On 11 March 2020, WHO declared that COVID-19 outbreak is a global pandemic. Accordingly, restrictions on travelling to the UK started from March, 12 2020. Accordingly, on March 17, 2020, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all non-essential overseas travel. Moreover, the FCO has also advised all British travelers to return on 23 March 2020 before the lockdown. Therefore, COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the UK visa and immigration system, both in terms of restricting migrant movements to and from the UK and the impact on operational capacity, especially during March-July 2022. However, since Aug 2020, the Covid-19 restrictions on UK visa and immigration are gradually reducing.
This is advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus.
Summary of the Impact on Coronavirus on UK Visa
The charts show the key dates which are likely to have had an impact on passenger arrivals to the UK, either through restrictions on travel, or requirements in place for those who do travel.
- 23 March 2020: UK first lockdown announced.
- 08 June 2020: Health measures introduced at the border. This relates to a series of measures that are designed to prevent new cases of Covid-19 being brought in from abroad.
- 10 July 2020: International Travel Corridors introduced. Passengers arriving from specific countries will not need to self-isolate when arriving in England.
- 05 November 2020: Second national lockdown in England starts.
- 05 January 2021: Third national lockdown in England starts.
- 18 January 2021: Travellers from abroad must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test. International Travel Corridors suspended, meaning all travellers from outside the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man will need to self-isolate for 10 days after arriving in the UK.
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2. Latest Updates
UK Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update Jan 27, 2021
A person arriving in England before 4am on 18 January 2021 is under no legal obligation to get a coronavirus test before travel. Therefore, he/she is not denied boarding for failing to provide proof of a negative test result, and will also be not fined on arrival into England.
However, from Jan 18, 2021, due to Covid-19 any one arriving in the UK needs to bring a completed passenger locator form and proof of a negative coronavirus test. Moreover, effective from Jan 18, 2021, the British Government has also suspended Travel corridors. Therefore, anyone arriving in the United Kingdom after 4am on Monday 18 January will need to self-isolate for 10 days. The British Government may fine up to £10,000 if a person does not self-isolate when he/she may need to. Moreover, the British Government may prosecute such persons for non-payment of fine on time.
3. Travel Restrictions
UK Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Travel Restrictions Guidance
Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions
Since Dec 18, 2020, the British Government has placed Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions. Therefore, everyone must stay at home unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons, including for work. Accordingly, travelling for a holiday is not permitted under alert level 4 in the UK.
As immigration and visa services are an essential service, therefore, a person can still travel to attend appointment and enrol biometrics during Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to coronavirus (Covid-19), the British Government has instituted changes at the UK border. Therefore, before making any travel plan or entry clearance application a person needs to check the border control guidance.
Air Travel to the UK: Passenger Guidance
Before You Travel to the UK during Covid-19 Restrictions
- Do not travel if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating
- From Dec 18, 2020, travelling for a holiday is not permitted under Alert Level 4 in the UK
- From Jan 18, 2021, a passenger is required to provide the evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 72 hours (3 days) before departure
- A passenger needs to submit the Public Health Passenger Locator Form any time in the 48 hours before arrival in the UK
- Optional: Book a Test to Release for reducing the Self-Isolation (Quarantine) Time from 10 to 5 days
- Check FCO travel advice
- Check your airline’s requirements
- If possible try to check in online
- Plan your journey to the airport (check public transport advice as necessary)
At the Air Port
- Be patient and follow instructions from staff
- Stay 2 metres away from others wherever possible
- Wash or sanitise your hands regularly
- Wear a face covering – without one you may be refused entry into the airport
- If you require assistance you should request this as you normally would
On Board Your Flight to the UK
- Follow instructions from crew at all times
- Remain seated as much as possible
- Wear a face covering – they are required on flights in England, and many airlines require them for all
- Be considerate of others – they may be exempt from wearing a face covering
- Be alert for announcements about the requirements at your destination
On Arrival in the UK during Covid-19 Restrictions
- Make sure you fill out the Public Health Passenger Locator Form online before you arrive
- Follow crew instructions for disembarking the aircraft
- Wash or sanitise your hands as soon as possible
- Stay 2 metres away from others wherever possible
- Go directly to the place where you will self-isolate – avoid public transport if possible
- Observe self-isolation for 10 days in the UK – if you violate self-isolation rules then will be fined
Passenger Locator Form
Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), a person needs to complete a passenger locator form before arrival, even if he/she is arriving from a country on the travel corridors list. To fill the passenger locator form, a person needs to provide the following information:
- passport details
- travel details, including times and dates
- the address where a person will stay in the UK (if applicable)
- a booking reference number and the name of the test provider, if he/she is using Test to Release to find out if he/she may end self-isolation early
A person can submit the Passenger Locator Form any time in the 48 hours before arrival in the UK.
