COVID-19 impact on UK immigration general update

The UK is now effectively in a full lock-down with everyone except key workers requested by government to remain at home and avoid any travel or going outside except for medical appointments or essential supplies.

The pandemic itself and control measures against it are impacting UK immigration matters as well as global immigration authorities and policies. Individual companies including Santa Fe UK and their employees are affected by this, as governments and other bodies react to the changing situation and advice.

We have numbered the points in this update as it covers a round-up of the latest developments across UK inbound immigration matters and consular services in the UK.

Who will be affected?

  • Clients requiring legalisation of documents by the FCO or waiting for documents to come back from the FCO.
  • Visa nationals in the UK whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020.
  • Applicants outside the UK waiting for appointments at UK Visa Application Centres or for English language tests.
  • Visa nationals in the UK who are eligible to make a settlement application but are unable to travel out of the UK to do so.
  • Individuals requiring consular services (outbound visa applications, document legalisation) from other countries within the UK.
  • Individuals applying for UK passports.



  • The FCO has shut its legalisation office in order to comply locally with the government’s orders on working practices and exposure mitigation for staff during the corona virus pandemic which is currently intensifying in the UK.
  • Many visa nationals currently in the UK may be affected by travel restrictions imposed by their country of origin which prevents them from leaving the UK as would otherwise be required.
  • Visa Application Centres (VACs) and English testing centres have closed or severely reduced their resourcing and have had to cancel or postpone bio-metrics submissions appointments accordingly.
  • The Home Office has temporarily suspended the requirement for some applicants to apply for long term visas from outside the UK, meaning that those applications can now be made from within the UK.
  • A number of foreign consulates in the UK have shut down services.
  • The Passport Office has no availability for appointments on Premium or Fast Track services in London for at least 2 weeks, and this period may be extended.


  • No new UK apostille/legalisation services can be ordered with the FCO until further notice, as their office is shutting down entirely.
  • Any documents which were submitted for legalisation before the shut-down will be released by the FCO those should have been legalised.
  • No date has been given for when this office will reopen or when Standard or Priority service will resume.
  • Visa nationals in the UK whose leave expires between 24 Jan and 31 May 2020 will have their leave extended to 31 May 2020 if they cannot leave the UK due to current travel restrictions in force in their country of origin, provided they have up to date remained compliant with the terms of their visa.
  • Applicants affected by this situation will be contacted by the VAC or English testing centre and advised of next steps.
  • Applicants in this category who are currently in the UK and would ordinarily need to leave the UK to apply for a long term or settlement visa type will be able to apply from within the UK until 31 May 2020 subject to meeting all other eligibility requirements and payment of the usual fee.
  • Individuals requiring consular services may find that they are unavailable for any given country at short or no notice.
  • Individuals applying for UK passports at the present time should discuss their application with their immigration adviser.



  • The measures described above are in effect already.

Next Steps (or) Actions Required:

  • Any processes requiring documents to be legalised by the UK’s FCO will have to be either exempted if the destination country authorities will allow, or put on hold until this service is available again.
  • Individuals in this category should not need to take any action on their part but may seek advice from their immigration consultant on their particular case.
  • Individuals affected by the closure of a UK VAC or Testing Centre in their country should follow advice from that centre, or contact their immigration adviser for guidance.
  • Individuals in this category should seek advice from their immigration adviser immediately.

Santa Fe Analysis:

  • As the situation is evolving and ever-changing, and subject to great variation in policy from one national government to another, Santa Fe UK will be happy to assist any client in verifying or investigating individual queries.
  • We notify our clients that there may be delays in doing so as government offices and foreign consulates may take action without prior notice so we recommend taking action sooner rather than later.

Should you have any questions, please contact the following:

Koshi Blavo Barna
UK Head of Immigration
Santa Fe Relocation UK

Tel.: +44 0203 457 3595

To read more immigration updates, click


About our Immigration Services

Our immigration services manage thousands of visa applications every year for a multitude of international companies. Our experienced immigration experts and migration agents handle the immigration process for you and provide simple reporting and guidance on immigration matters.

About us

Santa Fe Relocation is a Global Mobility company specialising in managing and delivering high-quality relocation services worldwide. Our core competence is providing services that help corporations and their employees as well as individuals and their families to relocate and settle in new places. These services are delivered to a consistently high standard, locally and globally, and managed through our own operations around the world. For more information, visit us at

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