I was contacted by a visa applicant in Cameroon who was ready to attend her appointment and submit her supporting documents at the Visa Application Centre, when she received a message from TLS (the Government’s “commercial partner” operating the VAC):
Yes. Cameroon is now one of the countries whose settlement visa applications are decided by the UK Visas section in Sheffield.
Unfortunately it is surprisingly difficult to discover this from the application process. A visa applicant completes the online application form and is instructed to make an appointment at the VAC in Yaounde.
The VAC is run by TLS, so the applicant is also instructed to register separately on the TLS website. A quick internet search for “TLS Cameroon” provides a link to a page about the VAC location. Clicking on the link that says Applying for your Visa takes you to instructions about the application process. There are no special instructions for settlement visa applicants on that page.
It is easy to bypass the TLS Home page completely. And that is where the notification about the document submission process for settlement visa applicants is hidden. Can you spot it?
The link in the sixth paragraph takes you to the information that you need.
The applicant has now incurred the cost of couriering a full bundle of supporting documents to Cameroon, and will have to incur the same cost to send it back to the UK. It’s an unnecessary added anxiety and expense in the visa application process.
Other countries where UK settlement visa applicants must send documents directly to the Sheffield visa section include: Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, and Sierra Leone. Applicants in Pakistan and the United States must also send their documents directly to Sheffield, but the instructions for submission are slightly different.