UK Visa Processing Times (Latest from UKVI)

processing times

IN THIS SECTION

The length of time it takes for your application to be processed can be an important factor in deciding when to apply and when to make travel arrangements. But UK visa processing times vary considerably, depending on factors such as the type of visa being applied for, the country or Embassy where the application is made and the applicant’s own individual circumstances and eligibility.

Visa applicants are advised to take guidance on the current processing timescales for their specific type of application.

 

UK visa processing times

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is the Home Office department responsible for the UK’s visa system.

The processing date is typically counted from when the applicant has attended their visa appointment and submitted their biometric information, or as soon as ID checks have been completed and the application is submitted using UKVI’s visa processing app.

Processing times for in-country applications are as follows (correct as at the date of publishing):

 

Category – in-country applications

Processing time

Visit visa 8 weeks
Student visa 8 weeks
Child student visa 8 weeks
Partner visa 8 weeks
Partner visa without minimum income or English language requirement 12 months
Parent visa 12 months
Child visa 8 weeks
Adult – coming to be cared for by relative 8 weeks
Skilled worker visa 8 weeks
Health and care worker visa 3 weeks
Global talent route 8 weeks
Graduate route 8 weeks
Overseas domestic Worker visa 8 weeks
High Potential Individual (HPI) visa 8 weeks
India Young Professionals Scheme 3 weeks
UK ancestry visa 8 weeks
Innovator Founder 8 weeks
Start-up 3 weeks
Government Authorised Exchange 8 weeks
Charity Worker 8 weeks
Creative Worker 8 weeks
International Agreement 8 weeks
Religious Worker 8 weeks
Overseas Domestic Worker 8 weeks
Secondment Worker 8 weeks
Senior or Specialist Worker 8 weeks
Representative of an Overseas Business 8 weeks
Service Supplier 8 weeks
UK Expansion Worker 8 weeks
British National (Overseas) 12 weeks
Entrepreneur 8 weeks
International Sportsperson 8 weeks
Investor 8 weeks
Minister of Religion 8 weeks
Scale-up Worker 8 weeks
Turkish Businessperson 6 months
Turkish Worker 6 months

 

Category – overseas applications

Processing time

Standard Visitor 3 weeks
Permitted Paid Engagement 3 weeks
Marriage Visitor 3 weeks
Chinese tour group 3 weeks
Transit 3 weeks
Student 3 weeks
Child Student 3 weeks
Family visas, including partners, spouses, children, parents & adults coming to be cared for by a relative 24 weeks
Skilled Worker 3 weeks
Health and Care Worker 3 weeks
Government Authorised Exchange 3 weeks
Charity Worker 3 weeks
Creative Worker 3 weeks
International Agreement 3 weeks
Seasonal Worker 3 weeks
Religious Worker 3 weeks
Global Talent 3 weeks
Youth Mobility Scheme 3 weeks
India Young Professionals Scheme visa 3 weeks
UK Ancestry 3 weeks
High Potential Individual (HPI) 3 weeks
Innovator Founder 3 weeks
Start-up 3 weeks
Overseas Domestic Worker 3 weeks
Graduate Trainee 3 weeks
Secondment Worker 3 weeks
Senior or Specialist Worker 3 weeks
Representative of an Overseas Business 3 weeks
Service Supplier 3 weeks
UK Expansion Worker 3 weeks
British National (Overseas) 12 weeks
International Sportsperson 3 weeks
Minister of Religion 3 weeks
Scale-up Worker 3 weeks

 

 

Priority & fast-track services

Priority service and super priority services for applications being made from outside the UK are available for work, business and family visa routes.

Where available, priority processing allows applicants for certain work and settlement routes such as the Skilled Worker visa to pay an additional fee for fast-tracked processing. Priority processing provides a decision within 5 working days, while super-priority is for a decision by the end of the next working day

Priority processing is only available to certain applicants, notably those proving their identity by attending an appointment at a UKVCAS centre or those using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. If available to you, you will be notified when making your application and given the option to purchase faster processing.

The fees for priority and super-priority processing are as follows:

 

Application type

Fee

Priority settlement visa service – out of country £500
Priority non-settlement visa service – out of country £500
Super priority visa service – out of country £1000
Super priority service – in-country £1000
Expedited processing – Priority service – in-country £500

 

 

Priority processing times for Certificate of Sponsorship requests & Changes of Circumstances

Priority processing remains available to A’ rated sponsors for fast-tracked CoS allocation and other Change of Circumstances requests, for a fee of £200 per application. The priority requests are generally processed within 5 working days.

 

What is the difference between UKVCAS and Home Office processing?

One factor that may affect the UK visa processing time is whether the application has to be made through UKVCAS.

UKVCAS (UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service) was introduced in November 2018 to handle certain UK visa, settlement and citizenship applications made be applicants already in the UK.

