As someone that has just gone through the stressful process of applying for my latest visa in the UK, I thought I would share my experience and tips for using the UK Visas and Immigration premium service. 

Psstt.. You can read more about the application process and documents I provided for the Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa (Settlement) here.

Premium Service Appointment Booking

In order to book the premium service appointment you need to complete the online application via the Visa4UK website, it will be the last stage of the online application process providing you with three options to submit your application. One being the premium service, the type of visa’s this service is offered to are:

  • Tier 2 or 4 visa
  • Tier 2 or 4 dependant – applying on your own
  • Tier 1 or 5 dependant – applying on your own
  • Remain in the UK with family – applying in the partner, family life as a partner or private life in the UK routes

The website also mentions all other applications which is not very explicate about which others they will cover.

The most important tip!!! Make sure you know when your application window is and have your application ready (i.e. all completed online).

Appointments are available from 45 business days before the start of your final 28 days of your existing visa (the window in which you are allowed to apply). This is super important as the appointments are really hard to come by!

To give you an example of timelines, my visa expired on the 10th of September 2018 so I counted back 28 days which was the 13th of August. Appointments open up 45 business days beforehand, in my case the 25th of June. However I thought it was 45 days (rather than business days) in advance so I booked on the 3rd of July (a day late).

I applied at 11am and it took me over an hour to get an appointment which I was lucky to score one for the 14th of August at the Croydon Centre. This was the 2nd day into my 28 days.

What locations can you get a Premium Service Appointment?

You can get an appointment at any of these Home Office locations:

  • Croydon public enquiry office – Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR9 2BY.
  • Liverpool public enquiry office – The Capital Building, 6 Union Street, Liverpool L3 9AF.
  • Sheffield public enquiry office – Vulcan House, Riverside Entrance, 6 Millsands, Sheffield S3 8NU.
  • Solihull public enquiry office – Dominion Court, 41 Station Road, Solihull, Birmingham B91 3RT.
  • Glasgow public enquiry office – Festival Court, 200 Brand Street, Govan, Glasgow G51 1DH.
  • Belfast public enquiry office – Drumkeen House, 1 Drumkeen Complex, Upper Galwally, Belfast BT8 6TB.
  • Cardiff public enquiry office – General Buildings, Ground floor, 31-33 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales CF24 0AB.

Tip number two… The appointment doesn’t have to be in the city you live so it does open you up to more centres and appointments to chose from.

Indefinite Leave to Remain Premium Service Fees

The current fee for 2018 is £610 and then if you have an appointment out of hours there will be an additional £75 fee.

The latest fees for premium service can be found on the GOV.UK website. 

How Long Does a Premium Visa Appointment Take

I would allow 3 to 5 hours for the appointment. I had an 8.10am appointment, I was the 7th person of the day and it took 3 hours for my application to be processed. When I left 10 applications had been processed so it’s quite a lot of checking and processing for the officers. Considering for mine they were going through 5 years of history and about a tree of documentation you can understand that it is time-consuming.

I expect the appointments later in day to take longer as the backlog increases with more appointments arriving.

Preparation for the Appointment

The preparation before the appointment is just ensuring that you have your application completed, booking confirmation, checklist (ticked) and all the documentation prepared. Make sure have certified translations of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.

On the document checklist it mentions to help speed-up the process to provide copies of all your documents which I also included.

I brought mine all neatly separated in different files and categories to make it easier for the case worker, however, it was all just placed in one folder so it wasn’t necessary to prepare this. I would still put the documents in order as per the checklist to make it easier when someone is reviewing your case. 

What to Expect During a Premium Service Appointment at the Home Office

I had no idea what to expect on the day of my appointment, all I knew is that I needed to have all my preparation ready and arrive 15 minutes before my timeslot. When you arrive at the Home Office you will have several steps throughout the day which covers:

  • Reception
  • Case Registration
  • Biometric Enrolment
  • Case Allocation and Consideration
  • Return of Documents

Arrival at Premium (same day) Service Centre

The Home Office has tight security and its requested that you arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to go through all the checks. The guard will ask to check your appointment date and time, once confirmed you will head through security. It’s exactly like going to the airport you take belts off, take out anything in your pockets, pull your laptop out of your bag and whatever else.