UK Visa Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form at the Border
A person need to show proof of a completed passenger locator form on arrival at the UK border. Indeed, the UK government can use the form to contact a person if someone travelled with the person develops coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. In fact, when a person submits the form then receives a confirmation email with a document attached. Accordingly, at the border control a passenger needs to show either a printed copy of the document or a downloaded copy of document on the smart phone. The UK Border Force officers will scan the QR code at the top of the document to check if the passenger has completed the form successfully.
Self Isolation and Test to Release Scheme Rules
Negative Covid-19 Test Result
If a passenger is travelling to England, Scotland, or Wales, including British nationals returning home from travel abroad then needs to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 72 hours (3 days) before departure. If the passenger does not comply (and do not have a valid exemption) then the airline or carrier may refuse boarding and/or the passenger may also be fined on arrival. For instance, £500/- on arrival in England.
Please note, a person coming from a country included in the Travel Corridors List were not required to self-isolate. However, on Jan 18, 2021, the British Government has suspended the Travel Corridors. Therefore, anyone arriving in England from outside the UK or Ireland needs to self-isolate for 10 days.
Test to Release Scheme
In order to reduce the Covid-19 self-isolation period, the British Government has introduced the Test to Release Scheme for passengers arriving in the UK. Accordingly, under the scheme a person can choose to pay for a private COVID-19 test. If the result is negative then can stop self-isolating. However, a person cannot take a test until he/she is in England for 5 full days. The scheme is voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only.
- 10 Days Self Isolation – if not opted for Test to Release
- 5 Days Self Isolation – if opted for Test to Release and Covid-19 Test Result is Negative
- 10 Days Self Isolation – if opted for Test to Release and Covid-19 Test Result is Inconclusive
- 15 Days Self Isolation – if opted for Test to Release and Covid-19 Test Result is Positive
Initial Impact of Covid-19 on Passenger Arrivals
Apparently, after the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a sharp decline in the number of passengers arriving to the United Kingdom. For instance, the number of passengers arriving by air have fallen from 7.1m in Jan 2020 to 3.8m in March 2020. Thereafter, in April 2020, only 112,300 passengers arrived by air. Consequently, the passenger arriving to the UK by air in April 2020 are 99% lower than that in April 2019.
Moreover, in the first five weak of UK lockdown from March 23 to April 30, 2020, 58% of passengers arriving by are British nationals. Therefore, the remaining 42% of passengers arriving by air were foreign nationals residents in the UK, dependants of UK residents, and other non-British nationals. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic impact on global travel started prior to March 2020. However, by the end of March, the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted all routes to the UK to some extent, with the reduction in air travel most marked. Accordingly, the proportion of passengers arriving by air accounted fell from 87% in March 2020 to 46% in April 2020.
Arrivals by Seas and Rail
Additionally, during the period, the number of arrivals by sea and rail was also 97% and 98% lower than in April 2019, respectively. Please note, apart from passengers, the persons arriving by sea and rail also include freight workers, such as lorry drivers.
Passenger Arrivals by Nationality
This chart shows the number of air passenger arrivals to the UK each week. Around the time of the first UK lockdown, air passenger arrivals to the UK fell significantly. The proportion of arrivals that were British nationals rose slightly in the weeks immediately before and after the UK lockdown was announced (23 March 2020). The number and proportion of arrivals from British nationals increased from early July to late August, but have decreased since.
