Solihull PSC was found to be performing effectively and efficiently overall, with the vast majority of applicants receiving a same day decision. Timely explanations were provided to customers whose applications could not be processed on the same day, and every effort was made to progress the case as quickly as possible.
However, the inspection found that UKVI was acting unreasonably in retaining fees for applications that were submitted before applicants were qualified to do so.
The Chief Inspector found that:
- information about the premium appointment service was available to customers on the GOV.UK website and was displayed inside Solihull Premium Service Centre (PSC). The PSC displayed information about its complaints procedure and all information provided was clear and consistent;
- Solihull PSC was consistently meeting or exceeding its commitment to process 98.5% of applications received on the day of receipt;
- where applications could not be decided on the same day, management oversight was effective and ensured that the cases were progressed towards a decision; and
- mandatory security checks were being conducted and there was a considerable focus on quality assurance, with decisions made by caseworkers routinely subjected to local quality assurance checks.
The Chief Inspector also found that:
- while UKVI was correctly refusing applications that had been submitted before applicants had completed the qualifying period it was then retaining both the premium service fee and the standard application fee. Neither the application form nor the guidance notes adequately highlighted that fees would be retained in such circumstances.
NOTES TO EDITOR
- Copies of this report will be added to the Independent Chief Inspector’s website once it has been laid in Parliament on Thursday 15 October 2015.
- David Bolt took up the post of Independent Chief Inspector on 1 May 2015.
- Premium Service Centres (PSCs) in the United Kingdom offer a ‘premium’ same day service to non-European nationals making straightforward applications to settle in the UK, and to certain categories of applicants who want to extend their leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
- The premium service is available through the payment of a fee (£400) in addition to the application fee for a standard postal application. There are seven PSCs in the UK which offer this service: Belfast, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Solihull. Two of these centres, Croydon and Glasgow were inspected in 2010 and 2014 respectively.
- For media enquiries please contact Alex Cheatle on 0203 513 0442 or . The Chief Inspector will be taking bids from print and online media only.