After the security checks you need to head to the reception area, the guard will advise you where you need to go.

Reception

I arrived 20 minutes earlier than my appointment but as reception doesn’t open until 8 am I couldn’t check in. I wasn’t aware that when reception opens at that everyone runs there to get their appointment first.

Top tip, if your appointment is at 8.10am make sure you are at reception at 8am to get the best spot as possible. In general head there as soon as possible. 

If your appointment is at any other time then it is recommended to report to the reception desk not earlier than 10 minutes before the time of your appointment.

The receptionist will check all your documents, mainly it is general checks like ensuring that your application form is valid and matches your visa/passport and you’ve paid.

After the receptionist is happy you are given a ticket number and asked to wait in the waiting area. The waiting area will have TVs showing ticket numbers and where your ticket is in the process.

Ticket number and details provided of the UK Visa premium service.
Ticket number and details provided on the day of your UK Visa premium service

Case Registration

Now that you have your ticket number you will be called up to have your case registered. This will be announced over the PA system and display your ticket number on the screen with counter you need to go. If you forget the desk number you need to go to the desk signs will also be flashing your ticket number.

This stage the officer will add your application to their database and prepare a folder for your documents. Just provide all the supporting documentation for your application and the photocopies

At this stage, the officers will upload your application onto immigration databases and you will be asked to arrange your supporting documentation for your application/photocopies in preparation for the Immigration caseworker to review.

They handed me back the prepared file to take to the Biometric Enrolment phase. The same process will happen again with your ticket number.

Once completed, you will be asked to take a seat and listen out for your ticket number to be called again.

Bad example of the TV displaying the ticket numbers but you get the idea.

Biometric Enrolment

Yet again your number will be called, generally this is a faster stage of the process. Take the document through with you and hand them to the officer when you arrive.

Then it’s a few finger prints, a photo (with no smile ☹) and a signature is taken. The biometrics you submitted will then be verified against immigration/police databases.

Once finished the officer will add your case in the queue for consideration and decision making.

They say that at this stage you can leave the building for a short time or wait in the waiting area. If you wish to go outside, please make sure your leave your mobile phone number with the Biometric Enrolment Officer and keep your phone switched on so the immigration officers can reach you.

Case Allocation and Consideration

This is the longest part of the process is where your application and supporting documents are being allocated to an Immigration Caseworker and you are waiting for a decision. With the premium service they aim to make the decision on the day and timing of the decision will vary on your application.

Mine thankfully was made on the day and the whole decision time took 2 hours. During that time I was nervously stressing in the waiting room wondering if I would get the approval to stay. I couldn’t find all my employment history so I thought this might impact my application although I had a HRMC letter to back it up so I did have some evidence to cover this.

Another tip, make sure that you bring something along to keep you entertained. The waiting rooms are pretty boring….

Kat nervously waiting
Me nervously waiting for my decision….. 

Return of Documents

The moment of truth… Once a decision has been made, you will be called to collect your documents and application decision letter.

Hopefully a positive decision is made and you can jump around with happiness like I did. You will be handed a letter advising you that your application is approved and Biometric Residency Permit (BRP) has been ordered. If you completed the application yourself then it will be sent to your home, otherwise it will be sent to the agency you used.

The BRP card should arrive in 10 working days, there are details in the letter of what to do if your BRP card doesn’t arrive.

If your application has been refused, the Immigration Caseworker will explain the reasons why.

Video Summarising the Experience 

Any questions let me know in the comments below!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi I’m just wondering about the application form. Mine doesn’t have anywhere obvious to sign? I filled it out online then selected print document

    1. Hi Lydia,
      Sorry a bit of wording mistake from me. The only the only document I signed was the declarations, the form itself I did not sign.
      Cheers
      Kat

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