In light of the Home Office now making regular policy announcements and issuing revised guidance, here are the main immigration law issues that employers may want to keep in mind in order to consider the implications of COVID-19 on their organisations.
1. United Kingdom (UK) Visa Processing
Some UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centres and in-country processing centres are still currently closed, which makes some issues in relation to UK visa processing quite complicated. The Home Office is aware that some applicants may need to withdraw their outstanding applications due to circumstances related to the pandemic and has therefore updated its refund policies for withdrawing applications and requesting refunds accordingly.
Applying From Within the United Kingdom
From 1 June 2020, some UKVCAS service points started to reopen on a phased basis. Applicants with existing appointments should have automatically received a cancellation email, with instructions to log into their UKVCAS account 24 hours later to view a rescheduled appointment date and time. Rescheduled appointments are guaranteed to take place at the same centre on a future date. The Home Office’s commercial partner responsible for managing in-country biometric appointments has confirmed that this will have no impact on submitted applications, as it will notify the Home Office directly of the delayed appointment.
New applicants who have submitted online application forms and need to book an appointment, should register an account with UKVCAS and check for updates on booking availability.
From 15 June 2020, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Service and Support Centres started operating on a reduced-capacity; the Home Office should have contacted applicants either by email or by post to make an appointment at one of these centres.
The Post Office has not made any announcement about suspending the processing of biometric enrolments and the Home Office confirmed on 28 April 2020 that individuals would not be penalised for being unable to collect their biometric residence permit (BRP) while coronavirus measures are in place.
The government regularly updates which UKVCAS centres are open.
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