UK Visa: Replacing Your Visa Entry Vignette (Transfer of Conditions)

If you can no longer arrive within the 30 or 90-day arrival window then this guide will tell you everything you need to know about expired entry vignettes, including postponing your arrival date, errors and applying for a replacement (transfer of conditions).

Throughout COVID this page shared feedback from people around the world regarding their efforts to change their visa plans and arrival dates due to COVID. As things have finally managed to get some kind of semblance of order to them, I am moving all these updates to the bottom of the page. Click here if you'd like to jump to these archived updates.

BritBound has been assisting with Tier 5 Visa and UK Ancestry Visa applications for almost 15 years now. So there is little we do not know about these visa categories. However, we are not the UK Government and this information is based on our experience and the feedback of our BritBound customers, if you want an official answer then you should contact the UK Visa and Immigration department (UKVI) here ....and have your credit card ready - e-mails £2.74 and calls £0.69p per minute.

If you have anything to add to the following article or you cannot find an answer to your question, Please just e-mail me (Sarah), I will do my best to respond to any questions and concerns relating to your visa applications and the impact of Coronavirus.

I also hope you'll also be joining our awesome community too, it's a worthy investment! ;)

***Disclaimer***

In the interests of ensuring complete transparency we wish to make it clear that this website is not a government website. We have been assisting with Tier 5 and UK Ancestry visas for over 15 years and this article is based on a working knowledge of the system and from helping thousands of customers over the past decade.We help individuals with every aspect of their move to the UK, in terms of visas we assist with document preparation and submission, to guarantee a successful outcome. We are more than happy to give you our advice, where able, but for the official source and a response to your particular situation you should contact the UKVI here.

Sign up here for updates on the Coronavirus impact on UK Visa Applications

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I cannot arrive in the 30 or 90-day window stated on my entry vignette.

When your application for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility, UK Ancestry Visa or most other UK Visas is successful, your passport will be returned to you and it will contain a sticker inside, the sticker is called an entry vignette. This sticker or vignette gives you the permission to arrive in the UK within a 30-day or more recently, a 90-day window of your visa start date in order to arrive and collect your BRP from the designated Post Office.

Now what happens if you have successfully applied for your UK visa but can no longer travel on these dates? Perhaps you need to delay your move here further due to COVID?

If you are not able to enter within the "valid from" and "valid to" dates on your vignette ethane you have two options.

  • Option 1) Replace your 30 or 90-day entry vignette (transfer of conditions)
  • Option 2) Cancel your visa application and apply again at a later date

I have also created a Frequently Asked Question section to share many of the answers I have given over e-mail.

OPTION 1: Replacing your 30 or 90-day entry vignette

For a step-by-step guide to doing this we have created a dedicated page - click here.

* Whilst COVID is disrupting travel the entry vignettes are now providing a 90-day arrival window. I think this will remain in place.

If you want to get another vignette sticker to go inside your passport with a new arrival window (to adjust the dates that you can travel to the UK) then you can apply for a Transfer of Conditions. The UK Visa and Immigration website is very confusing around this topic….which is possibly why you’ve ended up here?! And there isn’t [currently] a dedicated page on guiding you through how to obtain another entry vignette sticker.

Before you proceed with applying for a Transfer of Conditions, there is one thing you need to know. If you apply for another vignette, then your visa start date will remain as you requested in your original application. So just to explain - If your visa start date was entered as the 1st March then your vignette sticker will say valid from 1st March to the 31st June (90-days). If you decide you cannot enter within these dates then you can apply for another sticker to go into your passport. Let’s say you say you actually want to enter on October 1st. After you apply for a replacement vignette you will receive a new sticker in your passport showing your entry window as October 1st to October 31st...but your visa start date will STILL say the 1st March. So you have effectively lost 6 months of your two-year visa allowance in the UK (Tier 5 Youth Mobility) or 6 months of your five-year (UK Ancestry).

==> Frequently Asked Questions on vignettes and applying for a replacement

==> STEP-BY-STEP: HOW TO APPLY FOR A NEW ENTRY VIGNETTE FOR YOUR UK VISA

If you do not want to lose any time off your visa validity, then your best option is to cancel your visa application entirely and apply again. See Option Two below: Cancelling your visa and applying again.

If you apply for a replacement vignette sticker, then your Visa Start Date will remain as you requested in your original application. The only way to change your visa start date (after a successful application) is to submit a new application. It cannot be changed through a vignette replacement.

OPTION 2: Cancel your visa application and apply again at a later date

The problem with applying for a replacement entry vignette is that although you get a new entry window with a new arrival date, your original visa start date still stands. Which means that you are going to lose out on the time difference between your visa start date and your new entry date. If you are heading here on the Tier 5 Visa then you will be aware that you only have two years, so I would advise getting the full benefit of the two years because you're paying a significant amount for this experience, albeit a fantastic one!

So, if you would prefer not to lose out on your full visa validity, you might find it is better to cancel your application entirely, and apply again when you are 100% sure on the dates you can travel. Bear in mind that you must meet all the same criteria at a later date. So don't be doing this if you've applied for a Tier 5 visa and are now on the cusp of turning 31!

For a step-by-step guide on cancelling your UK Visa - click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for a new vignette before my other one has started or expired?

Yes, you can start an application at any time. I cannot find any policy on how long you have in terms of choosing a new arrival date, but as the current process only allows you to a date that is no more than 3 months away then I would say this would apply here too. So, if you are not ready to head over within 3 months of applying then best to wait a while longer.

Can I apply for a replacement vignette after my visa start date has passed?

Yes you can provided you have not passed through UK Immigrations. So you can either apply for a new entry (travel) vignette or cancel your application entirely. I keep reading online forums that say once you have been issued your visa you cannot apply again. This is not correct. I have assisted in lots of second and third time applications for those that never ended up travelling to the UK the first time around. All were successful.

**Important** If you have since turned 31 and have decided not to travel due to the Coronavirus, I would advise against cancelling your visa. Wait and see what concessions the UK VI make, which should follow soon. You can apply for a new entry vignette but this will not change your original start date.

For a step-by-step guide on cancelling your UK Visa - click here.

Will a replacement vignette change my visa start date?

No, the only way to change your visa start date is to cancel your existing application and submit a new application. The dates on your vignette sticker are just your UK entry dates, an arrival window that you are given to enable you to enter and collect your BRP.

How many times can I apply for a new vignette?

I do not believe there is a cap on this, provided you are applying within the validity of your visa. So if you have been given two years then you can apply for a new vignette at anytime, as many time as you want during this two year period, provided you do not travel to the UK beforehand. Remember that your original visa start date will always remain, so you might be better cancelling and reapplying than lose time on your visa.

I am now 31 can I still apply for a replacement entry vignette for my Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa?

Yes, you can provided the validity of your visa is still valid. In other words with the Tier 5 Visa you have a two year validity (starting the date you gave as your visa start date at the time of your application). You can apply for a new vignette anytime throughout this two year period. You could potentially come over for the last few months of your visa...At least there is no information anywhere that says you can't!

I am no longer in my home country and have missed my UK visa entry dates, what should I do?

Provided that the country you are in has a Visa Application Centre (VAC for short) then you can apply for a replacement vignette from there. The process will take a couple of weeks but you might be able to pay for Priority Processing. You can find the locations and addresses of the VAC's here.

What happens if I arrive in the UK before my visa vignette start date (valid from date)?

It is evident from those of you writing to me from within the UK saying that you have recently arrived, that it is very easy to enter outside of the vignette entry window. With the Immigration and Customs Officers, largely being replaced by Electronic arrival gates (e-gates), the system is not flagging up any issues if you are found to be arriving before your 30 or 90-day entry window has started. But if you do do this, what does it mean? So I wrote to get clarification on this - see the image below for the official response. In a nutshell you will have to leave and re-enter to update the system to your correct working visa status.

Obviously right now you cannot do this, as long as you can get your BRP which is your evidence of your right to live and work here then you can start work. But once you can travel safely and easily you are best to exit and re-enter so you are in the UK on the correct status.

I have written a separate article about the implications of not arriving within your vignette window: Arriving outside of the dates on your entry vignette.

How do I apply for another (replacement) 30-day or 90-day entry vignette?

