UK Visas and Immigration news

Keep up to date with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) changes and other immigration updates.

If you'd like to register to receive notification of updates on this page, please email Staff Immigration.

To keep up to date on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting immigration, please see the updates below and check gov.uk.

5 August 2020 - expired visas for those still in the UK

You'll probably already be aware that, if your visa expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 and you registered to extend your leave to remain through the COVID-19 scheme, you now have until 31 August to either leave the UK or switch into a new immigration category which will allow you to stay. 

This is not an extension of your leave to remain and the Home Office confirmed that you should leave the UK as soon as you can, and by 31 August at the latest. During this ‘grace period’, until you're able to leave the UK, you can continue to live/work as per the conditions of your visa. If you have a short term visa which expires during August, you won't normally be granted an extension (but see below), you'll be expected to leave the UK before your visa expires.

You may be able to stay beyond 31 August in specific circumstances, for example if you're only able to arrange a flight after 31 August, or you've tested positive for COVID-19 (referred to as an "exceptional indemnity"). The latest guidance doesn't say whether inability to afford a flight counts as a legitimate reason for staying beyond 31 August.

To find out if you qualify for this exceptional indemnity and, if you do, what proof you'll need to give, you must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If an indemnity is granted, it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave to remain has expired. 

23 July 2020

- Expired/expiring entry vignettes

If you have an entry vignette in your passport but haven't been able to travel to the UK because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vignette is expiring or expired, you can ask for a free replacement by either contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre or arranging to return your passport to your Visa Application Centre if it has re-opened. There's information on how to do this online (under "If your 30 day visa to work, study or join family has expired").

- New visa route: Hong Kong BN(O) visa 

The Home Office has announced the introduction of a new visa route for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK to work and study.  Those born after 1 July 1997 who are not eligible for BN(O) status, may also apply if they have a a BN(O) registered parent.  This new route will be available from January 2021.

A policy statement and guidance are also available. 

- Health and care visa (HCV)

HCV is a new visa type which launches on 4 August 2020 and is part of the Tier 2 (General) visa route within the current Points-Based System. It's intended to be used by “qualified doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who have been trained to a recognised standard and who have good working English”. Benefits include fast-track entry, reduced visa fees and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

HCV is available to a limited number of job types (Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes) and specific employers. Unfortunately, the University is not on the list of employers, nor are the SOC codes we most use for research and teaching professionals on that list.

See Part A of the Tier 2 Policy Guidance for more information. 

8 July 2020

- Travel corridors

The UK government has issued details of instances when the 14 day quarantine period which came into effect on 8 June 2020 does not apply.  This includes information on countries and territories with no self-isolation on return to England and the types of work carried out by people who are exempt.

- Phased reopening of more Visa Application Centres (VACs)

Quite a few VACs will begin a phased reopening over the next few weeks:

  • 29 June: Singapore
  • 6 July: Pakistan and Philippines, limited locations in India and Sri Lanka (Colombo)
  • 10 July: Laos (Vientiane)
  • 13 July: Algeria (Algiers, Oran), Cameroon (Yaoundé), Iraq (Baghdad, Basra, Erbil), Senegal (Dakar), Sierra Leone (Freetown), South Africa (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth) 
  • 17 July: Canada

China VACs are now open, though Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing are by prior appointment only.

- Re-closure of VACs

Due to local lockdown regulations, VACs are re-closed as follows:

  • Melbourne (Australia): closed from 9 July 2020 until further notice
  • Antananarivo (Madagascar): closed from 6 July 2020 until further notice

Please see the VFS Global and TLS Contact websites for detailed information on the status of VACs. 

2 July 2020

- Expired/expiring Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)

If we've assigned a CoS to you but, because of COVID-19 disruption, you haven't been able to use it to apply for a visa and it has expired or will expire soon, the Home Office will still accept your visa application using the expired/expiring CoS.

- Biometric information

If UKVI has previously taken your fingerprints, and can use them for your existing visa application, they will do so. This means you may not have to attend a biometric appointment, just send them an electronic image of your face and documents supporting your application.  UKVI will tell you if this is the case.  If you're not able to send the information electronically, you can still book an appointment.

