The Home Office have now announced that they are taking steps to reopen visa application centres overseas. It is currently intended that a number of visa centres for Entry Clearance applications will open from later in June, including a number across Europe as well as Japan, China, South Korea and other parts of East Asia. Of course, the ability to open visa application centres depends also on the local lockdown rules in place and so there is the potential for change in the schedule, but generally we are optimistic that more centres will start to reopen in the coming weeks.
The Home Office has also confirmed though that initially they will not be offering any form of priority service from any of the visa centres, as their staff focus on the backlog and of course implementing any necessary social distancing requirements.
Do also remember that the UK now has a 14 day quarantine period in force for most arrivals to the UK, including citizens and residents. Migrants who are unable to collect their BRP card from a Post Office on arrival due to this quarantine will not be penalised and alternative arrangements can be made to enable collection after the quarantine period has ended.
In addition to the visa application centres starting to reopen, a number of English test centres are also expecting to open again shortly. This in addition to the visa centre reopenings will really allow the visa application process to start moving again, which should be very good news for those organisations in the UK who have had to delay their planned intake of expatriates or other migrant workers due to the covid-19 situation.
If a migrant has already been granted an initial 30 day visa vignette but that has now expired before they were able to travel to the UK, then it is possible to arrange a replacement of that. Replacements can be requested until the end of this year, but will only be available when the local visa application centre has reopened.
The visa centres within the UK, such as for extensions or switching applications, are also starting to reopen, with some already active. However, at the moment they are still only offering appointments to those applicants who previously had an appointment booked which was then cancelled due to the lockdown. There is not currently any information on when bookings will be permitted for other applicants, but again there is optimism that this situation should improve in the next few weeks.
For assistance with any Immigration Law enquiries please do not hesitate to contact one of our team.