Travel bans to the UK
All passengers who have been in or transited through the countries listed below in the last 10 days will not be granted access to the UK. This does not include British and Irish Nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK, who will be able to enter the UK but are required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household. However, cannot use the Test to Release scheme.
- Cape Verde
- French Guiana
- Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores)
- South Africa
4. Entry Clearances
UK Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Entry Clearance Restrictions
Covid Visa Concession Scheme (CVCS) for Migrants Unable to Return
If a person with a valid leave has left the UK before 17 March 2020 and intended to return for an ILR or extension, but was unable to do so before the UK visa expired because of travel restrictions related to coronavirus (COVID-19) then need to complete the online form. Accordingly, the Home Office will contact the person via email to explain whether he/she is eligible under the Covid Visa Concession Scheme.
Accordingly, the person needs to reply to the confirmation email within 48 hours of receiving it. If the applicant does not reply to the confirmation email within 48 hours then needs to complete the form again. Moreover, after replying to the Home Office confirmation email, an applicant does not need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline or mailbox. The UK Covid-19 Visa Concession Scheme processing time is 10 working days (2 weeks) for the subsequent (final) reply of the Home Office.
Apart from visitors, the UK Covid-19 Visa Concession Scheme is available until 31 March 2021 for all other routes. Accordingly, if the person was in the UK with their previous leave, they would be able to apply for leave to remain in the route they now want to apply for: by extending their leave, switching into a different route, applying for ILR. The requirements are set out in the relevant Immigration Rules.
UK Visa Processing Time during Coronavirus (Covid-19)
In fact, due to the ongoing global impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19), disruptions to local travel and courier routes have increased UK visa processing time in some regions and countries. These delays mean that it may take longer than usual for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to assess entry clearance applications. Accordingly, the UK non-settlement visa (such as visit, tourist, work, student) processing time after biometrics during coronvirus (Covid-19) pandemic may take more than 15 working days (3 weeks). Moreover, the settlement visa (spouse or family under Appendix FM) processing time after biometrics for applications from outside the UK may take more than 60 working days (12 weeks).
UK Visa Application Centres (UKVAC)
Since July 2020, the Visa Application Centres (VACs) from outside the UK have started opening. During Covid-19 pandemic, the UK visa application centres will take the body temperature reading of the applicants. Moreover, all applicants need to wear a mask and respect social distancing guidelines to enter the UKVAC centre.
The staff of the UKVAC will help customers exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough or difficulty breathing to reschedule their UK visa application submission for another day. The UKVAC will also advise such applicants to seek medical attention at the nearest healthcare facility of their choice.
Priority for Returning Passports
Indeed, the UK visa application centres are prioritising returning customer passports after coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions. However, if your VAC is still closed then you may not be to get your passport. If your passport is in a VAC, and a decision on the application has been made, the VAC will contact to arrange passport collection. Moreover, if your application has not been decided, UKVI/UKVAC will not contact you to return your passport until the UK visa application is concluded after lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. If you would like to get your passport back, even if your application has not been decided, then you need to contact the VAC to arrange collection. The UKVI is in the process of reopening more VACs where local restrictions allow and social distancing can be maintained.
Passport Services for British Nationals Living Abroad
For British Nationals living abroad, Her Majesty’s Passport Office is accepting online applications for British Passport. However, if a British National living abroad is advised then needs to book an appointment at the nearest VAC to submit application for a British Passport. If your country’s UKVAC is still closed then you will not be able to apply for a British passport until it reopens. Moreover, if you urgently need to travel to the UK then should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Visitor or Transit Visa
If a person is intending to apply for a visitor or transit visa from a country where travel to the UK is suspended then UKVI will delay the decision. If the visa application is successful then a person will only receive the visa after lifting of the travel suspension.
If a person has already applied for a visitor or transit visa from a country where travel to the UK is suspended, but needs to travel urgently for compassionate reasons then needs to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH) for guidance: [email protected]. The applicant will need to use the heading ‘Visitor Visa – Urgent Travel Request’ in the email with the following details:
- Date of Birth
- Full Details of Circumstances.
