Biometrics Appointment for UK Visas (UKVCAS Process Explained)

There have been a lot of changes over the past year with the visa process and you may have been wondering – UKVCAS how does it work? I will run through:

  • How to book the biometrics appointment online
  • The biometric appointment locations
  • How to check UKVCAS appointment availability
  • UKVCAS upload documents and categories
  • What to expect when you attend the biometrics appointment.

Disclaimer: This is based on my experience of going through the process. If you have any issues make sure you contact UKVI or UKVCAS.

Difference between UKVI and UKVCAS

Before we get started on the process, let’s cover the difference between UKVI and UKVCAS.

UKVI – UK Visa and Immigration

Here’s a quick summary:

  • UKVI are the ones making a decision on your application
  • If you have any questions about the application they are the department to call
  • Most importantly if you want a quick decision (i.e. super-priority) on your visa and you are eligible for it, this is where you want to spend the money!

Read more about the service here: UKVI Services and UKVI Information About UKVCAS.

UKVCAS – UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services

Here’s a quick summary:

  • It’s a third-party service run by Sopra Steria
  • Their website is where you book to have your biometric information taken
  • Upload your supporting documents for your application
  • Attend your biometric appointment at one of the centres which fingerprints, photo, signature and submitting your application.

UKVCAS website.

Choosing Standard or Super Priority Service?

When you get to the payment screen you will be potentially presented with two options. This is the most critical part of the application, especially if you wish for a faster decision. They are:

If your visa is eligible for super-priority, then you will have the ability to choose this during the payment screen. This will give you a decision within 24 hours. Just to note this doesn’t give you a faster biometric appointment.

In this example, you can see there is only one option and unfortunately, UK citizenship is not eligible for super-priority.

Payment screen on UKVI
Payment screen on UKVI

The type of visa’s service is offered to are:

  • Tier 2 or 4 visa
  • Tier 2 or 4 dependant
  • Tier 1 or 5 dependant
  • Remain in the UK with family – applying in the partner, family life as a partner or private life in the UK routes
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • And a few more.

The price of super-priority is currently £800. Here is the price list from UKVI.

Step by Step Guide to Biometrics Appointment for UK Visa (UKVCAS)

To complete your application, you must attend a UKVCAS service point to have:

  • your identity confirmed
  • any required biometric information enrolled
  • any required supporting documentation digitised and checked
  • confirm you are happy to send your application sent to UKVI

I will show you the steps I completed to create my account, booking an appointment, uploading documents and what to expect during the appointment.

UKVCAS has no bearing on the decision process, all it does if you choose to pick a premium appointment is to provide you with an appointment quicker, after hours etc. There are a few options. If you want a quick decision, then you need to choose this during the application process as stated above.

If you prefer watching the step by step process here is a video version.

UKVCAS Account Setup

Once I reached the further actions page on the application I was presented with mandatory actions, one of these will be ‘book appointment’, I clicked this button to commence the set-up for the UKVCAS site.

Further actions screen on UKVI
Further actions screen on UKVI

Please note: if you have any issues with setting up your account you will need to call UKVCAS.

Next, I was presented with a screen to ‘get your access code’. This will be sent to the email address you registered with UKVI.

UKVCAS screenshot of access code
UKVCAS screenshot of access code

In my inbox I received an email like this with 6 digits, you have 30 minutes to use the code.

Email from UKVCAS that provides access code
Email from UKVCAS that provides access code

Finish the sign-up process I added the code and created my own password for the UKVCAS website.

Setup UKVCAS account with password
Setup UKVCAS account with password

That’s it, my account was all set-up with the email I registered my UKVI application with.

Book Your Biometric Appointment

You can book an appointment in two ways:

  • On the UKVCAS website
  • by phone by calling the UKVCAS Premium Support Line on 0900 165 6600 (Calls cost £2.50 per minute)

Personally I did all of this myself via the website.

