Procedures for submitting Tier 2 visa applications in the UK have become far more complex and time-consuming since the appointment of the Home Office’s commercial partner Sopra Steria to run the UKVCAS service points around the UK.
Applicants submitting their applications inside the UK no longer have the option to send in their passports and BRP cards by post. Instead all UK based applicants must upload electronic copies of their supporting documents.
Although this means that applicants are able to retain their passports whilst their application is being processed, it does not mean that they are free to travel. They must remain in the UK until they have received a decision on their application and their new BRP cards.
If the applicant were to leave the country after their application has been submitted and they have enrolled their biometrics but before a decision has been made, their application would be deemed to be withdrawn.
Unfortunately, the changes introduced also mean that applicants are no longer able to enrol their biometrics at a local Post Office. The biometric enrolment fee of £19.20 is now included in the cost of the Tier 2 visa at the point when it is submitted and all applicants must attend an appointment at one of the UKVCAS service points run by the Home Office’s commercial partner, Sopra Steria.
These appointments have to be booked in advance and at many of the service points, there are additional fees ranging from £60-£260 per applicant depending on the time and location of the appointment.
Free appointments are only available at the six core service points in:
However, these free appointments have to take place between core hours of 10am and 4pm from Monday to Friday and usually have to be booked at least two weeks in advance.
If the applicants want to attend an appointment at one of these sites with less than two weeks’ notice or outside of core hours, there will be an additional charge of £100 per applicant.
There are another 50 enhanced service points dotted around the country, which offer appointments during the week between the core hours of 10am and 4pm at a cost of £60 per applicant. If the applicants require an appointment at one of these enhanced service points at short notice or outside of core hours, the additional charge is £125 per applicant.
Appointments can also be booked in the Premium Lounge at 20 Mark Lane, London EC3R 7AF and are usually available up to 28 days in advance. However, there is a fee of £200 per applicant for appointments at the Premium Lounge during core hours of Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm.
For urgent appointments at the Premium Lounge or for appointments outside of core hours, the additional fee rises to £260 per applicant.
The processing time for a decision on an application only starts from the date of the appointment to enrol biometrics:
- With the standard service costing £723.20 per applicant, most people will get a decision on their application within 8 weeks of attending their biometrics appointment.
- With the priority service costing £1223.20 per applicant, most people will get a decision on their application within 5 working days of attending their biometrics appointment.
- With the super priority service costing £1523.20 per person, most people get a decision on their application on the next working day after attending their biometrics appointment.
Please note that applicants are required to choose which service they want for their application at the point of submission, but they must do so before they have booked their biometrics appointment and once an application has been submitted it cannot be amended. So even if the applicant chooses to submit their application using the super priority service, there is no guarantee that they will be able to get a biometrics appointment straight away.