Click here if you want the full guide on how to do this => STEP-BY-STEP: HOW TO APPLY FOR A NEW ENTRY VIGNETTE FOR YOUR UK VISA

Please remember that we are not the UK visa and immigration department. Everything I am sharing has come from guiding our own customers through the visa process over the past decade and beyond! If you would prefer to have our assistance to guide you through the replacement vignette process then you can sign up to it here.

  1. Firstly, go to: https://www.gov.uk/transfer-visa
  2. Then you will need to select "transfer your visa to a new passport online if you're outside the UK". Ignore the fact you are not actually doing this! This is the correct choice for replacing the vignette.
  3. Complete the application form
  4. Pay the fee - currently £169
  5. Arrange your Biometrics appointment (yes you have to go again!)
  6. Pay the User Fee if applicable to your nearest centre)
  7. Pay the Priority Fee if you want your application to be ‘put to the top of the pile'
  8. Attend your Biometrics
  9. Send your passport away - or pay extra to keep your passport during this stage (if available at your centre)
  10. Wait for the return of your passport with your new entry vignette.

STEP-BY-STEP: HOW TO APPLY FOR A NEW ENTRY VIGNETTE FOR YOUR UK VISA

How long do I have to cancel my UK visa?

You can cancel your UK visa at anytime whilst it remains valid - provided you have not entered into the UK. If you do not cancel your visa and apply again then your previous visa is voided / annulled. What is unclear is how long you have to apply for an IHS refund - I will update this section when I have an official answer. But you will definitely get an automatic refund if you cancel through your UKVI portal (where you made your application).

How do I cancel and if I cancel will I get the IHS fee refunded?

The first way to cancel is through your visa portal, however this only remains accessible for 180 days so if it is more than 6 months since you submitted your application then this will not be possible. If you cannot access your online visa information then you will need to send an e-mail as per the advice given on the UKVI (click to access) - picture below also gives you the required information.

Okay IHS refunds so getting an official answer on this has been my mission impossible, no-one seems to want to put in writing that you will get your IHS fee refunded! But I have managed to finally get somewhere. So you can see in the screenshot below that following an e-mail request to the Freedom of Information service, they have contacted the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline who have confirmed that the IHS is refunded.

Remember that if you have turned 31 since you applied then you should not cancel but request a new visa start date. See further down this article for how to do this or e-mail me.

What happens to my existing application if I apply again now?

Best practice is to cancel your application via your visa portal - if that is still active (I think it is 6 months following your submission) then that way you should be able to get a refund of the IHS fee. I am working hard right now to get the official policy on cancellations and refunds as I am tired of seeing so many contradictory responses from UKVI.

By the way if you do not cancel your visa and just apply again then your existing visa is voided / annulled. Any new visa application basically cancels out any existing ones. But if you take no action then you most certainly will not get any fees refunded.

How do I apply for an extension to my vignette travel dates?

For a step-by-step guide to doing this we have created a dedicated page - click here.

There is no extension per se, wha you are doing is requesting a new arrival date. In order to do this you will have to go through an online link which says “transfer your visa to a new passport online”, yes this is not actually what you are doing but the UKVI website is not the easiest website to navigate!

But in the steps after this part it will start to talk about replacing the vignette inside your exisiting passport! Confusing I know! The process is an online application much the same as any UK visa application, only a lot shorter. You will need to complete this application and answer a series of questions, a repeat of many that you answered previously. And then once you have done this you can submit the information and pay for the Vignette Replacement. You will then have to attend biometrics.

Check out our full article here:

STEP-BY-STEP: HOW TO APPLY FOR A NEW ENTRY VIGNETTE FOR YOUR UK VISA

What if I arrive after my vignette has expired?

So right now, I am not sure what the official policy is here. Because when you arrive at Heathrow airport you now pass through e-gates, rather than speak to a Customs and Immigration Officer. We have had a few customers arrive more than a month after their vignette validity and have no issues, they were able to collect their BRP and start work.

I am still trying to find get an official response as to whether there are any negative implications of arriving after your vignette has expired. Until then it is best to arrive within your 30 or 90 day window!

How long are the BRPs kept at the Post Office?

I believe it is 90 days. But the e-mails some of our customers have received to say the BRP is being returned have been sent 6 months past the pick up date.

**Coronavirus** I very much doubt with the virus situation, that any BRPs will be collected as they will most likely just offer everyone a new 30-day window and that will mean the BRP cards will not need to be replaced! It's the easiest option.

Can I do a priority replacement vignette?

If you are looking for the fastest way to get a replacement vignette then you can pay for Priority Processing. You will be give the option to pay the ‘priority processing’ fee, which says that your application will go to the top of the pile. We suggest you write priority everywhere as in our experience it does not always get treated as such!

Do I have to send my passport away when I apply for a replacement vignette?

Yes, you will have to attend your Biometrics again and handover your passport. Just the same as when you applied for your passport. Depending on where you live, there may be the option to keep hold of your passport, this is a service that some biometrics testing centres offer…for a fee, of course!

I have missed my 30-day entry, do I have to start a new visa application?

No you don’t, provided you are still within the validity of your visa you can apply for a replacement entry vignette. If a lot of time has passed since your visa start date, and you have not travelled to the UK, then you could just cancel your visa and apply again. Depending on the time frames you should be able to get your money back, except for the User fee to have your Biometrics taken.

Why does my Entry Vignette only show 30-days on it and not the full visa term?

The prior to March 2015 the Vignette sticker did show the full grant of leave, two years if you were on a Tier 5 and five years for the UK ancestry. But since that date it changed to the Vignette sticker only being valid for 30-day which is the time period given to allow you to arrive in the UK and collect your BRP. So, the dates on your travel vignette are not incorrect!

What date does my 30 or 90-day entry vignette start from?

Your entry window begins on the day you gave as your UK arrival date on your application form. So if you said you will be arriving on April 1st 2021 then your entry vignette will be valid from this date and expire 90 days later.

Should I cancel my visa and reapply?

Are you trying to decide whether you should cancel your application entirely or to apply for a new replacement vignette for a new arrival window. I would suggest you weigh up the costs of each. I don't think it is much more to just cancel your visa application entirely, but you will have to have a healthy bank account because these refunds can take many weeks to arrive

I have still not heard back from CIH following my e-mail - what should I do?

It seems that there continues to be a massive wait for a response from the CIH team. I am not surprised as when the announcement first came out that you could get a request to have your visa postponed, they did not even know what I was talking about when I called them about it. Which means the team were unaware that they were now going to be the central hub for Covid related visa postponements and cancellations. In fact the time I called the lady on the phone even said to me "we are not the UK visa department, you will need to contact them for visa related enquiries"...she was clearly not in the loop with the shitstorm they were about to unleash on her department!

I digress, so you really have no option but to wait it out. But if you do hear from them let me know so I can reassure others who are still waiting that responses are forthcoming!

So I've just heard from Lillian in Australia and she had been waiting for her passport to be returned which it finally has been. She said that they have given her a 90-day entry window on her vignette - rather than the 30-day one they normally give. However her visa date remains as per her application (March start date) so she is not happy as it means she loses out on a few months. She has said she will cancel, get the refund and apply again.

How can I find out when the Biometric testing centres are opening in my country?

To keep track of when the Biometrics centres are opening in your country, use this link and then either scroll down and look for the section on the UK or enter your country in the search box which will take you to the Biometrics testing centre landing page for your country. Once you have the results page, scroll down and you should see the updates and whether they are open or not.

If you country is not on here then you need to check the TLS page for updates. Click here.

The VFS website (which covers Australia, Canada and New Zealand - currently says this:

9 June 2020 - UK visa services resume in 8 countries

From 22 June 2020, UK Visas and Immigration is beginning a phased resumption of services in certain Visa Application Centres: Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan); Cambodia (Phnom Penh); China (Changsha, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Kunming, Nanjing, Shenyang, and Shenzhen), Japan (Tokyo and Osaka), New Zealand (Auckland), South Korea (Seoul), Thailand (Chiang Mai), Vietnam (Danang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City).

*** note that the Auckland location is only offering a premium service for those willing to pay an extra $179 ! ***

Is anyone actually arriving in the UK as I am very keen to get to the UK as soon as possible?!

Yes, I know of several Australians who have recently arrived here. All of them wrote to get permission to fly citing either relationships or granted visas as their reason.

