Travelling to the UK Post COVID on a Tier 2 Visa Expired Vignette
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable confusion and inconvenience for many thousands of people who were planning to come to the UK from around the world to travel, work, study, and visit family members. The process of applying for and securing a skilled job with a licensed sponsor in the UK and then applying for a visa under the Tier 2 points-based system (PBS) scheme takes considerable time, determination, and can be costly. Then to have all of your plans put on hold for an indefinite time due to Coronavirus, without the certainty of knowing when you can leave your home country and whether the job offer or indeed the employer will still exist in the future, can be deeply worrying.
One question we are frequently asked is whether having applied for a Tier 2 visa from outside of the UK, and then receiving a 30-day vignette sticker to allow you entry into the UK, this can still be used if it has expired due to delayed entry into the UK. In this article, we will address this question, explaining the government’s latest advice on this matter, and what you should do next.
What is a Tier 2 vignette?
Anyone from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) who applies for and is granted a Tier 2 work visa, will have an entry clearance sticker placed into their passport by the local UK visa office; this sticker is referred to as a ‘vignette. The vignette sticker lasts for a period of 30 days. In some cases, Tier 2 applicants may not wish to travel to the UK immediately and may specify a later planned entry date into the UK. In this case, the Home Office may extend the start date of the 30-day vignette sticker to reflect this later date, but only for a maximum of three months from the date of application.
Within ten days of arrival in the UK or before your vignette expires (whichever is sooner), you will need to collect your Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) from the location specified in your decision letter; this is typically a UK post-office or your sponsor (if you chose this option in your application). Only those over 18 can collect a BRP.
Read Also: Renewed your passport? Here is How to Transfer Your Visa Vignette to Your New Passport From Outside Of The UK
What to do if your 30-day visa is about to or has already expired
If your Tier 2 entry visa vignette has expired as a result of being unable to travel to the UK to work on your planned date, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, you are not alone. Thankfully, for those around the world in this scenario, the government has stated that it will be possible to request a replacement vignette sticker with a revised date of expiry, at no additional cost to the applicant. The Home Office website states the following:
“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. Your replacement visa will be valid for 90 days.
You will not be penalised for being unable to collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place”.
You will then be contacted by your local Visa Application Centre (VAC) to arrange for your replacement sticker to be issued. As many VACs are still closed due to COVID-19, you may need to wait until your local office reopens before you will be contacted.
The Home Office aims to respond to all emails to the Coronavirus Immigration Centre within five working days. If you are awaiting a response to your email, they advise not to send a follow-up email as this may cause further delay. They also advise against calling if you already have an enquiry pending.
How can I cancel my Tier 2 visa if I no longer plan to work in the UK?
In some cases, it may be that a Tier 2 visa applicant changes their mind, perhaps due to an offer of employment being withdrawn, or due to ongoing travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19. If you no longer plan to come to the UK, the Home Office recommends that if you have provided your biometric information already, you should send an email to the coronavirus immigration help centre to request a cancellation of your application. Once your email has been received and processed, you will then be advised if your application fee will be refunded (or not). They request that your cancellation email should include (in English), your full name, nationality, date of birth, any UKVI reference numbers you have been given, and to use ‘CANCELLATION REQUEST’ in your subject line.
These are uncertain times for all immigrants planning to come to the UK. If you still want to come to the UK to take up your new role but you are unsure if your job offer will continue to be valid, speak to your employer as soon as possible. You will then be able to make an informed decision based on what they tell you. If you have decided to take up your job offer, you can request a replacement vignette sticker which will ensure you have the permission you need to enter the UK. If you are unsure of your position from an immigration perspective as a result of COVID-19, it is advisable to speak to immigration Solicitors who will be able to advise you on your best course of action. We wish you the best of luck with your new adventure in the UK.
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