British Embassy Astana announces changes to visa service


British Embassy Astana announces changes to visa serviceIn light of stories we have seen today on the British visa application process, the British Embassy in Astana would like to send a clear statement on changes to the visa process that will take place in December 2012.

From 11 December all UK visa applications submitted in Kazakhstan will be decided at the UK Border Agency regional hub in Istanbul . This is part of a global move by the British Government to provide an efficient service by processing visa applications in regional centres, the  British Embassy Astana statement reads.

The visa application process for customers in Kazakhstan will not change . You can continue to submit applications and pay the appropriate visa fee on-line through the visa4uk website.  Applicants will then book an appointment to submit their application form, passport and supporting documents and provide their biometrics at the visa application centre operated by our commercial partner, VFS Global, in Almaty.

Applications and documents submitted in Almaty will be taken by secure courier to the regional visa hub in Istanbul, where a decision on the application will be made. Passports and documents will then be couriered back to the visa application centre in Almaty, where they can be collected.

There will be no additional cost to applicants and processing target times remain unchanged. We aim to process 90 per cent of non-settlement applications within 15 working days of submission at the visa application centre in Almaty. This is in line with our published Customer Service Standards

Applicants are strongly encouraged to continue making their applications well in advance of any planned journey to the UK. An application can be accepted up to 3 months in advance of the proposed date of travel. Applicants should also ensure that they will not need access to their passport for travel or any other reason during this period. Customers of any nationality holding a current valid Kazakh, Tajik or Kyrgyz residence permit can choose to apply in Almaty.

Because of the importance of our political and commercial relations with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, we have included a number of special arrangements so that applications by Kazakh nationals and Kyrgyz nationals are processed as quickly as possible in the Istanbul hub. Kazakh and Kyrgyz citizens, especially frequent and business travellers, are encouraged to consider the option of applying to the Almaty office over the next two months for long term entry visas if their travel plans meet the necessary requirements.

In order to effectively implement this change, there may be some minor intermittent IT outages between 7 and 10 December. We will also be unable to offer appointments at the visa application centre on 7 and 10 December while IT changes are implemented. We apologise for any inconvenience.

The centralisation of visa decision-making at fewer regional hubs is part of a worldwide programme to provide customers with a more effective and flexible visa service with more consistent customer standards and decision quality and better resilience during peak periods.

For further information about applying for a UK visa from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and our customer service standards, please see the Kazakhstan page of the UKBA website.