1 October 2018
It has been announced that effective October 2018 applicants in the US are no longer required to send original supporting documents to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) processing centre in Sheffield. The new arrangement will benefit American Citizens and US residents applying for a UK settlement spouse, fiancée or unmarried partner visa to live in the UK.
Since the British Consulates in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York stopped processing settlement visa applications a number of years ago, many applicants have raised genuine concerns over the Home Office requirement to send original documents across the Atlantic. As part of the visa application process, applicants in the US were required to use private couriers in order to submit their most sensitive information, including original passports, financial and accommodation documents to the UKVI centre in Sheffield within five days from the date of their biometric appointment in the US. The Sheffield office would not accept soft copies of any documents as a matter of current Home Office policy despite the fact that applicants in other countries such as Canada, Germany, Brazil and many others have been given access to a new scanning service which does not require sending original documents directly to Sheffield.
The process for applicants in the US came with great risks of hardly obtained original supporting documents, including applicant’s original passport, being lost in transit to the UK. A few of our dearest clients ended up needing to compile the same documents again as their original package was lost on the way to Sheffield. Needless to say, our clients were devastated. Obtaining duplicate copies of bank statements, pay slips, P60s is frustrating and grueling work, not to mention the time it takes to apply for a replacement passport or marriage certificate. It certainly resulted in a lot of unnecessary stress and extra costs that could have been avoided if the UKVI had a more efficient and risk free procedure for applicants in the US.
From October 2018 onwards UK settlement visa applicants in the US will benefit from a brand new improved process. Rather than sending original supporting documents to Sheffield by courier, applicants are now required to submit a marriage, partner or fiancée visa application to the regional UKVI scanning hub in New York City. All documents will be scanned by VFS staff in New York and submitted to the UKVI centre in Sheffield electronically. It is important to ensure that a valid original passport is included in the application package. Applications submitted to the UKVI scanning hub in New York without a passport will be refused. Likewise, incomplete applications with some critical supporting documentation missing are likely to be refused without any reference to the applicant or their British partner or spouse.
The UKVI processing fee (currently £1,523) is non-refundable regardless of the outcome.