People applying for work or study visas, settlement or citizenship from within the UK will be able to make appointments to use new, modernised, and efficient service centres starting from Friday (2) onwards.
The first centre will open in Manchester on November 9 and will be followed by new centres in Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, and Croydon. In addition, there will be 50 enhanced service centres nationally, which will be available to customers for a charge, and a premium lounge located in London, a UK government release said on Friday.
The modernised service will mean that most people applying in the UK will be able to submit their biometric information including photos, fingerprints, and signatures as well as their supporting evidence at a single appointment.
The current system requires an individual to make an application, send their documents to UKVI, who retain them until the application is completed, and enrol their biometrics separately.
To help improve peace of mind for customers using the centres, it will now be possible, in the majority of cases, to take digital copies of evidence meaning that people won’t have to hand over important documents, such as passports, while their applications are processed.
The immigration minister Caroline Nokes said, “we are committed to delivering a modern, convenient and easy to use service for UKVI customers”.
“These new service centres located across the country are a key part of our vision for a system that supports its customers and provides peace of mind whilst they are making an application”, the minister added.
The majority of people will now complete their applications online via an intuitive and easy to use system before attending one of the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services centres (UKVCAS), which will be delivered by commercial partner Sopra Steria.
Customers will be led through an online application process making it clear what they need to do, what supporting evidence they will need and where they need to go to complete their application.
Free appointments will be available for everyone, however, customers will also have the option to purchase added value services such as same day appointments and On Demand services.
In addition, there will also be seven dedicated Service and Support Centres (SSC), which will transform the experience for people who need more support with their applications.
Experienced front line Home Office staff will help those who need extra support to better understand their circumstances and if necessary, take the appropriate safeguarding action.
These SSCs will be in Belfast, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Solihull, and will open in January 2019.