Changes affecting immigration to the UK
New process for applying for a visa in the UK
Currently, anyone applying for a visa from within the UK either has to submit their application by post and attend a biometric appointment at a post office, or attend a Home Office Premium Service Centre with their application and submit their biometric data at the same time.
With effect from 5 November 2018, however, a new Home Office Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UK VACS) will mean that the majority of UK applications can be made online.
Applicants will be able to submit an online application and upload their supporting documentation, meaning that they will be able to retain their passports and provide copies of documents rather than supplying the originals.
Applicants can then choose to have their passports checked and submit their biometric data:
- via a free appointment at one of six centres located in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow*
- via a user-pay centre located in 50 local libraries
- via a Premium Service Point in central London (in which case they can also choose to pay to have their application expedited as is currently the case)
* the new centres will open between 5 November and early December. During this time, applicants can choose whether to use one of the new centres or to use the existing process.
Applicants will not be able to travel abroad whilst their application is pending; if they do so, their application will be treated as withdrawn.
From January 2019, anyone who needs face to face help with their application will be offered a free appointment in one of seven dedicated Service and Support Centres.
Immigration Health Surcharge to double
The Immigration Health Surcharge is due to double from £200 per annum to £400 per annum from December 2018, subject to receiving parliamentary approval.
* for students and Youth Mobility applicants, there will be an increase from £150 per annum to £300 per annum.
The Immigration Health Surcharge applies to non-EU nationals seeking to live, work or study in the UK, or to join family members for more than six months. Payment enables them to access the NHS on the same basis as UK residents during their stay.
* short-term migrants, i.e. those on visitor visas who are staying for less than six months, are generally charged for treatment by the NHS at the point of access.
The Surcharge is payable upfront at the visa application stage for the entire duration of the visa. For a Tier 2 migrant applying for a five-year visa, therefore, the fee will increase from a total of £1,000 to £2,000.
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