If you’re planning to visit the United Kingdom for business, tourism, education, or to join family, you’ll need a visa to enter the country. But who is responsible for processing your application and granting your visa? This guide will shed light on the issuing authorities responsible for issuing UK visas and explain the processes and requirements involved.
- The main issuing authorities for UK visas are UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) in the UK and various UK overseas diplomatic posts (also known as missions) abroad.
- The type of visa you need and your country of origin determine which issuing authority you will apply to.
- Visa applications can be submitted online via the official UK government website or through a visa application center.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is the British government department responsible for managing visa applications. UKVI has offices in the UK, and its services are also provided overseas by UK Visa Application Centres (VACs). UKVI is responsible for issuing visas to individuals who are coming to the UK for a range of different purposes, including:
- Visiting family and friends
UKVI ensures that the UK’s immigration rules, regulations, and policies are consistently applied when processing visa applications. This includes verifying your identity, verifying your right to travel, assessing your eligibility, and checking your supporting documents.
Applying for a UK Visa via UKVI
You should only apply through UKVI if you are:
- in the UK
- outside the UK, and you are a resident of certain countries which are covered by UKVI’s ‘direct visas’ service
To apply for a UK visa with UKVI, you will need to:
- Register for an account on the official UKVI website
- Fill out the online application form in full
- Book an appointment at a UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) to submit your biometric information and any required documentation
- Attend your appointment and have your photo and fingerprints taken
- Wait for a decision on your application
UK Overseas Missions
If you’re not eligible to apply for a visa via UKVI or if you’re outside the UK, you may need to apply for your visa through a British embassy, high commission or consulate in your country of origin. These overseas diplomatic posts are also referred to as UK overseas missions.
The exact processes for applying for UK visas via overseas missions can vary depending on your location and the type of visa you need. However, some general steps are as follows:
- Visit the UK government’s official visa website to find out which overseas mission you need to contact and how to get in touch.
- Determine what type of visa you need to apply for and make sure you meet the eligibility criteria.
- Gather all necessary documentation, such as completed application forms, supporting letters, and financial evidence.
- Submit your application along with your supporting documentation to the relevant UK overseas mission.
- Wait for a decision on your application.
Visa Application Centers (VAC)
Visa Application Centers (VACs) are commercial service providers authorized by UKVI to offer support services to applicants.
VACs provide facilities for documentation including biometric information, information on UK visas and immigration policies and decisions.
Visa Application Centers provide services such as:
- Assisting with online application
- Printing and assistance with visa application forms
- Assisting with scheduling appointments
- Translation services
- Luggage storage
Q: How long does it take to process a UK visa application?A: Processing times for UK visas can vary, but most applications are processed within three weeks. Some visas can be expedited for an additional fee.
Q: Can I apply for a UK visa if I’ve been refused in the past?A: Yes, you can apply for a UK visa even if you’ve been refused in the past. However, you will need to address the reasons for the previous refusals in your new application.
Q: Can I submit a paper application for a UK visa?A: No, paper applications are no longer accepted. All applications must be completed online and submitted via the official UK government website or through a visa application center.