17 March 2020
As a result of the impact of COVID-19 measures, many Visa Application Centres (VACs) are already closed until further notice.
In light of the ongoing unprecedented situation, we advise travellers and visa applicants to seek the latest travel advice and closely monitor whether the visa centre they intend to submit their application to remains open.
Applying for a UK visa from overseas
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), a part of the UK government, currently engages two commercial partners to provide services to customers applying for UK visas from overseas.
Depending on the country in which you intend to file your UK visa application, you will be required to apply via:
Each provider is currently updating its website with the latest news of locations impacted.
For example, TLS has just recently announced the closure of its Dublin centre until further notice whilst VFS Global has a dedicated page with updates on visa services impacted by COVID-19 developments.
We recommend all customers check these pages before attending their preferred visa centre.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) updates
The latest guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with COVID-19 was updated on 27 February 2020. This communication provides advice specific to Chinese nationals and makes provision for certain people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by the coronavirus outbreak to receive an automatic extension of their visa until 31 March 2020.
Smith Stone Walters expects the UK government to provide a further update to this advice in the coming days.
To receive the latest updates from the Home Office, we recommend clients sign up for email alerts here.
The Home Office has also set up a Coronavirus Immigration Helpline which can be reached by calling the following free of charge number: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or by email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk
The current guidance for British people travelling and living overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic has just been updated. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide.
Schengen travel advice
On 16 March, the EU Commission presented guidelines to Member States on health-related border management measures in the context of the COVID-19 emergency. Their aim is to protect citizens’ health, ensure the right treatment of people who do have to travel, and make sure essential goods and services remain available.
The latest information including a link to travel advice from each Member State can be found here.
U.S. citizens told to reconsider travel
The Department of State is currently advising US citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. The State encourages US citizens to keep updated by visiting travel.state.gov for the latest advice.
Smith Stone Walters
Smith Stone Walters has initiated its contingency plan and we are 100% fully operational. Should you have concerns or additional questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.