The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is looking to procure visa services, including biometric services, worth between £120 million and £360 million.
It comes as the UKBA announced that it has completed the rollout of biometric residence permits in the UK. From today, all applicants from outside the EU applying to stay in the UK for more than six months will have to register their fingerprints and digital facial image. Successful applicants will receive a biometric residence permit as evidence of their immigration status.
The UKBA said that it has issued around 650,000 biometric residence permits since November 2008.
According to a tender notice, the UKBA's overseas arm, the International Group, is looking for suppliers to provide services related to the provision and management of visa applications. As well as biometric services, courier services and document handling services will also be required.
The services will support the International Group's visa operations in 130 countries.
Under the five to seven-year contract, some of the services will be deployed in 2014, with others introduced gradually until 2016.
The UKBA has experienced a number of IT headaches related to its failed £1.2 billion e-Borders immigration programme. Last summer, it was said to be locked in a binding arbitration process with supplier Raytheon after the company was sacked from the programme in July 2010. Up until being removed from the e-Borders contract Raytheon had been paid £188 million, out of its £742 million contract.
Home Secretary Theresa May announced last week that the UK Border Agency would be split in two, where it would become a separate law-enforcement body, following numerous revelations about failed border checks carried out in the last few years.