IMPORTANT CHANGES TO VISA APPLICATIONS MADE OUTSIDE THE UK
Changes will be brought in from the end of February 2015 starting with people who apply in Pakistan. It will extend to everyone who applies from anywhere in the world apart from the UK from 31 July 2015.
Please note that very little information is currently available about how the system is going to operate, so this summary cannot provide a full picture. It may contain inaccuracies and be subject to change:
- People who are applying for entry clearance will be asked what town they intend to stay in when they first arrive in the UK.
- They will be given a short-term entry clearance vignette (i.e. sticker) in their passport that gives them 30 days in which to both travel to the UK and go to a particular Post Office near the town they identified in their application, to collect a ‘Biometric Immigration Document’ (‘BID’) which shows their leave to remain for the rest of the course (and an appropriate period afterwards).
- Applicants will no longer be issued with an entry clearance before they travel that covers the length of their course.
- Along with their entry clearance, they will receive a ‘decision letter’ explaining how and where to collect their BID after they arrive, and what leave it will show.
- The Home Office hopes to create a system whereby “neither the…decision letter nor the short term…vignette can be used as evidence of the applicant’s leave or rights”. Whether this will be the case remains to be seen.
- There will be no fee to pay to collect the BID from the designated Post Office branch, although there will be a fee to arrange to collect the BID from a different Post Office branch. “The applicant will be required to present their travel document [i.e. passport] and the decision letter, and security cleared post office officials will carry out an identity check. This will not include a biometric check.”
- “Arrangements will be in place for family member and third party collections…The evidence to be provided in all cases is the travel document and decision letter.” [Ref: www.ukcisa.org.uk/ ]
- National Health Service (NHS) Surcharge: Please note that very little information is currently available about how the system is going to operate, so this summary cannot provide a full picture. It may contain inaccuracies and be subject to change: The Immigration Act 2014 introduces an NHS health surcharge provision which is likely to come into effect from April 2015. This will take the form of an up-front payment, by each migrant, of an amount expected to be £150 for students and £200 per person for other categories for each year of stay; the process for collecting the surcharge will be incorporated into the UK visa application process. The surcharge will be applicable to all non-EEA citizens who are applying for Tier 1, Tier 2 (excluding Intra-Company Transfers), Tier 4 or Tier 5 visas which are longer than six months in duration. [Ref: www.UCEA.ac.uk]
- Tuberculosis testing: Please check if you need a Tuberculosis test certificate before you apply for your visa. Countries including Nigeria, China, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Pakistan and many others now need a test before applying. Your visa will be refused if you do not have a TB Certificate when required to do so. A list of Home Office Approved TB testing clinics can be found at the Home Office website.