Here are the links:

Australia - [click here].

Canada - I can only find the exemption e-mail to enter Canada but they can probably forward or advice you of the correct one...or if you know it, please send it to me to post here! [Click here]

New Zealand - I can only find the exemption e-mail to enter New Zealand but they can probably forward or advice you of the correct one...or if you know it, please send it to me to post here! [Click here]

Happy to post other countries if you can share them with me to put on here!

Do you think it is a good idea to come to the UK and if not now, when?

Okay, so I know a lot of you are very keen to get over here and of course if you have partners and family here to support you then I get it. But my opinion is this, coming to live and work here will be one of the most incredible experiences you will have in your lifetime, it is a truly amazing, life changing opportunity to travel the UK and Europe, meet lots of like minded people and enjoy a rewarding adventure. As someone who has been at the helm of BritBound for well over 10 years, I don't want you to have a compromised version of the above. Right now it will be. We are only just coming out of lockdown and it's a mess. Pubs and bars are not yet open, other than doing takeaways and most countries are still closed to tourism.

So personally I would delay this a least for a few months or until you can get an idea of the job market. I will be doing an update on the job market next week, so make sure you sign up to the newsletter (see top of this article), to hear more about how things are looking on the employment front. Because, if you can't get work here, it is going to be very tough and you'll not enjoy seeing all your hard earned travel funds depleted! I recommend you head over once you feel more confident about finding work - or you take advantage of some of our guaranteed job packages, so that you know you will have work to come over to.

From all the e-mails I am getting about postponing, there seem to be two groups of arrival dates - September this year and March next year. These seem to be the two months that I am seeing mentioned more than others.

Of course, before you do come over here, do make sure you join BritBound, we have an incredible and supportive community here, we are not a Facebook group, we are the physical version of one! So make sure you sign up!


Latest Update - Tuesday 8th September 2020 - Incorrect or( ignored?) Replacement Vignette Dates


"It's been a few weeks since my last update, things are slowing which must mean a lot of you now have your replacement vignette. However, a new big problem as surfaced and that is that there are a huge number of you who have requested new dates in the future only to receive a date in the past. I would say this was unacceptable and I have now sent an e-mail to our Government via the Freedom of Information act to gain clarity on what exactly the procedure is. But I can tell you that the inconsistency here is staggering. I'm hearing of people getting dates in 2021 (see section underneath this one for two such accounts) but less than 10% and the vast majority are receiving dates given on the date of re-issue, even though they had provided future dates. What the hell??? Don't stand for it, this is not a cheap visa and you are entitled to your full two years or whatever other visa category you are in. If I do not get a satisfactory response (enough to make lodged complaints viable) then I shall start to enquire whether there is a breech here concerning the Consumer Rights act.

Here is a typical e-mail that I received today from Lily - I have received hundreds saying similar. This is NOT acceptable! You cannot treat everyone differently.

"Hi Britbound!

I was hoping to get some help regarding my replacement vignette sticker. In short, I was approved for a replacement vignette and then posted my passport and relevant paperwork to my nearest VFS centre (Melbourne, Australia). I was then contacted by the VFS worker and told I could choose a date for my 90 day replacement vignette to start 6 mths from then. I chose the 30/1/2021 and the VFS worker wrote this date down on the paperwork (which was the email approving me for a replacement vignette). Yesterday (7/9/2020), I received my passport back with the vignette starting 8/8/2020. I’m unsure what to do now because I don’t think it is safe enough to travel and it’s already been a month pass my vignette start date. This would be mean I’d have to get there before November which I am not comfortable doing with all the uncertainty ☹

Warmest Regards,

Lily

_________________________________________________________________________

Here is the e-mail I have sent to the FOI team - a response is due by the 20th September! When I get the response I will share to everyone via the newsletter.

_________________________________________________________________________

Happy Friday Team,

So today I would like to make a Freedom of Information request.

Regarding this page - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents?utm_source=717c35bf-1915-466d-8346-f5e902ae1c23&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily#helpline

There is a section regarding the replacement of 30-day vignette, namely this:

If your 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year. This does not apply to other types of visas.

Can you please clarify:

1) Can you request the new dates for your replacement visa and if not how are these dates chosen?

2) What happens if you not able choose the new dates and your vignette is replaced with dates when you still cannot travel due to Covid-19?

3) If you can choose a new date, could you choose a date in 2021 or 2022? What are the parameters?

Many thanks as always!!

BritBound

_________________________________________________________________________

Fingers crossed here. For those of you that have received a date that has now passed then hopefully there will be grounds to request another vignette. Let's see!

_________________________________________________________________________

Tuesday 8th September - why are some people being issued replacement vignettes with dates in the future and others in the past?

This is really worrying me now, there is a huge number of people who have asked for dates in the future only to receive their replacement vignettes with dates in the past. I was beginning to think that this was what they were doing to everyone until these e-mails arrived this week - this is quite alarming as it is incredibly unfair. In my opinion it is not acceptable to not have a consistent process and procedure in place. My apologies for sharing this if you have received a date in the past. But lets figure out a way to turn this around for you!

From Sairus [Australia Based] - also see image below this piece.

Hi Sarah,

I've received my visa with updated dates.... this is the story;

I went to the VAC in Sydney on 17th August - brought the email from UK Visa Office as instructed

I handed my passport over along with the email and the person at the VAC asked "what date would you like?"

I said 1st March - I asked if there was any specific time period, but they said no, just provide a date

I'm currently on a 6 month contract here in Syd and I brought my contract with me and asked if I can send a copy of it as proof that I can't have my dates before 1st March

they said no, it's up to the visa office

All they took was my passport the email and just wrote on the email my requested start date and my contact details

didn't need to pay anything - very quick process

on 2nd Sept I received a call from the VAC saying it's ready to be picked up (10am-2pm Tue-Thur) - they said to bring the receipt that was used for the original visa

today (8th Sept) - went to the VAC - told security that I'm collecting passport and handed receipt over

few moments later the person processing the applications came out and handed me an envelope with my passport

You need to show ID when you collect, so I used drivers licence

Passport was in there with a new visa - it's on a new page in the passport, not stuck on the original visa

new vignette dates were 1st March - 30th May 2021 with visa ending 1st March 2023

A new visa letter was also in the envelop with same info as original one, but with updated dates and some info on Covid

I've attached a photo - I've also attached a pic of the back of the email where the VAS person wrote my date down... I then wrote my email and phone number underneath it. It was a simple process.

_________________________________________________________________________

Next one

From Peta [Australia Based]

Hey Sarah,

Just a quick email to let you know I got my passport and visa back with the dates I requested (October 26). Took them exactly 6 weeks.

Thanks so much for all your help! Keep in touch!

Peta :)

_________________________________________________________________________

Now this one is an interesting one because Sophie e-mailed to let me know "Just letting you know, I tried to move the date to May 2021 but got an email saying that the new date can only be moved 6 months ahead from the submission date. Might be helpful for others to know. I attached the email I got." So she then chose January 2021 so it was within 6 months. Then she has now sent the below...go figure!!

From Sophie [Australia Based]

Hey Sarah,

Just letting you know I got my passport back last week and weirdly the date I originally wanted (May 1 2021) was approved. Meaning that 6 month email from VFS which made me give them a date in January 2021 was pointless. My tier 5 visa now starts May 1 2021 to May 1 2023 (original visa started March 31 2020)

Thought you might find this helpful!

Sophie

_________________________________________________________________________

Latest Rant - Wednesday 19th August - Passports going missing

So this is not an update but a rant. I may not be in your shoes and experiencing the utter incompetence of the replacement vignette process first hand, but having shared in so many of your experiences, I am just equally flabbergasted at the utter shambles that this replacement process is in...I feel process may be too generous a term!

According to the latest e-mail I've received we have sunk even lower in this debacle as it appears that the VFS in Australia can add losing passports to it's shameful record of its handling of vignette replacements... and I am told it has happened to several people. My chin is on the floor. Now I am waiting to establish whether the issue was at VFS or at the Post Office so let's see which one gets ruled out, but I have my guesses where the blame lies!

Has the TLS or VFS lost your passport during the replacement vignette process? Or can you shed any light on whether an organisation losing a passport is considered a criminal offence? I think this needs to be exposed. Missing Passport(s)!

