The following notes should help you avoid getting trapped in the waiting game of Premium Service Centre appointment booking. Premium Service Centre decisions (for some applications made in the UK) can be made more quickly than a postal route, but a postal route is easier on occasion.
Premium Service Centre appointments are becoming almost as elusive as a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship. Repeatedly now we are greeted with the sign ‘We do not have any appointments in the next 45 business days at your selected location’. This could be due to the time of year; Home Office staff will be taking summer holidays, therefore less people are present to make a decision, but The Visa Office maintain this is a trend: £610 per application for a decision on the day is not expensive to a lot of people.
Our advice is to plan ahead – Once you arrive in the UK and receive your BRP card it will have an expiry date. Write the expiry date in an online calendar with an automatic reminder 4 months before. Tell family members the date as they may be able to put it in their own diaries and remind you. 4 months to prepare an application means you are less likely to be panicking as you are near the deadline.
Premium Service Centre applications can usually be booked 45 business days in advance. That is 9 weeks in advance. The application does not have to be complete before you book the appointment but you do have to be prepared to pay for the application. Aim to book your appointment far in advance.
Tier 2: as long as the application is not more than 3 months before the start date on your new Certificate of Sponsorship you can apply earlier than the expiry date of your BRP card. There is also a separate 10 working day priority service for Tier 2 Further Leave to Remain applications. There is a separate fee for this service.
Take regulated immigration advice concerning your application as some immigration applications in the UK may be submitted 28 days in advance of the expiry date on your visa. Give yourself more time.
Take the long term view: Whilst it may be inconvenient to release your passport to the Home Office for a significant period of time on the postal route application, it may short term pain for longer term gain.
What are the chances of the Home Office losing your passport?
Most people know someone who has had documentation missing during the application process. We have worked with clients who have had documentation missing on return of the application, but this is not true of every application.
Take regulated immigration advice and check whether you can provide certified copies of documentation with your application. If you do not pay for the £610 for a quick decision, think what else you could buy with this money.