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The impact of England's second lockdown on UK visa applications

11 November 2020 | Applicable law: England and Wales

In reaction to the stark rise in coronavirus cases, England entered into a second national lockdown on 5 November 2020. In contrast with the onset of the pandemic in March of this year, UK Visas & Immigration now have the facilities in place to enable their services to continue running.

We have extracted the pertinent information from Home Office guidance, and listed below the current status of UK visa application centres ('VACs') both in and outside of the UK.

In summary, overseas UK VACs will remain open, however this is very much dependent on local country restrictions. In the UK, the Home Office is still accepting and processing in-country visa applications. UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services ('UKVCAS') Service Points, Service and Support Centres ('SSCs'), and English Language Test centres are classed as providing an "essential service" and thus remain open, with exceptions.

The 'fine print'

  • Applications made within the UK:

Individuals in the UK with leave that expires after 31 October 2020 are permitted, under current coronavirus concessions, to submit a visa application from within the UK where that visa application would normally require submission from their home country. If switching into a work or study visa category, applicants may be able to start working or studying before a decision is made on their application, if specific criteria are satisfied.

Those applicants who made an appointment to attend a UKVCAS Service Point which remains closed will be contacted when the Service Point re-opens to make a new appointment, and their UK immigration status will not change as a result of being prevented from attending their appointment.

Pre-scheduled appointments at UKVCAS Service Points are taking place during lockdown and applicants are able to book new appointments during the lockdown period.

The Priority and Super Priority services in the UK remain suspended, meaning all in-country applications are being processed via the standard service, with delays to be expected due to the impact of coronavirus.

In an attempt to deal with the demand for biometric appointments caused by the backlog of applications submitted prior to and during lockdown, UKVI has introduced a new system whereby certain eligible applicants who have provided their fingerprints (as part of a previous visa application) will not have to attend an appointment, and will instead be permitted to provide their biometric photograph digitally via email. If eligible, these applicants will be emailed by UKVCAS explaining the required next steps.

  • Application centres outside the UK:

Priority and Super Priority visa services have resumed in some overseas application centres. If available, applicants will be able to purchase these services when booking their appointment online.

At present, coronavirus concessions allow individuals to apply for a visitor visa from any country, regardless of whether a VAC is open and can process an application in their home country.

For all other types of applications, individuals are required to apply from the country they are living in and attend a VAC in that country. If this is not possible due to VACs being closed, an applicant is permitted to travel to another country to submit their application and attend their biometric appointment, provided they have permission to travel to that country.

This concession will be reviewed by the Home Office at the end of November.

Some VACs are only re-booking appointments for existing applicants, while others are taking appointments for new applicants. We always advise checking the latest information for the country where you are submitting your application; on the TLS contact website (for Europe, Africa, and parts of the Middle East) and the VFS Global website (for all other countries).

USA

UK visa applicants in the States have the option to book their biometric appointments at either a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service ('USCIS') Application Support Center ('ASC') or a VFS Global Premium Application Centre ('PAC'). A fee must be paid to book an appointment at a PAC.

A phased re-opening of VFS Global PACs and USCIS ASCs began on 13 July 2020, with additional PACs and ASCs re-opening in fortnightly waves (where local conditions allowed). All VFS Global PACs are now open, with USCIS ASCs temporarily closing and re-opening based on local coronavirus conditions.

Canada

VFS Global re-opened the Canadian VACs on 17 July 2020, and appointments are now available (to both new and existing applicants) on their online portal.

List of visa application centres in the UK and overseas

The following comprises a list of all in-country and overseas UK VACs that have re-opened or are due to re-open, arranged by region of the world.

Please continue to monitor this page and sign up to receive our email alerts to receive notifications of changes as and when they occur.

UK

Aberdeen - open w/c 9 November
Bath - open Bedford- temporarily closed
Belfast (Core) - open
Birmingham (Core) - open
Birmingham (Her Majesty's Passport Office) - open
Birmingham (Premium Lounge) - open
Bournemouth (Library) - open Tuesdays + Thursdays
Bristol (Kingswood) - open w/c 9 November
Burnley- temporarily closed
Cambridge - open Wednesday – Friday
Canterbury - temporarily closed
Cardiff (Library) - open
Cardiff Bay (Core) - open
Chelmsford - open
Coventry - open w/c 9 November
Eastbourne - temporarily closed
Edinburgh - open
Exeter - open
Glasgow (Core) - open
Gloucester - open
Guildford – new VAC - open
Hemel Hempstead (Library) - open
Hull (Library)- open
Ipswich(Library)- open
Leeds - open
Liverpool - temporarily closed
Llandudno - open w/c 9 November
London – Barbican - temporarily closed
London – Croydon (Core) - open
London – Edmonton Green (Library) - open
London – Enfield (Library) - open
London – Her Majesty's Passport Office - open
London – Lansdowne Road (Temporary Core) - open
London – Mark Lane Premium Lounge - open
London – Mark Lane (ESP) - open
London – Shoe Lane - temporarily closed
London – Stratford - open
London – Victoria - open
Luton - open
Maidstone - open
Manchester (Library) - open
Manchester Fountain Street (Core) - open
Manchester – Premium Lounge - open
Newcastle City (Library) - temporarily closed 5-9 November 2020
Newport - temporarily closed
Norwich - open
Norwich Library - temporarily closed
Nottingham- open
Nottingham Library - open w/c 9 November
Peterborough - open
Preston - temporarily closed
Reading - open
Sheffield - open
Southampton - open
Stockport - temporarily closed
Sunderland - open
Swindon (Library) - open
Swinton (Yorkshire) - temporarily closed
Taunton (Library)- open
Wakefield - open
Wolverhampton - open

