Comments by Sanwar Ali:
We understand that there should be increasing availability of new appointments for UK visa applications from abroad since 1 June 2020. However, when you arrive in the UK from 8 June 2020 in most cases you have to self quarantine for 14 days, due to restrictions to hopefully prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.
Even if you manage to obtain a Tier 2 visa from abroad to work for an employer with a Sponsor Licence or obtain some other type of UK visa, having to stay at a particular place for fourteen days on entry to the UK, will put off a lot of people and will inconvenience many employers. There are a small number of exceptions to this requirement. In addition, there are many jobs where you cannot realistically work from home.
There is ongoing uncertainty as to when many people will be able to complete their UK visa applications. UK visa applicants in the UK in many cases are in a better position. For example, those who have a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa sponsor can start work as long as the online part of the UK visa application has been submitted and a Certificate of Sponsorship has been assigned. For those able to apply from within the UK the Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa application does not need to have been completed to be able to start work.
UK Visas and Immigration of the UK Home Office issued just 100 UK visas in April following the closure of application centres amid coronavirus, according to official figures. Fortunately, since 1 June 2020 UK visa application centres have been starting to reopen. The lowly figure compares with an average of more than 258,000 a month in the year to March, three-quarters of which were visit visas, 6% were work visas, 2% were family-based visas and 7% were for other purposes.
The figures for April 2020 highlight the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on immigration to the UK, with migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, tourists and business travellers all affected.
According to a Home Office report, the number of people arriving in the UK by air dropped from approximately 7.1 million in January to 3.8 million in March.
UK visa application centre closures
The dramatic decline in the number of UK visas issued has been exacerbated by the closure of Home Office visa application centres toward the end of March. While 250 UK visa applications were recorded for April, only 100 of them were approved.
UK visa extensions also dropped by 77% compared with figures for the same period last year, according to the Home Office report. Amid the coronavirus, the government recently announced that migrants stranded in the UK could remain until 31 July. However, temporary visa holders have been urged to leave the UK as soon as it’s safe to do so.
The Home Office report said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the UK immigration system, both in terms of restricting migrant movements to and from the UK and the impact on operational capacity.”
Asylum applications down
Alongside a decline in the number of UK visas issued, there has also been a drop in the number of UK asylum applications, while initial decisions have also fallen. According to Home Office data, there were only 300 decisions in the first month of lockdown, dropping to one-sixth of the level in the month before lockdown measures were implemented.
Shortly after lockdown, decision-making processes – including in-person interviews – ceased. According to the Home Office report, staff absences have also affected UK Visa and Immigration services, while travel restrictions have prevented asylum seekers from applying to live in the UK.
Home Office officials have recently said that decision-making on asylum cases has now resumed after measures for safe working were implemented. Meanwhile, remote interviewing is now being considered.
Although asylum decision-making has resumed, refugee resettlement is on hold and planned arrivals in the UK prior to the pandemic have been cancelled, the report said. The report did not specify whether arrivals would be rescheduled.
Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions
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To apply for a UK visa extension amid the coronavirus pandemic, see this recent Workpermit.com news report.
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