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How to apply for a UK spouse visa from Nepal

15 January 2020 Amna Ashraf Blog

Locked between the snow peaks of the Himalayas and the seething Ganges plain, Nepal is home to a wealth of natural wonders, most notably, Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world. But as the saying goes, home is where the heart is. So if you are a resident of Nepal but looking to settle in the UK because this is where your partner resides, then read our helpful guide below.

To start off, check out our series of webinars which take the viewers through the evidence required and the 10 steps involved in involved in making an application for your partner, spouse or fiancé. The series is available to watch here.

Visa application - stage one

The first stage is the submission of the actual visa application form on the gov.uk website. This involves completing a lengthy application form which asks detailed questions about your background and current circumstances. It is important to double check all information is consistent with anything submitted in the past, for example on a visitor visa application. Once you are content with all details being factually correct, you would confirm the application, pay your immigration health surcharge fee and pay your application fee. Once paid, your application is officially considered submitted. The website will allow you to download your submitted form and a checklist. You will be provided with an online link from which you will conduct the next stage of the process.

Visa application -stage two

This next stage consists of attending an appointment to enroll your facial image and fingerprints (known as biometrics) and also arranging for your documents to be sent to the decision-makers. Both of these are done using the link provided on gov.uk.

Once you click on that link, you will be directed to the VFS Global website. VFS Global, for those who are unaware, is an outsourced service specialist company that the Home Office has hired to handle the administrative tasks related to visa processing. For as long as I can remember, it has been heavily criticised by the users for a number of issues ranging from the functionality of the website, the inappropriate up-selling of services and the difficulties in trying to upload their supporting evidence to the VFS portal.

In our blog about the process of application from the USA, we revealed that 73% of the reviewers on the website TrustPilot had rated their experience with VFS Global with a ‘bad’ one star review. This figure has improved slightly, with 61% of users now rating the services with a ‘bad’ one star. New year, new improvement I suppose.

 

Let’s now delve into the processes for enrolling biometrics and submitting documents.

There are four ways to submit your documents and evidence to UK Visas and Immigration, the decision making body, through VFS Global:

  1. Self-upload supporting documents to the VFS Global website without an additional charge

This is usually my way of doing things. It ensures I can check all evidence uploaded and that I do not have to rely on a third party scanning things. Under this option, all scans have to be correctly uploaded before the appointment and proof of upload provided together with the usual passports and any other ancillary items taken to the biometrics appointment. They will retain your passport.

  1. Document Scanning Assistance Service at the Visa Application Centre in Kathmandu, for an additional NPR 1000 fee

This option can be purchased ahead of time and the receipt to be brought to the biometrics appointment together with your originals passports and appointment sheet. Alternatively, you can pay when you attend the centre. Either way, their part involves scanning everything whilst you are there and handing the documents back to you. The passport is retained by them until a decision is made.   

  1. Walk-in UK settlement scanning service – the UK based sponsor walks in and has all documents scanned for an additional GBP 75 fee
  2. UK settlement scanning service – postal, for an additional GBP 100 fee (with GBP 25 extra for secure return)

VFS Global’s guide to options 3 and 4 can be found here. The UK options are usually best for those that have all documents in the UK and do not want to scan anything themselves, nor send the documents to Nepal.

You will have to decide in advance as to how you will submit the documents. This is because if you are self-uploading, this has to be done before you are able to book an appointment for biometrics.  Booking is done through selection from an online calendar which will offer dates and times, some of which may be subject to additional fee. Biometric enrolment is only offered in the capital city of Kathmandu in the whole of Nepal. Make sure to therefore check out travel duration and routes to the venue, the full address of which is Academy of Culinary Arts Building, Ground Floor, Mahalaxmisthan Marga, Lagankhel, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal.

After you have attended your biometric appointment, and submitted your documents in one of the many ways allowed, you enter the waiting period for consideration. The general service standards for settlement application indicate that a decision will be made within 12 weeks from the date the biometrics are enrolled. However, if you wish to get a decision sooner, and meet the criteria, you can consider purchasing an expedited priority service which aims to make a decision within 30 working days from the date the biometrics are enrolled. Unsurprisingly, there is of course an additional cost, precisely NPR90193 payable online on the same VFS website before the biometrics appointment.

Decision and documents

The making of a decision is conveyed through a cryptic email which informs you that a decision has been made on your application (they don’t bother to tell you the result). Following that email, they either text or email you again to confirm that the actual passport and decision letter is ready for collection.  The all important outcome is therefore only known once the applicant opens the collected package.

If your visa application has been granted, you will receive your passport back with an entry-clearance vignette stamp which will enable you to enter the UK. For spouse / partner visas this will be valid for 30 days.  After arrival in the UK you will then collect a card (it looks like an ID card) called a Biometric Residence Permit which sets out your full visa details and duration. This is normally collected from a post office closest to your residence in the UK or a different location, if you selected an alternative place when completing the online application form. Those granted fiancé visas will not collect a Biometric Residence Permit, rather, their whole 6 months will be endorsed on the vignette in the passport.

Last words of advice

Keeping a close eye on the website, instructions, prompts and confirmatory emails is crucial to success. Things do change rapidly with VFS and sometimes in contradiction with the information on gov.uk website and the Immigration Rules. In Nepal, the delivery mail following decision is slow so waiting is normal but signing up their SMS service has been reported to ease some anxiety.

If you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed with this process, please do get in touch with us. Our family migration team has years of experience dealing with this type of work and will work with you to take as much of the stress and uncertainty out of the process as possible. Our online contact form is the best way to get in touch with us.

 

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