The Move from Postal to Online In-Country Visa Applications

Dr Bernard Andonian consultant Solicitor at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, explains the move from postal to online in-country visa applications.

Whilst entry clearance applications have been made online for many years and documents in support of applications to enter the UK are now sent to the Home office and not to the British Embassy or consulate, for applications made in the UK, the process of making them online rather than on paper format only started in November 2018.

Until the changes took effect, applications were sent by post to the Home Office and fingerprints (called biometrics), were taken at the post office; or for premium applications (that is applications to be considered by the home office on the spot), the paper application and the supporting documents were produced to the Home Office on the day of the appointment and fingerprints were taken there.

Top immigration lawyers London confirm that by moving to an on-line system for all applications, the Home office hopes to bring the application process more in line with the modern method of communication generally within government departments, which also has the tendency to speed up the process and to prevent the need to send original documents by post to the Home Office such as passports, as digital scanned copies are taken and uploaded on the online application form. After all, should The Home Office require any original documents at any stage they will ask for it?

When did the new online application process take effect

From 9 November 2018 applicants making the following applications below whether on the points-based system (PBS), or not, have been able to apply online via the new UK visa and citizenship application service centre (VCAS). All these categories are now made online from within the UK.

There are a number of the new UK Home Office service centres throughout the country, and the Croydon centre is still operational.

The best immigration lawyers London state that the online application process should make it clear to applicants what they need to do, and what supporting evidence will be required and where they need to go to complete their application.

The following are the applications that can be made online:

  1. PBS based applications whether for initial or extension purposes under Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5.
  2. PBS dependent Visa applications, partner/child
  3. Permanent residence cards for EU/non-EEA dependent nationals– settlement status
  4. Pte- settlement status applications for non-EEA dependent applicants.
  5. Application for naturalisation.
  6. Applications for British citizenship as a child under 18.
  7. Form T application for British citizenship for a child who was born in the UK and has lived here continuously for at least 10 years of their life.
  8. Applications for certificates of registration.
  9. UK settlement which includes long residence applications, HM forces category, refugee or humanitarian applications, and applications for indefinite leave to remain based on family and relationship grounds on form SET (0).
  10. Applications to apply to remain on the basis of marriage/ or changing status to this category on form FLR (M)
  11. Applications for permanent residency based on marriage under the five-year route on the form (SET (M), this being based on the resident spouse is a permanent resident already prior to the application, or a British citizen, for the full period of five years.
  12. Applications to change an old-style permanent residence document into a biometric residence permit on form NTL.
  13. Other leave to remain applications within the rules, such as for family and private life under form FLR (FP), or on form FLR (HR0), to extend leave to remain in the UK for human rights claims, leave outside the rules and other reasons not covered by other forms.
  14. Home Office travel documents.
  15. Permanent residence as a refugee—SET (Protection) application form, for those who have completed five years limited leave to remain as a refugee in the UK.

The above may still not be an exhaustive list of online forms that can be used.

Method of making the application– please take advice!

Immigration solicitors London state that professional advice should first be sought as to the relevant online application form required. Upload the necessary documents digitally when completing the application form. This is important because as said earlier this means that you as the applicant will retain the original documents such as passports and birth certificates. The Home Office can always contact you to request the originals during the application process if required but it may well be that the application is processed without the need for parting with the original documents. This is a significant change to the application process that had previously been used when it was the norm to send original documents to the Home Office by post with the application form.

Indeed, before the start of the on-line process, sending copy documents would not have been acceptable to the Home Office. The previous postal process also had the tendency to result at times in the loss of important documents by the Home Office such as passports, birth certificates and original educational certificates.

You must still remain in the UK during the application process

Top immigration lawyers UK confirm that just because the original documents will not be required does not mean that you can leave the UK after you have made the application. If you do so, your application will be rejected.  You must wait until the result of the application is known before leaving the UK, otherwise, it will result in the application being treated as withdrawn.

Increase in Home Office fees and NHS surcharge

The best immigration solicitors will say that the above increase usually takes place annually to fall in line with the cost of living, the cost of Home Office administration and staff recruitment to deal with applications and other work, and also to prevent applications without merit being made for the sole purpose of endeavouring to extend time to remain in the UK whilst the application is under consideration.

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