Endorsement from An Endorsing Body Has Expired Because You’ve Not Been Able To Make An Application For A Visa due to COVID-19; Here’s What To Do
The COVID-19 pandemic has had serious ramifications for us all. Many have lost their jobs or have been furloughed, and businesses of all sizes have experienced hugely reduced trade and demand for services. Migrants planning to come to the UK, and those already, have had an additional set of stresses to deal with regarding their immigration status. This is because migrants are required to adhere to their visa conditions, and if, through no fault of their own, they are unable to do so, this can lead to considerable uncertainty. Likewise, many prospective migrants who have been planning to submit applications for visas have been unable to apply due to the pandemic. In this article, we will explain what migrants planning to apply for a global talent, innovator, or start-up visa can do if their endorsement has expired because they have been unable to apply as a result of COVID-19.
Unable To Travel Due To COVID-19
Throughout 2020 and so far during 2021, many visa applicants have been unable to enter the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions. At present, there are 33 countries on the UK government’s ‘red list’, from where travellers are unable to enter the UK: Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe. In addition, international travel restrictions have also made it impossible for many migrants to come to the UK.
Knowing they would be unable to travel has resulted in applicants for global talent, innovator, and start-up visas holding off on submitting their applications to the UK Home Office. Likewise, some have held-off because they know that their plans in the UK will be affected by the pandemic. The challenge is that if they applied for and acquired endorsement from an endorsing body in the UK in readiness for their application before the pandemic took hold, this may have already expired.
What Should I Do If My Endorsement Has Expired?
Thankfully, the UK’s Home Office has put in place a number of exceptions and concessions in relation to COVID-19, which migrants can take advantage of for a temporary period. In the case of global talent, innovator, and start-up visas, the Home Office is advising where an applicant’s endorsement has expired, and they have been unable to apply due to COVID-19, they may still be able to apply without acquiring a fresh endorsement.
Global Talent Visa Applicants
The official guidance for global talent visa applicants states, “If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you’ve not been able to make an application for a visa, you may still be eligible”. It clarifies that an expired endorsement will be accepted if it was it was granted on or after 24th January 2020, and you applied for your global talent visa before 1st January 2021. The challenge is that this date has now passed. However, the Home Office also confirm, “Applications that do not meet these requirements will be considered on a case by case basis”. As such, if your endorsement for a global talent visa has expired and it was granted on or after 24th January 2020, and you are yet to apply, you may still be able to do so. We recommend speaking to an immigration Lawyer who will be able to advise you in this case. Where there are clear reasons for your inability to apply, then it should be possible to apply by providing a clear explanation to the Home Office (an immigration Solicitor can draft a covering letter to this effect). In some cases, it may be advisable to ask the endorsing body to supply a new letter of endorsement.
Innovator And Start-Up Visa Applicants
As with the global talent visa exception, the Home Office also states that innovator and start-up visa applicants may still be able to apply if their endorsement has expired because they were unable to travel. The guidance states, “If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you’ve not been able to travel to the UK, you may still be eligible for a visa. We will consider all applications on a case by case basis”. Again, there is no clear specification as to what is meant by “unable to travel”, hence it will be important to provide sufficient information and evidence that this was the case. Immigration Solicitors will be able to advise you whether you will have sufficient grounds to reason that you were unable to travel.
What Should I Do If My Travel Vignette Has Expired?
If you applied for and secured a global talent, innovator, or start-up visa but were unable to travel, it may be that your 90-day travel vignette sticker has now expired (this is the sticker placed into your passport, which allows entry at the UK border). In this case, you will be able to apply for a new vignette at an additional cost of £154 by completing an online form. The Home Office also confirm that you will need to make an appointment to resubmit your biometrics. They also advise only applying for a new vignette if you know you will be able to apply in the 90 days after it is granted; “We strongly advise that you only apply for a new visa, or apply to replace an expired vignette, when you are confident you can travel to the UK. The new vignette will be valid for a period of 90 days”.
Ordinarily, the immigration rules are such that if your endorsement for a global talent, innovator, or start-up visa has expired, you would need to secure a fresh endorsement. Due to COVID-19, it is possible to apply for a visa where this has expired, but it must be a case that you were unable to apply for a valid reason related to the pandemic. If you are in any way unsure of the best way to proceed, speak to Immigration Lawyers who will be able to advise you.