Once I set-up my account and then logged on, I was taken to a home page which explained the booking of the appointments, the extra services and stuff they offered. I kept scrolling through until I got the book appointment button at the bottom of the page.

Choose a UKVCAS appointment
Choose a UKVCAS appointment

Next was choosing a service point location. The tool gave me the closest centres near me or I could search by using a postcode.

Choose a service point location for biometric appointment
Choose a service point location for biometric appointment

If you wish to get a free appointment there are 6 core service centres offering free appointments – Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and Croydon.

Once I was happy with the location, I clicked on select this service point which gave me the available appointments.

Example of UKVCAS service points
Example of UKVCAS service points

Next was the choose your appointment screen which showed me the appointments for the first week and you can keep pressing next for further dates. When I clicked on the dates it told me if there are appointments available and the price if it was a paid appointment.

As you can see below there is a range of free and paid appointment between £50 to £100. Read more about the fees here.

Choose a UKVCAS appointment
Choose a UKVCAS appointment

I was happy to wait for an appointment but it is dependent on what you want to do and how quickly you want to get your application done.

I selected a time I was able to make and then went to the checkout screen which gave an order summary. As I had a free appointment it states 0 but if you have a paid appointment this is where you would enter the payment flow. You can also add additional services here like document checking.

UKVCAS checkout screen
UKVCAS checkout screen

Once I finished booking the appointment and I received two emails. One was the tax invoice and one was the booking confirmation.

The booking confirmation is a must to take to your appointment and this will be the thing that will track you through your biometric appointments. It’s really important. You can either print it or you can take it on your phone but you do need to have a copy available.

It has a QR code and information about me and my appointment and that’s basically it, so nothing too exciting.

UKVCAS Upload Documents

Remember that checklist from the application? Well, that’s your guide on what you need to upload document wise! You do have the option of paying UKCVAS to do this for you but I just did it online at home for free.

You can upload documents in stages right up until you attend your appointment. When uploading your documents, there are a few guidelines.

  1. Document type:  The documents are marked as either mandatory or other documents. A description of the mandatory documents required for each category is provided in the tabs.
  2. Category: Your supporting documents need to be submitted under the categories. Some are easier to determine than others – see categories below.
  3. File Format: PDF is the preferred format, JPG and PNG format. If you don’t have a scanner just search for an app in the Google Play or Apple Store, there will be quite a few available.
  4. File Name: needs to be as simple as possible e.g. bank-statement-Apr-2018.pdf. Do not use filenames having special characters, #,ë, or bank.statement.apr.2018.pdf
  5. File Size: maximum file limit is 6MB. You can separate your documents into parts if your file is too big and there is no limit on the number of documents/files you can upload.
  6. Scan in Greyscale or Black and white: This helps with controlling the size, although I didn’t end up reading this part before I scanned all my documents and they were fine in size. In fairness, there wasn’t as many as my ILR application.
  7. Password: Make sure there are no passwords on the files and they are fully accessible. I know it can be worrying by not protecting your information but it can delay a decision if they are unable to access any of this.

How to Upload Your Documents on UKVCAS

Depending on where you are ready to upload documents, you can either do this straight after booking the appointment or whenever you’re ready.

I did this before my appointment so when I logged in you will be presented with a welcome page that had an upload your documents button.

UKVCAS Manage your service screen
UKVCAS Manage your service screen

Once I clicked the button I was presented with visa applicants, as it just me, it’s only my details. I clicked the blue action link which took me to the next page.

UKVCAS-Upload-your-documents

There is some information about the files and formats which I have summarised above and you will reach the upload section. This example just covers the mandatory document.

All I did was upload the named file I had and added a description which basically Katherine’s Front Page of Passport. Just to note I also uploaded a copy that had every page that was stamped in my passport in another section.

UKVCAS-proof-of-application

Once uploaded my document there was a status to say how many files were added.

