Universities UK criticises Sopra Steria for slow UK student visa processing
Universities UK (UUK) has criticised Sopra Steria for the slow processing of documents needed for visa applications amid unmet growing demand.
This as Sopra Steria, the company being contracted to check documents and store biometric information of students for visa applications, was said to be unable to meet growing demands, with students in some parts said to be waiting as much as 30 days to secure a visa appointment.
Previously, students were able to arrange documents through their local post office at their own convenience.
Sopra Steria appointment, biometric issues
Among the issues being complained about were the difficult appointment and problems in accessing and processing information online.
The report also said that students are paying through the nose to fast-track their appointments but are still unable to book a schedule.
Sopra Steria was said to be offering pop-up services but with a charging fee between £100 and £200 for premium appointments. This is on top of the students pay for visas and does not account for the space and staff resources that universities will need to use to facilitate these appointments.
Slow UK student visa service unacceptable
“Despite constructive engagement between the Home Office, UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) and UUK, the current capacity and level of service being offered by Sopra Steria remains unacceptable. Students and universities cannot be expected to pay to address Sopra Steria’s broken system,” Universities UK Chief Executive Alistair Jarvis was quoted as saying.
“We are calling on Sopra Steria to fully address these concerns before the September surge of students so that students can start their courses with the visas they need,” he added.
“International students make a huge cultural and economic contribution to the UK. Sopra Steria should be helping to send a more welcoming message to international students, signaling that the UK is open to talented individuals from around the world, as is the case at our universities.”
In September, UK will be expecting a surge in the number of inbound students who will be in need to enter biometric information online.