Dear Mr Bassie,
I plan to visit the United Kingdom and I have been told that most of the applications are now being done via the Internet. Is this true and what is the process involved?
Thanks in advance.
The system that you are referring to is known as 'Visa4UK' and this is the United Kingdom (UK) Border Agency online system for visa applications.
Visa4UK is in most countries worldwide and an applicant can use it to apply for a United Kingdom visa over a secure Internet connection. It should also be stated that in many countries, an applicant can also pay your application fee and book an appointment at a visa application centre using Visa4UK. The services available online will vary from country to country.
After an applicant has submitted his or her online application, he or she must attend a visa application centre. The full application process may vary from country to country. The Visa4UK system will also be able to inform the applicant of the application fee for your category of visa.
There are some instances where an applicant must not use Visa4UK. Such instances include if the applicant is already in the UK and if the applicant would like to extend his or her stay. Also, such a person may not use the system to switch into another immigration category or settle there permanently.
When a person is making an application through the system the Visa4UK guides the applicant through the application process. It will ask the applicant to provide the same information that is required on the United Kingdom Border Agency paper visa application forms, which incidentally are now not available in most countries.
Also, the applicant should ensure that he or she is prepared prior to making the application and should have the following information ready. The applicant should have his or her passport, intended address in the UK and his/her travel itinerary. The applicant should also have a valid email address, as can be appreciated, for security reasons. The United Kingdom Border Agency will be contacting the applicant at the email address regarding his or her online application.
The applicant should also be aware that he or she will also need to print his or her completed online form by using a 'high quality' print setting. However, the printing can also be done at a later date, whenever it is more convenient. In addition, many pages of the form will give the applicant the opportunity to save his or her visa application. The applicant should ensure that he or she saves the application often while completing it.
The online application system is safe and secure; the information that the applicant provides is sent through a coded secure connection and is only accessible to authorised United Kingdom Border Agency staff. The United Kingdom Border Agency, to the best of its ability, has stated that it will support as many computers, operating systems and Internet browsers as possible and if there is a technical problem with Visa4UK, the authorities will publish a news story.
It should also be noted that the Visa4UK system can be used to apply for a visa for a country outside the United Kingdom. That is, it can be used to make applications for visas for the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, British overseas territories and other Commonwealth countries.
All the best!
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a supreme court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org