Work, Study and Family Visa
The UKVI continues to accept the visa applications- for work, study or residence in the UK- from all locations but a person needs to comply with UK Border measures.
UK Visa Vignette Replacement due to Coronavirus (Covid-19)
If the 90-day visa vignette has expired then the person need to apply for a replacement by completing the online form. If a person has submitted for visa vignette replacement and now no longer intend to travel then can submit a withdrawal request at the VAF to enable release of the passport.
Free UK Visa Vignette Replacement due to Covid-19
The UKVI continued to replace 30 day immigration start up visa vignettes free of charge for eligible customers until 31 December 2020 due to Covid-19.
Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Covid-19 Guidance
When a migrant arrives in the UK then will not be penalized for unable to collect the biometric residence permit (BRP) while coronavirus measures are in place.
English Language Test
In fact, UK Visa English language tests are available in most countries. However, due to coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, the UK Visa English Language Test have been temporarily suspended in some countries. You can find a list of all approved test centres outside the UK and check the status of the Test Centre and available Test Date from SELT provider’s website such as International English Language Testing System (IELTS), LanguageCert, Pearson Test of English, or PSI (Services) UK Ltd.
Impact of Covid-19 on UK Visa Entry Clearance Applications
Indeed, after the breakout of COVID-19 pandemic, the number of UK entry clearance visa applications have sharply fallen across the board. Perhaps, mainly due to closure of the UK visa application centres by the end of March. Accordingly, since then, only very few applications or decisions have been made. Nevertheless, some case working has continued to take place. Evidently, the total number of visa applications began to fall in March 2020, with around 129,000 applications, less than half the number in March 2019 (281,000). However, falls in applications from Chinese nationals began at the start of 2020 following the COVID-19 outbreak in China. In January and February 2020, Chinese nationals accounted for 8% of all visa applications, down from 18% over the same period in 2019. All other nationalities saw significant falls from March 2020, with only around 250 applications recorded in April 2020.
No. of UK Visa Covid-19 Entry Clearance Decisions
The number of decisions on visa applications also reduced in March 2020, when there were 145,000 decisions, 42% fewer than in March 2019 (248,000). However, in April 2020, only less than 100 decisions made on UK visa applications due Covid-19 pandemic. The entry clearance casework IT system requires a caseworker to be physically in the office to conclude an application, and in April there was a reduced physical presence in the office. In fact, even the printing of a vignette was not possible because applicants passports were in closed visa application centres. Therefore, in such instances, the applicants were also get back their passports. Nevertheless, where possible, the UKVI was only able to consider these applications up to the point of a decision.
5. Leave to Remain
UK Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Leave to Remain
UK Via Extensions after Covid-19
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the beginning of restrictions in the UK, the number of extensions granted has fallen. In comparison to Jan-Mar 2019, the number of extensions during Jan-Mar 2020 only slightly fell from 63,000 to 60,000. However, during April 2020, the Home Office granted 77% fewer extensions mainly due to moving the operation from physical presence (in the office) to delivery through remote working.
A Separate Policy for UK Visa Covid-19 Extension
In addition to existing policies of extensions, on Feb 17, 2020, the Home Office announced a separate policy for migrant not able to return home due to COVID-19. Moreover, the government further extended the Covid-19 UK visa extension policy on 24 March 2020. Accordingly, by the end of April, the government nearly made 65,000 COVID-19 related extension grants. Perhaps, mainly to Chinese nationals who were unable to travel home at the end of their current visa.
Exceptional Assurance for Leave to Remain
A foreign national in the UK needs to take all necessary steps to leave if it is possible to do so or apply to regularise stay. During the coronavirus pandemic the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) Services are available, which continue to operate safely under local and national restrictions.
