What is the change? UK Visas and Immigration is no longer accepting visa applications at the British Consulate in New York, which will cease operations Oct. 31.

What does the change mean? New visa applications in the U.S. will be mailed to VFS, the visa processing service that contracts with the U.K. government. Applicants will continue to attend biometrics appointments at VFS centers.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Anyone seeking immigration services at the British Consulate in New York.
  • Impact on processing times: No significant impact. Processing times are expected to remain the same, though there may be short-term delays related to the change.
  • Next steps: UKVI will be rolling out changes globally to its visa services and will be seeking feedback from stakeholders.

Background: In June, UKVI announced that visa processing would end in New York, the former U.S. processing hub, in October. UKVI also unveiled numerous pilot programs as it moves toward digitalization and onshoring of visa processing. Among the other changes, electronic applications will be more widespread and processing will be centralized in Sheffield, England; compliance audits of employer sponsors will make greater use of technology and electronic communications between employers and the agency; and premium visa services will be unbundled to give applicants greater choice in selecting which enhanced services they are willing to pay for.

Analysis & Comments: Though UKVI has indicated that visa application processing times will remain the same, applicants in the U.S. applying for U.K. visas should be aware of the changes and plan for the possibility of delays. The British Consulate General in New York previously processed approximately 95 percent of all applications within posted processing times, but the transition to the Decision Making Center in Sheffield may have an impact on the turnaround times for new applications during the initial ramp-up period.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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