A visa application form filled in on a computer, printed off and posted to the Home Office is not an “online application”. That is probably no surprise to anyone but the appellant in R (Shah) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 368, who tried to argue that a “print and send” application for a student visa was actually an online application.
Lord Justice Haddon-Cave thought that an “unreal” proposition:
In my view, it is quite clear that the “print and send” method used by the Appellant was the “specified application form” method under paragraphs A34-34D of the Immigration Rules and it was not an “on-line application”. The reasons are, frankly, obvious (a) from the face of the official website and the form, (b) from what in fact the Appellant did and (c) from a sensible reading of the Immigration Rules.
All over bar the shouting from there. It is mildly surprising to see, shall we say, ambitious arguments like this get a full airing in the Court of Appeal, but the judges granting permission for appeals seem to have a blind spot when it comes to online applications. Last year, the court heard argument on whether an online application counts as an application for the purposes of the Immigration Rules at all.