- Switching immigration route/SOC code in the UK if your visa expires after 31 July 2020

This is now possible, provided that you need to apply to start a new course of study, to start a job with a new employer or to start a job with the same employer, but in a different SOC code (eg moving from a research role to a teaching role).

22 June 2020: More overseas Visa Application Centres reopening

More overseas Visa Application Centres will be starting phased reopening next week:

28 June:

  • Bahrain (Manama)
  • Kuwait (Kuwait City)
  • Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar, Jeddah, Riyadh)
  • United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai)

29 June: it's quite a long list (countries in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East)

16 June 2020

- UKVCAS Service and Support Centres (SSCs)

SSCs in the UK are offering a reduced number of appointments to existing applicants because of coronavirus. As more appointments are made available UKVI will invite you, via email or post, to arrange an appointment.

- Update on replacement vignettes (30 day visa) for those unable to travel to the UK

If your 30 day vignette has expired, you can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre to ask for a replacement (include your name, nationality, date of birth and GWF reference number, and "REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA" in the subject line).

Your local Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be in touch when it reopens to arrange for the vignette to be replaced - this replacement visa will be valid for 90 days

- Collecting your BRP on arrival in the UK

In normal times, you should collect your BRP from a designated Post Office within 10 days of your arrival in the UK. However, the Home Office has confirmed that you won't be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place. 

10 June 2020

- Visa Application Centres (VACs)

As noted previously, VACs began a phased reopening on 1 June, and further dates have been announced. This means that they'll deal with existing customers first, then begin taking new appointments. In addition to those listed below, VACs in Belarus and Ukraine have also reopened.

The following VACs will being reopening during week commencing 22 June 2020:

Azerbaijan (Baku) Gambia (Banjul) South Korea (Seoul)
Belgium (Brussels) Ghana (Accra) Spain (Barcelona, Madrid)
Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan) Japan (Tokyo and Osaka) Switzerland (Geneva)
Cambodia (Phnom Penh) Jordan (Amman) Thailand (Chiang Mai)
China (Changsha, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Kunming, Nanjing, Shenyang, and Shenzhen) New Zealand (Auckland) Tunisia (Tunis)
Egypt (Alexandria, Cairo) Portugal (Lisbon) Turkey (Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir)
France (Paris) Serbia (Belgrade) Vietnam (Danang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City)

Face coverings and social distancing are mandatory at all VACs. 

- Self-isolating when travelling to the UK

The Home Office has produced guidance on self-isolation on arrival in the UK. The information includes:

  • Self-isolate when you travel to the UK
  • Who must self-isolate
  • Why self-isolating is important
  • How to travel to the place where you are self-isolating
  • How to self-isolate in your accommodation
  • Support to help you self-isolate in your own accommodation
  • Within your accommodation
  • Washing your hands and keeping good hygiene
  • After self-isolating for 14 days
  • What to do if you get coronavirus symptoms
  • Exemptions

- Travellers who are exempt from having to self-isolate on arrival in the UK 

Guidance has been pulled together on those who are exempt from the border rules which came into force on 8 June. This includes anyone travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man who's been in that location for 14 days or more. It also applies to those on this list.

If you're entering the UK from one of those places but have been elsewhere during the previous 14 days, then the standard guidance on entering the UK applies to you. You'll need to complete this form before you travel.

- COVID-19 concessions on family visa requirements

Some concessions have been made as follows:

  • Fiance/fiancee/civil partner visas may be extended to 31 July 2020 under the COVID extension scheme if the ceremony has been postponed due to COVID-19 (you'll need to complete this online form
  • Minimum income and adequate maintenance requirements have also been adjusted
  • If you're unable to get certain documents due to COVID-19, the Home Office may make a decision without them, or allow you to submit them later.
  • If you need an English language test and the centre's been closed, or you couldn't/can't travel to it because of COVID-19, you can apply for an exemption (though you may need to take it later). 

Visit the immigration news archive page for older news.