The process for applying for a UK Visa is different if you are applying from INSIDE or OUTSIDE the UK.
Here we take a look at the visa application process from INSIDE the UK….
Immigration Applications made from INSIDE the UK
From November 2018, all partner visa applications that are made inside the UK will be handled by the UK Visa Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS).
This new process has been introduced by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to replace the old system with a more modern service where applicants can complete as much of their visa application online as possible.
UKVCAS is delivered in partnership with Sopra Steria, a private company.
UKVCAS does not provide any services for EEA nationals but it does include applications for Settlement and Citizenship, all extension applications and any switching between visas.
How does it work?
- You must now complete and submit application forms online
- You can pay for the application fee and the biometric enrolment fee online
- You are then redirected to the Sopra Steria website where you will book an appointment to provide your biometrics at a UKVCAS centre.
- You can upload documents online or scan the documents at the appointment
The UKVCAS process was introduced so that applicants could complete as much of their application online as possible.
First, applicants must complete the online form here. You should only use the paper forms if you will be requesting a fee waiver for any children applying with you or for yourself.
The online form takes your personal details and background and asks questions about documents you will be providing to support your application.
When the online form is completed you must pay the relevant Home Office fees.
As well as this application fee, you must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £400 per applicant per year (if applicable) and a biometrics fee of £19.20 per applicant.
The 24-hour service has an additional fee of £610 which must also be paid at the same time.
Once you have completed the online form and made payment an access code will be emailed to you.
You will use this to book an appointment using the online portal on the UKVCAS website.
There are 6 core centres where an appointment can be booked. These are in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow and Belfast. For an additional fee of £100, you may be able to book an out of hours appointment.
There are also “Enhanced Service Points” within local libraries across the country.
To book an appointment at any of these “Enhanced Service Points” you will have to pay an extra fee. Appointments cost;
- £60 between 10am and 4pm,
- £100 at week days outside these times, or
- £125 at weekends.
A “Premium Lounge”, described as a more luxurious comfortable version of the other centres, is available for a fee of £200 (£260 if not between 10am – 4pm).
You will have until 10pm on the day of the appointment to upload all supporting documents. Alternatively, you can take all documents and evidence to the appointment with you and scan it there.
You will provide your biometrics (photos, fingerprints and signatures) at the UKVCAS appointment along with your passport and documents.
You will still need to take hard copies of all documents with you even if you have already uploaded them just in case they need to be checked. If documents have not been uploaded then you can scan them at the appointment.
There will be an extra cost to scan documents at any Core Centre. Enhanced Service Points will not charge to scan documents as this is already included in the extra fee you have to pay which we mentioned earlier.
Scanning and uploading documents on the day of the appointment will likely result in longer waiting times at the appointment.
At the appointment, you will use the self-service biometric kiosks.
If you need help, UKVCAS staff are on hand to provide assistance.
At the end of the appointment, your passport and all original documents will be returned to you.
Once you have submitted the online application and attended your appointment you will have to wait before you receive a decision on your visa application.
How long you will have to wait will depend on which service you decided to go for.
There are three types of services that you can pay for:
- Standard Service: you can expect to get a decision on your visa application within 8 weeks based on the visa type you have applied for.
- Priority Service: you can expect to get a decision on your visa application within 5 working days.
- Super Priority Service: you can expect to get a decision on your visa application the next working day.
There is also a “VIP” option available. The “VIP” service is where the applicant can choose the location for the appointment service provided by UKVCAS.
This could be in the applicants home, for example. This service costs £9100 but the applicant can share this appointment with up to 10 other applicants.
It is recommended not to travel whilst you are awaiting the outcome of your visa application. Even though you are now able to keep your passport after applying, if you travel whilst your visa application is being decided then the Home Office may consider your visa application to be withdrawn.
What do I need to bring with me to the appointment?
Bring your Passport, your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card and all original documents with you. You no longer need to provide passport sized photos.
What biometrics are required at the appointment?
You will have your photo taken and provide your fingerprints at the appointment.
How soon could I get a UKVCAS appointment?
Usually, it can take around a week between booking the appointment and the actual appointment date. Availability for UKVCAS appointments is generally quite good.
Can I rearrange the appointment?
Although the UKVI plan to add this, you cannot currently rearrange your appointment. If you cannot attend an appointment you will have to cancel it, get a refund and then book a second appointment and pay the appointment fee again.
What if I don’t receive a decision on my Super Priority application in 24 hours?
In most cases, Super Priority decision times are meeting the 24 hour standard. But, you should request a refund of the £610 you would have paid if the decision is not provided in the 24 hour time frame. The refund is sometimes made automatically but we always advise to check this and request it yourself if it has not already been done.
Can I withdraw the application?
Yes you can, however, if you want to withdraw your application after the appointment then you will not be refunded the Home Office fee. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will be refunded.