Nevertheless, if a person intends to leave the UK but is not able to do so due to Covid-19 and the UK visa or leave to remain is expiring between 1 January 2021 and 28 February 2021 then can request additional time to stay, which is known as ‘exceptional assurance’. Accordingly, the person can make a request for UK Covid-19 visa exceptional assurance by emailing to [email protected] with the following details:
- full name
- date of birth
- Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
- type of visa
- expiry date of visa
- reason for request
- evidence of flight or evidence showing reason that the person is not able to leave the UK
The subject header of UK Covid-19 visa Exceptional Assurance email needs to be: “Request for an assurance”. Moreover, the person needs to attach evidence to show: why he/she is not able to leave the UK? For instance, if he/she can not leave the UK because he/she cannot find a flight before his/her leave/visa expires then needs to submit a copy of a confirmed flight ticket. If a person is not able to leave because he/she has coronavirus then needs to submit confirmation of the positive coronavirus test result.
Delays in UK Covid-19 Visa Exceptional Assurance
If the person has previously completed the online form to request exceptional assurance and is awaiting the outcome and the flight is imminent then needs to send an email at [email protected] with the requested details. The Home Office usually considers all such requests and accordingly contacts the applicant to know the outcome. During this time, the person is not treated as an overstayer. Moreover, such a person does not suffer any detriment in any future immigration applications for this consideration period. However, during the time in which the Home Office considers request for ‘exceptional assurance’ due to Covid-19 the person needs to continue on the conditions as per his/her current or most recently expired UK visa.
Grant of UK Covid-19 Visa Exceptional Assurance
If a person gets an exceptional assurance then it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after the expiry of the leave to remain. Moreover, if conditions allowed the migrant to work, study or rent accommodation then may continue to do so during the period of the UK Covid-19 visa exceptional assurance. However, the exceptional assurance does not mean a grant of leave/visa as it only protects those who are unable to leave the UK due to Covid-19 restrictions and not to facilitate travel, other than to return home.
Reapply for UK Covid-19 Visa Exceptional Assurance
If a person already has the UK Covid-19 visa exceptional assurance but the circumstances have changed or he/she is not able to leave the UK by the assurance date previously given then needs to reapply using the aforesaid process. Nevertheless, the person will need to clearly state that why he/she is making a reapplication. Accordingly, needs to provide new evidence to support the UK Covid-19 visa reapplication.
Regularizing Stay in the UK after Exceptional Assurance
A migrant will be able to apply for a leave to remain to regularize his/her stay in the UK after the issuance of the ‘exceptional assurance’. Accordingly, will need to meet the requirements of the route, pay the UK visa application fee and submit the leave to remain application before the expiry of the ‘exceptional assurance’.
What if a migrant during Covid-19 intends to stay in the UK?
If a migrant decides to stay in the UK then needs to apply for the necessary leave to remain to regularise. Although, a migrant can submit an application form from within the UK; however, it most of instances needs to apply for a visa from the home country. Moreover, the migrant needs to meet the requirements of the route and pay the Home Office application fee.
The terms of the migrant’s leave to remain will the same until the application is decided. If the migrant is switching into work or study routes then may be able to commence work or study whilst the application is under consideration.
What if a person has overstayed in the UK during Covid-19?
If a migrant’s visa or leave has expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 then there is no future adverse immigration consequences even if during this period the migrant is not able to make an application to regularise his/her stay in the UK. However, if a migrant has not applied to regularise his/her stay or submitted a request for an exceptional assurance then needs to make arrangements to leave the UK.
Immigration and Visa Services
As immigration and visa services are an essential service, therefore, a person can still travel to attend appointment and enrol biometrics during Covid-19 pandemic.
When you apply for a visa, settlement (‘indefinite leave to remain’) or citizenship in the UK, you’ll usually need to use UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS).
UK Visa and Citizenship Centres (UKVCAS)
UKVCAS Service Points are essential services and will remain open throughout the UK so customers can continue to book and attend appointments to progress UK visa applications during Covid-19 pandemic. After the initial closure in March 2020, most of the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) have reopened for existing customers. Accordingly, during Covid-19 pandemic an applicant can check the status of the UKVCAS centres and book an appointment.
Before travelling to your appointment at any of the above Service Points, please check your UKVCAS account and registered email address.
Visas and Immigration Service and Support Centres (SSCs)
The Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are essential services. Therefore, will remain open during coronavirus pandemic. However, SSCs are offering a reduced number of appointments because of coronavirus. As more appointments are made available UKVI may also contact to arrange an appointment by email or post.
