As many people will be aware, on Monday 5 November 2018, the Home Office’s new UK visa processing system went live at Premium Application Centres across the UK. Previously, anyone who wished to submit their application in London would have had to travel to Lunar House, Croydon. However, with the implementation of the new system there are now a number of centres across London for clients to choose from. According to UK Visas and Immigration, by Thursday 29 November 2018 all ‘old’ Premium Service Centres will be closed.
In respect of the new system, the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes has stated that: “We are committed to delivering a modern, convenient and easy to use services for UKVI customers”. If the theory behind this new system is put into practice, then we should see a more streamlined and efficient system.
As of Monday 19 November 2018 the following centres went live in London:
• Croydon (with the new system)
• Shepherd’s Bush
With the opening of so many new centres, it is hoped that the visa processing system has finally received a long-awaited modernisation and that the new process will run smoothly and efficiently. Sopra Steria were named as the third party company who will be in control of the immigration process, and stated that “Sopra Steria have the capacity to bring this service to you in a location of your choice. The on-demand service offers a tailored experience for customers…to process up to 440 full or 1,800 biometric enrolment appointments per day”.
A major difference between the new Sopra Steria process and the previous out-dated UKVI process is that applicants are now able to upload supporting documents online before the appointment. Although this should in theory make the process more efficient, this opens up a whole new set of potential issues. For example if not all documents are scanned onto the system correctly then Sopra Steria will not take responsibility for this. In practical terms this means that all documents should be brought to the appointment regardless as a precautionary measure. However, if you wish for Sopra Steria to scan on your documents at the time of the appointment then they will do so, but for an additional fee.
As with most things, the new system comes with a new price. If you wish to complete your appointment at one of Sopra Steria’s ‘Premium Lounges’ you will have to pay an additional £200 and if you wish to attend your appointment before 9.30am there will be another additional fee of £60.
Reviews of the new services so far have been underwhelming. It appears that on the opening day Sopra Steria was not prepared for the number of appointments and there were many system crashes. This has led many to question the efficiency of this new and improved system. Despite Sopra Steria publicising their updated and streamlined service, the feedback so far shows they have a long way to go before the system is able to deal with the number of immigration applications that the UKVI deal with on a daily basis.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.