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UK Visa Processing Times (Latest from UKVI)

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.

Since UK visa processing times have yet to fully return to pre-COVID levels, visa applicants are advised to take guidance on the current processing timescales for their specific type of application.

 

UK visa processing service standards

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is the Home Office department responsible for the UK’s visa system. UKVI specifies standards for processing times of UK visas.

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

Note that these standards do not apply to issuing Biometric Residence Permits (BRP). BRPs are usually received within 7 working days of the decision on your application.

The Home Office website states the following standard processing times:

 

Service 

Processing time

Non settlement visa applications from outside the UK * 90% of non-settlement applications within 3 weeks, 98% within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks of the application date (where 1 week is 5 working days) *
Settlement applications from outside the UK 98.5% of settlement applications within 12 weeks of the application date and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date (where 1 week is 5 working days)
Customers applying to remain on a temporary basis including as spouses, workers, Tier 1 general and entrepreneurs, students and organisations seeking to sponsor a worker 8 weeks (5 working day priority or the end of the next working day super priority services – please check your application type for available priority services)
Organisations updating their sponsor licence details 18 weeks
Customers applying in the UK for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or no time limit (NTL) 6 months (the end of the next working day super priority service)

 

* Delays to out of country applications

In light of the current processing priority for Ukraine Family visa applications, the Home Office has advised that applications for study, work and family visas may take longer to process.” 

In May 2022, the Home Office updated its guidance to advise of longer visa decision times for applications submitted outside the UK. Under the guidance, certain family applications made outside the UK, such as joining a family member in the UK, may now take up to 24 weeks to process. We are also aware of instances of dependant children and spouse visa applications taking weeks longer to process than main Skilled Worker visa applicants. There is also a delay with other types of applications, such as visit and transit visas, which may take six weeks to process.

In June 2022, new guidance stated that applications made outside the UK for Skilled Worker visas are to taking an average of 6 weeks. Student visa applications made outside the UK are currently taking 5 weeks to process.

 

Priority & fast-track services 

Priority service and super priority services for applications being made from outside the UK have been suspended since 14 March 2022. The Home Office has advised the suspension is due to UKVI “prioritising Ukraine Family Scheme applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine”. 

The Home Office has also acknowledged that the suspension will result in longer processing of work, study, and visitor visas being applied for from overseas, since fast-tracked services are no longer available for non-Ukrainian applicants even if the requirement is urgent. For UK employers, this is likely to lead to disruption and delays in recruitment activity and employment start dates.

Priority services for applications made within the UK remain available, but applicants are advised that this may change as the Home Office moves to further ease resource pressures.

When available, priority processing allows applicants for the Skilled Worker, Student, and Intra-Company visas and settlement (‘indefinite leave to remain’) applications to pay an additional fee for fast-tracked processing with a biometrics residence permit within 7-10 days of the decision:

  • Priority processing for a decision in five days at a fee of £500
  • Super priority processing for a decision in 1-2 business days at a fee of £800

 

Processing times for Certificate of Sponsorship requests & Changes of Circumstances

UKVI is currently experiencing significant delays in processing CoS applications under the standard service. Sponsors should note that CoS allocation requests are currently taking several weeks, and in some cases months.

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 from persons already in the UK. Since its introduction, there have been continued reports of delays in application processing and difficulties for applicants to schedule an appointment at a UKVCAS centre.

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, but applicants should also note that, given the current changes in the UK immigration system, particularly resulting from the recent introduction of the EU settlement scheme, processing is taking longer than in previous years due to the surge in UKVI workload.

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
Where your application includes incorrect information or the documentation you supply is insufficient, the processing time may be longer than expected if UKVI pause 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, however, due to the current focus on processing Ukraine Family visa applications, this could take more than three weeks.

 

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

There are two main routes for people coming to the UK to do business:

  • The Start-up visa is suitable for persons wanting to establish a business in the UK, who are from outside the EEA and Switzerland and are endorsed by an authorised body.
  • The Innovator visa is for persons who wish to start or run a viable business in the UK that has been endorsed as innovative in that it is a new idea, are from outside the EEA and Switzerland, and have a minimum of £50,000 to invest.

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.

If the visa application is made from outside the UK, the processing time will generally take up to 12 weeks. Applications made from within the UK, will generally take up to 8 weeks to process.

 

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 take no more than 3 weeks.

 

Travelling through the UK

If you intend to travel through the UK to a non UK destination, you may need to apply for a Transit visa unless:

  • you have a Standard Visitor or Marriage visa
  • you are from a European Economic area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • you hold an EEA family permit

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.

Last updated: 13 June 2022

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