If you have been asked to enrol your biometrics at a participating Post Office branch you can travel to your nearest branch. Further details are contained in your biometric enrolment letter.
For some UK visa and settlement applications, you’ll need to make an appointment at a Service and Support Centre (SSC).
What if a migrant has already made an appointment at UKVCAS?
The Home Office/UKVI usually contacts a migrant if he/she has you made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS that is still temporary closed due to Covid-19 to inform the migrant that the appointment has been postponed. Moreover, the Home Office/UKVI may also inform when a migrant can book a new appointment during Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the immigration status of the migrant in the UK will not change as a result of not being able to attend an appointment during coronavirus restrictions.
UK Covid-19 Visa Work Concessions
If a migrant has applied for a work visa and is waiting for a decision on the following types of applications:
- Skilled Worker visa
- Health and Care Worker visa
- Intra-company Transfer visa
- T2 Worker visas
- T5 Temporary Worker visas
Then the migrant can start working in the UK before the visa application has been decided if:
- the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned before Jan 1, 2021
- CoS assigned for Health and Care visa
- the migrant has submitted the application before his/her current visa expired and has shown sponsor evidence of this
- the job is the same as the one listed on your CoS
If the UK work visa application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused then sponsor will stop sponsoring and the migrant must stop working in the UK. Therefore, the migrant should either leave the UK or seek to regularise the immigration status by filing an administrative review, judicial review or appeal.
CoS Assigned from Jan 1, 2021
If the CoS is assigned from 1 January 2021 and the migrant is not applying under the Health and Care visa then must wait until the visa application has been granted before starting work, unless the current visa allows the migrant to work in that job.
UK Visa Covid-19 Working Hours Concessions
There is no longer a limit on the number of hours a migrant can work or volunteer each week in the UK if he/she is a:
- Student (including Tier 4 student) working for the NHS in a list profession
- worker with a Skilled Work, Health and Care Work, Intra-company Transfer or T2 Worker visa and NHS job is a second job
- visiting academic researcher
- holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer
English language testing centres in the UK
A migrant can book a test at most of the approved English Testing Centres in the UK during Covid-19 pandemic. Accordingly, for more information can contact Trinity College London, International English Language Testing System (IELTS), LanguageCert website, Pearson Test of English.
EU Settlement Scheme
Since March 30, 2019, EU and EEA nationals residents in the UK and their non-EEA family members can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). Indeed, due to covid-19 pandemic some of the support services and application routes for the EUSS have been temporarily changed. However, applicants continue to apply using any laptop or mobile device including the EU Exit ID Document check app.
Moreover, the Settlement Resolution Centres have remain operational and continued to provide support by email. Accordingly, in April 2020, the government received 67,300 EUSS applications, which were 46% less than that during March 2020. During April 2020, the government decided 73,000 EUSS applications, which are 51% lower than in March 2020. Perhaps, the applications under EUSS are showing a downward trend mainly due to the UK leaving the EU at the end of Jan 2020. Nevertheless, by the end of April 2020, more than 3.5m applications have been made under the EUSS.
Asylum and Resettlement
Perhaps, there had been a general upward trend in the number of asylum applications since mid 2018. However, since the start of covid-19 pandemic, there has been a marked decrease in the asylum applications and initial decisions. Nevertheless, the Home Office has continued to accept asylum applications throughout the pandemic. In fact, during the four weeks prior to the UK lockdown, the Home Office received 2,500 asylum related application. However, in the first four weeks of the UK lockdown, the Home Office received less than 800 asylum applications. Moreover, the Home Office made 300 initial decisions made on asylum applications in the first four weeks of lockdown. Please note, the Home Office stopped interviews with asylum applicants after the UK lockdown.
In fact, due to covid-19 related restrictions, it is not possible for the Home Office to undertake any resettlement activity. Accordingly, since March 12, 2020, the Home Office is not undertaking any resettlement of the refugees. Moreover, the British Government has cancelled all the planned refugee resettlement due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic the number of people in the detention estate has considerably fallen. At the start of May 2020, there were only 313 people detained in the detention estate. However, there were 1,278 and 555 people in immigration detention at the end of Dec 2019 and Mar 2020, respectively. Perhaps, the fall in the number in detention is due to an initial increase in numbers leaving detention immediately following the outbreak and the fall in numbers entering detention.
