UK Visas and Immigration is set to begin the main implementation process of its new online application service, Access UK, later this year.

The new platform replaces the Visa4UK website, which will be discontinued once the transition is complete, and aims to improve the customer experience with new technology and the digitisation of its services.

Digitisation will enable UK Visas and Immigration to make decisions on visa applications using digitally scanned copies of required documentation, rather than waiting for physical versions to arrive in the decision-making hub.

The main phase will also see the roll-out of technology that will allow customers to self-scan their biometrics when attending their visa application centre appointment, providing a quicker, smoother experience.

Some of the other enhancements will allow customers to book their visa application centre appointment, scan and upload their supporting documentation from home, and purchase any additional services that are intended to enhance their experience, in one continuous journey. Customers can continue to upload documents to support their application up until the day of their appointment. This development means that the majority of customers no longer have to submit their original documentation, though customers will still need to provide their passport in order for a vignette to be placed, should they be granted a visa.

Applicants also have the option of scanning their documents at the visa application centre for a fee.