UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has begun rolling out a new system for making in-country visa and immigration applications.
The objective of the new procedure is to make it easier, quicker and more secure to lodge applications in a modernised and digital way.
Among the key changes are:
- The current Premium Service Centre appointments will be replaced by a new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UK VCAS) delivered by Sopra Steria, a new commercial partner.
- A new online application form will need to be completed after which applicant will be able to book an appointment at one of 57 new centres across the UK.
- There will no longer be a need to leave documents with UKVI after an application has been submitted.
- Applicants will be able to upload evidence from home before their appointment and have those documents checked in advance.
- Alternatively, documents will be electronically scanned at the appointment before being returned to applicants.
- It will no longer be necessary to submit passport sized photographs.
- By the time the applicant arrives, they will have already filed their application, paid the application fee and uploaded evidence.
- Applicants will no longer need to leave their passport with the Home Office while their applications are processed.
IMPORTANT: This does not mean that applicants can travel outside of the UK whilst their application is processed, as this would lead to UKVI withdrawing their application.
The first centres are due to open for appointments from 9 November 2018, with all main centres scheduled to be up and running by the end of November.
Between now and 29 November 2018, you can choose to either use the old service or new service.
From 29 November onwards, the new service must be used.
It all certainly sounds good in theory and the ability to retain your passport while the application being processed is a welcome move.
Let us hope that it does achieve its stated objectives which will be a welcome relief to applicants and practitioners alike.
If you require assistance with the new system or need any further information, please get in touch here.
Visadreams.com, Diary of an Immigration Lawyer, is a blog run by Fahad Ansari, the director and principal solicitor of Riverway Law, a niche UK immigration and nationality law practice based in London. If you would like any advice or assistance in relation to your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your details here.