What do we know about NCS? They are untrained and unprofessional (tested at WAY LOWER level than even Level 1 OISC advisers — NCS is a “simplified” OISC scheme), they turn away applicants with ANY complexity, and actually flag those applications they think problematic   to HO (info from Chief Inspector’s old reports) — what would amount to malpractice for any lawyer. They charge you £100 to belittle you, give you wrong advise, possibly undermine you, and certify some copies (try any solicitor for £10-20, same effect less the bad stuff) but after that they also cause REAL DAMAGE,  as one of my former clients found out last week.

This is a couple I never represented, but advised them on their Tier 1 General ILR in 2015. Last week, the wife posted a comment on my Facebook page, which seemed odd. In mid-January, she applied for nationality through NCS, biometric enrolment was on time, payment went through, and then she had not heard back.

We connected on Skype and I  confirmed as I already knew, that she did not have any issues with either immigration status or character that could cause delay. And then she said, matter of factly – that about a month ago, she received the “survey” email asking her to comment on the service she received from the Home Office.

Considering that mid-January applications will have been completed in early April, AND the survey email EVER only goes to those whose cases, according to CID, had been resolved,

I told her I believe her case had been decided, most likely approved, in April. I then asked her to contact the council —  which was the same council where she had applied at and paid them! — which informed her, rather non-chalantly, that they had indeed had her naturalisation certificate for a while, but it was returned to the Home Office as unclaimed, because she had not contacted them to schedule her ceremony within 21 days!

Some councils of course schedule everyone whose certificates come in,  in for an upcoming ceremony themselves, and then send the applicant their own letter, thus minimising  the risk that none of the approval communications reach the customer. In this case, the poor woman had not received neither initial HO approval letter — God knows where it even went, since copies sent by NCS are apparently not returned, or are they returned to the same council? I dont even know — nor ceremony invitation, although it clearly existed because they are generated at the same time as certificates – nor anything from the council, that despite them actually having her details because she applied through them! The council made zero attempt to chase her up or notify her before returning the certificate.

It was only after I contacted relevant people in HO, that they had been able to locate the certificate for her and generate a new ceremony invitation for us. She was given new 3-month time to take the oath.

But all of this is ENTIRELY the “NCS” fault – if this incompetent glorified copy-making service had any decency or sense of responsibility, all of this could have been avoided.

If you are confident making the application yourself, want to save money,  and all you want is to have your passport certified – make copies of all pages and walk into any solicitor’s office, if you can’t get it done there for £10-£20 then walk into a next one. Works exactly the same. You DON’T need NCS for ANYTHING.

If you want someone else to take full responsibility for your citizenship application, come to an inexpensive adviser like us — we run a special offer until the end of summer, £200 for adult naturalisation,  £100 per child at the same time *(it’s £300 standard anyway!). But we do not just certify copies, we manage your application throughout its cycle, including name discrepancy issues, payment problems, biometric delays, as well as we monitor actual completion cycle.

Depending on when your application was filed, we will always monitor its progression compared to those before and after — and if it staggers, we will check immediately for things like — address issues, missing or non-delivered ceremony invitations or children’s certificates, etc. So that something like the story above could never happen to one of our clients.

If your application has issues that could genuinely cause it to be delayed, it will either be a part of larger groups of applications with the same issue,  or will NOT be delayed in silence (eg, we will have received requests for further information or interviews).

Situations when ceremony invitation letters are missing, are relatively common – but that is caught early usually because before that letter is ever generated and certificate printed,  submitted docs come back with a note that the case had been approved. Apparently that often does not happen at all with “NCS” cases, so the approval, if there are issues on ceremony invitation stage, may actually go completely “unnoticed”. This is nonsense!! In the case described above, it was THE SAME registrar’s office that ran NCS where the client had applied, that had later received — and non-chalantly sent back — her naturalisation certificate! They don’t even try to add two and two together!

NCS, for half that price,  can only hurt your application, it cannot help it or improve it, and it will not monitor its progress in any way..

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