The introduction of a new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) from 2 November will allow applicants seeking leave to remain or to settle permanently in the UK to lodge their applications via a new streamlined submission process.
At present, a postal application is submitted to the Home Office with original evidence, payment of the fee is then taken, before a letter is sent to the applicant inviting them to attend their nearest participating Post Office to enrol biometrics. The new procedure will see biometrics and evidence submitted on the same day thus cutting out roughly 3-4 weeks compared to the previous applications process.
What is changing?
In short, old paper forms are being phased out (in most cases by the end of the month) and applications will now be submitted online. This will allow applicants to book an appointment, or arrange a walk-in, at one of the many new application centres being opened around the country over the course of the next month. Evidence can be scanned and uploaded prior to attendance at the appointment and most applicants will be able to retain their original passports and evidence whilst the application is under consideration.
Those routes affected by the new applications procedure are:
Points Based System
Tier 1 (Investor)
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
Tier 2 (General)
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): graduate trainee
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): long term staff
Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
Tier 4 (General) student
Tier 4 (Child) student
Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
PBS dependent: partner
PBS dependent: child
Member of HM forces or their dependents
Settle in the UK: HM forces category
Turkish workers and businesspersons
Turkish businessperson or worker
Dependent partner of a Turkish businessperson or worker (ECAA 3: dependent partner)
Dependent child of a Turkish businessperson or worker (ECAA 3: dependent child)
Settle or extend your leave in the UK: Turkish ECAA categories only
Settle in the UK: long residence
Settle in the UK: child
Settle in the UK: partner of a person or parent of a child already settled in the UK
Settle in the UK: refugee or humanitarian protection
Settle in the UK: certain categories
British citizenship by naturalisation
Register for British citizenship as a child under 18
Register as a British citizen
Update, replace or transfer: biometric residence permit
Other leave to remain applications within the Rules (with a few exceptions)
Apply for a Home Office travel document
Levels of Service
Applicants can choose from three levels of service:
Standard (£1354) – most people will get a decision within 8 weeks of attending their biometric appointment;
Priority (£1813) – decisions should be made within 10 working days after submission of the online application, NB. biometrics should be enrolled within 5 working days of submission of the online form for the 10 working day service standard to be met; and
Super priority (£1944) – most applicants should receive a decision on the next working day following their biometric appointment.
Until 29 November, applicants will be given a choice between using the new service for enrolling biometrics and submitting evidence or using the existing service offered through the Post Office or at a Premium Service Centre. That said, the existing Premium Services Centres will close on 29 November which will make availability of premium service centre appointments almost non-existent given that most are booked up to 45 days in advance). From 29 November, the majority of paper application forms will be withdrawn and most UK-based customers applying for leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently will need to apply under the new procedure save in a few cases.
A future development to be welcomed is that the Home Office has indicated that it will move away from insisting on the submission of original evidence. Applicants will be able to submit copy documents, including such things as PDF letters and bank statements. The Home Office will make background checks with the relevant body, e.g. an applicant’s bank, and will reserve the right to request submission of the original evidence if its investigations are inconclusive. Whilst this is a positive move, there is obvious scope for delay if the Home Office has to make enquiries of various bodies, or otherwise request submission of original evidence part way through the consideration process.
For assistance with your immigration applications, please do not hesitate to contact us via the contact details on our web site or online chat services.