Guidance

UKVI’s new front end services: what you need to know

From 2 November 2018, the way you make an application for settlement, citizenship or to stay in the UK for study or work will change for some applicants.

If you made an application on or after 2 November 2018, you may be given a choice between using a new service for enrolling your biometrics and submitting evidence or using the existing service offered through the Post Office or at a Premium Service Centre (PSC) (subject to availability).

What is changing?

Customers seeking leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently on the following routes will have a choice between using the existing service or the new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS):

  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • 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)
  • Apply for a Home Office travel document

Over the next few months, the majority of paper application forms will be withdrawn and most UK-based customers applying for leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently will need to apply online. Check the GOV.UK guidance to see how to make an application.

On the new service, customers will be intuitively led through an online application process making it clear what they need to do, what supporting evidence they will need and where they will need to go to complete their application.

Customers can use the Assisted Digital service to get help using the online form if they do not feel confident using a computer or do not have access to one.

New UKVCAS centres have started opening across the UK, with all locations opening by early January 2019. These centres will be managed by our commercial partner, Sopra Steria. You can check when service centres will be opening near you.

There will be 57 UKVCAS centres across the UK:

  • 6 core service centres offering free appointments
  • 50 enhanced service centres offering charged appointments
  • 1 premium lounge

Optional added-value services will also be available.

You can use the Assisted Digital Service to get help using the online form if you do not feel confident using a computer or do not have access to one.

Your application form and appointment letter will tell you how to give your biometrics and how to provide your supporting evidence.

New service: UKVCAS centres

Under the new service, you’ll make your application and pay your application fee online, this will also include your biometric enrolment fee (if applicable). You will also have to pay the immigration health surcharge (if applicable) online before you make your application and include your reference number on your online application.

You’ll then be directed to Sopra Steria’s website to book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre. At this stage, you can choose whether to purchase added-value services. These services will only be available to applicants using the UKVCAS service.

Appointments for UKVCAS centres

You will be able to choose an appointment within 5 working days of making your application. You are encouraged to go to an appointment as soon as possible and will receive a reminder after 15 working days if you have not attended an appointment.

If your application includes family members, you will all need to attend an appointment at a UKVCAS centre at the same time.

Children under 16 must be accompanied to their appointment by the responsible adult named on the application. If you choose to use the new service, you will not need to post your supporting evidence to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You will either self-upload your evidence or take it with you to your appointment.

If you choose to self-upload your evidence, it may reduce the length of your appointment. You’ll be told what you need to submit when you make your application.

In most cases, you will have your supporting evidence (including your passport) returned to you immediately once the appointment is finished. You may not be able to use your passport for travel until you have received a decision on your application.

You will be told what you need to bring to your appointment when you submit your application, this will include:

  • appointment confirmation
  • passport or travel document
  • supporting evidence (unless you choose to self-upload)

At your appointment you will:

  • show your appointment confirmation (you will get this as an email containing a QR code) and ID documents to confirm your appointment
  • enrol your biometric information (fingerprints, photograph) and digital signature
  • submit your supporting evidence (unless you choose to self-upload this)
  • show your passport or travel document and have your identity checked
  • speak to a member of staff who will check that your biometric information has been successfully enrolled and your passport and supporting evidence has scanned correctly

Service and Support Centres

From January 2019, UKVI will begin to open dedicated Service and Support Centres (SSCs) for some visa and citizenship customers applying under certain routes.

What is changing?

The current process of applying for visas and citizenship is changing. The majority of customers will apply using the new UK Visas and Citizenship Application Centres, run by our partner Sopra Steria. However, some customers will be directed to use the new dedicated Service and Support Centres.

During your application you will be advised about which services you can use.

You will be directed to the use new dedicated SCCs if you are:

  • applying for a fee waiver or fee exemption
  • applying under the domestic violence route
  • applying based on your statelessness
  • making further submissions following a refused asylum/ protection
  • not making an application but you need to give your biometrics

You may be directed to use a SCC if you are applying:

  • based on your family life or private life in the UK
  • on the basis of long residence
  • based on human rights or for a reason not covered by the immigration rules
  • to extend your stay or settle in the UK and you have been refused asylum and granted discretionary leave

Until the new centres are all open, customers applying in any of the above routes can also continue to use the current process.

