With effect from 1st June 2017, all customer enquiries to the Visa Office will be handled by a private company called Sitel UK. This means that there will be changes in contact details and how enquiries are handled. New service charges have also been introduced.
The service has been contracted out as part of the Conservative government’s drive to reduce costs and ensure migrants in ‘the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution’. Along with increases in visa fees and changes to salary thresholds in visa categories, this serves to make applying to the Visa Office a more expensive process.
Under the new system, the following changes will happen to anyone applying from outside the UK:
- all phone numbers and opening hours will change
- the number of languages offered is reducing to 8 including English
- customers who contact UK Visas and Immigration by email will be charged £5.48
The charges for email enquiries must be paid using a credit or debit card but will include the original enquiry and any follow-up emails to the same contact centre about the same enquiry. If you do not have access to a credit or debit card you will have to find a trusted person to help you with this, such as an agent or sponsor.
There are no changes to the telephone service, or for enquiries made from within the UK.