Here is the received e-mail -

Good Afternoon!

We regret to advise that despite enquiries made via Australia Post - Returned Mail Redistribution Centre, our efforts to locate your missing Passport has been unsuccessful. All the possible revenue for our investigation has been exhausted and there for Australia Post deemed your consignment lost in transit.

Appreciate your understanding and patience with regards to this incident, we truly understand the frustration and the inconvenience might have caused. Nevertheless, VFS Global want to extend our services by giving you a full refund of the new Passport fee you will apply.

Please find attached Refund Form that you need to fill-in and we shall be issuing a refund as soon as we have completed the necessary paper works for your account.

Once again thank you for your understanding and patience, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me by phone or email.

_________________________________________________________________________

Update - Friday 21st August - Vignette Replacement Times

The main questions I am now receiving is how long does the replacement vignette take and how will I receive my passport back after sending it off. I have been suggesting to people to include a paid return envelope and that seems to be working. But if you have a different experience, then let me know so I can update the article.

In terms of the turnaround times, I will start a list of countries so you can see what is happening in each, based on the feedback I am receiving, so don't forget to share your experience so I can keep this as accurate as possible.

Australia - average 3 weeks

[From Sophie (Aug 21st) - Just letting you know I got my passport back last week and weirdly the date I originally wanted (May 1 2021) was approved. Meaning that 6 month email from VFS which made me give them a date in January 2021 was pointless. My tier 5 visa now starts May 1 2021 to May 1 2023 (original visa started March 31 2020). I dropped my passport to VFS Brisbane on 27 July and they emailed say it was ready for collection 13 August. Also don’t know if this will help others... but when I printed out the email from the UK immigration which you have to submit with your passport, I wrote my new date on it and that email print out came back with my passport and their decision letter.Thought you might find this helpful!

From Linda (Aug 20th) who has been waiting 6 weeks! Not good news for Australia.

Canada - average 4 weeks

[From Aaron - September 4th] - I just received my passport back after about 1 month and unfortunately they did not give me my requested entry date of December 31, so I’m basically back at square one because that’s when I can travel.

I sent an email to VFS (they told me it’s UKVIs call) and the coronavirus UK email (no response yet). I guess I’m likely just going to have to pay for a normal vignette replacement where they do let you pick your date (insanely ironic eh), but I’ll need to fly to Ottawa most likely because my visa centre is not open yet and I believe they normally make you do biometrics again (Halifax).

I’m mostly emailing you because I think the word really needs to be out there that they’re not giving people requested dates.

[From Kara - Aug 21st] - Yes I got mine today! Took it to Toronto VFS on Aug 4th and was back today. The vignette dates are Aug 12- Nov 11, I didn’t request a specific date.

[from Jaclyn (Aug 20th)] - I received my passport back today (Toronto appointment on July 30) with my updated Vignette (mine expired May 1). With it, I also received a letter saying that my 2 years started on August 9 instead of the original April 1! I originally had read that I would not get those missed months back, but I guess the government changed that at least recently!

Hong Kong - average - 3 weeks

[From Paul Aug 19th] We are really annoyed, my sons passport came back on this Monday which took 15 working days but my wife’s passport still not ready for collection even though we submitted at the same time. We were not offered when to start the vignette, my sons vignette has already started on 7th August 2020 so pretty messed up on the replacement process.

India - average 6 weeks

New Zealand - average 4 weeks

South Africa - average 1 - 2 months

USA - average 4 weeks

UAE - average 6 weeks

[From Shankhar (Aug 19th) I applied for my wife and daughter’s replacement vignette on 5th July 2020 at Dubai VFS because they asked us to submit the passports. We received the CIH email only on the 31st of July. Its been 45 days after submitting the passports but not got them back yet. It is really frustrating. I suggest everyone to wait for the CIH email and then apply for the replacement vignettes.

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I will keep adding as I hear back from people.

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Latest Update - Wednesday 29th July - Vignette Replacement Dates / CIH (lack of) responses

CIH Responses (or lack off)- Okay so just to make this clear to everyone. If you had your Biometrics taken at a VFS centre and you are still waiting for a response from CIH then my advice is "do not wait anymore!". See the section below with the update to now send your passport back in the post. I can confirm this is working for people and taking 2 to 3 weeks. Or e-mail me if you are unclear about what to do.

Vignette Replacement Dates - well I am disappointed and incredibly baffled by the decision from some centres not to allow people to select new start dates for their replacement vignettes. Especially given the fact that you are still able to cancel your application and get the majority of your fees refunded (IHS). So my advice, which it has always been, is if you don't get the dates you are comfortable with then cancel. So would it not have been more cost effective to have allowed people to pick realistic dates than force everyone to cancel and re-apply?

**HOWEVER** - ! In saying this Sophie has just sent me a copy of the e-mail she received this week that says she can choose a date within 6 months - see photo below. Which is maddening because clearly the process is inconsistent around the world. But if you are not offered a date perhaps show them the screenshot below??!!! Seriously, what are they doing at these places.

*** OKay so another point to add to the above - if the screenshot below is the process being widely adopted (?) and you are looking to come here later in 2021, then you could wait a few more months to apply for the vignette replacement (you have until the end of December 2020 to do this as this is when the free replacement vignette opportunity ends) to then request a date 6 months away in 2021?!! So if you waited until December you could choose June / July 2021 - just saying! ***

Have you been given the date you requested? Did you choose a date in 2021 and had this accepted - please let me know, I'd love to hear from you!

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Friday 24th July - City by City Replacement Vignette Situation

So I am going to start sharing what I am hearing happen on a city to city or country wide if relevant, basis. It will take time to gather the information so please help if you have anything to add here. And thanks to those of you writing with their stories. It's very helpful to have this to share with everyone.

If there is one message coming through it is just to head along to the VFS centre with your passport and try your luck!!

Australia

Perth - [from Clem] I am in Perth and have now been to the VAC here and dropped off my passport (I included a covering letter explaining the circumstances). The downside is it will probably take a few weeks to get my passport back. Perth VAC only posts passports to Sydney on Tuesday. The passports then go to Sydney for the vignettes. The vignettes are printed in Manila and then posted to Sydney. After the vignette is put in, the passport is posted to a home address. Current postage delays means this takes a long time. I am expecting a 3-4 week turnaround. The wait and the uncertainty has been the worst part.

Melbourne[From Maddison] I received my email to attend the VAC where I originally placed my application. As I applied in Melbourne, but live in NSW, and the borders are now closed I was a little concerned by the process. I travelled to Sydney and attended the VAC there and provided them with the situation. They were happy to process my application as I was unable to attend the Melbourne location. So for anyone else in my situation it is possible to attend in Sydney as an alternative location and put in your passport. I had to provide my intended travel dates at the VAC and they advised it can take anywhere between 5 working days and 3 weeks to have your passport returned.

[From Chris] So I took my passport into the VFS office yesterday with a copy of the email I received. I had to wait a bit (as I couldn't book an appointment) and then talked to the woman working there. After explaining my situation I mentioned I wanted to move my entry date to April next year (1 year from my original date). She said the people she’d already seen regarding the issue had only requested to move their visa a few months ahead which would probably be fine, but she didn’t seem to think they’d let me move it that far in the future. I told her a few months ahead isn’t much use as there are still major travel bans and restrictions in place, not to mention how rampant Covid still is overseas - there could be more lockdowns coming this year - and so I told her I had no desire to move over there this year anymore. She said she’s not entirely sure, as it’s up to the UKVI to make a decision on it - need to remember that VFS are just the facilitators.

So I wrote down 25 April 2021 on a bit of paper, she attached it to the email along with my passport, packed it up and sent it off to be processed. She wasn't sure how long it would take, but there would most likely be delays due to the current climate. I had to pay for courier shipping back to my house as their office is shut for at least 6 weeks due to the new lockdown. I also paid for text updates, of which I apparently get 3, one for when it’s been sent off (I received this yesterday), one when it’s been processed, and one when it’s on it’s way back to me. So could be some time before I know what the outcome is! Once again, still fairly in the dark. She couldn’t seem to give me a clear answer on things, and seemed to think that if I moved the date to next year then my visa date would remain the original date, which would be ridiculous - I would lose a whole year on the visa. I said if that were the case, I would rather just cancel the visa entirely and apply again later, to which she advised me that I would not be refunded the application fee but I would get the IHS fee back, as expected.

