The Home Office are running secret online trials for a new application system that is designed for EU nationals and their family members.
Whilst the secret (but not so secret) online trial is a reaction to the overwhelming number of EU applications that have been submitted to the Home Office I cant help but wonder why the Home Office have not made the move towards having all applications completed online?
As someone who has grown up in the age of computers and advanced technologies, it does not seem all that daunting that applications could be completed online. In fact, the Home Office require all entry clearance applications to be completed via their online portal (with some minor exceptions) as well most in-country Tier 2 applications. So why not make everything else digital?
I recently represented a client who had failed to tick one box on an application he completed himself some 6 years ago. As a result, his application was rejected and there was a break in his lawful residence. He managed to resolve it at the time but this rejected application became an issue when he applied for settlement four years later. His settlement application was refused and I was then instructed to litigate the matter. Two years later after three oral hearings before three different judges, the matter has now concluded (positively) for my client. Whilst my client is pleased with the result, he still had to go through the stress and uncertainty of litigation before the First-Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal - all because he did not tick one small box on a paper application form.
Had that application been completed online, then it would have been impossible for the client to have submitted that application without first completing all the mandatory sections. The Home Office claim that visa applications should be straight forward and accessible to members of the public yet they produce application forms which are convoluted and extremely onerous. I completed a recent EEA (PR) application form for a client and out of the 85 pages printed, only 20 were required...
This online trial is welcome news to my ears - any steps towards streamlining the process can only be good news for everyone involved.