The United States is just one of many countries from which one can make a UK visa application.
Let’s assume that you are in the US and you have a UK job offer – well done!
The next step is to apply for a skilled worker visa.
This blog covers what to expect when processing an application from the USA.
The first step is to “apply online”. This part of the application is to be completed on the GOV.UK site.
You also need to be sure that your supporting documents are in place at the point of submission.
VFS Global is the commercial partner that processes visa applications on behalf of the Home Office in the USA.
Only after you have submitted your application online, can you book a biometric appointment, to enrol your photograph and fingerprints for your new visa.
You are required to book and manage appointments on the VFS Global Website. Where applicable, you would also upload scanned copies of supporting documents to this site, in advance of your appointment.
A summary of submission steps:-
Appointments at Application Support Centres (ASC)
There are multiple ASCs across the States.
Note that there may be low appointment availability. If you select to attend an ASC, you cannot then switch to a PAC.
Appointments at a Premium Application Centre (PAC)
There are a select number of Premium Visa Application Centres (PACs) across the States. Here is a list of all the centres:
ASC or PAC?
When you are paying your skilled worker visa application fee, you will be given these options to choose from:-
Once you have selected and paid for your preferred route, you cannot change your mind later!
Note that although you can only opt for “priority service” (i.e. Bronze Package) at the PAC, you’ll be able to upgrade to Silver or Gold, later.
Appointment Route 1: Application Support Centre (ASC)
Appointment Route 2: Premium Application Centre (PAC)
You would normally upload scanned copies of all your supporting documents on the VFS site before your appointment. However, if you are unable to do so, or prefer to have support, you can opt for Document Scanning Assistance for an additional cost of 100 USD.
Once you have enrolled biometric data at the ASC you will have 5 working days to post your original current passport, which should have at least one blank page (blank on both sides) for your visa sticker. If you opted for Document Scanning Assistance, you need to send your documents, or photocopies for scanning.
If you wish for your application to be processed faster, you can pay for the “priority service” on the VFS site. You must clearly mark your application “PRIORITY” to be placed at the front of the queue.
The cost for the priority service is 298 USD. This is over and above the visa fee.
You must provide a self-addressed pre-paid electronic shipping label for the return of your passport.
PAC appointments are designed to be quick, smooth and effortless. The service you choose determines the level of additional support you will receive.
VFS PACS offer three levels of premium service
The service standard should be 24 hours, i.e. Super Priority
COST: 1900 USD
COST: 875 USD
COST: 410 USD
Note that these fees are over and above the government cost for the visa itself.
Important Note regarding Priority Services
As of 13 March 2022, Priority & Super Priority Services have been temporarily suspended, whilst the Home Office prioritise applications made under the Ukraine Family Scheme.
Mr X has a job offer as a UX Designer. His sponsor is headquartered in the US and recently obtained a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence for their UK branch through A Y J Solicitors. The sponsor successfully applied for a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), through their sponsor management system (SMS) and assigned the CoS to Mr X.
Mr X had been working simultaneously with A Y J Solicitors to complete his visa application form and, now that the CoS unique reference number is ready, the application can be submitted.
Mr X needed to score 70 points to make a successful application. He has the 20 points required for sponsorship and a further 20 points for a job at the correct skill level. Mr X’s salary offer is in excess of £90,000 per annum, so he easily scores 20 points for salary.
Being a US national, Mr X does not need to submit any extra evidence of English language and scores the final 10 points, as the national of a majority English Language Speaking Country.
Mr X’s sponsor had “certified maintenance” on the CoS, which also means that Mr X does not need to provide any additional evidence of finances (bank statements).
Mr X’s sponsor is responsible for the visa application fees and pays the necessary fees directly online for the application. At the point of fee payment, the sponsor opts for the PAC option, and pays the Bronze Package fee online.
Mr X can now consider available dates (on the appointment calendar) at his preferred location (New York) and we secure an appointment for the following week. Mr X checks and confirms that his Home Address as the preferred destination for the courier return of his passport.
Mr X attends his appointment and is supported by the PAC staff to “transfer” his application to the decision maker.
After only a week, Mr X receives notification that his passport is on its way back to him. Mr X receives his passport (containing his visa sticker) and his approval letter which confirms the UK Post Office, from which he will be able to collect his Biometric Residence Permit (full UK visa) on arrival to the UK.
Mr X can now book his flight to the UK, on time and as planned.
You need to make the decision on whether you will apply through an ASC or a PAC before you pay your visa fee online. Unfortunately, you can’t view the appointment calendars until you submit. You have 240 calendar days to attend an appointment following online submission, however, note that your Certificate of Sponsorship (which is valid for 3 months from the date it was assigned) might expire whilst you are waiting and this could impact your visa application.
If you use an ASC to apply, note that even if you have selected the priority service, your appointment will be subject to availability and your application will not be processed until your biometrics are complete. You also need to physically post your application for processing, which is more a cumbersome option.
If you choose to attend at a Premium VAC, you have a variety of services that make the application process easier and quicker – but this comes at a cost!
At A Y & J Solicitors, we can support you step-by-step of the way in making your visa application.
With our expertise of the process, you can relax knowing that your case is in good hands, and you will be supported every step of the way until your visa is in hand.