With the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak and resulting lock-down not just in the UK but around the world, we have been managing enquiries and casework from people caught up in this uncertain situation during their UK visa application.
A useful overview of how things currently stand follows. This information can change quickly as communication from the government has come through a variety of sources. Please contact us to ask and we will aim to provide you with clarity.
You have made your application outside of the UK and have already attended your biometrics appointment before the Coronavirus lock-down
All decision making will be delayed. Therefore, current publicised timescales for particular visa routes are unreliable. Additionally, people awaiting the return of their passport to be collect from a visa centre, may be unable to collect their document or, if the service exists in the country, may be able to arrange for their document to be returned by courier.
There is no information how applicants will be able to travel to the UK if their permission has been granted and passport returned but the 30-day entry vignette has expired.
Under ordinary circumstances, people would apply for a new vignette via a replacement vignette application. We might also anticipate some further concessions as a response. So far, there has been no indication of these.
You have made an application outside of the UK and have not attended a biometrics appointment
If you have made an application (submitted the online application and paid the required fee), but have not yet booked and attended an appointment - you will not be able to complete the application process just now. All UK visa application centres are currently closed and we await them reopening in due course as the situation improves.
For visa applications, the important date to be aware of is when the application was submitted and paid for online. This is your date of application. Any time-sensitive documents such as financial evidence or evidence of sponsorship, would need to work to that particular date, irrespective of when you ultimately provide your biometrics.
You are outside of the UK and have not yet made your application
You can currently make an online application and then await an opportunity to book a biometrics appointment. If there are time-sensitive documents or you wish to complete the application process and do not mind waiting for biometrics appointments to become available, you can do so. There are aspects to this of which you should be cautious. We recommend seeking advice in this scenario.
You are inside the UK, have made a visa application and attended your biometrics appointment
Applications will continue to be worked on by UKVI, but the timescales are likely to be delayed. In this situation, applicants who have made an application on or by their expiry date as required, can stay legally in the UK, and continue to enjoy the rights their existing visa provided such as work rights while the application is being decided.
You have made an application inside the UK but have not attended a biometrics appointment
Individuals who have applied online on or by their visa expiry date, but have not attended appointments are also able to stay legally in the UK and continue to enjoy the rights their existing visa provided, such as work rights.
You should check-in regularly to your online application and book for a biometrics appointment as soon as these become available once again.
Your visa is due to expire and you need to extend your UK visa
It is essential that you apply on time and make sure that you have submitted a valid application on or by your visa expiry date. The biometrics appointment can occur up to 9 weeks (45 working days) after the application. The application itself must be on time, every time.
Your UK visa is due to expire and you cannot leave the UK to return home
There are concessions in place that those whose visas expire on or by 31 May 2020 can request further time due to travel restrictions.
Similarly, if you were planning to leave the UK to make an application from your home country but now cannot travel to make it. A prime example might be that you are here as a visitor and wish to apply for a UK spouse visa which normally must be initially made outside of the UK. Concessions are available to enable people to make their applications in the UK provided they meet all other requirements.
If you require assistance with your situation to plan your application, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be pleased to help navigate you through the process.
It's often interesting how frequently patterns and themes emerge in the enquiries we receive at any given time.