Newfields
10 May 2020

Covid-19 and its impact on your visa application

In line with the UK Government’s strategy to limit the spread of Covid-19, the Home Office and their commercial partners have closed all visa applications centres in the UK and overseas.

Life in the UK and many English languages testing centres are also closed.

So, what does this mean for visa applicants and those needing to extend their visas before they expire?

Applicants outside the UK

People who have already applied for a visa from outside the UK should prepare themselves for delays to visa processing times.

Delays might be caused by one or more of the following reasons:

  • Closure of visa application centres overseas resulting in applicants not being able to attend the necessary appointments
  • Delays in being able to collect documents already submitted to a visa application centre
  • Delays to courier services used by visa application centres to return documents to visa applicants
  • Closure of many English language testing and TB testing centres. Applicants who need to take a test should check with their local provider to find out how any closures might affect them
  • The number of Home Office caseworkers available to process visa applications has been reduced. As a result, it is likely to take longer then usual for visa applicants to receive an outcome to their applications.

Global Talent, Start-up and Innovator visa applicants

Applicants under this route holding endorsements from an endorsing body which has expired because the individual could not travel to the UK may still be eligible for a visa. The Home Office advises these applicants to apply as usual and the application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

People who have already been granted a visa and are waiting to enter the UK

Visa holders with a 6-month visa vignette printed inside their passport are likely to delay entry to the UK until such a time that travel restrictions are lifted and there is a relaxation of social distancing rules. Visa vignettes must however still be valid at time of entry into the UK.

Visa holders with a 30-day visa vignette printed inside their passport will also need to delay entry to the UK but this delay is likely to mean their visa vignette will expire before they are able to travel.

The Home Office’s position for these individuals is not clear. UK immigration lawyers have been pressing the Home Office for guidance about what visa holders should do if their vignette expires and they have been unable to travel to the UK because of Covid-19.

Newfields will post further information about this as soon as we have it.

Visa holders already in the UK

Visas expiring between 24th January and 31st May 2020

No individual who is in the UK legally and whose visa expired or is due to expire between 24th January and 31st May 2020 will be regarded as an overstayer. They will similarly suffer no future detriment to their immigration history if they have been unable to leave the UK due to the restrictions related to Covid-19.

Such visas will be extended to 31st May 2020. Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) using an on-line e-form in order to update their records. Once the individual has done this, they won’t need to do anything else.

Please note this applies to individuals who would ordinarily would have left the UK before the end of their visa. Those intending to stay on in the UK should extend their visas as normal (see below).

For advice about submitting a request to the CIT, please contact Newfields here.

Extending your stay in the UK or switching visas

Anyone who had planned to extend their stay in the UK should still make an application to extend their visa before their current visa expires. This can be done online by completing the relevant application form and paying the Home Office visa application fees.

Certain visa holders can switch into a long-term UK visa category from the UK even in situations where an application would normally have to be made from overseas, e.g. switching from Tier 5 (Sporting & Creative) to Tier 2 (Sportsperson). However, there will be some parts of the visa application process that applicants won’t be able to complete at this time.

Closure of UK Visa & Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS)

Most visa applications require applicants to attend an appointment to present their passport and supporting documents and provide biometrics (fingerprints, digital photograph and signature).

The centres where appointments take place are all currently closed across the whole of the UK, and they are not accepting new appointment bookings.

Applicants who had already booked an appointment and are prevented from attending because of centre closures do not need to re-book. The UKVCAS will automatically reschedule the appointment once centres re-open. Applicants must keep checking their on-line booking account to check when their new appointment date will be.

Applicants who have not already booked an appointment can still submit their online application, pay the Home Office fees and upload the necessary supporting documents but will not be able to book an appointment until centres re-open.

Closure of Life in the UK and English language test centres

Life in the UK test centres are closed until at least 30th April 2020. Test takers can still book to sit a test taking place on or after 1st May 2020. People who had already booked to attend a test will be automatically re-booked for a new test date on or after 1st May.

While the current guidance issued by the Home Office is that test centres will re-open on 1st May, this may change if the Covid-19 restrictions continue beyond that date.

English language centres are closed until further notice with no indication as to when they might re-open.

For more information on this or any of the issues raised in their news article, please contact Newfields here.

For advice about making a visa extension from the UK, Newfields offers a comprehensive package of services, competitively priced to help visa applicants navigate the visa application process. Please contact us for more information.

Testimonials

Wilfried Bony

Professional Footballer

“The service provided by Newfields Law is very professional, they are responsive and friendly. I particularly appreciated how speedily Glyn and Chloe dealt with everything. Thank you again!”

Don Armand

Professional and England International Rugby Player (Retired)

“We cannot describe how impressed we are with the work Glyn did for us. Countless emails back and forth to ensure that we had all the right documents in place. His detail was very thorough and knowledge of the goings on was very impressive. He was on call for any questions we may have had and this went a long way in stressful times when we needed just that extra bit of information. We are very pleased with the service we received and would highly recommend Glyn to anyone who needs his services”

Mike Ruddock OBE

Development Director, Ospreys

“Glyn and his team at Newfields have been Instrumental in advising on a range of immigration matters. As part of my talent ID role at the Ospreys I recruit on a global basis. Glyn is always on hand to advise and guide me through each step of the process with a great deal of calmness and professionalism. Glyn and his team are experts in their field and their knowledge on all immigration matters is incredibly impressive. Glyn and his team are hugely supportive, friendly, responsive and professional. I would have no hesitation in recommending Newfields. ”

Gareth Anscombe

Welsh National Rugby Union player

“With the help of Glyn, our visa applications that at first were a challenging and daunting prospect, were made straightforward and were done in a very efficient manner. I would definitely use Glyn and his team's services again.”

