To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what support her Department is providing to people outside of the UK who are unable to (a) provide their biometric information or (b) take an approved English language test for their immigration applications due to the closure of (i) UK Visa Application Centres and (ii) test centres during the covid-19 pandemic.
2 July 2020
The Home Office has already implemented a number of measures for visa applicants, including for those who are unable to take an English language tests due to the impact of Covid-19. Details of all published concessions are available at - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.
Some specific concessions are in place on English language testing, for example for those applying to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life you can apply for an exemption if the test centre was closed or you couldn’t travel to it due to Covid-19. For students, Higher Education Providers (HEP) can self-assess the English ability of those studying at degree level or above and due to Covid-19, this provision has been temporarily extended to allow HEPs to self-assess the English ability of students undertaking pre-sessional courses.
Secure English Language Testing (SELT) centres have started to reopen in England and in a number of overseas locations outside of the UK, where local restrictions have eased.
In order to submit their biometric data, visa customers are required to attend a visa application centre (VAC). The decision to reopen each VAC location is taken in conjunction with our outsourced operators (commercial partners) and is subject to the easing of restrictions in each location. A number of centres have already reopened and details of which centres are open or will be opening are published on the relevant commercial partner websites. UKVI and its partners are ensuring that regular communications are issued to keep customers informed of re-opening dates and appointment availability