Sopra Steria Appointments – Top Ten Tips
Earlier this year applications for visas made from within the UK moved on-line. After you’ve submitted your application you’ll be directed to make an appointment with Sopra Steria to enrol your biometric information.
You’ll also be given the option of uploading the documents supporting your application yourself or of having them scanned by Sopra Steria at the appointment. Many applicants find it convenient to use Sopra Steria’s scanning service but I’ve seen a lot of chatter on immigration blog sites about these appointments and difficulties people are having with them. I wanted to experience this first hand so went to an appointment with a client. I offer these reflections:
1. The Sopra Steria staff member was polite, business-like and efficient;
2. Sopra Steria will ask for the supporting documents in a sequence dictated by a Home Office template. The template seems to follow the checklists which appear at the end of the on-line application. It saves a lot of time if the bundle is prepared in the same sequence as those checklists.
3. Don’t be deterred if you’ve prepared supporting papers which are not requested. There is a facility to add documents outside the predetermined categories, you just have to ask for it. I’ve read complaints of Sopra Steria not scanning documents which have been produced. Obviously I can’t comment on the circumstances of those cases but my experience suggests it may reflect misunderstandings. If a case is complex or the applicant’s command of English is weak it’d be a good idea to be accompanied to the appointment.
4. The on-line indexing system is cumbersome.
5. The portable document scanner used at Service Points has a document feeder and by and large it works well. It accepts single sided or double sided documents in batches of 20 pages. However, it struggled with the full 20 pages and seemed to work better with batches of 15 – 17 pages.
6. Don’t staple or clip documents. This jams the feeder.
7. The feeder doesn’t like documents which have been folded or have curled edges. The scanner sometimes fails to process such documents so it’s important to verify the number of documents the scanner has accepted in each batch. The process is much quicker and easier if documents are flat and regular.
8. Don’t be pressured by a queue of applicants. My clients’ appointment overran the allotted time and we were very conscious of people waiting for us to finish but took the time required to get the job done properly.
9. Completing the initial on-line application was difficult. It took several hours over 4 separate sessions because the form failed to load properly, timed out or simply froze. Then, no local appointments were available before the existing visa expired so we went for a slightly more distant appointment.
10. Don’t panic!
Sound preparation and the orderly presentation of supporting documents are the keys to a successful appointment. It’s also worth remembering Sopra Steria are not the decision makers; they are the Home Office’s processing agents. If you require assistance with your own visa application, contact experienced immigration solicitor, James Humphery.