Employers and other stakeholders have until 1 October 2020 to provide the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) with views on how well the commercial partners of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are performing, for applications made both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

The UKVI's intention in using commercial partners to provide front-end services (FES) is to make the UK visa application process accessible and easy to use. Sopra Steria operates FES for UKVI inside the United Kingdom and TLScontact and VFS Global provide the services abroad.

The ICIBI is seeking evidence from stakeholders on whether commercial partners are meeting the needs of UK visa applicants. Submissions must be sent by email using the link indicated in the call for evidence.

The ICIBI is particularly interested in receiving feedback on:

  • the accessibility and ease of use of the online application forms, payment process, appointment booking system, document submission process and any additional services offered by the UKVI or its commercial partners;
  • customer experience when attending appointments at a commercial provider;
  • commercial partners' complaints handling processes;
  • the clarity of guidance and instructions provided by the UKVI and commercial partners to help applicants make their application;
  • the availability and usefulness of advice and support, including through customer contact centres;
  • whether applicants needed additional help from third parties (eg, legal representatives, non-government organisations or members of Parliament) to deal with the application process and what the results were; and
  • the experiences of vulnerable individuals who require additional support to submit applications and book and attend appointments.

For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne or Stephen O'Flaherty at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000‚Äč) or email ([email protected] or stephen.o'[email protected]). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.