New UK Visa & Citizenship Application Process


New application process to apply for a visa in the UK

From 5 November 2018, the process of applying for UK visas in-country is set to change.

At present, UK in-country visa applications can be submitted in a number of ways:

  • Applicants send their documents by post and provide their biometric information at an appointment.
  • Applicants can attend a Home Office Premium Service Centre with their application and submit biometric data at the same time.
  • For some visas, applicants can use the Super Premium Service to get a same-day decision.

From 5th November 2018, the new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) is being phased in, which will see the introduction of primarily digital visa application processing.

A better way?

The new process ‘digitises’ the visa application process, with the aim of making it quicker, easier and more secure for applicants.

Applicants first go online to the website to submit their application form and supporting documents and to book an appointment at either:

  • one of six centres located in major cities (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow)
  • one of 50 additional user-pay centres located in local libraries, or
  • a Premium Service Point in central London.

Applicants will also be able to purchase additional, optional and chargeable services, where available, which include mobile application services.

During the appointment, the applicant’s identity will be checked and their biometric information collected.

Documentary evidence will be copied and stored in digital format. Importantly, this means the applicant retains possession of their documents, removing the risk of original documents (such as passports and birth certificates) being ‘misplaced’.

What is not set to change is the requirement for the applicant to stay in the UK while their application is being processed. Leaving the country while an application is being processed will signal that the application has been withdrawn.

Which UK visa routes are eligible to use the new service?

From 5th November 2018, the following routes can be processed online and at a chosen service centre:

  • Points-based visas (Tiers 1, 2, 4 & 5)
  • PBS dependant visas (partner and child)
  • Member of HM forces and their dependants
  • Turkish business person or worker, or their dependants (partner and child)
  • UK settlement (certain categories only include long residence, child, HM forces category, refugee or humanitarian)
  • Registration certificates
  • Permanent residence cards
  • British citizenship by naturalisation
  • British citizenship as a child under 18
  • Register as a British citizen
  • Biometric residence permits (update, replace or transfer)]
  • Other leave to remain
  • Home Office travel document

Applications for all other routes are expected to come under the new system from January 2019, and in the interim should continue to be made using the existing processes.

New service centre locations

While the new centres are rolled out, applicants are able to choose whether to use the existing application processes or whether to use the new centres where available.

W/c 5 November:

  • Core centre – Manchester
  • Premium Lounge – London
  • Enhanced service points – Newcastle, Liverpool, Warrington, Stockport, Wakefield, Lancaster, Burnley, Hull, Burnholme.

W/c 12 November:

  • Core centre – Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff
  • Enhanced service points – Nottingham, Coventry, Newport, Aberdeen, Wolverhampton, Ipswich, Cambridge, Warwick, Peterborough

W/c 19 November:

  • Core centre – Belfast, Croydon
  • Enhanced service points – London (Stratford, Shoe Lane, Barbican, Victoria, Wimbledon, Kensington, Shepherds Bush), Gloucester, East Ham, Salisbury, Dorchester, Llandudno, Taunton, Swindon, Patchway, Bradley Stoke, Truro.

W/c 26 November:

  • Enhanced service points – Reading, Norwich, Bedford, Swinton, Watford, Brighton, London (Canning Town), Stevenage, Hemel Hempstead, Eastbourne, Preston, Grays, Preston, Brighton, Portsmouth

From January 2019:

  • Free appointments are being made available to vulnerable applicants in seven dedicated support centres.

Do you need advice with a UK visa application?

DavidsonMorris are specialists in UK immigration, working closely with individuals to provide guidance and support through Home Office applications. Contact us for advice on your UK visa application.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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