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Immigration update: reopening of visa centres and the 14-day quarantine rule

29 May 2020 #Immigration

UK visa application centres across the UK and the world will start to reopen from 1 June 2020.  The reopening of these centres will allow applicants to continue submitting their applications and receive their visa decisions, many of which have been on hold for several weeks. This will be followed by the 14-day quarantine rules for all international arrivals to the UK Border.

Reopening of visa centres

Visa application centres in the UK run by Sopra Steria and centres worldwide run by either TLS Contact or VFS Global will start to reopen from 1 June 2020. The reopening will allow the resumption of the visa application process. The centres have provided information about their reopening:

UKVCAS:

The reopening of UKVCAS centre will be controlled, which means not all centres will reopen from 1 June 2020. The first stage of applicants that we will be to attend UKVCAS centres will be those that had their appointments postponed a result of the lockdown.

The centres will not be initially accepting new applicants, and this will be kept under review. The list of centres reopening on 1 June 2020, for existing applicants are:

  1. Birmingham (Core)
  2. Birmingham - Premium Lounge
  3. Chelmsford
  4. Exeter
  5. Leeds
  6. London - Croydon (Core)
  7. London - Premium Lounge (Mark Lane)
  8. London - ESP (Mark Lane)
  9. London - Victoria
  10. Manchester Fountain Street ESP
  11. Manchester - Premium Lounge
  12. Sheffield
  13. Southampton

TLSContact

TLS Contact will also open a limited number of centres, for existing customers first, before rolling them out to new customers. The centres in Belarus and Ukraine will open from 1 June 2020, followed by three centres in Germany (Berlin, Dusseldorf and Munich) on 4 June 2020.

VFS Global

VFS Global will reopen limited centres from 1 June 2020 in the following locations:

  • Australia: Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
  • China: Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai
  • Suva (Fiji)
  • Hong Kong
  • Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
  • Taipei (Taiwan)
  • Bangkok (Thailand)

14-day quarantine for all UK-arrivals

The government has announced that from 8 June 2020, all travellers to the UK, including UK residents and visitors will be subject to a 14-day quarantine rule. The rules state that all travels must:

  • Provide contact and journey travels when they travel to the UK
  • Not leave the place they are staying in for the first 14-days since arrival in the UK

The rules will be enforced, and those who do not provide their contact details may be fined up to £100, and those who refuse to self-isolate may be fined up to £1000 or face further action.

Providing contact details (from 8 June 2020)

From 8 June 2020, the UK government will allow travellers to download an online journey/contact details form, which should be completed before travel. Travellers may need to show the completed form when they arrive at the UK border.

Failing to complete the form may result in a fine, or refusal of entry (for non-UK nationals/residents).

The government will then use this form to contact the traveller, to check if they are self-isolating for the first 14-days of arrival.

The guidance states that you must not travel if you have coronavirus symptoms.

Self-isolation

The guidance states that you should go straight to the accommodation where you intend on self-isolating. If your friends and/or family are unable to collect you from the airport, you may be able to use public transport, if you have no other option. If you are using public transport, you should cover your nose and mouth, and stay 2 meters away from other people.

You can only leave your place of accommodation in very limited circumstances:

  • you need urgent medical treatment
  • you need support from social services
  • you need food and medicine and cannot get them delivered or get a friend or family member to bring them
  • you’re going to the funeral of a close relative, or for other compassionate reasons
  • there’s an emergency, for example, there’s a fire at the place you’re staying

You are also not allowed to have visitors unless they are providing essential care.

The guidance states that if you are staying with friends or family, you should avoid contact and minimise time spent in shared areas. If staying in a hotel, you cannot use shared areas such as bars, restaurants, health clubs and sports facilities.

If a traveller is unable to find suitable accommodation to self-isolate, they must inform the UK Border Office, who will give them a choice of accommodation to stay at.

Other exemptions

Travellers from Ireland, the Channel Island and the Isle of Man do not need to fill out the online form (data collection) or self-isolate for 14-days. 

Travellers who are exempt from the data collection requirement are:

  • members of diplomatic missions (non-UK) and consular posts in the United Kingdom, officers, servants or representatives of international organisations and their families or dependents
  • defence personnel and contractors - required to deliver defined essential Defence tasks, including visiting forces or NATO
  • an official required to work on essential border security duties

An extensive list of travellers exempt from self-isolation requirements is provided on the government website. These include road haulage workers, transit passengers, those arriving for a pre-arranged treatment etc.

Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Hamza Malik

Hamza Malik
Associate

E: hmalik@clarkslegal.com
T: 0207 539 8020
M: 07990 595 483