6. Specific Concessions
UK Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Concessions
Family or Private Life | UK Covid-19 Visa Concessions
A Short Break in Continuous Residence
If a person on family or private life visa is unable to travel back to the UK due to coronavirus (Covid-19) travel restrictions and the leave has expired then the Home Office may overlook a short break in continuous residence. However, the migrant on the UK family or private life visa needs to make the next application as soon as possible.
Indeed, there will be no future adverse immigration consequences if there is a short break in continuous residence and the leave expired between 1 March 2020 and 31 August 2020. However, if a migrant on family or private life did not make a valid application to stay by 31 August 2020 then needs to make arrangements to leave the United Kingdom.
UK Family Visa Covid-19 Exceptional Assurance
If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a visa or leave that expires between 1 December 2020 and 31 January 2021 then needs to request for additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by emailing [email protected]. However, if the leave expires after 31 October 2020, then the migrant needs to make an application from inside the UK where a person would usually need to apply for a visa from the home country if:
- application is urgent. For instance, due to any family emergency a person cannot apply from outside the UK
- the person cannot apply from outside the UK due to coronavirus
UK Fiancé Visa Extension Covid-19 Exceptional Assurance
If a migrant is in the UK with 6 months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and the wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to coronavirus then may request additional time i.e. exceptional assurance, by emailing [email protected]. However, the applicant needs to provide evidence of when the wedding will take place. Otherwise, can apply to extend stay for a further 6 months to allow the ceremony to take place.
UK Family Visa Min Income and Adequate Maintenance Covid-19 Concession
If a migrant on a family or private life route has experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 1 January 2021 then the Home may only consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income, provided the person is able to meet the minimum income requirement at least 6 months immediately before the date the income was lost. Accordingly, if salary has reduced due to Covid-19 then the Home Office is likely to account of income as though the person is earning 100% of the salary. Moreover, for self-employed, the Home Office may disregard the loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 1 January 2021, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.
UK Family Visa Specified Documents Covid-19 Concession
In some cases, the Home Office may even decide application without seeing certain specified documents if the applicant cannot get them due to coronavirus. Otherwise, the Home Office may advice the applicant to submit the specified documents after the date of application.
UK Family Visa English Language Test Covid-19 Concession
If a person needs to take an English language test as part of the application then may apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or the applicant couldn’t travel to it due to coronavirus when he/she applied for a visa under family or private life routes.
NHS Frontlines Workers | UK Visa Covid-19 Concessions
Indeed, on the March 31, 2020, the Home Office announced a policy to extend the NHS frontline workers visas. Moreover, on 29 April 2020, the government announced to extend the visa of frontline health and care workers.
Free 1-year UK Visa Extension Covid-19 for NHS Frontline Workers
If a migrant is working in the healthcare sector and his/her visa expires between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021 then may be eligible for a free UK visa extension due to Covid-19. Accordingly, if the migrant is eligible then his/her dependants (partner and children under the age of 18) could also get their visas extended for a year. Moreover, the NHS worker and his/her will also be eligible for the waiver of Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). However, if the NHS worker’s visa is due to expire after 31 March 2021, or is changing employer then may not be eligible for 1-year free UK visa extension due to Covid-19.
The NHS Frontline worker can work at any NHS hospital during the coronavirus outbreak if his/her sponsor can maintain their sponsorship duties. Moreover, the sponsors do not need to notify UKVI of the change in the place of work.
The NHS worker can carry out supplementary work in any role at any skill level during the coronavirus outbreak. There is no restriction on the number of hours a migrant can work.
UK Global Talent Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Concessions
If the endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you have not been able to make an application for the UK Global Talent visa then you may still be eligible. The UK Global Talent visa endorsement may be acceptable if it was granted on or after 24 January 2020 and you apply for your visa before 1 January 2021. UK Global Talent Visa Applications that do not meet the aforesaid requirements may be considered on a case by case basis.
