To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 17 June 2019 to Question 263146 on Visas: Applications, if he will ensure that the processing of in-country visa services by Sopra Steria will not result in increased prices for visa services for (a) international students and staff at UK universities and (b) universities.
As part of the application process in the UK individuals must enrol their biometrics at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service centre which are run by Sopra Steria.
For the majority of applicants in the UK there are a variety of offerings for students and other employees at UK education institutions which include free appointments at core service points, access to enhanced service points and the premium lounge for a fee. Additionally, to help meet demand for the autumn increase in student applications a “Tier 4 Service Point” will also be offered by Sopra Steria for a fee. This cost of this is lower than the costs of an out of hours, enhanced service point or premium lounge appointments under the normal UKVCAS service and will save students the financial and logistical burden of travel.
As part of our governance processes, we work closely with SSL to ensure that excessive charges are not imposed on UKVI customers. Whilst SSL may offer added value services to customers, these are optional and aim to enhance the customer experience.