Following on from our last blog on the re-opening of visa application centres outside of the UK, the Home Office announced an update on 26 May 2020 on the re-opening of some visa application centres in the UK.
Sopra Steria is responsible for managing the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) on behalf of the Home Office. On 1 June 2020, a number of service points re-opened as part of a “controlled, phased re-opening” of visa operations.
The following Sopra Steria locations have resumed operations on a reduced service:
- Birmingham Premium Lounge
- London Mark Lane Premium Lounge
- London Victoria
- Manchester Fountain Street Enhanced Service Point
- Manchester Premium Lounge
The announcement confirmed that the services are only available to those who had booked appointments prior to the lockdown and which were subsequently postponed. Please note that if you have submitted an application but were unable to book an appointment you will still not be able to book an appointment at this time.
Due to a limited number of centres re-opening, some applicants may not be able to attend their appointments at their chosen centre. Therefore, appointments will not be rescheduled automatically and UKVCAS will instead send an email explaining the next steps required to rebook the appointment.
The Home Office have confirmed that if your nearest visa application centre is closed because of COVID-19, you may be offered an appointment at an alternative location. It was further confirmed that “if you cannot or do not want to attend this appointment, you can ask to wait for an appointment at a closer service point. This will not affect your immigration status”.
This update has been long awaited and is a positive step towards dealing with the constraints imposed by COVID-19 and starting to deal with applications that have long been awaiting a decision.
In addition to the above, some overseas visa application centres have also resumed their operations from 1 June 2020 as part of Phase 1 of the phased re-opening. These centres are located in:
- Hong Kong
- Kuala Lumpur
It is further confirmed that once Phase 1 is proven to operate safely and effectively, Phase 2 will consider re-opening more visa application centres. This will be welcomed by those who have currently put their prospective applications on hold due to the temporary closures.
The announcement further assured the public that this new approach will be reviewed on a regular basis to assess when more appointments can be added to accommodate more applicants.
Currently, there has still been no announcement with regards to the Priority or Super Priority Services re-opening. These services can be purchased at an additional cost which allow for some applications to be expedited in either five working days or 24 hours.
Gherson are continuing to monitor these developments and announcements. If you require any assistance with your current or prospective application, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please note that the information in this blog is current at the date and time of posting. The situation regarding policy and guidance based on the COVID-19 pandemic is subject to change at short notice. We shall be monitoring all aspects of UK immigration which may be impacted by the coronavirus closely, so please do keep updated with further blogs and articles which we will be posting on this site.
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.
Paralegal in our General and Corporate Teams