UK Visa Application Centres in US and Canada Start Phased Reopening

Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP
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UK visa applicants in the US can book biometric appointments at either a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Application Support Center (ASC) or a VFS Global Premium Application Centre (PAC). ASCs and PACs, which previously closed in March, began a phased reopening on July 13, 2020.

Application Support Center Appointment Guidelines

  • Appointment availability is limited as more ASCs continue to reopen in the coming weeks
  • ASCs will not accommodate walk-ins; all customers must have a confirmed appointment
  • Only the applicant can attend a scheduled biometrics appointment; separate appointments must be made for each applicant
  • A parent may accompany a minor for the scheduled appointment

Premium Application Centre Appointment Guidelines

  • All VFS Global PACs will reopen, with the exception of the Seattle PAC and the Los Angeles Premium Application Center (PAC), which re-closed due to a new government mandate
  • VFS will contact applicants to reschedule previously booked appointments that were cancelled as a result of the lockdown
  • Only Bronze Premium Package service is available; no Gold, Silver or Settlement Premium service will be offered until further notice
  • Standard services will take 15 business days (not including mailing time)
  • Applications must be mailed in to the New York scanning hub via UPS or FedEx with a return label/package
  • There will be no in-person collection of documents at PACs; all documents will be returned to the applicant via UPS only. Courier fees are included with each Bronze Package.

Canada

Canada VAC appointments have also resumed, and the operations reopened at the four VACs from July 17, 2020.

Appointment COVID-19 Safety Guidance Guidelines

  • Individuals will be asked to observe physical distancing and must wear facemasks
  • Individuals may be subject to additional protocols and travel restrictions in keeping with local authority guidelines
  • Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough or difficulty breathing will be helped to reschedule their application submission and will be advised to seek medical attention at the nearest healthcare facility of their choice
  • Only the applicant will be permitted entrance to the PAC, unless they are a an adult accompanying a minor, a translator or the caretaker for an elderly or disabled person

Reopening Schedule and Protocol Updates

An updated list of ASCs and PACs in phased reopening can be found here. Details of the re-opening schedule for ASCs as well as key protocols to follow can be found here.

UK Visa Validity

When you collect your passport from a VFS Centre, you will receive a vignette visa which allows travel to the UK for 30 days. All UK visas where the start date is January 24, 2020 or later, are eligible for free replacement, with a new 90 day vignette, before the end of 2020. Further details about the process to obtain these replacement vignettes will be released by UK Visas and Immigration in the coming weeks.

Online Applications

Access UK, the online application system for applying to visit the UK, is now holding applications for an increased period of 240 days. This will ensure that applications remain live and valid and supporting enrolment of biometric data once services have resumed.

Gibney will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as they become available. 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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