Uploading files to UKVCAS
Uploading files to UKVCAS

That’s it! I kept repeating until all my files were uploaded.

UKVCAS Document Upload Categories

One of the biggest things that I found a bit annoying is there is no guidance from the UKVCAS or UKVI on where you’re supposed to put them. I made a few assumptions and added information where I thought it suited best.

This is all based on UK Citizenship to give you an example, if you are applying for other visas like Spousal Visa then chances are you will have documents such as life events. Just make sure you include all the documents that your checklist states in the visa application.

Mandatory Documents

Statement from UKVCAS website in the document upload section: Below is a list of mandatory document categories for your application. Each category tab contains a description of the documents required. Please ensure that you provide a document in each of these categories.

Proof of Application – I only added my passport here because that’s what it stated I need to put here.

Optional Documents

Statement from UKVCAS website in the document upload section: Below is a list of optional document categories. Please ensure you check your Access UK document checklist before including documents in the categories below. For some application routes, ‘Optional’ documents offer you the ability to provide evidence in a number of categories at your discretion to satisfy immigration rules.

  • Other – I included my referees in this section.
  • Residence in the UK – I included my approval letter for my indefinite leave to remain and then I put my BRP card with my indefinite leave to remain there.
  • Finances – I included six P60’s from 2014 to 2019.
  • Proof of Business – I didn’t include any proof of business.
  • Life Events – I didn’t include any Life Event documents.
  • Medical Information – I didn’t include any medical information.
  • Sponsors / Employment – I included two employment letters and also one HMRC letter from 2018 from my indefinite leave to remain application.
  • Proof of Identity / Travel History – I included my Excel Spreadsheet that covers all of the dates I’ve been outside the UK, my current passport and my old passport, which includes all of the pages from the passport. The front page and then all the pages with stamps on them.
  • Educational – I included my life in the UK pass notification.

What Happens at the Biometrics Appointment?

When I arrived at the biometric centre, I was greeted by a security guard and he requested that I give my booking confirmation and my passport. The next step was speaking to the receptionist who my booking barcode to confirm what floor I needed to go to.

Once I arrived at the appropriate floor I was greeted by another staff member who gave me a ticket number which was to be used during the process. They advised me that there will be two parts phase of the appointment.

Part One: The Biometrics.

Basically, they have these booths that record your biometrics with a computer system. The only way that I can describe it is like the passport e-gates at an airport. When you go through the e-gate and you scan your passport and takes a photo and then lets you through, that’s basically how these biometric systems were, except they just take your signature as well.

You will be explained the process before you register your biometrics. The photo process is probably the lengthiest process of all of it. It’s very picky and can take a while to get a photo it likes.

Once I did that, I walked back out to the waiting room until my number is called again.

Part Two: Checking of Documents and Submitting Your Application

Another representative came and collected me. This is the stage that they went through my application, documents and biometrics. The first thing again they ask for is that confirmation sheet with a QR code and your passport. They will scan that in, it’ll bring up all the details of that and your application.

My biometrics was reviewed which just double-checks your photo, signature and fingerprints are ok. I had to explain any scars or markings on my fingerprints which was recorded against my biometrics.

The next thing he did was scan my current passport again, I did previously have both my latest and older passport uploaded to my application.

Next he just quickly scrolled through what I had put in there, for example, you’ve put life in the UK test on here and a few other documents, but he didn’t check a single one of my documents.

After that, he asked, “Are you happy with the application and the documents you’ve put in your biometrics?” You must state yes and then they will submit the application for you. That will trigger the decision process for your application.

Next Steps

The waiting game! There is no ability to track your application through UKVCAS or UKVI, you just have to wait for a decision to arrive. You can call UKVI to discussion your application if you want further confirmation.

Hopefully, my experience has given you an understanding of what you could potentially expect. Make sure you keep up with the UKVCAS and UKVI websites to see if there are any changes.

