Immigration in the time of Corona
The Coronavirus has peaked in China, and the number of new infections there are steadily declining. Whilst Europe is now at the forefront of this novel virus, it seems that there are effective measures which can be taken to prevent the spread.
The new world has taught many new lessons in distance working, but there are many who still have to travel and brave these uncertain times.
Immigration applications in the UK and across the world are processed through Commercial Partners. In the UK, this is managed by Sopra Steria (known as UKVCAS), most of Europe through TLS Contact and the rest of the world, including the USA, is run through VFS.
Most applications in the UK are being processed as normal, UKVCAS, however, does provide two key updates on their website, which are:
- CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE 1If you have Coronavirus symptoms and should be self-isolating, or if you have Coronavirus, you must not attend for your appointment. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘COVID-19’ and your UAN in the subject to say that you cannot attend. We will refund your fee and will tell the Home Office.
- CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE 2If after your visit to us, you develop symptoms, or have Coronavirus, please email email@example.com with ‘COVID-19’ and your UAN in the subject and details of your appointment.
As of today, the following centres are closed:
- Shoe Lane, London
A number of VFS centres have faced closures throughout the world. It is therefore important to check for key updates before any travel plans are made. Recent updates include:
- 18 March 2020: UK Priority Visa services suspended: UK has stopped accepting Priority Visa applications in Japan, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Brunei.
- 17 March 2020: UK visa services suspended: UK has stopped accepting visa applications in China (except Xi’an), Tehran (Iran), Kuwait City (Kuwait), Manila (the Philippines), Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), Kingston (Jamaica), Georgetown (Cayman Islands), Bridgetown (Barbados), Nassau (Bahamas), Castries (St Lucia), Lima (Peru), Caracas (Venezuela), and Albany and, Fargo, Virgin Islands, Oakland, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Salinas, Santa Rosa in the (US), Quito, Guyaquil (Ecuador), North Mumbai (India), and Hamilton (Bermuda).
TLS recommends checking the address page of each Visa Application Centre to see whether the centre is open. Some of the centres which face closure are:
- All TLS centres for UK visa applications are closed in Italy until further notice
- TLS Beirut is closed until 29th March
For those who hold visas, it may prove impossible to get to the UK. This is because several countries have gone into lockdown which prevents travel.
Whilst those with long-term visas, may be able to delay their travel, initial visa applications normally result in a 30-day vignette. If you are unable to travel during this time, you will have to seek an extension to this visa by making a further application.
The situation continues to rapidly evolve as the world races towards controlling and tackling COVID-19. This has included several drastic measures such as closing borders, enforcing lockdowns and providing stimulus to the economy.
It is too early to say how long the COVID-19 outbreak will last, however, both employers and applicants can prepare for the short-term by taking reasonable steps.