Europe + Central Asia

Albania (Tirana) - open
Armenia (Yerevan) - open
Austria (Vienna)- open
Azerbaijan (Baku) - open
Belarus (Minsk) - open
Belgium (Brussels) - open
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo) - open
Bulgaria (Sofia) - open
Croatia (Zagreb) - open
Cyprus (Nicosia-South) - open
Czech Republic (Prague) - open
Denmark (Copenhagen) - open
Estonia (Tallinn) - open
Finland (Helsinki) - open
France (Paris) - open
Germany (Berlin)- open
Germany (Dusseldorf) - open
Germany (Munich) - open
Georgia (Tbilisi) - open
Greece (Athens) - open
Hungary (Budapest) - open
Iceland (Reykjavik) - open
Ireland (Dublin) - open
Italy (Rome)- open
Kazakhstan (Almaty)- open
Kazakhstan (Nur Sultan) - open
Kosovo (Pristina)- open
Latvia (Riga)- open
Lithuania (Vilnius) - open
Macedonia (Skopje) - open
Malta (Valletta) - open
Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar) - open Thursdays + Fridays
Montenegro (Podgorica) - open
Netherlands (Amsterdam) - open
Norway (Oslo) - open
Poland (Warsaw)- open
Portugal (Lisbon)- open
Romania (Bucharest)- open
Russia (Ekaterinburg) - open
Russia (Moscow)- open
Russia (Novosibirsk) - open
Russia (Rostov) - open
Russia (St Petersburg) - open
Serbia (Belgrade) - open
Slovenia (Ljubljana) - open
Spain (Barcelona) - open
Spain (Madrid) - open
Sweden (Stockholm)- open
Switzerland (Geneva) - open
Turkey (Adana) - open
Turkey (Ankara) - open
Turkey (Antalya)- open
Turkey (Bursa) - open
Turkey (Gaziantep) - open
Turkey (Istanbul)- open
Turkey (Izmir) - open
Ukraine (Kiev) - open

Canada

Toronto - open
Edmonton - open
Ottawa - open
Vancouver - open
Halifax - temporarily closed
St. John's - temporarily closed

USA – VFS PACs

New York - open
Atlanta - open
Boston - open
Chicago- open
Houston - open
Los Angeles - open
Miami - open
San Francisco - open
Seattle - open
Washington DC - open

USA – USCIS ASCs

Delaware

Dover - transitioning to a part-time ASC – from 16 November, only open on Mondays and Wednesdays

New York

Albany - closed 5-11 November due to relocation

The majority of ASCs remain open. Your local ASC can be found on the USCIS website.

South America

Argentina (Buenos Aires) - open Mondays + Fridays
Bolivia (La Paz) - open
Brazil (Brasilia) - open
Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) - open
Brazil (Sao Paulo) - open
Chile (Santiago) - open Tuesdays + Thursdays
Colombia (Bogota) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
Colombia (Cali) - open Fridays
Colombia (Medellin) - open Mondays
Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo) - open Monday – Wednesday
Ecuador (Guayaquil) - open
Ecuador (Quito) - open
Guatemala - On Demand Mobile Visa service available
Guyana (Georgetown) - open
Mexico (Guadalajara)- open
Mexico (Monterrey) - open
Mexico (Mexico City) - open
Panama (Panama City) - open
Venezuela (Caracas) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays

Caribbean

Bahamas (Nassau) - open
Barbados (Christ Church) - open
Bermuda (Hamilton) - open
Cayman Islands (George Town) - open
Jamaica (Kingston) - open
St. Lucia (Gros Islet) - open
Trinidad & Tobago (Port of Spain) - open