Locations

SCCs will be opening in:

  • Belfast
  • Cardiff
  • Croydon
  • Glasgow
  • Liverpool
  • Sheffield
  • Solihull

Making an application

Over the next few months, the majority of paper application forms will be withdrawn and most UK-based customers applying for leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently will need to apply online. Check the GOV.UK guidance to see how to make an application.

On the new service, customers will be intuitively led through an online application process making it clear what they need to do, what supporting evidence they will need and where they will need to go to complete their application.

Customers can use the Assisted Digital service to get help using the online form if they do not feel confident using a computer or do not have access to one.

Appointments for Service and Support Centres

When customers make their application, they may be directed to book an appointment at a Service and Support Centre, where trained UKVI staff will discuss their application with them.

Appointments will be free.

When customers, at a Service and Support Centre, arrive at their appointment they will sit with a trained member of UKVI staff who will:

  • enrol their biometric information
  • check supporting documents and upload them digitally
  • discuss the customer’s circumstances to make sure the application includes all relevant information

We will seek to return documents to customers at the end of the appointment, with some exceptions such as travel documents.

Existing service

During the transition period you can choose to use the existing service and enrol your biometric information at the Post Office or a Premium Service Centre if you’re applying for one of these routes. You’ll be told how to do this as part of your application and in your biometrics enrolment letter.

If you are applying through one of the below routes, you will not be able to use the new service and will continue to use the existing service:

  • to join family members in the UK as a dependent, other than a PBS dependent, armed forces dependent or ECAA dependent
  • for family reunion with a refugee or person with humanitarian protection
  • on the basis of statelessness
  • on the basis as a victim of domestic violence under the specific route
  • making further submissions after a failed protection claim
  • to only enrol your biometric information
  • for a fee waiver or fee exemption
  • apply for a certificate of right of abode
  • apply for a registration certificate as an EEA or Swiss national
  • apply for a document certifying permanent residence as an EEA or Swiss national

Customers applying under the family or private life route, depending on their individual circumstances, may be able to use the new service. During your application you will be advised about which services you are able to use.

Waiting for a decision on your application

If you are applying for leave to remain, or indefinite leave to remain, you should not leave the UK until you have received a decision on your application. If you travel outside the “Common Travel Area” (CTA) before the decision is made on your application, your application will be treated as withdrawn.

The CTA is:

  • UK
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Channel Islands
  • Isle of Man

If the decision is made while you are outside the UK and your current leave has expired you will not have a right to return to the UK and you may be refused entry at the UK border.

Service standards

For both the new and existing services, you’ll be told on your application form how long it should take to get a decision. You’ll also be told if you can get a faster decision on your application.

You’ll be contacted by UKVI if your application is going to take longer.

Online applications for leave based on family life or private life including spouse partner applications

UKVI’s PSCs closed on 29 November 2018. If you are applying online for leave based on family life, including spouses and partners of settled persons, or private life, you will have the choice to use one of the following services from 29 November 2018 until January 2019:

  • UKVCAS service - you will be offered an appointment within 5 days and can choose to have a standard or super priority decision
  • the existing service to enrol your biometric information at the Post Office
  • UKVI’s 24 hour decision service

In the meantime, there are only a limited number of appointments available at PSCs. These appointments are intended for customers unable to access UKVCAS services during the transition period who may still require a 24 hour decision service. You will be advised about appointment times and PSC locations available to you as part of the application process.

You will be able to return and view the other services available to you before making your final confirmation.

Published 2 November 2018
Last updated 15 January 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated Service and Support Centres (SSCs) information.
  2. Added information about online applications for leave based on family life or private life including spouse partner applications.
  3. Updated to include information on waiting for a decision on your application.
  4. First published.