52 thoughts on “Biometrics Appointment for UK Visas (UKVCAS Process Explained)”

  1. Hi Kat
    please can you advise how soon you can start with filling your application, is it possible to start with filling online application 6-7 months prior to your visa expiry or not
    Im only concerned about the process of submitting documents and dont know list of documents i need to start saving in pdf format along with length of duration
    Do you provide personal consultation if yes please let me know

  2. Hi Vikrant,

    You can fill in the form whenever you want but the data will be lost filling it in so early. The time frame is generally 10 weeks or 70 days in advance before you plan on applying to start filling in the form.
    The process for submitting is covered in this article, it’s not more complicated than that. You will be able to get a general idea of the information you need by reading through the documents UKVI issues.
    Kat

  3. Hi Kat
    Noted that i can start to fill in a time frame of 70 days prior to my application submission and is it correct that i can submit my application 30 days before the expiry of my visa ?

    Please can you give me summary on list of scan documents i need to upload so i can start to arrange them in correct format
    As you have already been to this stage and would be much helpful if you can share your experience. going to any legal advisor is very expensive so your help will be much appreciated.

    Looking forward for your detail response

    Many Thanks, Vikrant

  4. Hi Vikrant,
    The window is normally 28 days.
    You get the document checklist at the end of the application, I can’t provide you with a list of documents to provide. This article to explains what I did end to end for my latest application and these articles are just a guide of my experiences.
    If you need help with this then an immigration advisor is the route you should go.
    Kat

  5. Hi Kat,

    I tried to upload the documents & did upload quite a few of them ,but when I logged out & logged back in – there were no documents showing as uploaded & saved. I tried again & same thing happened. Could anyone please guide me on how to save the documents once i upload them

  6. Hi Chinebuli, I did exactly what I stated in my post. Sounds like there is a technical issue and you would have to talk to UKVCAS why this is happening. Sorry! Kat

  7. Hi Kat!

    Everything explained perfectly well.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH! Your post reassured me that I was doing things right.
    Just curiosity.. did they ever get in touch with your referees?

    🙂

  8. Hiii

    How can i get the acces code from the UkVI…
    I look for everywhere and i can find them..
    Can you help me please

  9. Hi Kat,
    I have try to book apointment with southampton enhand so they will scan docoment for me for free as i will pay 60£ and other thing is it doest let me pay online. I need your advice please. Thank you very much.

  10. Hi Kat
    Thank you for the step by step guide, it was really what I needed b4 my application. One thing I want to ask is, I have submitted my application through UKVCAS and just curious if I want to add one or two documents to my account for UKVI in my UKVCAS account is that possible? would UKVI automatically see the new documents or I will have to book another appointment with UKVCAS?
    Because I can still access all my documents in the UKCVAS account.
    Also If I remove my documents now after submission to UKVI before a decision is made would that harm my application?
    Any Ideas?

  11. Hi Yusuf,
    I am not sure what will happen if you add extra evidence, it’s best to call UKVI to confirm. Sorry I can’t give a better answer. Kat

  12. when I booked an appointment, how to see the other dates or location for availability,
    Can anyone advise how to change the date or location without cancelling the current appointment.

  13. Hi Kat.
    This is such a brilliant article – thank you very much!
    Can you advise how long it took for you to get a decision on your application?

  14. Hi Kar, Can I upload a color scanned document if the size of the file is less than 6MB ? My file size is in MB’s though. Or it is must to upload documents in Greyscale or black and white ?

  15. Hi Kat
    Iam in spousal Visa and will be applying for ILR, please can you advise what do you mean by documents such as life events?
    This is mentioned in requirements for documents.
    Thanks

  16. Depends on how organised the centre is – the appoint itself shouldn’t take more 10/15 minutes but you may have to wait around between each part.

