Home Office fails to extend 30 day visa/Vignette to enter the UK
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The COVID-19 crisis has left many people stranded abroad wondering how and when they'll be able to get home. As the outbreak began to spread, many countries started to limit travel and impose social restrictions. The UK Government is scrambling to work with airlines to bring home hundreds of thousands of British citizens that are stuck overseas. On 24 March the Government issued their guidance for foreign nationals whose visas are due to expire. Those whose visas are expiring but are prevented from leaving because of travel restrictions or self-isolation can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to have their leave extended to 31 May 2020.
Unfortunately, the position is less clear for people who have successfully applied for entry clearance visas but have not yet managed to get to the UK. Successful applicants are usually given a vignette in their passport allowing them 30 days to come to the UK and collect their biometric residence permit. If an individual fails to come to the UK within that time, then the vignette will expire and cannot be used. An application will then have to be made for a new vignette to be issued, incurring additional hassle and expense. So far, no guidance has been given as to whether similar provisions will be put in place for these individuals, so that their vignettes will be extended until normal travel resumes. For now, we can only assume that the vignettes will expire as they normally would.
At this point, we don’t know when travel restrictions will start to ease. This makes it impossible to predict when an individual should apply for a new vignette without risking that it will just expire again because of the lack of available flights. If the travel resumes suddenly, then the Home Office will be flooded with applications for new vignettes which will cause further delay.
Many of the people caught in this position regard the UK as their home and are only abroad because the Immigration Rules often mandate applying from overseas when switching visa categories. There will also be many people who have successfully applied in family-based visa categories and are currently separated from their loved ones.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
Here at OTS Solicitors we have heard from numerous clients who are facing similar issues and are likely to be prevented from entering the UK for a while even after this crisis is finally over. These families and individuals need some certainty and must not be left behind. We are working with Home Office to get further guidance on this but can offer alternative solutions in the meantime.
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If you need further advice then the specialist Immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors are here to help. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form to arrange a video conference, Skype or telephone appointment.