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How to apply for a UK spouse visa from the Czech Republic

18 December 2019 Amna Ashraf Personal Immigration

Are you a non-European citizen in a relationship with a British citizen and thinking of moving out of picturesque Czech Republic (also known as Czechia in short-form) to the UK? You look online and see a wealth of information, take a few days to try and digest it all, but several pages of printouts and scribbles later, you have a number of questions and a very confused overview. Our guide to your UK spouse visa application below sets out the procedure involved in order to make navigation easier for you. 

 

 

 

You will benefit from viewing our webinars first before reading this country specific guide. In the first three webinars, we talk the viewers through the evidence required in such applications and the UK spouse visa requirements. In the fourth one, we outline procedural steps involved in making these kinds of applications from any country.

The Czech Republic is in the EU, why do I even need a visa?

EU nationals can still enter the UK. The guide below is not aimed at Czech citizens, only those who are non-European nationals living in the Czech Republic. To permanently move to join their British partner in the UK, an application needs to be made under the UK’s immigration rules. Below we will cover only an application under the UK’s domestic rules only and not the more complex path involving European free movement rights known as the Surinder Singh route.

Visa application - stage one

The first stage is the submission of the actual UK spouse visa application form on the gov.uk website. This involves answering detailed questions on a lengthy application form about your background and current circumstances.  The website automatically selects ‘the city of a hundred spires’, Prague, as your place for you a biometrics appointment (a meeting in person for your facial image and fingerprints to be enrolled). Next, you pay your immigration health surcharge fee, pay your application fee, and then, your application is officially considered submitted.

Visa application - stage two

After you apply for spouse visa UK, you will have to arrange and attend your biometrics appointment and submit your documents to the decision-makers. This part involves interaction with TLScontact, an outsourced service specialist company that the Home Office has hired to handle the administrative tasks related to visa processing. This company is distinct from another outsourced service specialist company called VFS Global which is used in countries where TLScontact is not. In our blog for US processes, we outlined VFS’s dealings being marked by a ‘bad’ one star service by 73% of 3,068 reviews on trustpilot. The criticism against TLScontact is equally bad but from a much smaller number of reviews. In our experience, the document upload facility provided by TLScontact is simple and easy to use compared to VFS Global, so count yourself lucky.

After submission, you will receive an email with confirmation of submission and a link to access your application. To book the appointment, click on that link which will direct you to the TLScontact portal, allowing you to select a time slot from the displayed calendar. Choose carefully to ensure you have adequate time to upload documents (read submission options below) and travel to the appointment center.

There are three methods of submission:

  1. The ‘self service’ option - uploading supporting documents to the TLScontact website - free

This is usually my way of doing things. It ensures I can check all evidence uploaded and that I do not have to rely on a third party scanning things (as they have proven incapable of doing so in the past resulting in resolution through an appeal process).

There are two ways of uploading onto TLScontact portal: webapp or mobile app with specific guidelines for each. Either way, the onus is on the user to ensure the documents are uploaded before the appointment under some pre-defined categories.

Any problems with uploading can apparently be reported to them (which in our experience does not yield helpful responses). It is worthwhile checking if your browser is one of the compatible ones and sometimes logging out and back in does the trick.

Platform

OS

Browser

Desktop

Win 10

Chrome (latest version)

Desktop

Win 10

Edge (lastest version)

Desktop

Win 7

Firefox (latest version)

Desktop

OS X

Safari (latest version)

Mobile / Tablet

Android

Chrome (latest version)

Mobile / Tablet

iOS

Safari (latest version)

At the appointment, a printout showing documents successfully uploaded together with the usual passports and any other ancillary items are taken for inspection.

  1. Document scanning assistance service during the biometrics appointment in Prague - chargeable  

This option requires purchase of the service ahead of time and a receipt to be brought to the biometrics appointment together with your originals passports and appointment sheet. There are two options available. The standard scanning service takes 5 working days and costs EUR 100.80. For EUR 134.40, you can expedite scanning to 24 hours. 

  1. 3.    UK settlement scanning service – chargeable

This is the same as option 2 above except that the documents can be sent to a processing hub in London instead of being taken by the applicant to their appointment in Prague. The standard and priority services for scanning are also available for London.

Decision and documents

Normally a decision can take up to 60 working days for settlement visas. For those that meet the criteria, a priority decision service can be purchased for an additional EUR 708.14. This aims to make a decision within 30 days of the biometric enrolment (although there is no shortage of material online and personal experience to tell you that they often overrun this timeframe).

Once a decision on your UK spouse visa application is reached by the team, it will be conveyed through a cryptic email which informs you that a decision has been made on your application (they don’t bother to tell you the result at this stage). Following that email, the actual passport and decision letter will be sent back to you via third party express mail service provider. Unlike some other countries, there is presently no facility in Prague for you to collect your passport and decision in person. 

One thing TLScontact does do better than VFS Global is provide a tracking facility which is accessible through your TLScontact account. This allows an applicant to trace the stages of their application online. In other words, you can see at a glance whether your application is still being considered or on its way back to you. Don’t get too excited though, as this does not give you any deep insight in to UK Visas and Immigration’s consideration of your application, but it’s still reassuring to be able to monitor where it is.

If your UK spouse visa application has been granted, you will receive your passport back with an entry-clearance vignette stamp which will enable you to enter the UK. For spouse / partner visas this will be for 30 days.  After arrival in the UK you will then collect a card (it looks like an ID card) called a Biometric Residence Permit which sets out your full visa details and duration. This is collected from a post office closest to your residence in the UK or you can select a different location when completing the online application form. Those granted fiancé visas will not collect a Biometric Residence Permit, rather, their whole 6 months will be endorsed on the vignette in the passport.

Last words of advice

Keeping a close eye on the website, instructions, prompts and confirmatory emails is crucial to success. Things do change rapidly with TLScontact and sometimes in contradiction with the information on gov.uk website and the Immigration Rules. If you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed with this process, please do get in touch with us. Our family migration team has years of experience dealing with this type of work and will work with you to take as much of the stress and uncertainty out of the process as possible. Our online contact form is the best way to get in touch with us to get started on your UK spouse visa application.

 

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