Super priority, priority services expanded for Indian nationals

23 Feb 16

UNITED KINGDOM, INDIA

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? The U.K.’s Immigration Minister has announced a package of service-level reforms to improve visa turnaround times for U.K. visa applicants in India.

What does the change mean? Super Priority Service will be expanded to include first-time visitors and Tier 2 work visa applicants, and Priority Service will be expanded to visit, student and work visa routes. In addition, a shorter online visa application form will be introduced for all visa applicants.

  • Implementation time frame: The online form will launch Feb. 29. Super Priority and Priority services will be available to visit and Tier 2 work visa applicants March 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visit visas, Tier 2 work visas, Tier 4 student visas.
  • Who is affected: Visitor and work visa applicants in India.
  • Impact on processing times: Super Priority Service is a same-day service, and Priority Service takes three to five days. Additionally, the online form will speed the application process and make it easier to apply for a U.K. visa and Schengen C visa (for those visiting mainland Europe) by filling out the information once.
  • Business impact: The Super Priority and Priority services have proven popular despite the hefty government fee, especially for employees and business travelers needing to travel urgently.
  • Next steps: The streamlined online application form will be available at the end of the month here. Work visa and first-time visit visa applicants may opt for Super Priority or Priority service beginning March 1.  

Background: U.K. Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced the expanded and improved visa services during a visit to India last week.

Super Priority Service provides 24-hour turnaround on visa decisions for a government fee of £600 in addition to the normal visa-application fees. It was introduced in India in May 2013. Priority Service provides a decision in three to five days for an additional government fee of £120. Currently, the services are limited to visitors who previously traveled to the U.K. or other designated countries within the previous five years, and to employees of companies that are members of the Business Express Programme.

The new online application form will be shorter than the current form, will be accessible from mobile devices, will auto-complete a Schengen visa application form for applicants who want to apply for a Schengen visa to visit mainland Europe in addition to their visa to the U.K., and will allow applicants to book their appointment at a U.K. visa application center seamlessly.

Additionally, a new visa application center will open in Lucknow, the first VAC in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. This follows the recent opening of a joint UK-Ireland VAC in Hyderabad. The number of visitors from India to the U.K. rose 17 percent in the past year.

BAL Analysis: The expansion of Super Priority and Priority visa services to first-time visitors, Tier 2 visa applicants and Tier 4 student applicants will provide more flexible options for visa applicants in India who require faster service, and is a welcome addition to the range of services offered.

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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