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Paris clock - visa processing times

Don't make me wait - UK visa processing times

Whether it’s backlog from the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of staffing or priority services taking precedence, delays seem to be an inevitable fact for most applications to UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI).

To provide some clarity on how long a visa applicant can realistically be expected to wait for a decision, we’ve laid out the wait times provided by the Home Office and compared those with our actual experience. We conducted our research in May 2023, and obviously things can change, so check in with our team if you need updated advice.

We’ve divided visa types into 5 categories:

  1. Out of Country Applications: Visas
  2. Out of country Applications: Route to Settlement Applications
  3. In-country Applications: Temporary/Non-Settlement Applications
  4. In-country Applications: Settlement Applications
  5. Other Applications

With this, we aim to make understanding wait times as simple as possible.

Out of Country Applications: Non-Settlement Visas

For customers applying for non-settlement applications from outside the UK, UKVI has a general service standard of a wait of 3 – 12 weeks from the application submission date or attending an appointment at a local visa application centre. The current data they provide on how long applicants can expect to wait are:

- 90% of applications receive a decision within 3 weeks

- 98% of applications receive a decision within 6 weeks

-100% of applications receive a decision within 12 weeks

 

What types of visa are covered by this processing time?

Type of Visa/leave UKVI service standard Is actual experience different? Priority Available  Priority Note Visit Visas Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment  Can be up to 4-8 weeks without priority Depends on country applicant is applying from Current universal reductions in availability may apply  Travelling through the UK Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment Depends on country applicant is applying from Study (Student or Child Student) Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment or using the ID Check App Depends on country applicant is applying from Short-term study Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment or using the ID Check App Depends on country applicant is applying from

Work or invest in the UK

(Temporary worker, Innovator Founder,

Skilled Worker, etc)

Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment or using the ID Check App Depends on country applicant is applying from Global Talent  Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment Depends on country applicant is applying from Sportsperson Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment Depends on country applicant is applying from Minister of Religion (T2)  Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment Can be faster in-country, at times within 2 weeks   Depends on country applicant is applying from Fiancé(e) visa Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment  Depends on country applicant is applying from  Current universal reductions in availability may apply

 

Out of Country Applications: Settlement Visas

UKVI’s general service standard for customers applying for settlement applications from outside the UK is within 12-24 weeks of the application submission date or attending an appointment at a local visa application centre. The current data they provide on how long applicants can expect to wait are:

- 98.5% of applications receive a decision within 12 weeks

-100% of applications receive a decision within 24 weeks

What types of visa are covered by this processing time?

Type of Visa/leave UKVI service standard Is actual experience different? Priority available? EUSS  As soon as possible from attending an appointment

8 – 24 weeks. Note that a Certificate of Application is issued prior to receiving a decision

No Partner/Child Entry Clearance  24 weeks from attending an appointment Usually within service standard – often much quicker, 4-8 weeks - but delays are occurring with priority purchase Depends on country applicant applies from Family reunion with a refugee or person with humanitarian protection. 24 weeks or more – UKVI acknowledges severe delays for this type of application 9 months or more in some cases No  Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BNO) visa Within 12 weeks from attending an appointment or using the ID check app No  Ancestry Visa Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment  Depends on country applicant applies from Returning Resident visa Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment Depends on country applicant applies from

In-country Applications: Non-Settlement

UKVI’s general service standard for customers applying for Temporary/Non-Settlement applications from inside the UK is within 8 weeks of the application submission date or attending an appointment to submit your biometric information, if required.

 

What types of visa are covered by this processing time?

Type of Visa/leave UKVI service standard Is actual experience different? Priority Available?  Notes on Priority  Graduate Visa  Within 8 weeks from appointment or use of ID check app Can be fairly fast, experience of decisions within 2 weeks  No Switch to a Graduate Visa Within 8 weeks from appointment or use of ID check app Can be fairly fast – experience of decision within 2 weeks No

Global Business Mobility visas- 

- Graduate Trainee

- Secondment worker 

- Senior or Specialist worker

- Service Supplier 

- UK Expansion Worker 

Within 8 weeks from appointment or use of ID check app Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day Dependent child or partner: work, student, global talent or innovator visa Within 8 weeks from appointment or use of ID check app Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day Dependent child, partner or parent: private life in the UK application No standard processing times Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply Get a decision within the next working day Human rights claims, leave outside the rules and other routes 24 weeks or more – UKVI acknowledges severe delays for this type of application 9 months or more, with more complex claims taking over 12 months to receive a decision Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply Get a decision within the next working day Switch to or extend a Student or Child Student visa. Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online  Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day

Switch or extend a work visa to:

Entrepreneur

Global Talent

Innovator

Intra-company

Minister of Religion

Scale-up worker

Skilled worker

Sportsperson

Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Switch to a High Potential Individual (HPI) visa Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online No Extend a Domestic Workers in a Private Household visa Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Extend a Representative of an Overseas Business visa Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online No Switch to or extend a Health and Care Worker visa Within 3 weeks once you’ve applied online You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Switch to or extend in any of the following temporary work visas:

Creative and Sporting

Government Authorised Exchange

International Agreement Worker

Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Extend a Charity Worker visa Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Extend a Religious Worker visa Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Extend a visitor visa as:

a patient receiving medical treatment, an academic or a graduate doing a clinical attachment or retaking the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test

Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online No Extend a Parent of a Child Student visa. Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Switch to or extend a Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa

Within 12 weeks of attending a UKVCAS appointment  or after completing the ID Check app. No 

In-country Applications: Settlement

UKVI’s general service standard for customers applying for settlement (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain, or ILR) and 5/10 year route to settlement applications from inside the UK is within 6 months of attending an appointment to submit your biometric information, if required.

