Sopra Steria vs Old System

The new system for visa applications launched on 2 November 2018 involves an online application process and new Visa and Citizenship Application Service centres supported by a new system of document submission called Sopra Steria. These centres will be soon and will replace Premium Service Centres which are predicted to operate until 29 November (with some exceptions).

According to the old system, the possible alternatives were applying by post or by the Premium Service by paying an extra fee for the same day service, and the applicant was subsequently requested to go to the Post office and enrol his biometrics or enrol them at the Same Day centre if he had paid an extra fee of £610 for that. Conversely, the new system simplifies the entire procedure and allows to upload all the documents in one click: application forms are completed online, Home Office fee and biometric fee can be paid online.

Once the application has been submitted online, the applicant will be able to book an appointment by using Sopra Steria’s website and attend a VCAS centre in person, where he will be required to enrol his biometrics. Usually the applicant will be granted an appointment no later than five working days from online submission. It will be possible to upload documents online or scan all the relevant evidence at the appointment by paying an extra fee. Applicant will then be able to keep their original documents while the application is pending although they will not be allowed to travel during the pending period, unless it is between the date of submission and the date of the appointment at the centre.

Three different services will be available: the standard processing service, the priority service which will take 10 working days until the end of November and, subsequently, five working days. And, finally, the Super priority service through which applications will be decided on the next working day.

Supplementary “added value services” could be chosen upon completion of the application online. Same day appointments, document translation, interpretation and even immigration advice will be available by paying an extra fee online.

However, the new system will not be accessible by everyone immediately:

Customers in the UK seeking to remain in the UK or to settle permanently on the following routes will be eligible to use the new service UK Visa Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) from 9th November 2018, the appointment booking will open on 2nd November 2018:

  • Tier 1 (Investor)

  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

  • Tier 2 (General)

  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): graduate trainee

  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): long term staff

  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion

  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson)

  • Tier 4 (General) student

  • Tier 4 (Child) student

  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)

  • PBS Dependant – partner

  • PBS Dependant – child

  • Member of HM forces or their dependants

  • Turkish Businessperson or Worker

  • Dependant partner of a Turkish Businessperson or Worker (ECAA 3 – Dependant Partner)

  • Dependent child of a Turkish Businessperson or Worker (ECAA 3 – Dependant Child)

  • Settle or extend your leave in the UK – Turkish ECAA categories only

  • Settle in the UK – long residence

  • Settle in the UK – child

  • Settle in the UK – partner of a person or parent of a child already settled in the UK

  • Settle in the UK – HM forces category

  • Settle in the UK – refugee or humanitarian protection

  • Settle in the UK – certain categories only

  • Registration certificate as an EEA or Swiss national

  • Document certifying permanent residence as an EEA or Swiss national

  • British citizenship by naturalisation

  • Register for British citizenship as a child under 18

  • Register as a British citizen

  • Update, replace or transfer – biometric residence permit

  • Other leave to remain applications within the rules (unless noted below)

  • Apply for a Home Office travel document

Customers on the remaining routes will continue to need to use the existing service until January 2019. This includes most customers applying:

  • To join family members in the UK as a dependant, other than a PBS dependent, armed forces dependent or ECAA dependent

  • For family reunion with a refugee or person with humanitarian protection

  • On the basis of statelessness

  • On the basis of domestic violence under the specific route for that

  • Making further submissions after a failed protection claim

  • To only enrol your biometric information

  • For a fee waiver or fee exemption

  • For a certificate of right of abode

The first opening date in London will be on the 19th November respectively in Kensington, Shepherds Bush and Victoria.

Ultimately, Applicants will be able to chose between the old and the new system until 29th November on the condition that, once the service has been chosen, there is no chance to go back and select the other option.