  17. Hi Kat
    Thank you for taking us through the whole process.
    Do I have to take passport photos with me as part of the application and do referees have to sign these or they will take me a picture at the centre?
    Thanks

  18. The referees fill the passport photos with your name and DOB. Then you scan this as a part of your documents you upload. The centre will also take your photo.

  19. Hi kate I’m European and I have 3 child under age. I want to apply online only for my child which form I have to fill AN or MN1
    THANKS

  20. Hi Kat,
    when you attend the appointment at the UKVCAS centre , do they take your hard copy passport and submit it for you or they just scan it or use it to process your application and give it back to you?

  21. Hi Kat I applied for the indefinite leave to remain and wants to choose a priority payment option towards the end of the application but I am only left with standard payment option. What could be the reason why please.
    Thanks.
    John

  22. There are only limited priority slots available now. As I understand that they release a new set each day at some point.

  23. Hi Kat,

    Firstly, I would like to say thank you for your article its really useful, I just realised that you can get a free appointment after paid 110 pounds for my appointment a bit disappointed, also I would like to know what is the best option for proof of living in the UK ?? ( bank statement??bills?) not sure how it can be and how many? could you please advise me.

    Many Thanks
    Ricardo

  24. Hi Ricardo,
    Depending what you’re applying for but this is generally what I have provided for proof of living:
    All my P60’s since living in the UK (6 in total). If you do not pay tax through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) arrangements, then provide your most recent HM Revenue & Customs Self-Assessment Statement of Account.
    HMRC Letter stating the tax I paid from my ILR application.
    Two employment letters, one from my ILR and a new one.
    Kat

  25. Hi Kat,
    One more question for you. I have only just noticed that the form that is supposed to be filled out by both my referees states the following:
    ‘For an adult application, one referee should be a person of any nationality who has a professional standing, eg minister of religion, civil servant, or a member of a professional body eg accountant or solicitor (who is not representing you with this application).’
    Now that is something that’s really confused me as in my application I have used two British friends who have known me more or less since I first came to the UK and are happy to be my referees so I have also got them to sign this form however neither of them is a person who has a professional standing? Who did you use?

  26. Hi Kat,
    it is really brilliant, thank it helps a lot.
    Regarding to upload documents, so far I just added the mandatory documents- my case 1) proof of identity (biometric residence permit) 2) proof of application (passport issued by my country).
    I am not sure if I should add ‘Optional’ documents as well. Do you think is it not sufficient to upload the ‘Mandatory’ documents? please let me know what do you think.

    Best,
    JIN

  27. Thanks for answering Kat!
    For me, there are only two in the UKVI checklist- please see below:

    You have agreed to include the following documents in your application. Tick the box beside each document to confirm that you are providing it.
    Mandatory documents
    The passport issued by xx(my country) for Miss xxx (my name)
    The biometric residence permit for xxx (my name)

    Then UKVCAS, I found multiple optional documents list that makes me confusing.

    There is another questions, I found my job is now a shortage occupation since last October, I didn’t know that when I applied so I already applied as normal and paid.
    Do you think is there any chance I can change the application and refund as difference? Thanks a lot for your help!

    Best,
    Jin

  28. Hi kat
    I have been trying to get appointment for last 4 days. But i couldn’t. I tried different ways example through iPhone laptop Samsung but nothing. The problem is when i put all information in UKVCAS website and slected appointment date. Gave them my banks details after that next step doesn’t work.

  29. Hi Jin, I am sure you’ve gone ahead with this. As long as your evidence matches the UKVI checklist that’s all you need to do. UKVCAS is set-up to take multiple visa/citizenship routes so not all will apply to you. Kat

  30. Hi Kat,

    Such a great summary and so helpful during what is such a vague application! Quick question. I know the finance documents are suppose to be within the last month. Do you know whether this is one month prior to application date or the appointment date?

