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The Home Office has made provisions and provided information for UK visa applicants that are outside the country. Here’s what you need to know.

UK parliament

UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents inside or outside the UK who are affected by travel restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) can always visit the UK government website for the latest advice.

COVID-19 information for visa applicants outside the UK

Many of the UK’s Visa Application Centres (VACs) are currently closed with more anticipated to close. Many that are open are offering limited services.

For up-to-date advice on services in each country individuals should access the relevant commercial partner:

Border restrictions affecting visa logistics

Due to border restrictions affecting several countries across the globe, the Home Office commercial partners (TLS and VFS) consignment logistics are being affected. They cannot print and send visa vignettes across certain borders and routes.

Where visa applicants have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, commercial partners are contacting customers to advise them the appointment is not going ahead.

If customers have paid for courier return, commercial partners are sending passports back (where courier routes remain open to allow them to do so). If applicants are concerned about their passport, customers can contact Coronavirus Immigration Team for advice.

If an individual’s passport is currently held in a VAC but they have not previously arranged for it to be returned by courier, please contact either TLS contact or VFS global directly.

English testing impact

English Testing Centres across the world are currently seeing restrictions by the relevant local and national authorities. For all the latest information, visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website, or applicants can contact their test centre directly by email.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has set up a dedicated email account for customers with immigration queries related to coronavirus, including questions about urgent, compelling, compassionate cases. Customers can contact: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

What if I have a valid visa but haven’t yet travelled to the UK?

Applicants who hold a valid visa should check initially with their own government websites to ensure that they are up to date on latest travel restrictions from their current locations. In addition, applicants should check the GOV.UK website which is updated regularly.

How does the Home Office plan to return passports to applicants in regions where there are VAC closures?

Applicants are advised that they should check the relevant Visa Application Centre (VAC) website relating to the applicant point where they submitted their passport.

Where local permissions allow for customers who have paid for courier return, commercial partners are sending passports back (where courier routes remain open to allow them to do so).

If applicants are concerned about their passport, they can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team at CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

In countries where significant movement restrictions are in place, some of our VACs are closed and our Commercial Partner is required to comply with all local restrictions.

How do I withdraw my visa application?

You can contact UKVI directly to discuss the withdrawal of your application. You may also contact the Visa Application Centre (VAC) to ask for your application to be withdrawn.

Download the full guidance document for more information.

Speak to an advisor

If you need guidance and assistance with UK visas, we’re operational during this time and you’re welcome to speak to one of our expert visa specialists.


For expert UK visa advice, get in touch with our immigration team at immigration@sableinternational.com or call +27 (0) 21 657 2180 or +44 (0) 20 7759 5330.

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