New UK Visa Application Service – What You Need To Know
The Home Office has declared a brand new service for processing UK work, study and settlement visas along with citizenship applications. The aim is to integrate and increase the proficiency of the procedure and to digitise it as much as possible. The present system is extremely complicated, with applicants often battling to safeguard appointments and then being left without necessary private documents for months.
The major change is that scanned copies of original credentials will now be accepted by the Home Office and may be uploaded in advance of appointments, saving time and offering a welcome peace of mind where priceless original documents are involved.
For the biometric essentials, however, such as authentication of fingerprints, photographs and signatures, applicants will have to get an appointment at one of 57 new Service Centres.
Most applications will be dealt with at seven ‘core’ centres, where self-service biometric kiosks will be launched. Sopra Steria, a European information technology consultancy and Home Office “partner”, will allot appointments at these Service Centres corresponding to location and convenience.
On the other hand, for a fee, appointments will be accessible at one of fifty ‘local’ centres, which will be situated in places such as local libraries. For vital cases, improved user-pay appointments will be accessible, enabling applications to be made out of office hours and over weekends. A procedure of same day/next day bookings will also be available.
For bonus flexibility, pop-up centres will be a choice for groups of 10 or more applicants and there will also be a home visit service.
The normal service will target to deliver a conclusion on the application within 8 weeks of the biometric appointment, whereas the priority services will deliver a decision within 10 working days.
The new centres will be established between 5 – 29 November and throughout this phase the new and existing methods will work in tandem. From 29 November, conversely, all the former Premium Services Centres will be shut. Online services and bookings will be accessible from 2 November but until December applicants will be required to confirm online which centres are operating.
The Home Office aims to propose a number of different services that it expects will integrate the whole procedure and make it more proficient. This incorporates inspecting credentials afore submission, interpretation of original credentials and telephone transcribers. As with the improved appointments facility, they will comprise ‘user-pay’ add-on services for which the applicant will be charged.
There is improved emphasis on support for weak candidates and complicated cases. The purpose is for helpless applicants to be able to come across a qualified UKVI caseworker face to face, even though the Home Office has not stated any indication as to who would be suitable in this classification and how many caseworkers will be made available to support them.
The outline of these facilities proposes a wish to move towards a rapid and more user-friendly facility, but only time will tell whether these modifications generate the competence to which the Home Office seeks.