If you are awaiting a decision on an application for a UK visa, tracking the progress of your application can be crucial to planning ahead, especially where you are time-pressured for a decision.
The following guide looks at how UK visa applicants can check the status of their applications, whether you have applied to extend an existing visa or switch to a new category of visa from within the UK, or you are applying for entry clearance or leave to enter the UK from another country.
We also share general guidance on the standard and premium visa processing times (although the guidance given is not taking into account any delays that may be currently caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic).
Checking your UK visa application status from inside the UK
Most applications to extend leave to remain in the UK, including applications to switch to another visa category, as well as applications for settlement and citizenship, are now made through the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS).
UKVCAS was launched by the UK Home Office to speed up the processing of in-country further leave to remain applications. Applicants are required to attend a single appointment to have their identity confirmed, enrol any biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) that may be required and submit their documentation in support.
However, applicants will not be given a decision at their UKVCAS appointment. The visa application and supporting documents will be sent to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to be processed. UKVI is a division of the Home Office responsible for the UK’s visa system, who will allocate to a specific case worker for a decision to be made.
If you have already submitted a UK visa application and are now waiting to hear the outcome, visit the GOV.UK website to find information and updates from UKVI on visa processing in general. You cannot currently track your individual visa application online, but you can use an online tool to obtain information on which department to contact for your particular application.
You will need to answer a couple of questions about your application when using this tool, such as the case refernce number assigned when you submitted the application, and you should be provided contact information for different departments at UKVI.
Alternatively, you can contact the relevant UKVI department by telephone. The contact centre (0300 123 2241) is available from Monday to Thursday, between 9am to 4:45pm, and on Fridays between 9am to 4:30pm. You will be able to make enquiries about the status of your application, and to track your visa application UK. Note that the contact centre staff cannot give advice about your personal circumstances or how these will impact the outcome of your application.
If you have any questions about British citizenship you will need to contact the citizenship and nationality enquiries team on 0300 123 2253 from Monday to Thursday between 9am to 4:45pm and Fridays, 9am to 4:30pm. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to check UK visa application status when made outside the UK
When applying for a visa from outside the UK you will need to attend a visa application centre in the country from which you are applying to provide your biometric information, together with all necessary documents in support of your application.
As with in-country visa applications, you will not receive a decision on your application at your appointment to enrol your biometric information and provide your supporting documentation. You will instead be required to wait for a decision from UKVI.
You can call UKVI staff with a question about your application on 00 44 203 481 1736. This is open Monday to Friday, 24 hours, at a cost of £1.37 per minute on top of your standard network charges. You can also use the UKVI online tool at: www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk. Using email is often the best option for how to check your UK visa application status, as your email enquiry is more likely to be directed to the caseworker dealing with your particular application.
Email enquiries each cost £5.48, although you will not be charged for any follow-up emails relating to the same enquiry. You will need a credit or debit card to use this service, where you will be asked to enter your payment details before sending your email, but you will not be charged until your message has been sent. UKVI will usually reply within 2 days, except on Saturdays, Sundays and UK public holidays.
Please note, if your message is urgent, you can phone the contact centre instead, although the contact centre staff will not have any involvement in the outcome of your case.
What are the standard processing times for UK visa applications?
The time in which it will take to process your UK visa application will primarily depend on whether you have applied to either come to or remain in the UK. The category of visa that you are applying for may also affect your application wait times.
Generally speaking, the wait times for visa applications made from outside the UK will be much shorter than for in-country applications, although you should still be allowed to stay in the UK pending any decision from UKVI, so long as you have submitted your application to extend your leave to remain or switch to another category before your existing visa expires.
UKVI publishes standard processing times for applications on its website in accordance with their customer charter.
It is important to remember that the guide times provided are not a guarantee.
Inside the UK
Based on the current official wait times, for those of you applying to remain in the UK on a temporary basis, including as spouses, workers, students, and Tier 1 general and entrepreneurs, the standard processing time is 8 weeks. Applications for indefinite leave to remain made from inside the UK will usually be dealt with within 6 months.
Outside the UK
For those of you applying for a visa from outside the UK, it is estimated that 90% of non-settlement applications will be processed within 3 weeks, 98% within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks of the application date, where 1 week is 5 working days.
For those applying for settlement from outside the UK, it is estimated that 98.5% of settlement applications will be dealt with within 12 weeks of the application date, and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date, where again 1 week is 5 working days.
How does premium processing work?
If you are looking to obtain a faster decision on your visa application, in many cases it is possible to pay for premium processing, or what’s known as a priority service, when you submit your application. You will need to check your application type for available priority services. If you are applying outside the UK, you will also need to check with the visa application centre where you intend to make your application.
There may be two premium processing options available to you: the ‘5 working day priority service’ and the ‘next working day super priority service’. The timescales for priority services will run from when you complete your appointment to provide your biometric information and supporting evidence, although these times do not include the time taken to issue you with your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). You will usually receive your BRP within 7 working days after a decision has been made on your application.
For super priority service appointments attended on a Saturday or Sunday, the appointment will be deemed as attended on the next working day. Where there is a bank holiday the next working day will be classed as a Tuesday, but in most cases this will be a Monday. This means, for example, a Saturday appointment will usually be deemed as attended on the Monday after the weekend, and the decision on your visa application completed and dispatched by the end of the next working day.
What can delay a UK visa application?
If your visa application is straightforward, for example, where a decision can be made on it without you being asked for more information, it will usually be decided within the standard processing times or, where you have paid for a faster decision, the premium processing times.
If, however, your application is more complex, the usual times may not necessarily apply and you may need to wait longer for a decision. If your application is delayed, you will be informed by letter as to what will happen next within the relevant timescales for your visa.
If you applied for a priority or super priority visa and it is not possible to meet the applicable timescale, your application will still be put at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process. UKVI will also still aim to process your application within standard global timescales. In these circumstances, you may be able to request a refund of the additional fee paid for premium processing.
Your application could be delayed for a number of reasons. This could be due to backlogs in processing applications by UKVI, both generally and, more recently, because of the coronavirus pandemic. This could also be because your supporting documents need to be verified and/or you are required to attend an interview, or because of your personal circumstances, such as any adverse immigration history or criminal convictions.
Your visa application will be assessed both in accordance with the general requirements under the UK immigration rules, as well as the specific eligibility criteria required for your visa category. If there is insufficient evidence in support of your application, or a question mark over whether you qualify for a particular visa or satisfy the general requirements to come to or remain in the UK, further investigations may be warranted.
If you have been asked to provide additional documentation in support of your UK visa application, or have concerns about attending an interview, expert advice should be sought from an immigration specialist to guide you through this process.
Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions relating to the Immigration Health Surcharge affecting you or your employees.
Checking your UK visa application status FAQs
How can I check the status of my UK visa application?
You cannot currently track your individual visa application online, but you can use an online tool to obtain information on which department to contact for your particular in-country or overseas application, where you will be directed to contact information for different UKVI departments.
How do I check my VFS application status?
If you have applied overseas for a UK visa and attended an appointment at a visa application centre, you can go to the GOV.UK online tool to track your VFS application status. VFS are the commercial partners used by UKVI to help deliver their overseas visa services. You will be given the option of contacting UKVI by either telephone or email, although email enquiries are more likely to be directed to the caseworker dealing with your application.
How can I check my UK visa status with passport number?
When you first submitted your application for a UK visa, you will have been asked to provide your passport. Once your application has been successfully submitted, you should then have been given a case reference number. You will need to have this number to hand when you phone or email UKVI to check your UK visa status and the progress of your application.
Last updated: 20 October 2020