If you’re working on coronavirus research
If you’re a scientist researching coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be able to apply for a Global Talent visa using the UKRI endorsed funder option.
UK Start-up Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Concessions
If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you are not able to travel to the UK then may still be eligible for a start-up visa. Nevertheless, the Home Office/UKVI may consider such applications on a case by case basis.
Moreover, a start up migrant may be eligible for Exceptional Assurance and Covid Visa Concession Scheme.
UK Start-up Visa Extension 12-Months Covid-19 Concessions
If a migrant is in the UK on Start-up visa route and his/her business has been disrupted due to Covid-19 then can apply for additional leave of 12-months. Accordingly, this will allow the start-up migrant to go beyond the normal maximum 2-year period so he/she can continue developing business against the agreed business plan.
Nevertheless, the start-up needs to meet the requirements of the route as normal such as endorsement by an endorsing body. Therefore, the endorsing body needs to assess the business and be satisfied that reasonable progress has been made, taking into consideration the impact of coronavirus and that the business remains viable. Accordingly, the UK start-up visa endorsing body must provide an endorsement letter. The endorsement letter needs to state that it is a UK start up visa application for a temporary extension due to coronavirus pandemic.
UK Innovator Visa Covid-19 Concessions
If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you are not able to travel to the UK then may still be eligible for an Innovator visa. Nevertheless, the Home Office/UKVI may consider such applications on a case by case basis.
Moreover, a migrant on the innovator route may be eligible for Exceptional Assurance and Covid Visa Concession Scheme.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa Extension and ILR Covid-19 Concessions
Due to Covid-19 restrictions in the UK, a migrant on Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa do not need to employ at least 2 people for 12 consecutive months due to possibility of business disruptions. For the 12 month period a Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrant required to employ someone, which can be made up of multiple jobs across different months but this must be equivalent to 2 full time jobs.
Time when employees were furloughed will count towards the 12 month period if they have been paid at least 80% of their normal salary.
If the Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrant has not been able to employ staff for 12 months by the time visa expires, the migrant may be allowed to extend the stay in the UK for a further 2 years, if he/she is provides evidence for:
- creation of at least 2 jobs by the application date
- the inability to employ staff for 12 months due to coronavirus
UK Student Visa Extension Covid-19 Concessions
If the migrant is a Student or Child Student (including Tier 4 student) in the UK and has given the fingerprints before then may be able to reuse the fingerprints. Accordingly, if UKVI can reuse the fingerprints then the applicant will get an email with instructions on how to send UKVI an image of the applicant’s face and supporting documents. Indeed, this means that the applicant will not have to attend a UKVCAS or an SSC service point appointment to provide biometric information. Nevertheless, if a student is not able to send the information through the instructions given by UKVI then needs to book an appointment with UKVACs or SSC.
UK Covid-19 Student Visa Concessions
If a migrant has applied for a Student or Child Student visa (including PBS Tier 4 visas) and is waiting for a decision on your application then can start the course or studies before the visa application has been decided if:
- the sponsor is a Student sponsor
- the student has a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
- a student or child student has submitted an application before the current visa expired and has provided the sponsor evidence
- the course is the same as the one listed on the CAS
- you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required
If the application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused then the student must stop the course or studies.
Pre-Registration Nurse or Midwife on the Temporary Register
The deadline for pre-registration nurse or midwife to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been extended to 30 September 2021. If a migrant is not able to pass on the first attempt then will have until 31 December 2021 to pass the exam.
Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH)
If a person have any immigration query relating to coronavirus then can send an email [[email protected]] in English Language to the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre (CIH). The CIH processing time for immigration, leave to remain and UK visa entry clearance applications affected due to coronavirus (Covid-19) is usually 5 working days (1 week). Alternatively, you can call CIH on 0800 678 1767 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Please note, calling CIH is toll free from inside the UK, but not from abroad.
Moreover, if your query does not relate to UK visa and immigration processing associated with coronavirus/Covid-19 then needs to contact UKVI’s General Immigration Help, which is a paid service.