Dubai: A new UK visa service in which staff will make house calls to UK visa applicants from the UAE will likely be introduced in the emirates before Christmas, a senior official said.
And after successful trials in other countries as primarily a VIP service to deliver biometric enrolment services in the privacy of a home or office, the new service will be scaled up in the UAE to appeal to more of the general population, Simon Hayes, director of UK Visas and Immigration International, said.
“It is something we have tried in other parts of the world,” Hayes told Gulf News in an interview from Abu Dhabi.
Hayes said officials were pleased with results when it was introduced by UK government officials in the United States as well as China.
“It worked quite well there. Since then we’ve been developing it as part of the product here in the UAE,” Hayes said.
The new service will see visa application staff visit a private location upon request to take photographs and scan fingerprints as part of the biometric enrolment process.
Hayes said the entire biometric process takes no more than 10 minutes helping applicants to avoid applying in person at VAC (visa application centre) offices. The cost for the mobile biometric service will depend on customer’s location and number of applicants. A quote will be provided on request
The new service is part and parcel of a string of new premium visa services being offered at UK visa application centres operated by VFS Global in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
According to embassy officials, some of the new services include the ability of visa applicants to pay an additional fee to walk into application centres without an appointment, receive assistance with applying or paying online, or receive help with checking that their application form has been completed correctly.
The services are being offered over and above the existing electronic visa waiver (EVW) programme for UAE nationals in which applicants register electronically before travelling to the UK — UAE nationals can use the electronic visa waiver service for short trips to the UK of up to six months. An EVW registration must be completed online at least 48 hours before travel. Emiratis wishing to study, work or invest in the UK will normally need to apply for a visa under one of the UK’s ‘points based’ categories.
There were almost 50,000 EVW registrations in the last year, with record numbers of registrations in July.