UK temporarily loosens regulations for Syrians living in Britain to renew their visas

by zoejardiniere

02.11.2012 The UK Border Agency, UKBA, has published new temporary changes to immigration rules for Syrian nationals, in order to allow them to more easily renew their visas or extend them so that they will not be forced to return to Syria while the civil war puts them at risk.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the month of October, the agency issued updated guidelines for the processing of asylum applications from Syria. Although the operational guidance note and the Country of Origin Information (COI) on Syria (updated in August 2012) detail a culture of impunity for security forces and the routine use of torture to extract confessions from an estimated 3,000 political prisoners, UKBA has no general policy against enforced returns to Syria at present.

Last week a High Court decision prevented the removal of a political activist from London to Damascus.

Under the new visa concessions, which are set to remain in place until 15 March 2013, Syrian nationals who are legally in the country on that date on visa schemes such as student visas, family members of migrants, visitors and overseas domestic workers, will be able to apply to renew their temporary visas for the same period of time again as they were originally granted.

In addition, Syrians will not have to leave the UK in order to switch to a different category of visa, but will be able to apply for a new one from within the country. However, they will still need to fulfil the criteria for one of these points-based visas, although if some required documents cannot be provided due to the conflict in their home country, this can be explained on application and a certain amount of flexibility will be exercised.

For further information:

–                     Amnesty International, CCME, ECRE, Letter to the Cyprus Presidency, The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Role of the European Union

–                     ECRE Recommendations to the Cypriot Presidency