New international enquiry service for visa applications
From 1 April 2014 visa applicants will be able to use the new international enquiry service to find information about the visa application process.
The service is provided by Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) working in partnership with UK Visas and Immigration to offer enquiry services to people applying for a visa.
The new international enquiry service will provide an improved service to visa customers in 20 languages with opening times reflecting the working hours and days in each country. Customers will also receive a quicker response and in some cases the cost of their call will be cheaper.
UK Visas and Immigration's director general Sarah Rapson said:
"Providing excellent customer service to visa applicants is a key part of what we do.
"HGS will run a global enquiry service for all our visa customers from here in the UK, for the first time providing a top quality enquiry service that will assist those wanting to come to the UK.
"Our customer can expect a quick, accurate and professional service available to help them throughout their application."
Click here for more information.
New versions of sponsor and student guidance
In keeping with the new identity of UKVI and to incorporate the latest changes to the immigration rules, new guidance documents have been published.
Click here to access the Tier 4 sponsor guidance and here for the policy guidance document aimed at students.
Members should note the following changes:
Document 1: Applying for or renewing for a Tier 4 sponsor licence or highly trusted sponsor status
- The period available to make representations or supply documents have changed from 28 and 7 calendar days to 20 and 5 working days.
- The description of who can be the 'authorising officer' has changed to:
Document 2: Assigning CAS and sponsoring students
- Sponsors must have at least one Level 1 user at all times for the whole duration of the sponsor licence. The Home Office will take action against sponsors with no SMS users. (para 8)
- Studying at a lower level than the previous course is allowed 'in exceptional circumstances only' (para 104)
- Sponsors must assign a CAS only to students who will successfully complete the course by the course end date (para 125)
- Conditions for students on changing course with the same sponsor have been added (para 144). The new guidance does not mention that sponsors need to inform UKVI of this change unless the new course is shorter than the original course. If this is the case sponsors should notify UKVI immediately.
Document 3: Sponsor Duties and Compliance
- Sponsors are now required to retain a copy of the letter of consent for all under 18s (para 16)
Following the decision by ETS to withdraw from the SELT provision and UKVI's decision to terminate ETS' licence, all TOIEC and TOEFL exams are no longer accepted as a valid SELT for visa applications. All tests taken overseas up to 5 April 2014 are valid and can be used to apply for a visa. For tests taken since 6 April, the Home Office is still considering transitional measures and nothing is confirmed at the moment.
Applying for a visa in Japan
Changes to the application process in Japan have been announced. Unfortunately the information is only available in Japanese at the moment, click here to view.
Applying for a visa in Thailand
Changes to the application process in Thailand have been announced. Unfortunately the information is only available in Thai at the moment, click here to view.
Information for visa applicants in Moscow
Students applying for a student visitor visa (or child visit visa for under 18s) at the Visa Application Centre in Moscow are required to submit additional documentation with their application. This is to ensure that their application is processed quickly and efficiently. Applications submitted at the Moscow VAC are sent to UKVI in Sheffield for processing. Click here for more information.
Turberculosis testing in Ukraine
Students from Ukraine staying in the UK for more than 6 months will now have to take a tuberculosis test ahead of their visa application appointment and submit the certificate with their application. Click here for more information.
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