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Over the next few months, the majority of paper application forms will be withdrawn and most UK-based customers applying for leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently will need to apply online.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

From 9 November 2018, new UKVCAS centres will begin to open with all being open by 30 November 2018. 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.


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

In January 2019, UKVI will start opening dedicated Service and Support Centres (SSCs). You must apply using the existing service until then if you’re applying for these routes.

These service centres will be for:

  • some customers applying under family route
  • customers applying to join as a dependant
  • customers applying for family reunion
  • customers applying on the basis of statelessness
  • customers who qualify for a fee waiver or fee exemption
  • customers applying under the domestic violence route
  • some customers who are required to only enrol their biometric information

Further information on SSCs will be made available later this year.

Existing service

If you apply on or before 29 November 2018, 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

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.

If you choose to use the UKVCAS service, you will be able to apply to use the priority service online. You’ll find out how to do this when you’ve completed your application.

If choose to use the existing Post Office service, you will have to request to use the service and get a reference number before making your application online. Read the guidance for the Tier 2 priority service or Tier 4 priority service to find out how to use these services.

Appointments at Premium Service Centres

From 29 November 2018, when the current PSCs close, until 8 January 2019 there will be limited appointments available in the PSCs for those not able to use UKVCAS applying online for leave based on family life or private life who choose UKVI’s 24-hour decision service. During your application you will be advised about which services you are able to use.

The customers who can use this service will be those applying for leave based on family life, including spouses and partners of settled persons, or those applying for leave on the basis of private life where one of the following conditions applies:

  • they have no extant leave
  • they are applying for the first time or are switching from an unrelated route

We will publish more information on this soon.

Published 2 November 2018
Last updated 13 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated to include information on waiting for a decision on your application.
  2. First published.