***Melbourne VFS re-opens on 27th July*** https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/au/en/news/uk-visa-application-centres-in-australia

Canada

[From Rameeez] I wanted to update you that I’ve landed in the UK on an expired vignette. After getting some initial resistance from the border officer (seemed to be a difficult officer) the manager took over and confirmed my visa and length of stay. My vignette expired back in April so it’s been longer than 9 weeks.

Toronto - no appointments currently available to visit the VFS in Toronto - keep checking but they have essentially run out of appointments!

Vancouver - [from Mary] I’m from Vancouver, Canada, so I was waiting for an email from the VFS centre here in Vancouver. As you’ve mentioned in your previous post, I also did not receive an email once they had opened up. I went to the website and also had trouble booking an appointment. I’m moving to the UK with a friend, so her and I decided to just go to the VFS centre to get some instructions. We brought our passports with us along with a letter, that we typed up, that had all our information on it. We weren’t expecting to receive much help without an appointment but to our surprise, they welcomed us in and helped us with the vignette replacement process right then and there! Luckily we brought our passports with us because they are now sending our passports to the UK again to get a brand new vignette. We didn’t end up needing the letter that we typed because they said that the office in the UK will take care of everything and that they had our information already. We did have to pay $50 for the courier fee. They said we should have our passports back from the UK within 2-3 weeks and it will be couriered back to the address that we provided them.

Toronto [from Rachel] - On a whim, I went to the Toronto visa office today and here was my experience:

- They were very willing to see me without an appointment - Not packed, very little wait time - No biometrics required - They processed my passport and I just have to wait for them to mail it back to me once the vignette has been replaced. Expected time? No clue. - I was NOT able to request a start date for my new vignette. I found this strange because I've been reading that people were able to request a date. I suggested that I write the new date on a piece of paper for them to mail along with my passport but they refused saying that it is not possible to choose a date whatsoever (not part of their procedure). They are offering vignettes for a date that's "as soon as possible".

New Zealand

Waiting for updates

South Africa

All cities - [from Debbie] at present no-one in South Africa has heard back after handing over their passports more than 3 weeks ago to the TLS centres across SA. There has been no updates and no sign of any progress with regards to issuing the replacement vignettes. TLS are blaming the UK Home Office and the UK Home Office say it is nothing to do with them, that TLS are able to proceed with the replacement process.

[From Gareth] After all of the frustration I managed to get hold of a lady at the Consulate in Pretoria who agreed to assist me. She emailed me to say that my vignette had been printed in Shefield and was on route to South Africa. This happened on Thursday last week (13th August) and I just received an email from TLS telling me that I can collect my passport on Wednesday. I am so relieved!! I have a flight for Saturday with KLM. Thanks again for your encouragement and advice. It is much appreciated.

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Monday 27th July - Free Vignette Replacement - What you need to do (by country and city)

If you applied for a 30-day visa to work, study or join family in the UK from 24 January 2020 and it has expired, or will expire before your travel date, you can return your passport to the Visa Application Centre to ask for a replacement 90-day visa.

Your request for a replacement visa will be prioritised by UK Visas and Immigration, who will re-issue your visa with new dates.

This process is only for customers who were issued a 30-day visa to work, study or join family in the UK since 24 January 2020. It does not apply to other types of visas. The process will remain in place until 31/12/2020 and is free of charge.

Please note; customers must have an appointment to visit the Visa Application Centre, and we advise customers to confirm their chosen centre remains open on the day of their appointment.

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TIP - the number of appointments available at the VFS centres are disappearing fast and for many places there are now no appointments. We would advise you follow the process for posting your passport back. Making sure you use a trackable service!

****FAQ - I have not heard back from CIH, what should I do?****

If you have still not heard back from CIH then forget about this and just follow the steps below for your country and post your passport back. Don't waste any more time waiting for a response!

If your country is not listed or you have a question then you are welcome to e-mail me.

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Australia:

If your original appointment was at Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Sydney or Melbourne, you can book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre you originally visited, by logging back into your account here.

Alternatively, you may courier your passport to our Sydney Visa Application Centre to request a replacement. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Visa Application Centre’ mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

If your original appointment was at Suva (Fiji), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Adelaide or Hobart then please courier your passport to our Sydney Visa Application Centre. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Visa Application Centre’ mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

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Bangladesh:

You may courier your passport back to the Visa Application Centre you originally visited to request a replacement. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Visa Application Centre’, and mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

You can book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre you originally visited, by logging back into your account here.

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Brazil:

You may courier your passport back to the Visa Application Centre you originally visited to request a replacement. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Visa Application Centre’, and mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

You can book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre you originally visited, by logging back into your account here.

Please note; customers must have an appointment to visit the Visa Application Centre, and we advise customers to confirm their chosen centre remains open on the day of their appointment.

If your original appointment was at a location that has not yet re-opened, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page.

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Canada:

You may courier your passport back to the Visa Application Centre you originally visited to request a replacement. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Visa Application Centre’, and mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

You can book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre you originally visited, by logging back into your account here. Please note; customers must have an appointment to visit the Visa Application Centre, and we advise customers to confirm their chosen centre remains open on the day of their appointment.

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India:

There are two ways to do this:

You may courier your passport back to the Visa Application Centre you originally visited to request a replacement. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Visa Application Centre’, and mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

You can book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre you originally visited, by logging back into your account here.

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Mexico - VFS centres remain closed.

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New Zealand:

If your original appointment was at our Premium Application Centre in Auckland, then you can book an appointment there, by logging back into your account here.

Alternatively, you may courier your passport to the Auckland Premium Application Centre, at VFS Services New Zealand Ltd, Suite 5, Level 8, 89 Albert St, Auckland 1010. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Premium Application Centre’ mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

If your original appointment was at the Immigration New Zealand offices in Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington, then please courier your passport to VFS Services New Zealand Ltd, Suite 5, Level 8, 89 Albert St, Auckland 1010. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Premium Application Centre’ mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

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South Africa:

The TLS have proved themselves to be one of the worst handlers of the replacement vignette process. Despite there being plenty of evidence to help them understand the process they have failed miserably in their efforts. Passports have been sent but not returned and this has been going on weeks!

Whilst no-one seems to ever answer the phone numbers provided, some are having success with the following details.

British High Commission

24/7 Telephone - General and consular enquiries +27 12 421 7500

Telephone - Passport enquiries+44 (0) 300 222 0000

Visa enquiries from within South Africa - Monday to Friday, 24 hours. Calls cost £1.37 per minute on top of your standard network charges.Telephone: 00 44 203 481 1736

See previous update with feedback from Gareth about his success with the above.

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USA:

If your original appointment was at a Premium Application Centre (PAC), please courier your passport back to the Premium Application Centre you originally visited (excluding Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle) to request a replacement. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UK Premium Application Centre’, and mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. Please ensure the Visa Application Centre address is accurate to ensure your passport reaches us.

Customers whose original appointments were at either the Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle Premium Application Centres, should follow the instructions for ASCs below.

If your original appointment was at a Department of Homeland Security Application Support Center (ASC), then please courier your passport to VFS Global UKVI Visa Processing Hub, 145 West 45th Street, Fl 5, New York, NY 10036. Please address your envelope to ‘Duty Manager – UKVI Visa Processing Hub’, and mark the envelope ‘Replacement Request’ and add your GWF number next to that. For Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle PAC customers, please also write ‘LA PAC’, 'SF PAC' or ‘Seattle PAC’ on the envelope.

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Thursday 23rd July - Turnaround time for replacement vignettes / Melbourne based applicants / 21 days / No VFS Appointments showing

Replacement Vignette - Postal turnaround time - Just wanted to let you know that I'm hearing back from some NZ based visa applicants who sent their passport off to Sydney for the replacement vignette. They sent their passports off via a trackable service, including the envelope for the return of their passport too. He said he also included a piece of paper with a date change request. He chose December 20th this year. It took 14 days from sending to receiving the passport back.

Melbourne based applicants - as the VFS centre is closed due to the lockdown I have been advising those of you based in Melbourne to follow the same process as NZ based applicants and send your passport to the Sydney office. As per the details in an earlier update.

