if the visa application centre is closed. Therefore, British nationals who need to travel urgently are advised to apply for an emergency travel document.

Travel Advice – Are UK visa application centres closed because of Coronavirus?

On Saturday 28 March 2020, Sopra Steria on behalf of the UKVI announced that it has suspended all its services to help protect the health and wellbeing of their customers. Sopra Steria is an organisation working with the Home Office in assessing UKVI applications. Once an Applicant has submitted the online visa application they are required to book an appointment at a Sopra Steria centre to give their biometric information and supporting documents. As all services have been suspended all biometric appointments have also been cancelled. Sopra Steria will reschedule the appointments within 6 and confirm the same via email.

This raises a massive inconvenience and hardship on Applicants who are applying for their first long-term visa. For example, Applicants who are applying to switch from a fiancé to a spouse visa will not be able to work until their visa is granted. This could potentially leave Applicants in financial hardship. The Home Office is due to address this and publish further guidance.

Can I still see an immigration Solicitor in London 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.

We are actively monitoring and responding to the COVID-19 situation and will continue to follow advice and guidance issued by the UK GovernmentPublic Health England and the NHS.

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.

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