What is UKVCAS and what does it mean if you’re making a Home Office application?
UKVCAS stands for ‘UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services’. It’s the system for processing immigration applications made from within the UK for further leave to remain, including all extension applications, and any switching between visas, as well as applications for both settlement and citizenship.
Under UKVCAS, you will attend a single appointment to have your identity confirmed, enrol any biometric information that may be required, and submit your documentation either uploading them into the UKVCAS online service, or by having them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment (see below).
Issues have plagued UKVCAS since it was launched in November 2018. Shortages of appointments; limited numbers of UKVCAS centres offering limited coverage across the UK; and no facility to rearrange appointments.
As such, applicants should prepare for some challenges when dealing with UKVCAS.
Facilities and fees are subject to frequent change and applicants are advised to double check the services on offer and the full cost implications when making their application and scheduling their UKVCAS appointment.
How do I book an UKVCAS appointment through UKVCAS?
Not all applications will be processed by UKVCAS. When you submit your immigration application, you will be told whether you need to use the services of UKVCAS and how to book an appointment.
You can book an appointment up to 28 days in advance, the same day, the next day or outside of standard office hours, such as early morning, evenings and at weekends.
You can also select to use standard, priority or super priority processing for a fee.
When booking your appointment online, you will be given a list of available slots for your nearest UKVCAS service location point by typing in your postcode. If you cannot find a suitable date or time at your chosen service point, you can click the ‘back’ button and either select a different service point or enter a different postcode to search for a service point in another location.
Alternatively, you can send UKVCAS a message using the online enquiries form or call the Premium Support Line on 0900 165 6600 for more assistance. Please note, however, that calls cost £2.50 per minute (at July 2019).
The services on offer vary depending on the type of UKVCAS centre selected. Note that all appointments must be pre-booked before you attend a service point. Demand for free appointments is extremely high and UKVCAS service point locations and opening times are subject to change. You should always check latest information when booking an appointment.
Core Service Points
These are located in areas of highest customer demand and open extended hours during the week and at weekends, offering both free of charge appointments and out of hours appointments bookable for a fee.
Chargeable appointments are weekdays before 10:00 and after 16:00, and all day at weekends, and range in price from £50 up to £100 per person, depending upon time and location.
If you need to attend an UKVCAS appointment quickly, next day and same day appointments are offered subject to availability and start from £100 per person on top of any other appointment-based fees.
Please note, it costs £19.20 to give your biometric information but you will pay this as part of your visa, settlement or citizenship application.
There are six core service points located across the UK including Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow and Manchester.
Enhanced Service Points
These offer an inclusive package of additional services, such as document checking in advance of your appointment and document digitisation. There are fifty enhanced service points located throughout the country, offering increased customer choice in where to apply.
There is a charge for using enhanced service points, which is currently £60 per person during normal office hours and £125 outside of normal office hours, i.e. before 10:00 and after 16:00.
Again, if you need to attend an appointment quickly, next day and same day appointments are offered subject to availability and start from £100 per person on top of any other appointment-based fees.
This offers a personalised customer experience in a high-quality setting with complimentary hot and cold beverages and snacks, free wifi and a selection of the day’s newspapers.
The premium lounge is based in the City of London with appointments during normal office hours costing £200 per person and £260 per person outside of normal office hours, i.e. before 10:00 and after 16:00.
UKVCAS can even set up a service point on your premises, or a location convenient to you, for organisations with more than 10 applicants. This can be useful for large groups of people applying for visas, such as a company or a university, thereby reducing the number of leave days or lost study time.
UKVCAS teams can arrange half day or full day sessions depending on the number of applicants, and can even remain in the area for several days to process higher volumes if necessary.
The on-demand pop-up service is subject to quote based on the duration of the appointment, the number of applicants and any travel time.
This is an exclusive service delivered 24/7, 365 days a year. Under the VIP service UKVCAS will come to your home, office or other nominated location, and carry out the same processes provided in their physical offices, such as identity checks, biometric enrolment and document scanning if required.
As with the pop-up service, the price for the VIP service is again subject to quote.
What happens at an UKVCAS appointment?
When you attend your UKVCAS appointment, you will need to take your appointment confirmation email, your passport or travel document, as well as any supporting documents that have not already been uploaded online.
You will be provided with a list of supporting documents you need to provide when you submit your visa, settlement or citizenship application.
If your application includes family members, you must all go to your UKVCAS appointment together. Children under 16 must go to the appointment with the person named as the responsible adult on their application.
At your appointment you will be asked to provide any required biometric information in specially equipped self-service booths. This comprises a digital photograph of your face, a scan of your fingerprints and a capture of your digital signature. This information will need to be provided as part of the process for various different types of applications.
Further, where you have not already uploaded your documentation in support, you will need to have your supporting documentation digitised and checked. Finally, you will need to confirm that you are happy to send your application to UKVI.
Please note that you will not get a decision on your application at your UKVCAS appointment. How long a decision takes will depend on what you have applied for, although in many cases this will be around 8 weeks, unless you have paid for a priority service to a get faster decision when you submitted your application.
Document scanning service
In the event that you don’t want to, or have struggled to, upload your documents online yourself, UKVCAS can scan and upload all of your supporting documents for you during your appointment. As part of the document scanning service, UKVCAS staff will scan everything in front of you and give you back all of your documents once complete.
It is available for appointments at one of the 6 core sites for a fee of £45 per applicant. This must be paid prior to the appointment. It is a flat rate, fixed at £45 regardless of how many documents are scanned for the application.
If you have booked an appointment at an enhanced service point or premium lounge, or are using a mobile pop-up or VIP visit service, the document scanning service is included as part of that appointment and the additional charge for scanning does not apply.
The document checking service is also available at a cost of £35 per person to check that you have correctly uploaded your documents in advance of your appointment,
To use this service you must upload your documents through the UKVCAS website at least two working days before your appointment date. If you have booked an appointment at an enhanced service point the document checking service is included in the price of that appointment.
What if I need the services of an interpreter?
If English is not your native language, UKVCAS can arrange for an interpreter to be available for you over the telephone if you require language assistance during your appointment. Please note, however, that interpretation services are only available at core service points and the premium lounge.
You can choose the UKVCAS interpretation service when you book your appointment. The price for this service is £60 in total.
UKVCAS centres, facilities and fees are subject to change and applicants are advised to check details on the UKCVAS website.