What types of visa are covered by this processing time?

Type of Visa/leave UKVI service standard Is actual experience different? Priority available? Notes on priority 

Switch to or extend as a spouse or partner (if you’re on a 5-year route to settlement) or a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner

Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online  8-12 weeks Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply Leave to remain as a Partner/Parent or on the basis of Private life  (10-year route to settlement (or 5-year parent route to settlement) No standard processing times Within 8 months on average  No Switch to or extend as a child.

Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online 

Yes - you’ll be told if you can when you apply

Extend as a relative who’ll provide long-term care.

Within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online 

No Application to settle on the basis of UK Ancestry  Within 6 months once you apply online. Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within the next working day. 

Application to settle as a former member of HM Forces  Within 6 months once you apply online. Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within the next working day. 

Application to settle as a child under 18 Within 6 months once you apply online. Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within the next working day. 

Application to settle if you’ve been in the UK legally for 10 continuous years (known as ‘long residence’) Within 6 months once you apply online. 6-8 months Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within the next working day. 

Application to settle if you work, establish a business or invest in the UK Within 6 months once you apply online.

Yes - for Tier 1 Investors and Global Talent only.

Not available for Tier 1 Entrepreneurs

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Application to settle as the dependent child or partner if you work, establish a business or invest in the UK Within 6 months once you apply online. Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Application to settle as the partner of a person, or parent of a child, who is present and settled in the UK Within 6 months once you apply online. Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within the next working day. 

Application to settle as an Innovator Within 6 months once you apply online. Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Application to settle as the dependent child or partner of an Innovator Within 6 months once you apply online. Yes - You’ll be told if you can when you apply.

Get a decision within 5 working days or the next working day. 

Application to Naturalise 6 months or more once you apply online. Some applications are taking longer to receive a decision  No 

Other Applications

Type of Visa/leave UKVI service standard Is actual experience different? Priority available?

Visa to travel to the UK to replace your biometric residence permit (BRP).

Within 3 weeks of attending an  appointment  No

Applying for an EU Settlement Scheme travel permit to travel to the UK to replace a lost or stolen residence card

Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment No

Transfer your visa from your passport

Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment 9 months or more in some cases No  Certificate of entitlement Within 3 weeks from attending an appointment No 

Sponsor Licence

Within 8 weeks of submitting an online application - we are currently seeing licences processed in about 6 weeks (July 2023) Depending on eligibility, priority may be available to get a decision within 10 working days

Certificate of Sponsorship

Within one working day of submitting an online application No

UKVI is very keen to remind applicants that if your application is not “straightforward”, then you might be looking at a longer wait than the service standard. This may occur if:

  • if your supporting documents need to be verified
  • if you need to attend an interview
  • because of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

If you applied for a priority or super priority visa and your application is not straightforward, you may have to wait longer, but your application will still be put at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process. 

In fact, our practitioners have found that even straightforward cases where applicants have purchased priority through overseas visa application centres for applications made from outside the UK are taking longer than priority-purchase wait times. 

FAQs

What happens if my wait time exceeds the service standard?

UKVI says that it will write if there is a problem with making a decision on your application to explain why it will not be decided within the normal standard. It claims that it is sending these messages within the normal processing time for the 8 week standard and within 12 weeks for the 6 month standard. 

The same goes if you have applied for a super priority next working day or priority 5 working day service.

When can I ask for a refund?

You’ll only be refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.

If your application is refused, then you cannot claim a refund on your application fee. However, you can claim one for the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge. They are currently taking around 2 months to process. 

When does my application’s waiting time start and end?

For applications that require it, the waiting time starts when you either:

  • attend your appointment and provide your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a visa application centre
  • verify your identity using the UK Immigration: ID Check app - this will depend on the visa you apply for and you’ll be advised if you can use this

If neither of these steps are required, then your waiting time starts when you’ve submitted your application online.

Your waiting time will end when we receive an email from UKVI containing the decision on your application

When will I get my biometric residence permit?

Out of country applications

If you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months, you will need to take your passport to the visa application centre where you attended your appointment, where you will be issued with a vignette sticker in your travel document (passport, etc.).

Once you are in the UK, will need to collect your biometric residence permit (BRP). You must do this before the vignette sticker in your travel document expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.

In-country applications

Upon a successful decision, you will be sent your BRP either by courier from UKVI or by your legal representative, depending on what you requested when you applied. 

If you want to know the latest visa processing times, call our experts now on 0300 131 6767 or fill in the enquiry form below and we will get back to you.

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