21 Days - a lot of you are asking me whether I think the 21 days is set in stone. I do not, I think it is just them trying to get these replacement vignettes out the way in the shortest amount of time. But I'd still do your best to make sure you do take action quickly!

No VFS Appointments showing - as so many people are choosing to visit the VFS centre in person rather than post their passport, the appointment schedule for new visa applications are saying there are no appointments. I have 5 visas on the go this week and I have managed to get appointments for 3 of them by logging in every couple of hours...so it's just a matter of keeping on checking. After the bulk of replacement vignettes have been issued the appointment schedule should be back to normal.

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Tuesday 21st July - Options for Canadians who have not heard back from CIH

This has been published on the Canadian VFS website. But I believe similar messages are going out to other countries so it is worth you checking your individual VFS or TLS centre websites too.

If you are in Canada you now have two options regarding your free 30-day Vignette Replacement.

1) Post your passport back to your local VFS centre

2) Arrange another appointment to go there in person. ** At present there are no appointments showing for some of the centres, but just keep logging in as they are appearing slowly and you just need to grab one when it pops up.**

See below link for full details.

https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/ca/en/news/important-information-about-uk-visas-that-may-have-expired

Questions: (I will add as I receive them).

What happens if my local centre is closed?

I would send your passport to another one. Just make sure you send it via a tracked courier service and that you include a return envelope addressed to you and trackable. Also include a covering letter with all the details being asked as well as the date you would like to move your start date to.

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Tuesday 14th July - arriving here on an expired vignette

So I've been asked many times about whether I think it is a good idea to just come over here and enter on an expired vignette. I've been saying to everyone that I'd be very surprised if you had any issues. We've now had a couple of people enter and I'd like to share Jesse's experience - who has given me permission to share this.

"I decided to enter the UK without updating my entry vignette as the VAC’s were still shut in Australia and I needed to get over to the UK ASAP with my partner. My Visa was approved, although I was entering 4 months past my entry clearance dates. After getting nowhere emailing immigration helplines, I decided to bite the bullet and make the trip after gaining an exemption to leave my country. My plan A was to enter the country and collect my BRP as normal, or Plan B was to enter as a tourist and sort it from there.

After landing in London Heathrow, I was surprised to see it was somewhat of a ghost town. My partner and I collected our bags, presented our passports to the computers (E-Gates) and walked straight out, having not needed to go via a customs official. I then went and collected my BRP from the post office with no questions asked, although it was stated that people would not be penalised for not being able to pickup their BRP. So in that, I believe my Visa is now activated and that Entry clearances are not a large thing at the moment for Australians or other Commonwealth or EU countries."

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Thursday 9th July - providing new dates for your replacement vignette

Okay so for everyone asking how you actually provide the new dates for your visa.

When you send your passport off or give your passport over to the VFS centre you will get a phone call within a couple of days. This is where you can choose a date. Some people are being asked to write the date on a piece of paper when they go to the VFS centre. So it sounds like there is no formal procedure in place and they are to an extent winging it!!

Can I choose a date in 2021?

From what I am hearing the VFS centres are not very sure what the criteria restrictions are for selecting a date! More confusion ahead! So if you want to go in 2021 then perhaps it might be wise to first wait to hear whether others have been successful when requesting the 2021 date!

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Wednesday 9th July - Canada and USA Biometrics centres are re-opening

For everyone in Canada and the USA unable to proceed with their visas due to the Biometrics centres being closed, here is some good news. Both countries are re-opening in the next 7-10 days. So you can now log in and book your appointment.

Here is the info:

CANADA: https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/ca/en/news/uk-visa-application-centres-in-canada-re-opening

USA: https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/us/en/news/uk-visa-application-centres-in-usa-re-opening

If you need any help with applying for your visa then please consider joining BritBound and I will guide you through the process and guarantee you a successful visa.

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Tuesday 7th July - FINALLY - CIH "next step e-mail' for the FREE VIGNETTE REPLACEMENT

Well I am VERY happy to indeed that I have just been copied in on an e-mail sent to one of our customers advising them of the next step to getting the vignette replacement.

The whole world is waiting for this news so please share this page so everyone can see that there is finally movement on this!

As the VFS centres in Canada are still closed I am not sure what the advice will be - but it will be interesting to see if any Canada based applicants receive this e-mail? Let me know!

I would advise that you don't take any action until you receive this e-mail for yourself.

****See image below for a copy of the e-mail - click on it for clearer text.****

As usual it is a terribly worded e-mail and rather ambiguous (no surprises there!). So how I understand things is that you are to go back to the VFS or TLS centre that you used for your Biometrics unless you are from New Zealand, Fiji or the USA in which case you have to post off your passport and provide a return envelope. Please make sure you use a full door-to-door tracking service if sending passports in the post!

If you are from any other country it sounds like you have to go in person and there does not seem to be any request to make an appointment. So this should be further chaos then! But I assume that you will hand over your passport and then it will be sent back to you? Or perhaps they have the vignettes pre-printed and stick them into your passport whilst there?

Questions:

Now you will probably have questions on this because there are several that are not answered by this, namely...

1) Will those who are in countries where the VFS or TLS centres are not open receive the e-mail? Not sure but I'll update once I've heard from people saying they have!

2) Do I have to leave my passport with them when I take it along? Not sure yet - will update once I've received further info.

3) I have not received an e-mail, should I just go along? No, I would wait until you have the e-mail incase they are pre-printing the vignette, though I am not 100% sure on this.

4) I cannot get back to the Biometrics centre I went to, what should I do? Well I cannot speak in an official capacity but I'd be tempted to post it, if you know the address and include your e-mail and covering letter. Don't be sending your passport off anywhere unless you are 100% sure.

I will update this section with more answers as I get them. Please help me by sharing anything you think will help others.

Any questions feel free to send me an e-mail. info@britbound.co.uk

YOUR HELP = please help to share this article so word gets out that there is finally some movement with this! The share link is: https://www.britbound.com/the-...

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Update - Tuesday 30th June - CIH E-mail Regarding Replacement Vignette

This update is for anyone concerned that they have not heard back from the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline regarding placement vignette.

The current situation is that from everything I have read and heard, no-one in any country, anywhere has received an e-mail regarding the next steps of how to get their replacement vignette. So if you are thinking it is just you, it is not!

This also includes countries where the VFS centres are open. Which seem to be processing existing and new applications as well as returning passports that were held onto during the lockdown period.

If you or anyone you know has received a response from CIH or VFS or TLS with regards to the next steps, I would really appreciate an e-mail so I can let everyone know that they are finally starting to respond!

Wednesday June 17th 2020 - I have still not heard back from CIH following my e-mail - what should I do?

I have still not heard back from CIH following my e-mail - what should I do?

It seems that there continues to be a massive wait for a response from the CIH team. I am not surprised as when the announcement first came out that you could get a request to have your visa postponed, they did not even know what I was talking about when I called them about it. Which means the team were unaware that they were now going to be the central hub for Covid related visa postponements and cancellations. In fact the time I called the lady on the phone even said to me "we are not the UK visa department, you will need to contact them for visa related enquiries"...she was clearly not in the loop with the shitstorm they were about to unleash on her department!

I digress, so you really have no option but to wait it out. But if you do hear from them let me know so I can reassure others who are still waiting that responses are forthcoming!

So I've just heard from Lillian in Australia and she had been waiting for her passport to be returned which it finally has been. She said that they have given her a 90-day entry window on her vignette - rather than the 30-day one they normally give. However her visa date remains as per her application (March start date) so she is not happy as it means she loses out on a few months. She has said she will cancel, get the refund and apply again.



*** Coronavirus Update ***

Are you on a Tier 5 or UK Ancestry Visa and worried about the Covid-19 situation in the UK? Do you want to know how to postpone your visa? Are you asking ‘should I postpone my UK visa’? Are you worried about moving to the UK during the outbreak? We’ll address all your options here.

So, you have successfully applied for your visa and now this! All the planning and eager anticipation for the exciting adventures ahead, now replaced with confusion, concern and difficult decisions.

On Friday 13th March we called several different Government departments to find out if there is any official stance on delaying your visa due to the pandemic. I am sorry to say that as of this date there is no change on the current visa regulations. If you are not wanting to travel on the date on your Vignette than presently, you have no option but to cancel your visa or apply for a new vignette (details about both below).