Africa

Angola (Luanda)- open
Botswana (Gaborone) - open
Cameroon (Yaoundé) - open
Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) - open
Ethiopia (Addis Ababa) - open
Gambia (Banjul) - open
Ghana (Accra) - open
Kenya (Mombasa) - open
Kenya (Nairobi) - open
Madagascar (Antananarivo) - open
Malawi (Lilongwe) - open
Mauritius (Port Louis)- open
Mozambique (Maputo) - open
Namibia (Windhoek) - open
Nigeria (Abuja) - open
Nigeria (Ikeja) - open
Nigeria (Victoria Island) - open
Rwanda (Kigali) - open
Senegal (Dakar) - open
Sierra Leone (Freetown) - open
South Africa (Cape Town)- open
South Africa (Durban) - open
South Africa (Johannesburg) - open
South Africa (Port Elizabeth) - open
Tanzania (Dar es Salaam) - open
Uganda (Kampala) - open
Zambia (Lusaka) - open
Zimbabwe (Harare) - open

East Asia and Pacific

Australia (Adelaide) - open
Australia (Brisbane) - open Mondays + Wednesdays
Australia (Canberra) - open Mondays
Australia (Hobart) - remains unavailable until further notice
Australia (Melbourne) - open Mondays, Wednesdays + Thursdays
Australia (Perth)- open Tuesdays
Australia (Sydney) - open
Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan)- open
Cambodia (Phnom Penh)- open Mondays + Thursdays
China (Beijing) - open
China (Changsha) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
China (Chengdu)- open
China (Chongqing) - open
China (Fuzhou) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
China (Guangzhou) - open
China (Jinan) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
China (Kunming)- open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
China (Hangzhou) - open
China (Nanjing) - open
China (Shanghai)- open
China (Shenyang) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
China (Shenzhen) - open
China (Wuhan) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
China (Xi'an)- open
China SAR (Hong Kong) - open
Fiji (Suva) - open
Indonesia (Bali) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
Indonesia (Jakarta) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
Indonesia (Surabaya)- open 
Japan (Osaka) - open
Japan (Tokyo) - open
Laos (Vientiane PAC)- open Mondays + Wednesdays
Laos (Vientiane Temp. Enrolment Location) - open
Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
Malaysia (Sabah)- closed
Myanmar (Yangon) - open Mondays + Wednesdays
New Zealand (Auckland PAC)- open
New Zealand (Auckland Standard) - open
New Zealand (Christchurch) - open
New Zealand (Wellington) - open
Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby)- open
Philippines (Cebu) - open
Philippines (Manila) - open
Singapore - open
South Korea (Seoul) - open
Thailand (Bangkok) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays Thailand (Bangkok Crystal Design Centre) - open
Thailand (Bangkok Hyatt Regency) - open
Thailand (Bangkok Thanya Park) - open
Thailand (Bangkok Siam Paragon Mall)- open
Thailand (Chiang Mai) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
Taiwan (Taipei) - open
Vietnam (Da Nang City) - open Mondays + Wednesdays
Vietnam (Hanoi)- open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays
Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) - open Mondays, Wednesdays, + Fridays

Middle East and North Africa

Algeria (Algiers) - open
Algeria (Oran) - open
Bahrain (Manama) - open
Egypt (Alexandra) - open
Egypt (Cairo) - open
Gaza - closed Iran (Tehran)- open
Iraq (Baghdad) - open
Iraq (Basra) - open
Iraq (Erbil) - open
Israel (Tel Aviv) - closed
Jerusalem - closed
Jordan (Amman) - open
Kuwait (Kuwait City) - open
Lebanon (Beirut) - open
Morocco (Rabat)- open
Oman (Muscat) - open
Palestine (Ramallah) - closed
Qatar (Doha)- open
Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar) - open
Saudi Arabia (Jeddah) - open
Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)- open
Tunisia (Tunis) - open
United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) - open
United Arab Emirates (Dubai) - open

South Asia

Bangladesh (Dhaka) - open
Bangladesh (Sylhet) - open
Bhutan (Thimphu) - open
India (Ahmedabad) - open
India (Bangalore)- closed
India (Bengaluru) - open
India (Chandigarh) - open
India (Chennai) - open
India (Jalandhar)- open
India (Kochi/Cochin) - open
India (Hyderabad) - open
India (Kolkata) - open
India (Mumbai South - open
India (New Delhi) - open
India (Pune)- open
Nepal (Kathmandu) - open
Pakistan (Islamabad)- open
Pakistan (Karachi) - open
Pakistan (Lahore) - open
Pakistan (Mirpur)- closed
Sri Lanka (Colombo) - open

The Home Office are making changes on a daily basis. It is therefore important to ensure that decisions made are based on up-to-date guidance. Please do not hesitate to contact the Withers UK Immigration Team with any queries or concerns you may have.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.

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