UKVI Introduces a New Online Application System and UKVCAS for UK Visas and Citizenship Applications
Starting this November 2018, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have changed the in-country application process for work visas, study visas, settlement, citizenship applications.
Under the new changes, UKVI have introduced a streamlined, digitised and accessible service which includes an online application system and new Visa and Citizenship Application Service centres (UKVCAS) across the UK.
UKVI have partnered with French digital services company Sopra Steria to provide the services which it refers to as streamlined, intuitive and easy to use.
The new service, as per the UKVI will be available for ILR, Citizenship, and Settlement applications based on more than 30 visa routes. The online application process aims to clarify what applicants need to do, the supporting evidence they need to provide and where they need to go to complete the application.
Previously, applicants for those services were required to submit their applications, book an appointment to submit their biometrics, and mail their supporting documents including passport or other identity documents to the Home Office address. There was also an option to book same day appointment at a Premium Service Centre for additional fees and receive a decision within 24-48 hours.
The availability of appointments at Premium Service Centre appointments, however, exceeded the demand with applicants having to wait for months to use the service.
With the new application process, UKVI aims to digitize the entire visa application process, thus delivering a modern and convenient service for everyone.
New UKVI Online Application Process
The new application process replaces the paper applications. Applicants are required to complete the application online and pay for their application fees. Additional application fees such as the biometric enrolment fee (if applicable) will be included in the total fees.
Similar to the previous process, you will separately need to pay online for the immigration health surcharge (if applicable) and include the IHS reference number on your application form.
Once you complete the online application, you will be directed to the partner Sopra Steria’s website to book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre. You will be able to choose and book an appointment upon completing your application.
Although appointments in “core” centres are available for free, there will be additional options to “priority” appointments including other optional added-value services (listed below).
Unlike the previous application process, you will not need to post your supporting evidence to the UKVI. After you receive instructions of what supporting evidence you will need to submit, you can self-upload the documents via Sopra Steria’s website.
Self-uploading the supporting documents will reduce the time of your appointment and avoid any additional charges. You can choose to bring the supporting documents including your passport with you at the appointment centre and they will be returned back to you after your appointment.
You will receive clear instructions regarding the process and documents you need to bring with you at the appointment after you have submitted the application but in general, you will need to bring documents including;
- Confirmation of your appointment
- Passport or Travel documents
- Supporting evidence (If you haven’t self-uploaded already)
You can see the visual steps of the applicant’s journey with the new visa process as outlined by the UKVI.
See the complete presentation from the UKVI regarding the new application process including using the UKVCAS.
The new UKVCAS centres have started accepting appointments starting 9 November 2018 and the previous Premium Service Centres will be closed by 29th November.
Publishing a guide to the new front end services earlier this month, UKVI mentioned that it is withdrawing most of the paper application forms and replacing them with the online service.
UK Visa Routes For New Online Application System
More than 30 UK visa routes have been updated already to use the new online system while making an application. In a recently updated guide, UKVI has listed the following routes that can apply using the new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS).
- Tier 1 (Investor) Visa
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa
- Tier 2 (General) Visa
- 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
- 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: HM forces category
- 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 (unless noted below)
- Home Office travel document Application
Initially, most of the applications in these above-listed categories will have a choice between the existing paper-based application service or the new system for a limited time.
The application process for all of the categories will be eventually replaced with the new online system.
New UK VCAS centres
UKVI has mentioned that it is initially opening 57 UK VCAS centres applicable for different service levels.
- 6 Core Service UKVCAS Centres – offering free appointments
- 50 Enhanced Service UKVCAS Centres – offering charged appointments
- 1 Premium Lounge UKVCAS centre – offering additional facilities
Managed by Sopra Steria, UKVI’s commercial partner, all the UK VCAS centres will be open by 30 November 2018.
The UKVCAS centres will also be able to offer optional added-value services while making an application.
Optional Added-Value Services
A press release issued from Sopra Steria has listed all the optional added-value services provided along with the online application process.
Next day & Walk in
(Same Day) and Out of hours appointments
Although appointments at the core UK VCAS centres will be provided for free, you can pay additional charges for speedy appointment arrangements.
Document checking Services
You can pay additional charges if you want the UK VCAS team to double check that you have correctly uploaded the documents prior to your appointment. This seems to be more of a technical check rather than checking if you meet the requirements with those uploaded documents.
If you require language assistance, you can pay additional charges for the team to arrange you an interpreter (over the telephone) to be present during your appointment.
Besides, the UKVCAS centres have joined hands with partners for providing more added value services. Sopra Steria, the firm behind the UKVCAS has further subcontracted the added value services to their partners BLS.
Added Value Services with Partner BLS
The added value services available from partner BLS include;
Document Translation – If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you can use the document translation service offered for additional charges to get them translated by the professional translators. It is mentioned that the service will take around 3-4 days.
Premium Lounge – For additional comfort and privacy during your visit to the UKVCAS centres, you can choose to use the Premium Lounge facilities which offer upgraded service including spacious seating areas, hi-speed wi-fi and general business facilities.
VIP Service – You can also choose to use the VIP service if you want to complete the required services in the application process such as identity checks, biometric enrolment and document scanning in your convenient location. UKVCAS members (Mobile Service) will visit you to carry out all the required tasks.
On-demand pop-up – The on-demand pop-up service can be useful for businesses that require visas or other application processed of more than 10 applicants at a location suitable for the organisation.
Service and Support Centres (SSC)
In addition to the UKVCAS centres, UKVI is opening 7 dedicated SSCs mainly targeted for people that need additional help and support with their applications.
Scheduled to open in January 2019, the seven SSCs will be located in Belfast, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Solihull.
The SSCs will have experienced frontline Home Office staff providing additional support for those with complicated circumstances.
Although UKVI will be providing detailed information about the SSCs later this year, they have suggested that the SSCs would be for applicants including;
- Applying under family route
- Applying to join as a dependant
- Applying for a family reunion
- Applying on the basis of statelessness
- Applicants who qualify for a fee waiver or fee exemption
- Applying under the domestic violence route
- Applicants who are required to only enrol their biometric information
Need to Apply Using New Application System?
At Edmans & Co, we are already helping our clients with the new online application system and UKVCAS appointments.
You don’t have to be confused with all the latest changes in the application process. We can guide you through the entire process if you need help with any visa, settlement and citizenship applications using the new system.