Home Office to transfer Priority Visa Service to new provider

14 Mar 14



What is the change? Worldbridge, the U.K. Home Office’s outsourced commercial partner, will no longer be offering Priority Service for U.K. visa applicants in the U.S.

What does the change mean? Applicants in the U.S. should expect some temporary slowdown in the Priority Service, and potentially increased costs, as the contract for service provision changes hands.

  • Implementation timeframe: March 26.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visa applications, including work, study, and settlement, in the U.S. requiring expedited processing.
  • Who is affected: Visa applicants shortly due to lodge in the U.S. and who require expedited processing.
  • Impact on processing times: Delays possible, but not quantifiable.
  • Next steps: File applications before March 26 for guaranteed priority processing.

Background: The Priority Service is an add-on service delivered by outsourced commercial partners, at a current additional cost of $150 per application, which can be selected when applying to U.K. Visa and Immigration in New York to guarantee the fastest processing times. Applicants follow the standard visa application procedure, apply and pay online, attend a biometric appointment, and then submit documents to the British Embassy. However, prior to submission, they must have paid the additional fee online to the outsourced provider to secure “priority.” The service is used heavily by the corporate sector. Worldbridge has announced that it will no longer offer the service from Wednesday, March 26, 2014. VFS Global will be the new outsourced provider.

BAL Analysis: Companies moving high numbers of employees from the U.S. to the U.K. and other frequent users of the Priority Service should anticipate higher processing costs – potentially $170 per applicant going forward. In the short term, companies and applicants should be aware of potential service disruptions as the transfer of service takes place. During the transition, it will be essential to verify legal and procedural changes with BAL. Applicants should, as always, plan sufficient lead time to minimize delays.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@bal.com.

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