Visa applicants will go on new
streamlined 'customer journey'

From this Friday, UK Visas and Immigration will introduce their new ‘customer journey’. The process, eligible for those seeking to remain in the country via Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 routes*, promises to be ‘streamlined, digitised and accessible’.

According to the UKVI information, customers will be ‘intuitively led’ through their application, with clear instructions on what they need to do; what supporting documents they need to provide; and where they will need to go to complete their application in person.

The journey begins once a customer visits the gov.uk site, chooses their level of service and makes payment. They will be asked to ‘self-upload’ their supporting evidence.

Unlike the previous system, important documents like passports will not need to be posted separately and the client can keep hold of them while they await their immigration decision.

Then, the customer moves to the Sopra Steria website to book a physical appointment. (You may recall that Sopra Steria is the French digital company who won this lucrative outsourced service contract in May.)

There will be a choice of 57 ‘core’ centres and service points throughout the UK, and the customer will be able to choose an appointment at the location that is most convenient for them. Once they attend that appointment, biometrics will be collected, and their identity is checked.

The service will have a staggered launch as follows:

  • From 2nd November    The new appointment booking tool goes live.
  • From 5 November         The new UK visa and citizenship  application service centres (UKVCAS) will open around the country.
  • By 29 November            Every UKVCAS will be open and the old-style Premium Service
    Centres will close. Between 5 and 29 November customers may choose whether to access the existing service and or apply via the new route.
  • January 2019                Specialist Service and Support Centres will open for customers who need more help with their applications.

Added-value services 

There will be a range of chargeable extras, including ‘on-demand’ mobile services, for instance within university campuses, employers’ offices or individuals’ homes. These will be set up with the capacity to process hundreds of applications at a time.

Other beneficial add-on services include extended opening hours, the option to have a guaranteed next-day appointment, the use of a Premium Lounge while waiting to be seen, and a translation service.

Further details will be available soon. We eagerly await to see whether the new journey will end successfully.

*Please note the new scheme is not available for people who are are joining a family member as a dependant (outside of those on the points-based systems listed above), or those applying for British citizenship, In these cases, customers must continue to use the existing service until January 2019.

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