You will be advised when making your application if you must go through UKVCAS in order for your application to be processed.

 

How might the time of year and other factors affect your UK visa processing time?

There are other factors that may affect the processing time of your UK visa application. These include:

Caseload
Summer is generally the busiest time for UKVI, and other factors such as Home Office priorities may impact processing.

Where you apply from
The country that you apply for your UK visa from may affect the processing time for several reasons, including the relationship and arrangements between the UK and your country, the administrative systems within each country, current conditions within either country, endorsing documents from your country or finding their equivalent in the UK, whether that country is part of the EEA and so on.

It is always advised to check with the UK embassy or consulate in your country for any such issues that could lead to visa processing delays.

Insufficient or incorrect information
If your application includes incorrect information or the documentation you supply is insufficient, the processing time may be longer than expected if UKVI suspend processing to request further information from you in order to make a decision.

The best way to avoid this is to check your application thoroughly and ensure that you have all the necessary documentation to hand before you apply.

 

What are the different types of UK visa applications?

The type of UK visa that you apply for will be the main deciding factor in how long it takes to process your UK visa application. The UK visa that you choose will depend on your reason for visiting the UK and how long you wish to stay.

 

Work in the UK

There are many types of short-term and long-term work visas including:

 

Each type of visa will carry its own eligibility, conditions and application requirements.

The Skilled Worker visa, for instance, is open to non-UK residents with a job offer from a licensed sponsor for skilled employment in the UK.

The processing time for the Skilled Worker visa is generally no longer than 3 weeks once the applicant has attended their appointment.

 

Holiday, family visit or business trip

The Standard Visitor visa is generally suitable for tourism, holidays, visiting and to receive short-term medical treatment. It replaces:

  • Business visitor and prospective entrepreneur visas
  • Family visitor visa
  • Child visitor visa
  • Sports and entertainer visitor visas
  • Private medical treatment visitor visa
  • Approved destination status visa
  • General visitor visa

 

Under the standard visitor visa, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months.

Your application for a Standard Visitor visa should be made no earlier than 3 months before you intend to enter the UK, and it will generally take no more than 3 weeks for the visa application to be processed and a decision made after your appointment.

Under current processing times, visitor visa applications from outside the UK are taking six weeks instead of the usual three.

 

Studying in the UK

Should you wish to study in the UK, there are 3 visas available for this purpose, depending on your individual situation:

  • A short-term study visa is suitable for a 6 month stay in the UK to attend a course. For students over 16 who wish to attend an English language course, it may be possible to use a Short-term study visa for a stay of up to 11 months.
  • A general study visa is suitable for a longer course of study in the UK as long as the student has a confirmed place on a course and is sponsored by a licensed university or college.
  • 4 to 17 years old wishing to study at an independent school should apply for a child student visa.

 

Apply for the appropriate student visa no earlier than 3 months before you intend to enter the UK. Once you have attended your appointment, it will generally take no more than 3 weeks to receive a decision.

 

Entrepreneurs & investors

The primary route for people coming to the UK to set up or run a business is the Innovator Founder visa. While no up-front investment is required under this route, there are many eligibility criteria that will need to be satisfied by both the applicant and the business. Endorsement will also be required before the visa application can be made.

Processing for business visas can take longer than other categories due to the complexity of the application documentation and evidence. Again, the earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

 

Joining family in the UK

The Family visa will generally allow you to join certain family members who already live in the UK if you wish to remain in the country for more than 6 months, such as spouses. You may also consider a dependant visa.

If the visa application is made from outside the UK, the processing time will generally take up to 24 weeks.

 

To get married in the UK

If you intend to visit the UK to get married, you should generally apply for a Marriage Visitor visa. This visa is also suitable for civil partnership ceremonies in the UK.

This visa doesn’t allow you to remain or settle in the UK after the marriage or civil partnership ceremony.

Processing, once an appointment has been attended, should ordinarily take no more than 3 weeks.

 

Travelling through the UK

There are two types of Transit visa. If you will be passing through UK border control and staying in the UK no more than 48 hours, then you should apply for a Visitor in Transit visa. If you will not pass through UK border control, then you should apply for a Direct Airside Transit visa.

If you will be staying in the UK for longer than 48 hours, it will be necessary to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

 

Need assistance?

At DavidsonMorris we have the experience to advise you on the most appropriate UK visa for your circumstances and have the insight to make the process as smooth as possible.

As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office employees, we have an established reputation for effective and efficient management and processing of visa applications, and for providing expert visa-related advice to suit your needs. Contact us for advice.

Last updated: 26 February 2024

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

Contact DavidsonMorris
Get in touch with DavidsonMorris for general enquiries, feedback and requests for information.
Sign up to our award winning newsletters!
Find us on: