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General News of Wednesday, 25 March 2020


Coronavirus: UK to extend visas for stranded Ghanaians, non-Britons

Coronavirus Coronavirus

The government of the UK has issued a travel advice concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak vis-à-vis UK visa applicants for temporary UK residents who may be stranded in that country as a result of the virus.

The advice published on 24 March 2020 also covers visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport but affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus.

“If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19)”.

The UK government said such persons must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update their records if their visa is expiring.

They must provide:

your full name (include any middle names) date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy) nationality your previous visa reference number why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

“We’ll let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended”.

“If you’re applying to stay in the UK long-term during these unique circumstances, you’ll be able to apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 May. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.

“You’ll need to meet the same visa requirements and pay the UK application fee.

“This includes those whose leave has already been automatically extended to 31 March 2020.

“You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided”, it said.

For those outside the UK, the advice said many UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed or offering limited services, adding that “for advice on visa services in your country, contact: TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East VFS global for all other countries

“In some areas the UK cannot send visa vignettes across some borders and routes due to border restrictions.

“If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.

“English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the?International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre for more information”.

Getting your documents

The UK government said: “If you’ve paid for courier return, your passport will be returned if courier routes remain open.

“If your passport is currently held in a VAC and you would like it to be returned by courier, please contact either TLS contact or VFS global directly if you haven’t already paid for courier return.

“Contact the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline if you are concerned about your passport.

“We will prioritise the return of all documents once VACs are open”.

For British nationals abroad who need to apply for a passport, “If your country‘s VAC is closed, you won’t be able to apply for a British passport. If you urgently need to travel to the UK, you can apply for an emergency travel document”. Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre

“If you have immigration queries related to coronavirus, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre.

Email: Your email must be in English. We’ll reply to your email within 5 working days.

“You can also call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If you’ve emailed the help centre already, please do not contact them by phone.

“Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)”, noting: “Calls are free of charge”.

“If your query doesn’t relate to immigration provisions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) please contact the general immigration helpline”.

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