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The Coronavirus is having an unprecedented effect on the ability of people to travel between countries. As of today (1st April), the UK borders remain open which means travellers to the UK can enter on arrival should they have valid permission to do so and if they are able to physically travel as flights continue to be grounded.

In recent days, closures of visa application centres in multiple locations around the world now means that many will be unable to file UK visa applications. Countries whose centres have closed include but are not limited to the USA, Canada, UAE, Australia, India, Ukraine, China, South Korea and Brazil. At present, as there is no comprehensive list of countries and locations whose VACs are closed, the assumption should be that all visa application centres across the globe are closed unless it is specifically stated otherwise. Visa centre openings and closures can be checked on a case-by-case basis.

What about biometric enrolment centres within the UK? All biometric enrolment centres in the UK are now closed. This means that all UK immigration applications are effectively suspended until further notice. New applicants will still be able to prepare their applications and on submission of their cases online, their applications will be considered as submitted in time (if filed prior to their visa end date), however applicants will be unable to book or attend a biometric appointment. Those with existing appointments will have their appointments rearranged for at least 6 weeks in the future with an option to change the date if this date is not suitable. This means that applications will not be processed until after the applicant is able to visit to a centre and enrol their biometrics. No date has been set as to when centres will begin to open again.

The closing of visa application and biometric enrolment centres has had the effect of essentially unofficially halting all future UK visa applications, internal or external. This means that for the foreseeable future, entry clearance and leave to remain applications for the UK are essentially suspended. Although many within the UK may have their leave protected under new Home Office policy aimed at protecting those whose visas which are due to expire (please see our previous blog), those who wish to obtain visas to travel to the UK and those in the UK who wish to change categories will find little comfort in the new policy as the closures will halt their ability to do so.

If you are unsure about your visa status or should you have any queries or concerns regarding the closures of visa application and biometric enrolment centres on your ability to apply for a UK visa, our Immigration team will be more than happy to assist.  Dhruti Thakrar can be contacted by email at dhruti.thakrar@edwincoe.com or telephone on 07804 268096 or George Curie can be contacted via email at  george.curie@edwincoe.com or by phone on 07955 854984.

For an update on all the legal implications relating to Coronavirus please see here.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

Edwin Coe LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in England & Wales (No.OC326366). The Firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office address: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3TH. “Partner” denotes a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with the equivalent standing.

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