UK Visa: Replacing Your 30-day Entry Vignette

If you have applied for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility or UK Ancestry Visa and can no longer arrive within the 30-day arrival window. Then this guide will tell you how to apply for a replacement 30-day entry vignette or cancel your visa. CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON VISAS

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 £5.48 and calls £1.37.

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 Coronavirus outbreak.

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.

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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!

Latest Update - 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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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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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.

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.

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.

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."

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!

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:

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.

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-...

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!

Update - Friday 26th June

Three things today

1) Biometrics Centres are now opened in New Zealand. But not Canada or South Africa.

To check whether your local testing centre is open - check here for updates.

  • VFS global for all other countries
  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East.

2) Passports being held at the VFS centres

Those with Australian and New Zealand passports that were sent off to be assessed for visas and not returned due to Covid are now finally beginning to be sent back. If you have not yet received yours and you are in Australia or New Zealand then try e-mailing the following address to get an update. ukviinfo.syd@vfsglobal.com

3) New Applications showing 90 days on entry vignette.

Brand new visa applications that we have assisted with this month have been successfully granted with a 90 day vignette window, whereas previously this was 30-days. See image below showing the 90-day validity that has been given - this was an application returned this week. (I've obviously blurred the other details out!). If you would like to get your UK visa underway, then I'm here and ready to assist you

You can e-mail me for further info. too.

Update - Wednesday June 24th - Herald Sun Article "Visa deal a win for Aussies"

So, goodness me....what a mission this one has been. Another one(!) I'm becoming a real pain in the backside to a lot of departments now! Just like everything else I have tried to get an official response on, it's been a frustrating process! Just like what you guys are all experiencing!

Now, before my backside gets sued...I need to say the conclusions I have drawn on my wee investigation here are just my own. If anyone has anything to add then e-mail me! Also, if you are educated in the matters of reposting conversations and I am doing something wrong here then please tell me quickly, as it's enough to be weathering the current climate here at BritBound, let alone have the Government on my case!!

Right, so back in May everyone was talking about an article in the Herald Sun online "Visa deal a win for Aussies" - click for the article. A few people wrote to me and asked if I knew anything about it, where the source was and what the process was to take advantage of this deal. So off I went on my hunt for further info, but oddly could not find anything, nothing. So I wrote to the journalist who said the source of the information was the Australian High Commission and perhaps it was, but I certainly cannot find this information written anywhere, so was it taken down, I can only assume so, in fact I don't know what to assume?! After failed calls to their Australian numbers and then their UK one, which just so you know presently keeps sending you back to the start options, meaning there is no-one to take the calls if you press that particular option! I then decided to reach out on Facebook, which was an odd exchange that I'm not sure how to summarise. But I've decided to share the conversation to enable all Australians reading this to draw their own conclusions.

Until someone can confirm this arrangement I can only deduce that the arrangement detailed in the article it is not the arrangement that is in place. Which as we know only allows you to change your visa start date until the end of 2020.

Happy to be hear from anyone who can shed further light on this. I will of course update this if I hear anything further.

Below is the article and then below this is the conversation I had on Facebook with the Australian High Commission.

Covid-19 - Where are we at now?

Wednesday June 17th 2020

It feels like an eternity has passed since I last did an update, but the reality is it was just a couple of weeks back! Time really does seem to be flying by.

So where are things at? Well our shops opened on Monday, hurrah! But a lot of people in the UK are not happy and feel we are moving too fast. I personally think we just need to be mindful that there is a virus here but we need to learn to live with it for the time being, but we do need to try and get things moving again or the damage to businesses can't be undone. Our hospitality and travel (BritBound) has taken a real beating and these two sectors are without doubt the worst hit. Neither can really get going again for the time being, so it's a challenging time, to put it mildly!

Right, so this article is turning into a behemoth, my apologies, I'm not quite sure where to begin trying to tidy it up! Another day!

Today I want to address five key question areas, now that I have finally managed to get an official response for some of them...what a mission!

1) If I postpone my visa will my original visa date be changed?

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

3) What happens if I arrive in the UK before my 30-day vignette entry dates have started?

