Most visa applications to be done on smartphones

The Home Office has been rolling out new webpages for the public on how to get a visa, in preparation for the new points-based immigration system due to be rolled out from 1 January 2021. One such page was published yesterday, aimed at EU citizens. The overall message is “yes, you will in fact need a visa now” but there’s one section that caught our eye:

Most people will be able to complete their [visa] application, including identity verification, using a smartphone app. Some applicants may need to attend a Visa Application Centre depending on the route they are applying for and whether they have a biometric passport or are unable to use the app.

The immigration system has of course been going digital in recent years but we have not previously seen the government saying that it will soon be using apps for everything. While the page is addressed to EU citizens, the whole point of the new immigration system is that there are no longer special routes for Europeans, so it seems likely that app-based applications will be widely available to non-Europeans as well.

Millions of people have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme using an EU Exit app over the past few years. More recently, during the pandemic, certain non-EU citizens trying to extend their visas have been invited to use the snappily named UKVCAS IDV app (United Kingdom Visas and Citizenship Application Services, Identity Verification). In both cases, users avoid the need for an in-person appointment.

Posted on Oct 19, 2020.

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