UK Visa Application: Is the Premium Centre Worth It?
Immigrating to another country is one of the hardest things someone can endure. Not only are the requirements strict, but fees and a seemingly endless bureaucracy make the process particularly draining.
Many of us take our European Economic Area free movement rights for granted, and many more live in places not governed by the EEA rules.
With the effects of Brexit quickly approaching, it’s very important to understand what exactly this means for current EEA members.
Under current law, you’re considered a permanent resident after 5 years if you meet certain conditions. However, this all changes when Brexit pushes the UK out of the European Union.
No one is quite sure what’s going to happen, and frankly, there isn’t a clear answer yet.
What we do know is that it’s becoming more and more important to retain paperwork that proves your history living and working in the United Kingdom.
Failure to prove your permanent resident status could very well result in your ejection from the country.
This could mean losing contact with friends, family, and losing your job. These aren’t thing you’ll want to leave to chance.
Luckily, the UK government has something called Premium Centres that help people with UK visa applications. If you are an EEA national you can use the new passport return service to get your passport back meaning you can apply without sending your passport now.
You might be thinking, “Why would I need an EEA Permanent Residence Card?” Well, if you don’t hit that 5-year permanent resident status, or you aren’t granted citizenship before Brexit, you’re going to need a visa.
What’s A Premium Centre, Exactly?
Premium Centres are immigration hubs run by the UK government in an attempt to help people process paperwork faster than normal immigration centers.
Normally, speed isn’t always so pressing, but the road to citizenship is long and difficult. Giving yourself a leg up is important as Brexit draws near.
EEA nationals can’t use premium centres currently, but after Brexit it is likely they will be able to. For now they will first want to find the nearest passport return service. The UK government is kind enough to publish this list, detailing where to look if using a premium service centre for a UK visa or ILR application.
Once you’ve found the centre, you’ll have to book an appointment online. Like most things governmental, the UK doesn’t take walk-in appointments.
If you’re turning in a UK visa application renewal form (and even if you’re, not listen up because you may be in the near future), you’ll need to bring the following things:
- Your £500 surcharge
- The completed application form supporting documents
- Your IHS reference number (if needed)
- Any dependents on your application.
This process probably sounds pretty normal, but the Premium Centre benefit makes it possible to process your documents that day, and receive your biometric documents within 7-10 days.
If you have any experience with immigration, you’ll know that this turnaround time is very quick.
You’ll need to bring proof of your time in the country, as well as any other documents supporting whichever certificate you’re applying for.
It’s important to remember that EEA laws still allow members free movement into and out of the UK. These certificates only prove your right to live and work as an EEA member.
However, you do need a registration certificate if you don’t meet qualifications but are an extended family member of an EEA national living in the UK.
What Are the Benefits?
The most important benefit of Premium Centres is speed. Plain and simple you’re not going to push through immigration paperwork any faster.
For non-EEA members, this might not seem like such a big deal. Though, even those that need a new UK visa application should remember that UK immigration is going to back up immensely when Brexit becomes law.
Remember, everyone living under EEA law loses their free movement rights and will have to apply for visas or citizenship.
The amount of expected strain transferred to the immigration system from the influx of new “immigrants” look massive.
That said, EEA member should look at these centres as extremely important in the future when they can expect to be able to avail of these services.
We want to be perfectly clear that once Brexit hits, neither yourself nor your EEA family members will legally reside in the United Kingdom.
Traditionally, it’s common for EEA members to dismiss the need for registration certificates or the permanent residence document.
Now, even the relatively mundane registration certificate seems necessary.
So These Centers Can Help With Citizenship? And My UK Visa Application?
The long answer is yes, it just depends on how you utilize them.
The Premium Centres handle both your UK visa application and your Indefinite Leave to Remain.
However, we’re recommending EEA citizens get their permanent residence documents and apply for citizenship so that a UK visa application is never an issue.
Getting one of these documents is rather easy, provided you’ve lived and worked in the UK for the past 5 years.
You’ll need the following documents:
- Your current passport and national identity cards
- Passport sized colour photographs
- Evidence of residence for 5 years – such as utility bills
- Evidence you’ve been employed or studying
Provide these things and you’ll receive your permanent residence document.
Now, you’re ready to apply for your UK citizenship. We recommend starting this process right away.
We know this sounds like a lot to take in, but don’t worry, you’re not going to wake up tomorrow and become an illegal alien.
The UK understands these upcoming problems and is strategizing to handle them. After all, EEA members work in the country and help support local economies.
The UK may have left the European Union, however, we’re still very aware of the interdependence Western European nations all share.
Make sure you’re diligent about turning in your paperwork on time, and nothing bad will come of it.
That’s why we recommend people take advantage of Premium Centres before the immigration rush hits.