The UK Border Agency started operating in 2008 as a new agency belonging to the Home Office UK (see home office information website for details) and is the single border control organisation formed by a merger between the Border and Immigration Agency, UK visas and certain functions of the HMRC. The activity of the agency is divided into three main fields:
– external controls, including visa issues;
– borders controls, including passport and customs controls;
– immigration controls, including asylum and applications for extending stay and settlement in the UK.
– the Border Force manages the entry ports of the UK and the Border Targeting Centre, which is the high-tech hub of the UK Border Agency focusing on the screening of passenger movements in and out of the UK by rail, air and sea;
– the International Group handles all work-related issues and visa applications for the UK through the Visa Service;
– the Immigration Group manages casework and enforcement in the country;
– the Criminality and Detention division carries out and manages criminal investigations and is also engaged in handling criminal cases and removal centres.
In other words, the UK Border Agency is the organisation to handle issues related to entering or leaving the UK or to passports. If you wish to apply for a UK visa from another country, you can contact the Agency’s commercial partner in your region – for example, in India you will have to contact the VFS Global. These commercial partners handle the visa applications in close collaboration with the UK Border Agency. They do not take part in the decision making process, but offer assistance with questions related to the types of visa the applicant needs to apply for.
The UK Border Agency offers the public services regarding different applications. You can submit certain types of applications online and you can use certain services through the internet. For example:
– You can obtain detailed information about the legal conditions of visiting the UK, working or studying in the UK;
– You can submit your online application for a visa to the UK and also pay the visa fee through a secure internet connection;
– You can book an appointment at the public enquiry office and biometric enrolment centre. Biometric information (your fingerprints and facial image) is necessary if you have applied for extending your stay or for settlement in the UK. You must send your application by post and you will receive a biometric notification letter from the Agency.
However, certain applications cannot be submitted to the UK Border Agency in an online form or by post: they must be submitted in person at the public enquiry offices in the UK. These public enquiry offices handle applications for extending your stay, also known as limited leave to remain, and applications for permanent settlement, known as indefinite leave to remain. The public enquiry offices also handle applications submitted by the applicant in person. This also means that you can hand in an application for another person only if you are the spouse, a close relative or the legal guardian to the applicant and you carry a letter of authorization signed by the applicant.
The applications for the registration certificates for citizens from the European Economic Area can be submitted at the public enquiry office in Croydon.
Beside these activities, the UKBA provides assistance and up-to-date, accurate information in a number of other domains, like recent changes in immigration law or sponsoring students. The Agency is involved in helping reunite the families that asylum seekers have left behind when they came to the UK and offers custom and travel information for UK passport owners, residents and short-term visitors alike. The Agency is also one of the host government directorates for the forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games and is engaged in securing the safety of the Games. The UK Border Agency strives to deliver all these activities in a highly professional, collaborative and respectful manner.