The Home Office is launching their new services in response to applicants’ needs and criticisms. They are introducing new digitalised services for visa applicants called UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS).
From 29th November 2018, existing services and enrolment of biometric information at the Post Office or a Premium Service Centre are not available anymore for applicants with one exception. Applicants using the online application for leave based on family life, including spouses and partners of settled persons, or private life, still have the choice to enrol their biometric information at the Post Office until January 2019.
The Home Office is digitalising their services by replacing their paper application forms with online applications only. This can be problematic for applicants without access to the Internet or not familiar with computer and technology in general.
From 9th November 2018, new UKVCAS centres began to open and all visa centres have opened on 30th November 2018.
Under the new services, applicants have to make their application and pay their application fees online, this also includes their biometric enrolment fees (if applicable) and the immigration health surcharge (if applicable).
Applicants need to then book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre. They have the possibility to choose whether to purchase Priority or Super Priority Service and/or added-value services such as interpretation for the appointment.
With Priority Service, the Home Office aims to provide a decision on the application within 10 working days (hoping to reduce this to 5 working days) and with the Super Priority Service within 24 hours, both from the appointment date.
The Home Office states that, with the new services, applicants do not need to post their supporting evidence to the Home Office, but instead, they will either self-upload their documents or take them to their appointment. According to the Home Office, self-uploading documents may reduce the length of the appointment.
The Home Office stipulates that, in most cases, applicants will have their supporting documents (including their passports) returned to the applicants immediately once the appointment is finished. However, applicants should not leave the UK and the “Common Travel Area” (CTA) which includes the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man until they have received a decision on their application.
It is important to bear in mind that, as UKVCAS are new, the process is unlikely to be smooth, at least at the beginning. Those changes can be very confusing, therefore, it is advisable to seek professional assistance from UK immigration solicitors.
Please do not hesitate to contact our team of experts in Barar & Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call us on 0207 487 8370 to check if you are eligible for the Home Office’s new services or if you have any questions.