The global contracts for our Visa Application Centres overseas had been awarded to Teleperformance Ltd and VFS Global.
Since September 2013, we have been working with our new Commercial Partners across the globe to plan for and to implement the range of changes that will result from the introduction of these contracts. There will be a transition period during the two months leading up to 1 April 2014 to ensure that the Visa Application Centres are ready in time for the new contracts to take effect.
The procurement of new contracts enables us to increase the number of application points globally and offer improved customer services. These contracts will offer the necessary flexibility to support current and future services and provide a world class customer experience, including through increasing our priority and premium services offerings and moving a number of our Visa Application Centres to more accessible locations.
To increase the number of application points that we currently offer worldwide, and to enhance customer services, we have chosen to change our operating model. We will be reducing our opening hours in some locations where the volumes do not justify a full-time service, and will require customers at lower volume Visa Application Centres to contribute towards the cost of providing this service.
From 26 March 2014, Teleperformance will assume responsibility for visa application receipt in Macedonia. A user pay fee has been set at £59.00 (payable in Euros according to the prevailing Consular Rate of Exchange), and agreed by the UK Parliament.
The Teleperformance clinic will be located at Soravia Centre, Stiv Naumov, Skopje, Macedonia, and will be open to the public between 9am and 1pm every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Applications will only be accepted where a prior appointment has been made.
We will be providing our customers with information on the changes to our visa operations through updates on our website over the coming weeks.
- Q. Why are you changing Commercial Partners at this stage?
A. The current contracts with our Commercial Partners end on 31 March 2014 and we have run an open and fair competition for the next set of contracts, in line with EU procurement law. We constantly strive to provide a world class visa service. Changes to the contracts with our Commercial Partners will help us to achieve that.
- Q. When will the changes take place?
A. The new Visa Application Centre will be open for business on 26 March 2014.
- Q. Will applications take longer to process as these changes take place?
A. We will ensure that there is no impact on service during transition.
- Q. Will applications take longer to process under the new model?
A. We are making no changes to our customer service standards as a result of this process.
- Q. What will the changes be?
A. The new contracts will allow customers to apply for UK visas in more locations worldwide and to have access to better services, such as priority visas, premium lounges and return courier options.
In order to achieve this, without increasing the visa application fee, we made some changes to opening hours and in some low volume locations we are introducing an additional charge to cover the operational costs.
- Q. Why are you making these changes?
A. The procurement of new contracts has enabled us to increase the number of application points globally, offer improved customer services, including increased access to premium and priority services, and to deliver efficiencies in the visa application process. The new contracts will provide the platform to deliver a world class customer experience, including through increasing our priority and premium services offerings globally.
- Q. Will a change in Commercial Partner mean a change in location?
A. Yes, in Skopje the new location of the Visa Application Centre will be in the Centre Soravia, at Stiv Naumov Str in Skopje.
- Q. What are User Pay Visa Application Centres?
A. This is a Visa Application Centre where the operating costs are met through an additional charge paid by the customer. This allows UK Visas and Immigration to offer a visa service at a location where the costs of continuing to offer a service free of charge would otherwise be prohibitive.
- Q. Why are customers now required to pay to apply at a Visa Application Centre which used to be free?
A. Having and expanding our network of User Pay Visa Application Centres allows us to maintain a visa service in low volume locations where the costs of continuing to offer a service free of charge would be prohibitive.
The UK continues to retain free to use Visa Application Centres in locations across the globe. These can be used by customers who do not wish to pay the additional charge and are willing and able to travel legally to another Visa Application Centre.
- Q. How much do I need to pay for applying for a UK Visa in Macedonia?
A. An applicant applying as normal would pay the visa fee, plus £59 for using the TEL. Once the application had been processed, it will be returned direct to their home address by DHL. The cost of the DHL service is included.
- Q. Can Macedonian citizens use the VAC in Kosovo and Belgrade?
A. If Macedonian citizens can travel legally and are able to leave their travel document for processing in the VAC of another country, they are able to do that on their cost. It is up to the individuals to check the immigration rules of different counties on the documentation needed to enter and exit a different country.
- Q. Can I pay the visa fee and the User Pay charges at the Visa Application Centre?
A. No. All applications for a UK visa in Macedonia must be completed using our online application system and paid for online in Euros before going to the visa application centre to submit biometric data.
With the introduction of the Teleperformance application centre, you will be need to purchase a User Pay appointment or additional priority/premium services online at the point of booking an appointment.
- Q. Who will decide if I get a visa?
A. All visa applications will continue to be assessed by UK Visas and Immigration staff, as is currently the case.