On 28 May 2020 the Home Office has published a report providing information regarding the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on the UK immigration system in March and April 2020 (read full report at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/887808/statistics-relating-to-covid-19-and-the-immigration-system-may-2020.pdf).
Many of us will recall that on 17 March 2020 the UK government advised UK residents to avoid all non-essential overseas travel and introduced lockdown measures across the UK. This report shows that by the end of March 2020 all travel routes to the UK were significantly impacted by the pandemic, with 53% of arrivals by air being British nationals returning to the UK and 42% being foreign nationals residing in the UK and returning to the UK, their dependants and other non-British nationals. In April 2020, there were approximately 112,300 arrivals in the UK by air, which is some 99% lower than the number of arrivals by air in the same month last year.
The number of entry clearance applications to the UK and decisions on those applications have also fallen sharply as a result of visa applications centres being closed at the end of March and the reduced capacity of Home Office staff. The number of applications submitted in March 2020 was 50% lower than in March 2019. The total number of applications in March 2020 was approximately 129,000 and by April that number had reduced even further, with approximately 250 applications being recorded. Similarly, there was a reduction in the total number of decisions made by the Home Office, with 145,000 decisions made in March 2020 and less than 100 in April 2020.
There was also a steep reduction in the number of extension applications granted in April 2020. The records show that around 77% fewer extension applications were decided during this month by comparison with April 2019, which was to a large extent attributed to a move to remote working. Further, following the introduction of a concessionary Home Office policy for those unable to return home due to COVID-19 in February 2020, nearly 65,000 COVID-19 related extensions were granted.
Applications under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) continued to be processed during the pandemic, with the Home Office receiving 67,300 applications in April. Some 73,000 applications were decided in the same month, which is 51% lower than in March 2020.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.