Doctors of the World has translated the latest NHS guidance about Covid-19 into 34 languages.

If you have immigration queries related to coronavirus, please email the dedicated Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. They have confirmed your email will receive a response within 5 working days.

Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email must be in English.

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

Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Calls are free of charge.

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

If you have a query which isn’t covered by these services please don’t hesitate to contact me using jo.stevens.mp@parliament.uk or by phone at 02921 329736.

Changes to Key Home Office Services

The Home Office has made adjustments to its key services for refugees and asylum seekers in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Amongst the key changes:

  • Asylum Screening interviews are being cancelled.
  • Reporting to Home Office – conditions temporarily suspended (you’ll receive an SMS message to confirm this).
  • Substantive Asylum Interviews paused.
  • Asylum support – all evictions and terminations of support paused for 3 months.
  • Asylum appeals & Judicial Reviews: no face-to-face appeal hearings.
  • Further Submissions Unit – can now be submitted by post and email.
  • Asylum support appeals – appellants can ‘call-in’ to appeal hearings instead of attending in person.
  • Assisted voluntary returns put on hold.
  • Detention – over 350 released from immigration detention and all cases to be urgently reviewed.
  • Statelessness applications put on hold.
  • Resettlement travel now suspended.

Full changes can be viewed via the Refugee Council by clicking here.

Visa Extensions

The Home Office how confirmed that Visa nationals who cannot return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to extend their visa.

The extension will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation.

This will last until 31 May but will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed.

A dedicated COVID-19 immigration team has been set up within UKVI to handle these requests.

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.

You should 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
  • The Home Office will let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

Staying in the UK Long Term

For those who want to apply for visas to stay in the UK long-term, the Home Office is also temporarily expanding the in-country switching provisions.

This will mean people can apply to switch routes, such as from Tier 4 (student) to Tier 2 (General Worker), whilst remaining in the UK. UKVI will continue to process applications as quickly as possible, however some applications may take longer than usual due to COVID-19 related operational pressures.

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.

If you’re outside the UK

Many UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are closed or offering limited services. 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

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.

The Home Office will prioritise the return of all documents once VACs are open.

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.

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