Preparing For a UKVCAS Biometrics Appointment as An Immigrant to the UK
As a prospective migrant, there are several steps you will need to follow to acquire the immigration permission you need to reside lawfully in the UK. Whether you are planning to join a family, work, study, invest or set up a business, you may need to apply for a UK visa, submit any documents requested to support your case, pay the application fee (and in some cases the immigration healthcare surcharge), and attend a UKVCAS biometrics appointment. In this article, we will explain what you can expect at your UKVCAS biometrics appointment and how you can prepare.
Who is UKVCAS?
UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) play a key role in the initial handling of in-country visa applications before they are submitted to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), including checking applications, scanning and uploading documents, and scanning biometric information.
Why do I need to attend a UKVCAS biometric appointment?
If you have been advised that you need to book a UKVCAS appointment, please be assured that this is required for all applications (with the exception of those completed using the online biometrics mobile phone app). At your biometric appointment, you can expect to have:
- your identity confirmed
- any required biometric information enrolled
- any required supporting documentation digitised and checked
- confirm you are happy to send your application to UKVI
Biometrics simply refers to your fingerprints, photo, and signature which will be scanned and stored digitally by the Home Office. This will allow them to confirm your identity in the future when entering or leaving the country.
How can I book my UKVCAS biometric appointment?
UKVCAS provides two main ways of booking your biometric appointment:
- Online: users can either click the link to book an appointment from their online UKVI account or in the link in the UKVCAS account setup email
- Phone: the UKVCAS Premium Support Line on 0844 8920232 can book your appointment for you (Calls cost £0.04 per minute) plus your provider’s access charge
It is important to pre-book your appointment; you will not be able to visit a UKVCAS office without an appointment.
The booking system allows individual applicants to arrange a time/date to meet with UKVCAS, but also for a group of applicants (i.e., the main applicant with dependant family members).
Booking can be made up to four weeks in advance, the same day (where slots are available), the next day, or outside of standard office hours.
Where are the UKVCAS service centres?
When booking your appointment, you will be able to enter your postcode to search for the nearest UKVCAS offices to you. You can also use the online search tool provided by UKVCAS to find a suitable location. There are service points in all of the main centres in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
All service centres offer biometric appointments; however, the range of other services and opening times may vary. The types of service point are as follows:
- core service points: larger locations that offer both free of charge appointments and out of hours appointments bookable for a fee
- enhanced service points: offer an inclusive package of extra services, such as document checking in advance of your appointment and document digitisation at the service point
- premium lounge: offers personalised customer experience
What should I take to my biometric appointment?
You will need to take your appointment confirmation email and your valid passport (or other valid travel documents); these will be checked when arriving at the UKVCAS centre. You can also take with you any additional documents to support your application. The UKVCAS service centre will scan these for you, check, and upload them with your application to UKVI (it is UKVI who will process your application).
On the day of your UKVCAS appointment
On arrival at your appointment
UKVCAS advise that appointment holders should arrive around ten to 15 minutes before the time of their appointment. On arrival, a UKVCAS representative will check the appointment details using a printed copy of your confirmation email.
During your appointment, the following will be checked:
- your identity confirmed against your ID document
- your biometric information enrolled and checked against quality standards
- any outstanding supporting documentation digitised and uploaded to your application
- your digitised supporting documentation will be checked for legibility, language and completeness
- your entire application digitally and securely sent to UKVI for a decision
Enrolling your biometrics
When providing you biometrics (this is called enrolment), the following will be scanned and uploaded:
- your passport
- photograph of your face
- scan of your fingerprints
- capture of your digital signature
Biometrics can be enrolled in two different ways:
- At a self-service kiosk
- At a UKVCAS counter – UKVCAS recommend using the counter service if you have young children or if you may experience difficulty using a self-service kiosk due to missing fingers or other physical impairments
After providing your biometrics, the final stage is to have your documents checked. You will be called to a counter where a member of staff will carry out a few detailed checks – the aim of this is to ensure that your application information meets the quality standards required. The following will be checked:
- the quality of the biometric enrolment data
- all documents will be checked and scanned
- that all digitised supporting documents are present, legible and in accepted languages (English or Welsh)
- that any payments for Extra Services have been successfully made
UKVCAS confirm that they will not take the original documents away – these will be kept within your sight and returned when scanned.
Assuming that all documents meet the required standards, you will then be asked if you wish to proceed to have your application processed; at this point, it will be sent to UKVI.
Your UKVCAS appointment is not about assessing visa application, rather the aim is to ensure that your identity is checked, your biometrics are enrolled, and your documents are scanned and uploaded in readiness for processing by UKVI. If you have any questions regarding the application process, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise you.