Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Booking appointments with the UK authorities

Published:Tuesday | May 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM
John S. Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

What are the different ways I can book an appointment with the United Kingdom authorities with respect to my immigration status?

- H.F.

Dear H.F.,

There are a number of ways a person can make an appointment.

It is possible for you to book an appointment online, or, in certain circumstances, by phone, or book an appointment to use the 'premium service' at a public-enquiry office if you are in the United Kingdom.

If a person is in the United Kingdom, he or she has the option to book an appointment to use the 'premium service', which is a same-day service, at a public-enquiry office.

Before a booking is made, the applicant should be aware there will be a higher application fee than normal for the premium service. In addition, it is expected that the applicant should have read up on all the information about the type of immigration applications along with the relevant guidance notes. Also, not all types of immigration applications can utilise the premium service.

When a person is making the application for this service, the applicant should be sure to only book one appointment for the date and time that he or she intends to attend. If the appointment cannot be kept, he or she will need to cancel or reschedule it. It is also worth noting that nobody else can attend the appointment in that person's place. If someone makes the appointment on behalf of another person, he or she must give the applicant's name and that person must attend the appointment. a booked appointment cannot be transferred to a different person.

The authorities have advised that an applicant should not book an appointment until the applicant can and will attend the appointment. Furthermore, sale of appointment bookings are prohibited and anyone caught doing this will be prevented from using the service and could face action if any wrongdoing is involved.

The authorities have stated that applicants should not book a family appointment for a group of unrelated people, and have stressed that family appointments are only for people who are applying as a family unit under a single application. Furthermore, groups of students or employees who have to make separate applications must not book a family appointment, even if they are living at the same address. Such groups must book separate individual appointments. Consequently, if a group of unrelated people book and attend a family appointment, they will be told they will have to re-book their appointments separately.

Payments online

With respect to payments online, if an applicant's application is submitted online under Tier 2 or Tier 5, or using interactive forms SET(O), SET(M), FLR(O), FLR(M) or NTL, he or she will also pay for the application online. It should be noted that the appointment at the public-enquiry office must be made at least 48 hours after the online payment, and the applicant must bring his or her unique payment reference number to the appointment.

With respect to certain applications such as settlement, if the applicant wants to apply for settlement at a public-enquiry office, the appointment must be at least two working days after the applicant has passed the 'Life in the UK' test. This will allow time for the test result to be sent to the authorities electronically. This is necessary because, if the test result is not on the authorities system when the applicant goes to the appointment, they will not be able to make a decision about the application on the same day.

If the applicant's current permission to stay expires less than two working days after he or she has taken the test, the applicant should not use the premium service. Instead, he or she should post the application form to the address given on the form.

Online booking

Another option is 'online booking' that can be utilised in the United Kingdom Border Agency online booking service. This service is fast, simple and convenient and can be used by individuals and by family groups of up to 11 people who are applying together. On this site, the applicant can securely search for an appointment by date, time, location and application type. he or she can request and confirm an appointment slot; receive a request confirmation; view and print his or her appointment booking after it has been confirmed and reschedule or cancel any appointment.

It is important to note that before booking an appointment, the person must register to use the service by creating a customer account. The applicant will need a valid email address to create an account and he or she will a be sent a password, which will allow access to the account to book the appointment. In addition, the person must provide a valid phone number and email address, in case the authorities need to make contact with him or her. Also, the date of the appointment must be before the applicant's current visa or permission to remain expires.

If the applicant needs to book an appointment by phone for a large family group of 12 people or more who are applying together, the phone number to use is 0870 606 7766.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a supreme court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a chartered arbitrator. Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com.