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Visa service deal goes to Sopra Steria



Home Office emphasises provision of biometrics and capacity to upload digital files in application

Sopra Steria has won the contract to provide a new service for visa applicants that will include an increased digital element, including the provision of biometrics at an appointment and the capacity to upload in files in advance.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes announced the deal, saying it will provide for a more streamlined application process from over 60 locations across the UK.

The Home Office said the digital transformation company will take on the contract in October and highlighted two new features of the process to apply for a work or study visa, settlement or citizenship.

Applicants will be able to submit the necessary biometric information including photos, fingerprints and signatures and their supporting evidence at a single appointment. The evidence will then be copied and sent to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), saving people from handing over the documents while the applications are processed.

The new process will also give them the choice of uploading digital files in advance of their appointment.

Principal products in the programme - kiosk, biometrics and application software - are being designed and built in the UK under a partnership between Sopra Steria and Unilink.

Quicker and easier

Nokes said: “The new streamlined service will make the visa application process quicker and easier to access than ever before for people in the UK, through increasing the use of digital services.

“We look forward to working with Sopra Steria to continue to deliver a world class and convenient service for UKVI customers.”

When UKVI launched the procurement in August of last year it emphasised that it wanted “to move, where appropriate, to a self-service, digital experience for all parts of the application process”.

Its initial notice said the contract was likely to run for at least three years with the possibility of a two-year extension and estimated the value at £91 million.

Sopra Steria already has a significant presence as a service provider on a national scale. It provides the Probation Service with ICT functions and support, and since 2004 has run NHS Shared Business Services in a joint venture with the Department of Health.

Image by Fox Wu, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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