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

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

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

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

As always - feel free to e-mail me if there is a question that you cannot find an answer to - just remember that it is just me here at BritBound right now, but I will get to you! :)

If I postpone my visa will my original visa date be changed?

On the UK Government page (click here to view) It says "(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.)"

Everyone has been asking whether this means that your visa start date will be changed or just the 30-day Vignette entry window. I did think that the visa start date would remain the same, but I am VERY HAPPY to say that after untold number of e-mails and phonecalls, I finally had an 'official' response...yes, your visa start date will be moved. YAY!

***See images below. First image is my question and the second is the response.***

***IMPORTANT - Also - the Australian Government has also negotiated an arrangement whereby you can choose a date up until May 2021. Click here for this announcement. I understand that the Canadian and New Zealand Governments are doing the same..awaiting confirmation. ***

Update - See top of article about this release.

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 90 days so if it is more than 3 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 if I arrive in the UK before my 30-day vignette entry dates have started?

It is evident from those of you writing to me from within the UK saying that you have recently arrived, that it is possible. 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-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, so in my opinion 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. (my opinion and it is what everyone is doing, after all I think there is a lot of understanding right now at the airports surrounding the visa chaos). 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 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.

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:

  • 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!

*** 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

*** Coronavirus - Can I still travel to the UK? ***

We have not yet closed our Borders and we have had a few BritBounders (BritBound customers) arrive in the past couple of weeks, all of them said it was not challenging to arrive here, just slightly eerie given how empty the airports are. So right now, people are still coming here. You should contact your foreign office to find out what travel restrictions you face. The biggest thing you will need to think about is supporting yourself financially (unlikely that you will find work)...though not impossible. And staying with family will be out of the question as you would be putting their lives at risk by potentially bringing the virus to their door.

*** Coronavirus - Is the UK safe to come to? ***

The UK is approaching the peak of the outbreak, which means we have worse to come. Data so far shows that the younger you are the less affected you will be. But you can be a carrier and you are therefore a risk to anyone in the 70 plus age bracket or with underlying health issues. Unless you have an urgent or desperate need to come here I would strongly advise waiting this out for 2 or 3 months and reviewing the situation again then. If you have a particular situation that you would like my opinion on, then feel free to e-mail me (Sarah).

*** Coronavirus - What are other BritBound customers doing who are currently over there? ***

It's a mixed response. The big thing has been work issues, anyone in the service industry is largely out of work. We have been told to stay out of restaurants, pubs and bars so anyone working in one has either lost their job or about to. So those who are finding themselves unemployed and without healthy bank balances are reluctantly heading home to move back in with parents. A lot of the chat is that even if you do go home you'll have to self quarantine for 14 days and that things will most likely turn just as ugly back home. Which means there is a lot of indecision.

Most of the chat on our What's App group is about bunkering down and getting through it. Those who are employed and likely to remain so are saying that there is little point going home when other countries are a matter of weeks behind the UK, While certain industries are really suffering (ours included - travel!), some of course are booming - toilet roll manufacturers?!. So if you want to work then there are companies doing very well from this outbreak who are hiring. Now that the schools are to be closed I would predict an increase in demand for Nannies and Au Pairs to help parents who still have to go to work.

In terms of those recently arrived here to pursue career roles, it has not been easy. Everyone is saying that offers of work have been withdrawn and there is a hiring freeze on for a lot of industries. If you want more information on the type of work you want to get here, then just e-mail me and I'll let you know what we're seeing.

*** Coronavirus - Can I enter before my visa starts? ***

Today we had several e-mails asking whether it is possible to enter before your visa start date. The idea being to enter before the borders are closed. Outside of the virus, I would have always recommended that if you want to enter before your visa starts then you need to show an exit flight (if you are entering on a one-way flight). But reading through a lot of forums it sounds like that in Heathrow most of the Immigration desks have been replaced by e-ticket gates. A few of our BritBounder’s have arrived both before and after their visa start date without issue or questioning. I cannot comment on this in an official capacity, just passing on what I have heard in the community.

**Update** someone travelling from South Africa was not given permission to fly as they were travelling outside of their visa dates.

