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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

How to apply for a UK visa from overseas

28 June 2019 McGill & Co Solicitors Blog

Those wishing to apply for a UK visa from overseas often encounter difficulties trying to navigate through the myriad of submission procedures. It is essentially a two-stage process; starting with making an application online through the GOV.UK website, and finishing by providing the necessary documents and biometrics through one of the Home Office’s outsourced commercial partners, VFS Global or TLScontact. This post is the first in a series focusing on the second stage of the process, beginning by taking a look at what countries these commercial partners operate in and explaining how they work.

After an application is submitted and paid for online though the GOV.UK website the applicant will be directed to either VFS Global or TLScontact, depending on which country the application is being made from. A full list of all countries and the commercial partner operating in each can be found on our factsheet.

The procedure for providing necessary documents and biometric information in the second stage of the submission process is generally the same across both platforms and is as follows:

  1. Book an appointment at the applicant's nearest visa centre;
  2. Choose between self-uploading documents to the website’s online document portal, or alternatively paying a fee to have your documents scanned for you when you attend your appointment at the visa centre;
  3. Upload the necessary documents to the online document portal, if self-uploading;
  4. Attend the appointment at the visa centre to provide biometrics and, if not self-uploading, to have documents scanned;
  5. Return to visa centre to pick up passport after decision has been made by UKVI.

Whilst this is the general procedure followed in most countries, some countries have procedures or quirks specific to them. Other countries simply do not have the facilities to operate a visa application centre, forcing a potential applicant to travel to another country for their appointment. To add to the confusion, VFS Global and TLScontact operate very different looking websites, each with its own procedures and instructions which often conflict with out of date information on the gov.uk website.

If an applicant is in doubt about which procedure to follow in their country, they should check the VFS Global and TLScontact website for the up-to-date information. This post will be followed with a detailed examination of the entry clearance visa application submission process for applicants in Australia.

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