The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges for the visa sector, not least how to continue processing visa applications that rely on customers attending a visa centre during a time of local travel restrictions and social distancing. At TLScontact, we have implemented new measures at our visa application centres to help us ensure customer and staff safety during appointments. Our on-demand visa service is another way in which we can offer visa applicants a safe, secure, and more personalised experience.
Biometric enrolment is required for many visa applications and generally requires applicants to attend an appointment at a visa application centre. While TLScontact aims for the widest geographical coverage possible, applicants may still find themselves having to travel long distances if they don’t live near a major city. This can be both time-consuming and, if the journey is made on public transport, not without risk in the era of COVID-19.
Unsurprisingly, we have seen increased interest in our on-demand mobile visa service in recent months as customers prefer a more convenient, personalised option that enables them to submit their visa application in a location of their choice, away from the crowds. It is a service that was already offered in a number of locations around the world before COVID-19 and that we are now rapidly expanding, adding on-demand capacity in a number of different regions, to allow us to offer this service more widely.
How does the on-demand mobile visa service work?
- Visa customers can submit a request for the on-demand service to their local TLScontact centre via the website. They will then be contacted directly by the local team, to arrange a convenient day, time and location to submit their application. The location may be a home address, hotel, office, or other appropriate venue.
- On the day of the appointment, qualified TLScontact agents travel to the venue and carry out biometric enrolment using mobile equipment and a secure VPN for data transfer. Our UK visa customers might already have scanned their supporting documents beforehand, using our eSolo online self-scanning solution. However, where required, our agents can also provide assistance with scanning. Customer passports are collected and can be returned directly to applicants once the visa decision has been made, using our Express Courier Return service. For UK visa customers, the on-demand service can also be combined with the UK Priority Visa service, for a faster visa decision.
Who is the on-demand service for?
Our on-demand visa services can be of value to a range of customers, including time-starved business travellers or individuals who simply don’t want to have to travel to a centre to submit their visa application. On-demand visa services are also a cost-effective option for families, groups and sports teams, enabling all group members to carry out their biometric enrolment on the same day, rather than each person having to travel separately to a visa application centre. For managers of sports clubs and other membership organisations, arranging an on-demand session to submit visa applications at the same time and in the same location can significantly reduce the administrative effort required and reduce the risk of international fixtures being disrupted.
The world over, customers are increasingly showing an appetite for a more personalised experience, adapted to their specific requirements, and the visa sector is no exception. COVID-19 has accelerated this process and created new customer concerns and needs. The on-demand visa service is one way of meeting these needs, offering additional reassurance, convenience and personal attention to visa applicants of every type.
Article by Graham Rigby
Product & Marketing Director