UKVI new online application service

What is the UKVI Online Application Service?The new UKVI Online Application Service is improving the process for customers in the UK and abroad who are applying to enter or remain in the UK. The new service is accessed via GOV.UK and offers a more intuitive online application form, and payment process.The new Service is being delivered in parallel to both in-country and out-of-country customers.

In-country:

  • In February 2014, the Service was launched as an alternative to the paper form for Tier 2 Priority Service customers applying for an extension of their Leave to Remain (for main applicants). It was extended to dependant joiners applying separately in May.
  • Since October Priority Service customers have been able to use the new Service to switch to Tier 2 or to switch Tier 2 employers.

Out-of-country:

  • Since June 2014, customers in China have been able to use the Service as an alternative to the Visa4UK website to apply for a general, business or child Visit visa.

To date, over 24,000 applications have been submitted through the new UKVI Online Application Service and customer feedback has been extremely positive.

Who will be next to use the new Online Application Service?From Autumn 2014, the new Service will be extended to Tier 2 customers (main applicants and family groups) applying via the Standard 8-week Route. Customers and their legal representatives will be able to apply for, or switch to, Tier 2 Leave to Remain online via the GOV.UK website rather than using a paper form.The new Service will be available to the following Tier 2 customers:

  • Single applicants, dependant joiners and family groups
  • Priority Service customers (most applicants receive a decision within 10 working days)
  • Standard route customers (most applicants receive a decision within 8 weeks)
  • Customers in the Premium Sponsor scheme.

The Service will be released in phases:

  • Monday 6th October: Priority Service customers already able to use the new Service (i.e. in country main applicants and dependant joiners applying separately) can now use the new service to switch to Tier 2 or to switch Tier 2 employers
  • October:
  • December: Tier 2 customers applying as a family group will be able to use the Service
    • Customers in the Premium Sponsor scheme will be able to use the Service
    • Tier 2 Standard (8-week) Route customers will also be able to use the Service

 

It should be noted that the new UKVI Online Application Service will be offered in parallel with existing application routes (e.g. the paper application form).  Customers will be encouraged to use the new Online Service where possible.

Future improvements

The UKVI Online Application Service will continue to be rolled-out to all customers in- and out-of-country.

In the near future (timescales to be confirmed), the new Service will become available to Tier 5 dependant joiners applying separately. It will also become available to Premium Service customers. With Premium Service, most applicants receive a decision on the same day.

What does it mean for Customers, Legal Representatives and Sponsors?Customers and their legal representatives are encouraged to use the new Service as it will deliver a number of benefits.The in country Tier 2 application process will be simpler and more user-friendly, including:

  • Applying online instead of using a paper form
  • Fewer, more intuitive questions logically ordered based on customer feedback
  • Payment integrated into the online application process
  • A single online application form for family groups
  • The ability to save and return to complete the application at a later date
  • Date of application is the date submitted online.

The new Service is expected to improve service levels thanks to:

  • System validation, meaning customer errors and omissions are less likely
  • Electronic (instant) delivery of the application form to UKVI instead of postal delivery
  • Shorter, more logically ordered application form.

 

Applications can always be done on a same day basis. Contact us to find out how: 0203695 4626

Transit Visa Reform

Transit visas are being reformed, closing a loophole that allowed abuse. Other technical changes are also being implemented across the rules to tackle abuse while enhancing the United Kingdom’s status as an excellent place to do business. In particular, the Tier 1 (investor) route is being reformed following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee. The minimum investment threshold will be raised from £1m to £2m.  The Government will also consult further on what sort of investment the route should encourage in order to deliver real economic benefits, and other improvements to the route.  A consultation document will be published in due course.

For full details of the changes please see the Statement of Changes and Explanatory Memorandum at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-hc693-16-october-2014

Britain’s immigration system in chaos

Evidence of waste and poor management within Britain’s immigration system has been laid bare by a parliamentary report which reveals that failed IT systems are to cost up to £1bn while officials cannot find 50,000 rejected asylum seekers.

The Commons public accounts committee (PAC) also discloses that 11,000 asylum seekers in the UK have been waiting for at least seven years to hear whether they can stay and that officials have still not resolved 29,000 asylum applications dating back to at least 2007.

The highly critical MPs’ report, published a few hours after the Home Office defended its decision to end British support for search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean, will increase pressure on David Cameron and his party over the handling of migration.

The Tories are being accused by Ukip of failing to curb immigration and face the possibility of losing the Rochester and Strood byelection in Kent next month to the insurgent Eurosceptic party as the issue dominates political debate.

The centre-right mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, added to Cameron’s woes when she told the home affairs select committee that the British government had done nothing to tell potential migrants that there was no “El Dorado” for them in the UK.

She said that there were 2,500 migrants in the French port who were “willing to die” to come to Britain.

Commenting on the report, Margaret Hodge, the chair of the committee, said MPs have found that the Home Office is struggling to contain major problems across the entire immigration system.

“The Home Office must put in place skilled, incentivised staff and sort out its data so it can crack the backlog and move people through the system,” she said.

“The pressure is on, and the Home Office must take urgent steps to sort out this immigration mess.”

The Home Office scrapped the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in March 2013 in part because its performance in dealing with backlog cases was not good enough. Operations were passed on to three directorates – UK Visas and Immigration, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force – which were due to spend £1.8bn a year, the PAC report says.

The failure of two major IT projects, the Immigration Case Work programme and the e-Borders IT programme, has hampered the Home Office’s ability to track people through the immigration system. Costs could grow to £1bn, the committee warns.

MPs also examined the government’s 2012 decision to set up an Older Live Cases Unit to deal with 400,000 asylum and migration claims dating back to before March 2007. The report says the number of unresolved cases now stands at 29,000 with a “worrying” backlog of 11,000 where no initial decision has been reached.

Turning to this year, the committee found that officials were struggling with fresh asylum claims, which is creating a new backlog of cases.

The number of claims awaiting an initial decision increased by 70% to 16,273 in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year.

This is partly as a result of a “botched” attempt by the UK Borders Agency to downgrade staff that resulted in 120 experienced caseworkers leaving, the report says, as asylum caseworkers were in effect demoted from higher executive officers to executive officers, which led to the mass exodus.

The report also addresses the “migration refusal pool” – where people are recorded as having no permission to be in the UK, but officials do not know if they have left or have stayed without authorisation, which has just over 175,000 people awaiting removal from the UK, it says.

But Capita, the private company contracted by the Home Office, found that 50,000 people who had not been given permission to stay could not be contacted, the MPs found.

“The department [the Home Office] admitted that they did not know where these 50,000 people were,” the report says.

Home Office officials said the report is wrong to say there are 11,000 historical cases still awaiting an initial decision, because many of these cases have been assessed but await further submissions.

James Brokenshire, the immigration and security minister, said the coalition inherited a dysfunctional system incapable of the task.

“This is why we split it up into three separate divisions to improve focus on their specific roles in delivering a controlled immigration system and bring them under the direct supervision of ministers. Turning around years of mismanagement has taken time, but it is now well under way,” he said.

But Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the committee had exposed failings that could not be blamed on past administrations.

“Theresa May was very quick to blame the UKBA, but since she took direct control of the border force and immigration system we have seen backlogs increase sharply,” she said.

The Refugee Council’s head of advocacy, Lisa Doyle, said it was worrying that so many people were still waiting for a decision on their asylum claim. “Behind these statistics are individuals, many of whom will have suffered extreme trauma, forced to live day to day in uncertainty while they await the outcome of what could be a life or death decision,” she said.