UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has introduced few changes for customer enquiries starting from 1st June 2017.
Among several changes to the customer enquiry services, UKVI has announced to charge £5.48 per email for enquiries from visa applicants and service users from outside of the UK.
Other changes include the reduction in the number of languages for the customer services and changes in the opening hours and contact numbers of UKVI services.
The email enquiry charges and other changes are introduced as the UK Visas and Immigration opts for a contract with a new commercial partner Sitel UK, a company part of the Acticall Sitel Group.
According to the UKVI, the customer enquiries charges are introduced to reduce the cost to the UK taxpayers for overseas inquiries.
The UKVI announcement also mentions that the changes are introduced to help the UK Government cut costs and to ensure that the applicants and other customers benefitting from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution.
Important UKVI Customer Service Changes
Here’s a brief overview of all the important changes announced by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
£5.48 Email and Call Enquiry Charges
Applicants and customers outside of the UK will be required to pay £5.48 for email and telephone enquiries.
The charges can be paid using debit or credit card before making any enquiry. The one-time fee also covers the first email enquiry and all subsequent emails to and from the contact centre related to the same enquiry.
Those that don’t have access to a credit or debit card can ask third parties such as sponsors and agents acting on their behalf to pay for the service.
The UKVI website that previously offered help for international applicants now displays a notice for the new changes.
Applicants can use the new website for contacting the UKVI from outside or inside the UK.
There are however no charges for the services if you are contacting the UKVI from inside the UK.
UKVI Contact Number and Opening Hours Changes
As part of the new contract, the outsourcing company Sitel UK has also made changes to the opening hours and the contact number of the UK Visas and Immigration services.
Applicants and customers, both inside and outside the UK are advised to check the new opening times and contact numbers for concerned services.
Follow the contact process on the new website for details about the service that you require.
Languages For Customer Services Reduced to 8
Until now, the Home Office offered its customer services in 20 different languages. Following the new contract, this has now been reduced to only eight languages.
Languages that the customer service are now offered include English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, French, Hindi, Russian and Spanish.
UKVI mentions that the removed languages only made up to 4% of the total enquiries including calls and emails in the past year. Punjabi and Urdu are among the 12 languages the home office services are no longer offered. UKVI also mentioned that more than
Considering that more than 80% of the enquiries received are in English, the UKVI changes suggest it won’t affect significant applications. The reduction of resources to maintain those services will however significantly help the UKVI to further cut the costs.
Applicants will be asked to choose their language from the list as part of the contact process.
What do you think of the UKVI Customer Service Changes? Let us know if you have any queries in the comments below.