The spread of Covid-19 has resulted in entry bans, travel chaos, and stricter border control. Many countries have temporarily closed consular posts and visa application centres entirely or for non-emergency services. We advise that you check government websites for the latest official information on consular closures and visa application centre closures.
At this time, as per our previous article the government has only introduced measures for Chinese nationals extending their visas, and full guidance is available on the government website. We have communication from the government that they will issue blanket measures for all non-EU nationals staying in the UK who cannot return shortly.
The highlights of current measures being introduced:
- Tier 2 sponsors are now exempt from reporting any absences of students and workers where the absences are as a result of Covid-19
- Sopra Steria, which runs all UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres within the United Kingdom, has the following message on its website:
CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE 1 If you have coronavirus symptoms and should be self-isolating, or if you have coronavirus, you must not attend your appointment.
There is also a list of UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre closures. As of 23 March 2020, 25 (of the 57 nationwide) were closed but all others remained open.
At a First-tier Tribunal hearing on 21 March, President of the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration & Asylum Chambers) Michael Clements wrote to the Immigration Law Practitioners Association to say that hearings are to go remote from Wednesday onwards:
…on Monday and Tuesday, 23rd and 24th March, the Tribunal will list only a handful of substantive appeals in each hearing centre. This will give us all an opportunity to apply guidance regarding social distancing and minimise the risks associated with close contact and crowded public areas. London is the epicentre of the pandemic. This reduction in lists at Taylor House and Hatton Cross will be substantial and will allow an appropriate distance between courts, the use of empty rooms for parties to wait in and adjustments to hearing rooms so that those required to be present can maintain the recommended separation from each other of about two metres.
From Wednesday, 25th March onwards, there will be no face to face hearings listed in any centre. Applications for bail and emergency work will continue to be given priority but, save in exceptional circumstance, applications and hearings will be conducted remotely.
Detailed arrangements for remote hearings are still being worked out, with more information to follow “in the next few days”. Those arrangements are likely to be similar to the “protocol regarding remote hearings” that applies to the County Court, High Court and Court of Appeal.
- Upper Tribunal hearings are cancelled new practise directions to be issued shortly
- Asylum interviews face to face cancelled until further notice
- Further submissions unit closed , applications to be emailed to CSUEC@homeoffice.gov.uk
- Citizenship ceremonies likely to be cancelled, it has been in Kingston and Westminster councils
The Home Office has also set up a “Coronavirus Immigration Helpline” which is free of charge - 0800 678 1767
(Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
We are stringently following the government advice here at Duncan Lewis Solicitors and are on standby to advise and assist you with all your immigration enquiries.
Contact our immigration directors Tamana Aziz
, Vicash Ramkissoon
, and Ayan Yalchin
for more information.
Contact Tamana Aziz on 0203 114 1130 or 0792 077 022, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Vicash Ramkissoon on 0203 114 1105 or 07920 077 012, or at email@example.com
Contact Ayan Yalchin on 0207 275 2011
or 07920 077 045
, or at firstname.lastname@example.org