Tania Hoffman

Head Coach, Celtic Dragons

“Glyn and Newfields make the visa process seamless each season; from the moment we inform them of the signing of our import players to the day they arrive in the UK. Glyn has always given sound advice and I would recommend Newfields Law wholeheartedly”

Jo Trip

Netballer, Saracens Mavericks

“I have used Newfields for numerous visa applications, and I am so grateful to Glyn and his team for their commitment and hard work to make sure each application was seamless. Glyn personally went above and beyond; efficiently communicating what was required, and taking the time to walk me through the process, making sure I understood each step. He made a very overwhelming application process a lot easier and a lot less stress!”

Admiral Insurance

“With Admiral Insurance being a global brand with offices all over the world we have a lot of visa and immigration queries. We have used Newfields for a number of years now and I have found every interaction with them to be a very positive and helpful experience. The customer service they provide is second to none and I know I can always count on their fantastic service and advice.”

Ayaka Suzuki

Professional and international rugby player

“Newfields has supported me in the challenge of playing rugby in England. Despite facing difficulties due to the pandemic, Glyn has handled the matter promptly and professionally. With that great support, I am looking forward to a great start in the UK”

Bryan Habana

Rugby Union player

“The efficiency, professionalism and swiftness with which Glyn handled the situation I presented him with (at very short notice) was absolutely outstanding. I will definitely be using his services in future.”

John Mitchell

Coach

“We have had nothing short of exceptional service from Glyn and his team at Newfields. Their attention to detail for our visas was beyond anything that we had anticipated with every step of the process being made as simple as possible for us - even to the point where Glyn went out of his way after hours to meet me to receive my BRP. We couldn't have asked for a better service and have recommended Glyn to numerous other South Africans engaging in the visa process”

Francois Louw

English Premiership Rugby Union player

“Outstanding and efficient service for my family and I”

Hadleigh Parkes

Welsh International Rugby Union player

“Newfields provided a seamless service – from preparing all the paperwork and personally attending the Home Office with me, through to returning all of my documents in person. Very approachable, reassuring and quick to answer queries – a great service for international athletes.”

Matías Alemanno

Argentinian National Rugby Union Player

“They are really an excellent team of professionals, all the staff always willing and with good energy to help you and try to solve any problem. Highly recommended.”

Gia Abernethy

Netballer

“Glyn and his team at Newfields have helped immensely through my visa application process. The ability Glyn has to explain procedures in terminology that makes the entire process less overwhelming and daunting was a huge help. I'll always be grateful for the assistance Glyn provided and the efficient communication he and his team provided.”

Sean Maitland

International and professional rugby player

“Very professional and makes life a lot easier, amazing to work with”

Martin Bakole

Professional Boxer

“Glyn and his team worked tirelessly with Billy Nelson, the Boxing Board of Control and Home Office Policy teams to secure a sponsorship arrangement and set of visas for myself and my family, whilst accommodating my overseas boxing commitments. 10/10 for service and getting the result we needed!”

Eloise Sohier

Presenter

“My experience with Newfields and Glyn was second to none! All of our correspondence was via email in which Glyn would reply within hours if I had any questions or concerns. I was very impressed with Glyn and would have no hesitation in using his services again.”

Rugby Football Union

“Glyn has been instrumental in advising the England Rugby Football Union as well as many clubs on a wide range of immigration matters, and is always on hand to steer us in the right direction. He and his colleagues always respond promptly, efficiently and often with very little notice, which is essential in the fast moving environment within which we work.”

Federico Fernández

Premier League football player

“Glyn was always available when needed and made our applications, which were time sensitive and very daunting at first, less stressful and more straightforward. Highly recommended.”

Brad Barritt

English Premiership and England National Rugby Union player

“Glyn provided a fantastic service to my family and I, they were professional, extremely helpful and very efficient, and were always on hand for friendly advice.”

Jamie Roberts

International and professional rugby player

“Perhaps one of the most stressful things about moving abroad is all the admin around the visa application procedure. I was very fortunate that before and during my time in South Africa I had Glyn on hand to help with my application. He was extremely helpful and very professional, which certainly helped alleviate quite a lot of my stress! I would definitely recommend Glyn to anyone looking for assistance with their Visa application Abroad.”

Eddie Jones

Coach

“Newfields did an exceptional job in helping us with our immigration requirements - very professional and personal with a minimum of fuss. I recommend their practice very highly”

Rugby Football League

“The RFL have worked with Newfields on a wide range of immigration issues and have found that they have an excellent understanding of many immigration matters. Glyn is always available for both the governing body and the clubs to answer the most straightforward or complex query; his attitude and work ethic are outstanding.”

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