United Kingdom/United States: Pilot program aims to streamline US applications

On Monday, the British consulates in the U.S. will introduce a pilot program to significantly streamline the U.K. visa application process for visitors and points-based applicants, such as skilled workers, intracompany transfers, students and investors.

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What does the change mean? Visitor and points-based visa applicants applying in the U.S. at a British consulate or through a Premium Application Centre will generally only need to submit their passport, first page of their application and priority receipt. Supporting documents will not need to be submitted in most cases.

  • Implementation time frame: The trial period will begin Monday and is expected to run for at least one month, after which the consulates will seek feedback.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visitor visas, all points-based visas and dependent visas.
  • Who is affected: Applicants for the above visas applying at a British consulate in the U.S. or at one of the four Premium Application Centres in the U.S.
  • Impact on processing times: The process aims to simplify the filing of applications, and ease processing by U.K. Visas and Immigration.
  • Business impact: The trial program should reduce the administrative burden on companies and eliminate redundant document filings.

Background: The consulates are seeking ways to make the process more efficient ahead of the peak season. Under the pilot program, visitor visa applicants only need to submit the passport, front page of the online application form and priority receipt. They will not need to submit supporting documents, except for an applicant’s criminal convictions or a child’s birth certificate and parental permission.

Visa applicants under all points-based categories, such as Tier 2 skilled workers or intracompany transfers, should submit only the passport, first page of the online application form, and priority receipt (and Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificates where required for Tier 4 students). Some foreign nationals may need to include proof of English skills and sufficient funds. Degree certificates, NARIC letters and criminal convictions may be submitted. Family dependents should submit copies of marriage and birth certificates as supporting documents.

BAL Analysis: The trial program is a welcome initiative that should greatly reduce duplicate filings and administrative headaches for employer sponsors and individuals, especially as the busy season approaches.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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