Out With The Old, In with the New – UK Access replacing Visa4UK

The new Access UK service has been rolled out in stages throughout 2016, went live initially in India and Turkey and was available to customers applying for visit visa routes.

Access UK has now been rolled out worldwide and should soon be available for all types of entry clearance visa applications.

Who can use the Access UK service?

Initially you could only apply for a visitor visa using the Access UK service, however later on it was extended to applications for work visas and study visas. Currently you can apply for the following visa types using the Access UK service:

Who cannot yet use the Access UK service?

It has been announced that during 2019 all visa type applications should be transferred to Access UK; however the new service is not yet available for those applying:

  • to live with a family member already in the UK e.g. Elderly Depedant Adult
  • to visit their child at an independent fee-paying day school
  • to set up or run a business in the UK
  • for a UK ancestry visa
  • to prove they are allowed to live or work in the UK without any immigration restrictions (called ‘right of abode’)
  • for an official visit or for diplomatic business
  • for a visa to prove you are exempt from immigration control
  • for a Point Based System Tier 1 (investors, entrepreneurs and talent) visa, and including their dependents

Visa4UK will continue to exist as an application service for all types of visa that are not yet available on Access UK, but soon Access UK should completely replace the old system. Therefore, some visa types will no longer be available via Visa4UK. If the visa type you are applying for is no longer available then you must apply using the new visa application service.

Quick comparison of Access UK and Visa4UK Services

The new Access UK service has been introduced as being user-friendly and has received positive feedback from many customers. Using the Access UK service, you can benefit from a smoother experience, mainly in making arrangements to give biometrics, the self-upload of supporting documents and accessing additional services. The new service allows you to apply, book an appointment and pay for your application in one place.

Therefore, this is a positive change, as the main issues with the old Visa4UK system was that you had to visit separate websites in order to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge or for the priority service. Additionally, the new system allows you to scan and upload all supporting documents to the system, which was not previously possible via Visa4UK. 

Main benefits of Access UK:

  • The service is available on mobile devices, enabling application forms to be completed on smart phones or tablets, making it more convenient for the customer;
  • The application is often more concise and quicker to complete, as questions are only asked when they are relevant to a customer’s previous answers;
  • Customers can review, edit and download their partially completed application at any point before submission, making it simpler to check, edit and update responses as required;
  • The application fee is displayed in the appropriate local currency, making it easier to understand the overall cost; and
  • Customers can apply, book their Visa Application Centre (VAC) appointment to give biometrics, and pay for the relevant service standard via Access UK, rather than visiting multiple online sites.

Transition Period

So, when it’s possible, always use the new Access UK service, as otherwise if you have started your application on Visa4UK you have just 120 days to complete your application. If the 120 days has passed and you did not submit your application, you must then make another application using Access UK. So, why not benefit straight away from a quicker and more intuitive process if it is available?

Caveat

While the new system is meant to make thing easier, it is still in its Beta stage with a few technical issues that inevitably arise with new technology .e.g. issues with self-uploading of documents which does not seem to be working for most countries with alternatives on how to deal support documents varying from one country to another.


It is a shame that the system still requires you to register with commercial partners ( e.g. VFS and TLScontact) website separately and that the Document Scanning Assistance Service which is initially meant to be free is actually not free.

Otherwise, it is good to see that the Home Office is finally trying to simplify the system and remove the need to having to register with multiple places to apply for one visa.

If you have been affected by any  UK immigration matter, wish to apply for Visa, challenge a visa refusal or simple want to know your legal options in general under UK Immingration, please contact Solicitor Tito, a UK immigration and human rights solicitor, for a free initial consultation about your legal options. Call 07544 669131/01163800744 or on Skype: tito.mbariti

Cross Border Legal Solicitors Ltd is a UK Solicitor law firm regulated by the under the Solicitor Regulations Authority and is Headed by Mr. Tito Mbariti, a UK Immigration and Human Rights Solicitor who is a practising lawyer  and member of the Law Society Of England and Wales