*** Coronavirus - Can I arrive after my 30-day entry window has passed? ***

From what I know and have read on various forums prior to the outbreak of this virus, there does not seem to be any enforcement of the 30-day entry window, perhaps because most of the Immigration desks are now e-gates. I'd say right now it would be even more unlikely you'd be pulled up on this given the current mess with regards to visas. Of course, this is just my opinion!

But before you fly I think you will have to consider the following:

1) Will you be able to leave your country? Check the foreign travel department to find out.

2) Will the airline let you fly - might be worth a call to find out. Or contact your local travel agency to find out the current situation.

3) If you are able to reach the UK, what will you do about work? Unless you know for a fact there is a job for you here, you'll struggle to find work and will need a very healthy bank account to support yourself.

4) Where would you stay? Even if you have family here, would you put their lives at risk by potentially bringing the virus to their door?

*** Coronavirus - Should I cancel my plans to come over? ***

No, absolutely not. Heading to live and work here will be one of the best life adventures you will ever have. We have a Virus Tsunami causing havoc and devastation but we will bounce back. And it will be fast. All businesses including ours need to do their upmost to survive. Once we come through the other side then everyone will be rebuilding quickly. The job market will be crazy with everyone recruiting in mass. So don't cancel your plans just sit this out like the rest of us and re-evaluate your timings once things have calmed down.

*** Coronavirus - Should I postpone my visa? ***

This decision has probably already been made for you if the borders in your country have been closed to international travel. Our borders are still open which means flights are still landing here. Unless there is a strong or urgent need to be over here, I would advise holding off until the worst has past. The UK is in chaos and I don’t think it is wise to head over here until things calm down. The biggest challenge you are going to experience from this, in my opinion, is finding work. Employment across many industries has ground to a halt. Some industries are still employing and if you are really desperate to come over here then you should find out whether you stand a good chance of getting work. Unless you have a very healthy bank account!

*** Coronavirus - How do I postpone my visa? ***

You have two choices – either to cancel your visa application entirely or to apply for another entry vignette to delay your 30-day entry window. Keep reading this article for further information on this.

*** Coronavirus - My UK visa date is in April / May / June but I am unable to travel to the UK due to the Coronavirus, will I get a refund? ***

At the moment no announcement has been made. Keep an eye on this article. However, I believe there will be one but probably after we have come through the worst of this virus. At the present time your only option is to cancel your visa or apply for a new travel vignette - although you won't be able to apply for a new vignette as most of the Biometrics testing centres are closed until further notice. Further information below. I know this is not the answer you are looking for but until the UKVI issue advice on refunds and concessions due to the virus there is not much else I can say to you.

***Can I cancel my visa after it has been approved and get a refund of the IHS fee?***

If you cancel your visa either through your online portal (where you lodged your application) or here and provided you have not entered the UK then you will get a refund of the IHS fee but not the visa application fee. The reason I know this to be true is because we assist with lots of second time applications when people haven't travelled (for whatever reason) and they have all had the IHS fee refunded when they did this. Keep reading this article for further information on how to do this.

There is so much confusion around the IHS refund. I am midway through writing an article about this to clarify. In the meantime feel free to e-mail me if you want further explanation.

*** Coronavirus - The IHS refund page says that I cannot get a refund if I cancel? ***

Okay I am creating a new article about this. You will get a refund, just not of the application fee, only the IHS fee.

There is no time limit on cancelling your visa, provided you never entered the UK you can apply again in the future, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

***Will I get a refund if I fly to the UK and then return home because I cannot get a job? ***

No, there is no current offering of this kind in place. If you are unsure if you can get work then you are better to hold off until a later date. No announcements have been made by the UK Visa and Immigration department with regards to concessions for those who have been unable to fly over to start their visa. Though I suspect something will be announced soon.