There is no statement or update regarding waiving any fees if you do this. All fees still stand. I will continue to monitor the Immigration news and updates to keep this article up to date.

Update - Wednesday 18th March

There are still no announcements with regards to any fee concessions with regards to postponed or cancelled visas. Here at BritBound we are getting inundated with e-mails about this, so the UKVI must be receiving thousands of e-mails on this topic. I will be calling them again tomorrow to see if there is any news regarding full refunds for those wishing to cancel and apply later. As it stands if you cancel your visa you can get the IHS fee refunded but will lose the actual visa application fee (Tier 5 £235 and UK Ancestry £544). I would advise taking no action for another few days to see what the UKVI say about the visa situation.

Update - Thursday 19th March

As of 9am on 19 March 2020, 64,621 people have been tested in the UK, of which 61,352 were confirmed negative and 3,269 were confirmed positive. As of 1pm 144 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died. Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public#number-of-cases" So this must mean we are now on the steep upward curve. But no more cases in China so that is some good news. Still no news from UKVI, I have paid the fee to send an e-mail, I'm not expecting much but I'll post the response once I receive it. PM Boris says that he thinks the 'Coronavirus tide will turn in 12 weeks'. There is general concern that we are still being too slow to react here and that the lack of testing is just not showing the true scale of infection. A few more BritBounders deciding to head home after the uncertainty. No-one wants to go home, but it is a case of not being able to afford to stay. Everyone is asking whether they can come back and get the months they've lost added back onto their visa length. Here's hoping! It's very sad saying goodbye to so many, so fast and not even in person because of social distancing :(

Update - Friday 20th March

As of 9am on 20 March 2020, 66,976 people have been tested in the UK, of which 62,993 were confirmed negative and 3,983 were confirmed positive.As of 1pm, 177 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told all pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs, theatres and leisure centres to close tonight. There has been a lot of pressure on him to do this as so many people have been ignoring the social distancing advice and to stay at home. However, the Government has rolled out an employee retention scheme to guarantee wages up to £2,500 per month. So this will be some good news for our BritBound customers who have recently been made unemployed or whose jobs are at threat. This will be very welcome news. Still no mention of those with UK visas caught by the inability to travel here. Following my e-mail to the UKVI - here is the response to my [paid] e-mail to them.

"Thank you for contacting UK Visas and Immigration International Contact Centre.In regards to your enquiry, unfortunately we have not been given any updates in regards to the COVID-19 and we are urging applicants to refer to the Gov.uk website."

Update - Monday 23rd March.

A difficult day today. Had a few calls from BritBounders who went to the airport only to find their flight cancelled. Heartbreaking for everyone who experienced the same. Tonight our Prime Minister has had to order a 'Stay at home' after too many people were paying no attention to the social distancing. Everything is closing and we are only allowed out once a day to exercise or go to the shop. This is our new reality for goodness knows how long. Stay safe everyone. And if your Governments impose social distancing - then do it! By the sounds of it your countries are all bringing in similar measures. So for now I suggest not even thinking about your visa. Think about your health and that of your family and friends.

The visa situation is now out of your control. Canada has closed it's VFS centres which means you cannot go and get Biometrics completed. I think Australia and New Zealand will do the same. Which means you cannot do a Vignette Transfer to change your arrival dates as you need to redo your Biometrics as part of this. So you should wait this out to see what happens once this is over. It is unlikely there will be any announcements from the UKVI until things calm down, there is too much else that will take priority.

SO STILL NO ANNOUNCEMENTS ON WHAT TO DO WITH UK VISA APPLICATIONS.

Update - Tuesday 31st March

Sorry for the big gap folks. I've been a bit under the weather as they say. Not sure if it means I've had the big C-19 but fingers crossed I have, though listening to the symptoms people have I don't think so :( . Sadly without any tests available, I won't know.

But, some good news...I've FINALLY found written evidence to support my article where I state that if you cancel your visa, you WILL get the IHS refunded. I am receiving so many e-mails asking me about this and people reading on forums that you can't. Well I have been doing this for years and I know that the customers who I have assisted with second time applications have confirmed to me they received the IHS fee back. SO I KNOW THIS IS TRUE. Somewhat frustratingly (understatement) having paid the UKVI to answer this, they gave me a vague response. This is actually referring to the visa application fee - so they need to make this section a lot clearer. Here it is:

___________________________________________________________________________

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Thank you for contacting UK Visas and Immigration International Contact Centre.

With regards to your enquiry, I am sorry, there is no official information about your enquiry....In theory, you will not get a refund if your visa application is successful but you do not come to the UK, https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/refunds"

Regards,

UK Visas & Immigration.

___________________________________________________________________________

Very frustrating (though I'm not surprised) - that the official UKVI team have given this response then another enquiry lodged had a different one! Two DIFFERENT answers from the same department! You'd like to hope that the UKVI would be consistent in their responses!

____________________________________________________________________________

Dear Sir/ Madam,

With regards to your enquiry,

As you have already attended your biometric

interview if you wish to cancel your application

you will have to inform us if you wish us to withdraw your application.

You will not get a Visa fee refunded only the IHS will be reinbursed.

Regards,

UK Visas & Immigration.

____________________________________________________________________________

From here I decided to trawl through Government documentation to find this written down. Well it's taken me a week but I am pleased to report I have it! Albeit a very small section, but it's here in black and white - if you withdraw your application you get your IHS fee refunded. Link below - so happy to have finally found this!! :) So if you see anyone out there saying you will not get the IHS refunded if you cancel (withdraw) - please send them to my article. We have to clean up the incorrect advice out there!

Update: Monday 6th April

Well I am sure you are all seeing on the news that the UK is now firmly in the group of this dreadful virus. We don't even know if we have reached the peak, which is really quite scary.

Anyway, not much else to update you with, my focus right now is to provide more clarity for those of you considering cancelling your visa applications. There is so much confusion surround the situation of the IHS refunds so I am going to write a separate article on the topic to hopefully provide you with further evidence regarding the refund of the International Health Surcharge (IHS) fee. I will link to it here once finished.

In terms of information on the UK visa side of things - some information has been added here, basically just letting everyone know that the Biometric Testing Centres are closed.which means that if you were thinking of applying for a Vignette Replacement - don't! Because you won't be able to attend your Biometrics appointment which is part of the application process. Here is the link if you'd like further info.

Update: Thursday 9th April

So I am receiving a lot of e-mails from people saying they have not had their passport returned. If you have a look at this page here you can read that they have closed down a lot of the processing departments and therefore passports have not been returned. So don't panic, well more than you need to (!), it will get back to you!

Update Wednesday 15th April

For everyone in Australia, Canada and New Zealand where the Biometrics centres are run by VFS, an announcement was made today about those who have submitted an application but have not heard anything since submission.

___________________________________________________________________________

Dear Customer,

Due to the operational impact of COVID-19, the UK's Visa Application Centres (VACs) are currently closed and we are unable to resolve new or existing applications. For further information please go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/...

Our records show that you have a pending application for a UK visa which is yet to be concluded. This application has been placed on hold. If you have cancelled or withdrawn your application you can ignore this message.

We would like to reassure customers that this is due to the operational impacts of COVID-19. Customers should not be concerned that there is something wrong with their application. All information provided digitally is protected and your passport, where submitted, is being stored securely in a fireproof safe.

Once the VACs re-open and your application can be processed, we will contact you. Please do not attend the VAC until you have been advised that your application has been decided.

We regret that we are unable to return your passport at this time due to local government restrictions. We will let you know when the position changes. If you have an urgent need to travel, please contact your own government consular service to arrange an emergency travel document.

Please do not reply to this email, as the inbox is not monitored. If you wish to get in touch with VFS Global, please visit the 'Contact us' page on our website.

UK Visas and Immigration

___________________________________________________________________________

Update: Tuesday 28th April

ANNOUNCEMENT UPDATE

Today the following update has been made to the page (Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents)

___________________________________________________________________________

If your 30 day visa to work, study or join family has expired

If your 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

To make a request, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. You’ll need to include your name, nationality, date of birth and your GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. If you’ve already contacted us about this, please let us know in your email.

You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport.

You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.

___________________________________________________________________________

Is this good news for you?

