The UK Border Agency has launched the long-awaited priority postal processing pilot for Tier 2 extension applications where the applicant has previously been issued a biometric residence permit or leave to remain in the United Kingdom.

The initial pilot will cater to a maximum of 30 applicants a day (plus their dependants) on a first come, first served basis. It is hoped that this will alleviate the existing strain on fast-track appointment slots, provided that migrants can remain in the United Kingdom for two or three weeks while their extension applications are processed through this new priority postal route.

The good news is that this is cheaper and potentially less time consuming for the migrant than the fast-track route, where the migrant is required to visit one of the Border Agency's public enquiry offices. With this new priority postal option, the migrant and any dependants will need to visit one of three designated post offices in London in order to submit biometric data and deliver the application package; the post offices are based in Acton, Blackfriars and Broadway. It will be important for employers to ensure that their eligible migrants have all of their documents available in support of the application before the application is submitted online, as the timescales for each stage of the process are tight.

As soon as a new certificate of sponsorship for the extension has been assigned to the migrant, a request will need to be emailed to the Border Agency between 8:30am and midnight for each qualifying migrant. A reply will be sent within 24 hours as to whether the request has been accepted. From this point, the stringent timetable must be adhered to as follows:

  • Within 24 hours of receiving the go-ahead from the Border Agency, a standard online extension application must be submitted along with the standard postal fee paid online (currently £561 per applicant and £281 for each dependant).
  • A payment notification number (PNN) will be generated, which should then be emailed to the Border Agency so that the number can be linked to the applicant. A cover sheet will also be generated, listing the documents that must be submitted with the application; two copies of this cover sheet should be printed.
  • A biometric notification letter will then be sent to the applicant through the post (although the Border Agency has been pressed to email these letters to avoid delay at this stage).
  • Within 48 hours of receiving the letter from the Border Agency, the applicant and any dependants will need to attend one of the three designated post offices in London in order to submit biometric data and lodge two copies of the cover sheet, along with the supporting documents, in a sealed envelope

The Border Agency claims that the entire application process from submission of the online form to the issuance of a decision should be completed within 10 working days. However, to err on the side of caution, migrants should plan to remain in the United Kingdom for 15 working days. Migrants should be aware that once the process commences, they cannot travel abroad until they receive a new biometric residence permit.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email (idesousa@kingsleynapley.co.uk). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.

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