    Thanks for all your work!
    Cheers
    Duncan

  31. Hi Kat, very useful video. Are you allowed to take someone with you within you attend the appointment? Also, do have to get the documents scanned and stored as a file before you upload them, or can the documents be scanned by your phone camera and uploaded in one go?
    Thanks
    Steve

  32. Hi, i uploaded my documents for UK Visa but I discovered that I didn’t upload my sponsor bank statement, can I upload it again? Or what can I do.

  33. Hi Steve, I did see other people go in with an additional person but I would say it depends on the centre and some may have been lawyers. As long as the files aren’t bigger than the size limit, in the right format, readable and in the right sections then you can choose how you want to do it. Kat

  34. Hi Kat, this is indeed very informative piece on UKVCAS. I have a question if you or someone can help me with. My UKVCAS appointment got cancelled due to on-going COVID crisis. I had got this ‘free’ appointment after almost a month since I submitted the application to UKVI and I won’t get free appointment for another month at least. My question is: how much time is permitted between applying to UKVI and submitting bio-metrics? Will my UKVI application (which is paid for) get cancelled after sometime because no bio metrics are received? I can see some paid appointments available, but would rather go for a ‘free’ one if there is no problem? As such, I have plenty of time left on my current leave to remain. Any thoughts on this will be helpful. Thanks!

  35. These are different times and there have been statements allowing people to extend their visas due to this so I would hope that there is more time allowed. Normally you should book an appointment within 15 days of submitting. But have never read that there is an elapsed time, as you can see it’s not very helpful: https://www.gov.uk/ukvcas. I would book the next appointment so you have it and then give them a call or email to confirm.
    Kat

  36. Hi Kat!

    I do not have all my P60/P45-s but I do have a letter from HMRC with my employment history confirming where I’ve worked, the amount I’ve earned and how much tax I paid. I also have letters from all my employers for the past 6 years. Do you think that’s enough to confirm the financial and employment aspects?

    Jenn

  37. Hi Kat!

    I do not have all my P60/P45-s but I do have a letter from HMRC with my employment history confirming where I’ve worked, the amount I’ve earned and how much tax I paid. I also have letters from all my employers for the past 6 years. Do you think that’s enough to confirm the financial and employment aspects?

    Jenn

  38. Hi Jenn,
    If you have evidence for each year and the HRMC letter (which helps cover missing evidence) it should cover it but this is your decision. Unfortunately, I can’t say whether it’s enough because it’s your application. In most cases, I have seen that if the home office isn’t happy with the evidence then they will request more before taking any further action.
    Kat

  39. momodou sabally

    Hello kat,
    I was reading through your experience very helpful to me and many others. Just ON THE PROCESS of my wife’s application for ILR, completed the application form make payment and i was on further actions you must complete page so i downloaded the declaration form next is to book appointment but beside they wrote- attend an appointment to provide your documents and Biometric by July 3rd . I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT because i am trying to book appointment can you explain if you know i also saw on your own one it indicate like 19 August.

  40. Hi Kat,
    In case of a spousal ILR visa, does the sponsor need to be present at the biometric appointment or any other appointment after the ILR application is submitted?
    Me and my wife are submitting soon, but I (the sponsor) will be out of the country for some time afterwards.

  41. Hey Kat,
    i hope so you’re doing well.First i really appreciate to you about your good deeds to helping others, And Secondly i have two questions about my Referees and employments Gap.
    1- i have one Referee and he is my friend & British Citizen but he never had/have continuously employment history(he worked 6 monts after he had break for 6 months ).So he’ll be ok as Referee ? And 2nd Referee is my job colleague and he is also British citizen, my Security Duty Manager because i’m Security officer.So.he will be fine as Professional Referee?
    2- I received my Employment History Letter from HMRC Which is showing i have/had gap for few months in various years, it happened that time whenever i was looking for another job or i was working Off licences shop where they never register me as employee with HMRC and just pay me wages in Cash.Your valuable Advice will be appreciate.
    Kind Regards,
    Saqib

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