If your UK visa has not yet started then yes, this is a free replacement vignette which will allow you to choose new dates to arrive in the UK. But if your visa has already started then my understanding is that your original visa start date is still in place. This is my understanding. Unsurprisingly the language they have used lacks clarity because I believe it should say a "30 DAY REPLACEMENT VIGNETTE" because you do not have a 30-day visa!

Does this mean my visa starts on a new date?

A replacement vignette only allows you to change your 30-day entry window. Your original visa start date will remain. So if your visa was due to start on 1st March 2020 and your entry vignette had a 30-day arrival window of 1st March 2020 to 31st March 2020 then even if you apply for a free new vignette starting 1st January 2021, then your visa will still begin on the 1st March 2020 and in the case of a two-year visa, would then mean you had to leave the UK by the 1st March 2022

Why does it say we will be contacted when the VAC's reopen?

Because the process to apply for a replacement vignette requires that you attend Biometrics. The standard process also requires that you present a new update bank statement (dated within 30-days of attending the Biometrics). Whether they change the process in light of the disruption caused, I do not know. But if they keep the replacement process the same then you will need to get another letter from your bank to confirm you have the required funds.

What action should I take from here?

The release above says that you can apply for a replacement vignette at anytime up until the end of 2020. So you need to decide whether you are ready to provide new travel dates or whether you want to continue to wait and see if there are any further announcements.

Is there any risk to waiting and not submitting this request now?

No. It clearly states you have until the end of the year to submit your request. A replacement vignette can be applied for at any time provided your visa is valid and you have not entered the UK. So that is the only criteria you have to consider.

Should I wait? What else can we expect?

Yes, the million dollar question! There are going to be a lot of people, who like you, have paid for a visa and want the full entitlement they paid for. If the announcement above does not alter the original visa start date (I do not think it does). Then many people will be asking to cancel for free and re-apply to get their full entitlement. Whether the UKVI offer any additional concessions is hard to tell, but if you can hold out, then there's no harm in waiting to see if there are any further announcements.

I have a Tier 5 Visa and am due to turn 31, what do you think I should do?

Provided you have your Tier 5 visa and do not cancel it, then your choice is to either apply for this replacement vignette now or to wait and see whether there is any further announcements regarding visa start dates.

What happens if I submit new dates and I still cannot travel when those dates are reached?

Very good question! Because reading the release above, they are offering you one free vignette transfer. So if you have to change your dates again because you cannot travel, then you would be liable for the costs of any future vignette replacement applications. Cost is £169

______________________________________________________________________________

Update: Wednesday 29th April

Last week someone asked me what I think the UKVI options could be to deal with all the successful visa applicants stuck in limbo during the Covid-19 outbreak. This is what I sent them in response, thought it might be interesting to post this here, perhaps you can e-mail me and add to this if you think there are other options they could consider...

Option 1: Free Vignette Replacement. This will be the easiest option to roll out because logistically it is manageable and it would have the least impact administratively. The BRP cards would not need to be replaced and can remain in the Post Offices until collected at a future date. You will no doubt still need to attend another Biometrics appointment and provide a new updated bank statement (this is the current process). The downside of this option is that your visa start date would remain the same and you would lose any months between when you visa was due to start and when you arrived. **This option has now been offered**

Option 2: Free Cancellation. This option, if offered, would be the best financially because you could then get 100% of your fees back and be able to re-apply at a later date. It would not help those who would be unable to meet the criteria for their visa category again (ie the Tier 5 visa where you need to be under 31 to apply but have since turned 31). Whilst this option would be the most preferred, I doubt it would be something they offer as logistically it means destroying all the BRPs, the financial and administration impact would no doubt put a spanner in this option. It would also put a lot of pressure on the Biometrics centres and processing departments to handle this and as we already know the commercial entities of VFS and TLS are not exactly role models in this area. But this is what I feel they should do!

Option 3: Free Date Change. Could the UKVI offer everyone the option of requesting a new visa start date? Not sure, logistically and administratively it would be a lot of work for them. It would be great if they could but I think that the cost of replacing all the BRPs and managing the safe removal of all the existing ones, would be too costly. But I would really like to see something like this, most especially for those on Tier 5 visas where they have paid a lot of money for a two-year visa and deserve their full two-year entitlement, as do all visa holders.

Option 4: Visa Extension. The big question being asked is what happens with the months of visa entitlement that have been lost due to the pandemic. What about those who have returned home because their Governments advised them too? Well what the UKVI could do is add these months onto the end of the visa. Administratively it is possible, the BRP's could pose an issue but they could send out a letter to show employers that you have been granted permission to stay an additional x months. Will they do this? I am not sure, I think it's possible and I think it's the right thing to do but who knows!

Watch this space! And fingers cross they do address these loss of months for those who are have lost out the length of their visa entitlement.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Update: Thursday 30th April

So two things to discuss today. Firstly, a few e-mails asking me why I have said I do not believe your visa start date is not changing. Well for two reasons...1) the stand Vignette Replacement process only changes your 30-day arrival window and does not change your visa start date. See further down this article for more discussion on this. And 2) The language is in my view incorrect. Because it says ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ which is wrong, you do not have a 30-day visa. It is a 30-day Entry Vignette, it is an arrival window. Your visa is two years five years etc, not 30-days. So this is misleading and yet something we are getting all to used to seeing, incorrect terminology, ambiguous sentences and quite frankly further evidence that there is no clear communication strategy being managed at UKVI. I hope I am wrong and that this is a date change but as I have discussed above, changing the date is going to require the removal of all the BRP's currently sat uncollected at the UK Post Offices, this in my view is a costly option and I something that will come later on, if at all.

Also - so there has been a change to the cancellation page - https://www.gov.uk/cancel-visa

They now have this: (I am copying and pasting)

If you are cancelling because of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Send an email to the coronavirus immigration help centre. It must be in English and include:

  • your full name
  • your nationality
  • your date of birth
  • any UKVI reference numbers you have been given

Use ‘REFUND REQUEST’ as the subject line.

Coronavirus immigration help centre

CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

________________________________________

Now, on first read it feels like it is finally a 'Hallelujah' they are letting people cancel and are giving out refunds. I don't think so....I have e-mailed for clarification, but all other communication alludes to only being able to cancel and get a refund before you have attended your Biometrics. But again until I have clarification on this, I could well be wrong, it is just what I think this means. If you have done this and had a positive result then please do let me know!!! Also I would like to recommend you read the next paragraph as this is what I am spending a lot of time on right now....!

WHAT NEXT?

So for the past couple of weeks I have had the bit between my teeth regarding the situation with IHS refunds. Everyone, understandably is so confused whether you can or cannot get an IHS refund, if you decide to cancel. There is a lot of contradicting sources out there and it is beyond infuriating.

From my point of view I was advised by a former UK Visa and Immigration Liaison Manager, that you can get the IHS refunded provided you cancel your visa and do not enter through the UK border. To back this up I have a few customers who in the past year have done exactly this. But can I find any policy guidance on this, well, none that is not ambiguous!

Also - why would they refund the IHS fee if your visa is denied but not if you choose to cancel or withdraw your visa...to me that is nonsensical.

What I have now done is contacted parliament directly and to a few different departments as well as involving my local MP, who I believe has to respond. I have submitted a request for clarification on a few different points relating cancelling visas and IHS refunds and hopefully something will come back soon to confirm the official policy on this. I cannot WAIT until I have this down in black and white and am hoping that I am right that it will be refunded.

Why? Well if we find out that you can get the IHS fee back then for those who want their full visa entitlement, it will mean that they can cancel and apply again once everything calms down. Yes, it is likely that the application fee is not recoverable, I think this is something that the UKVI should consider but I'm not confident. But for those who are willing to lose the application fee in order to get the full visa entitlement and official response will be very good news indeed. So fingers crossed

Update: Tuesday May 26th

So it looks like the Biometrics Testing centres are re-opening.

Australia: UK Visa Application Centres in Australia re-opening

From 1 June, UK Visas and Immigration is beginning a phased resumption of services and our Visa Application Centres in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney will be open from the same date. Customers who were unable to attend an earlier appointment, will be able to log into their account to book a new appointment from 26 May 2020. Customers who have completed their application on GOV.UK, but didn’t previously book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre, can do so from 25 May 2020.

Canada: No announcement yet - all centres remain closed

New Zealand: No announcement yet - all centres remain closed

South Africa: No announcement yet - all centres remain closed