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Exemplar number 21 Visas

If you need a visa to visit the UK you’ll be able to apply using a simple online service


Recently passed the live Digital by Default Service Assessment and migrating to the live service.

You can also watch a demo introducing the service, filmed July 2013.


  • Passing live Digital by Default Service Assessment
  • Service manager is supported by a great product team
  • Service team are very good exponents of agile delivery
  • China Visit Visa beta delivered on time and budget
  • Extensive user research with a range of groups, including overseas users, English second-language users, agencies and UK legal representatives
  • Provided foreign language guidance in simplified Chinese and established a multi-lingual framework for managing translated content
  • Excellent feedback from users with an average satisfaction of 80%
  • Over 60,000 Visit Visa applications from China have been completed so far
  • The case working process is benefitting from the new, clearer service as the quality of submitted data is improving
  • We’re frequently improving the service based on user feedback


  • Existing teams and suppliers have to step up to new ways of working
  • Building Civil Service capability in digital skills
  • Generating digital content that balances the different needs of law, policy, security, an english second-language audience, and GOV.UK content guidelines
  • Creating translated content that retains the same meaning and balance across these disparate needs
  • Improving the governance of the service to embrace agile principles


  • Continue to iteratively improve the Standard Visit Visa for China based on user feedback and research
  • As a priority, develop service for travel agent groups from China
  • Develop the current model for service management to meet the standard required for a GOV.UK live service
  • Reuse the exemplar technology for other types of Visa
  • Refine the agile team and recruit more Civil Service capability to support its work, filling several team vacancies
  • Help to establish a new service governance model based on agile principles
  • Prepare for live Digital by Default Service Standard assessment
Screenshot of Existing service
Existing service
Screenshot of Existing service
Existing service
Screenshot of Beta of visa application
Beta of visa application
Screenshot of Beta of visa application
Beta of visa application
Screenshot of Multilingual guidance for China, June 2014
Multilingual guidance for China, June 2014

Digital strategy statement

…a single intelligent interface which adapts the questions it asks the user based on business rules: avoiding unnecessary questions and providing a dynamic, streamlined process that users (many of whom are not native English speakers) find simple and accessible.

Scope of exemplar

Better visa process is a political priority to drive UK growth by promoting visits from tourists, students and business people. Currently 3.57m visas are issued at a cost of £649m/year, £182 per transaction.

Digital inclusion

GDS has mapped the exemplars against the digital inclusion scale to help show where these services may be difficult for some people to use. See the rating for Visas.