UK visa application centers (VACs) in many locations around the world are beginning to reopen after months of closure.
At the beginning of this month (July), visa centers in India and several middle eastern countries including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia announced that they would be resuming UK visas and immigration services.
This good news for UK immigration applicants comes a month after the VACs in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan reopened with COVID-secure safety measures in place in June.
Earlier in June, UKVCAS the home office online appointment service reopened but specified that it would only be catering to those applicants whose appointments had been booked and cancelled many times, without notification.
After freeing up more appointment slots, the UKVCAS announced that it was planning a phased reopening and the VACs would be prioritising those applicants who submitted their visa applications or registered with the system before or shortly after the lockdown (before 27 March).
According to UKVCAS:
“We will be taking a phased and organised approach. In order to be fair to everyone, we are now opening up the booking system in date order starting with people who registered with UKVCAS before the 27th March but did not have an appointment. We are working from the earliest to the most recent registrations as we think this is the fairest and best approach to take”
(read more: UKVCAS latest update )
Earlier in March this year, all UK visa and immigration proceedings had come to an abrupt halt when the home office responded to the pandemic by shutting down all UK visa application centers around the world and suspended immigration services until further notice.
Quite recently, many domestic and overseas VACs resumed services as a part of the UKVCAS’s phased reopening strategy. However, visa application centers in many other countries, including the United States, remain closed with no planned reopening date.
USCIS Application Support Centers
USCIS Application Support Centers (APCs) are responsible for collecting biometric information of US citizens who want to apply for a Visa or immigrate to the UK. These designated Application Support Centers are scheduled to reopen by next week on July 13.
However, that does not mean that UK visa applicants can schedule an appointment yet because the UK Visas and Scanning Hub in New York remains closed, with no issued reopening date.
US citizens applying for UK visa or immigration are also required to send their passports to the UK Visas and Scanning Hub in New York. The UK Visas and Scanning Hub is where US passports are further processed, and visa stickers are affixed onto them. As long as UK Visas and Scanning Hub does not reopen, applicants will not be able to schedule appointments.
While Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York has hinted that the city would be gradually easing lockdown measures in the coming weeks, it may still take a while for things to get back to normal.
It is worth noting that New York was one of the worst-hit locations in the US during the pandemic. As of July 1, the state has had 417, 836 cases with over 32,000 deaths.
Premium Application Centers
US Premium Application Centers where some UK visa applications are processed are also to remain close until further notice. It is still unclear when these centers would reopen and resume providing immigration advise and services.
For more information on which application centers are reopening around the world, you can check the websites of TLScontact and VFS Global. Both these private firms run UK application centers around the globe with TLScontact handling Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and VFS Global covering remaining regions.
Visa Application Centers in the UK
UK-based Application Centers are also gradually reopening for biometric appointments. These application centers, run by Sopra Steria, a European tech firm, are sending out emails in batches and requesting applicants who applied before March 27 to schedule biometric appointments.
According to the Home Office, while some visa application centers have reopened for a biometric appointment already, availability will remain limited until things become more certain. Applicants may have to face delays or travel to an alternative center for their biometric appointment.
Priority Visa Services
Priority UK visa and immigration services are also going to remain suspended until further notice. That is why, it may take longer (up to three weeks) to process some applications, especially family-based visa applications.
UK Visa Application Centers that Have Already Reopened
As mentioned earlier, UK visa application centers around the world are preparing to reopen. The following application centers have already reopened:
- Manama (Bahrain)
- Kuwait City (Kuwait)
- Al Khobar (Saudi Arabia)
- Jeddah (Saudi Arabia
- Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)
- Abu Dhabi (UAE)
- Dubai (UAE)
- Ahmedabad (India)
- Bengaluru (India)
- Chandigarh (India)
- Chennai (India)
- Kochi (India)
- Hyderabad (India)
- Jalandhar (India)
- Kolkata (India)
- Mumbai, South (India)
- New Delhi (India)
- Pune (India)
- Baki (Azerbaijan)
- Minsk (Belarus)
- Brussels (Belgium)
- Alexandria (Egypt)
- Cairo (Egypt)
- Paris (France)
- Banjul (Gambia)
- Berlin (Germany)
- Düsseldorf (Germany)
- Munich (Germany)
- Amman (Jordan)
- Lisbon (Portugal)
- Belgrade (Serbia)
- Barcelona (Spain)
- Madrid (Spain)
- Geneva (Switzerland)
- Tunis (Tunisia)
- Adana (Turkey)
- Ankara (Turkey)
- Bursa (Turkey)
- Gaziantep (Turkey)
- Istanbul (Turkey)
- Izmir (Turkey)
- Kyiv (Ukraine)