*** Coronavirus - I am applying for the Tier 5 visa and going to turn 31 soon, should I submit my visa, even though I cannot travel to the UK? ***

Okay, so this is my personal opinion and you must remember that! But I appreciate we all need to be able to ask others for their advice and guidance and this is what I am doing. So, I would still submit your visa application - of course if you want assistance then go here to engage my help. My reasoning? Well, firstly, I do not know how long they will allow applications, they may close down this area of the UKVI website and then I am not sure there will be a concession to enable you to apply again after you turn 31, I doubt they will myself. I could be wrong but that's my feeling on it. Secondly, even if you submit your application, it is likely that you will either a) not be able to attend your biometrics because they have closed the VFS centres b) not be able to fly because of the border restrictions. But even if these happen, your visa will still be submitted and therefore you will be included in whatever announcement the UKVI makes for everyone stuck in visa limbo.

How to postpone or cancel your UK Visa

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

When your application for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility or UK Ancestry Visa is successful, your passport will be returned to you and it will contain a sticker inside, the sticker is called a vignette. This sticker or vignette gives you the permission to arrive in the UK within a 30-day window of your visa start date in order to 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? Maybe you have a new job, or a situation at home means you can no longer leave on the original dates you provided. What can you do?

In this situation you basically have two options:

  • Option 1) Replace your 30-day entry vignette
  • Option 2) Cancel your visa application and apply again at a later date

OPTION 1: Replacing your 30-day entry vignette

If you want to get another vignette sticker to go inside your passport with a new 30-day 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 30-day entry 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 March (30-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).

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.

*** Coronavirus Update - as most of the Biometrics Testing Facilities are closed until further notice, you will not be able to apply for a Vignette Transfer ***

If you apply for a replacement vignette sticker, then your Visa Start Date will remain as you requested in your original application.

What is the process for replacing the entry sticker (vignette?)

In order to replace your vignette sticker you will have to go through an online link which says “transfer your visa to a new passport online”, yes this is not what you are doing. 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 the Tier 5 or UK Ancestry 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.

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

This is the process as of 24th March 2020. 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 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. Upload the relevant documentation (Proof of Maintenance, same criteria as before)
  9. Attend your Biometrics
  10. Send your passport away - or pay extra to keep your passport during this stage (if available at your centre)
  11. Wait for the return of your passport with your new entry vignette.
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 30-day window from the new date you would like to travel, 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 an absolutely brilliant one at that!

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!

You will need to log back into your online visa application which sits on this link - which does not work without your log in details,

visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/your-unique-login-code.

The log-in link will be somewhere in your e-mail Inbox. Provided you haven't permanently deleted it...in which case I have no idea what you do!

Once in there you should see the option to cancel your application...that's it! You will get an automatic refund of your International Health Surcharge fee. You will lose the visa application fee and any user fee if you had to pay this to get your Biometrics taken.

You can now proceed with a new application, and if you're at all worried then engage our assistance to double check everything for you.

***If you cannot follow the move link, it means your online portal has expired. They only keep it available for I think 90 days after you have submitted your visa. ***

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Can I postpone my visa or cancel it 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. See above for information on doing this. 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.

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).

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 for 3 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.

I am now 31 can I still apply for a replacement entry vignette?

Yes, you can provided the validity of your visa is still valid. In other words if you are on a Tier 5 Visa then you have two years validity (beginning 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. At least there is no information anywhere that says you can't.

I have recently been offered a job promotion which will affect my moving date to the UK - can I still cancel my visa and resubmit for later date given I'm already 31?

If you are 31, even if you have been granted UK visa you cannot cancel your visa and apply again. Your only option is to apply for a new vignette.

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 tow 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. But if you are unsure of date that you can travel and be able to arrive within the 30-day window proceeding that date then you are best to just cancel your visa and start again!

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.

I am overseas and have missed my UK visa entry dates, what can I do?

Provided that the country you are in has a Biometrics testing centre then you can apply for a replacement vignette. You can check if there is one near you when you start the process - see above for the steps.

I have missed by 30-day entry to the UK by just a few days can I still enter?

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 30-day window and come through without any issue. And they were able to collect their BRP.

However, personally I would find this too risky and would not advise it! Rather ensure that any travel you do is completed to enable you to arrive in this 30-day window.

If you'd like to share any experiences you have here with me, I'd love to hear about them and then I can update this with your 'first-hand experience". Please e-mail me and tell me (Sarah).

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.