UK Visa Application Status

Making an application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) either overseas or from inside the UK can require you to make changes to your travel plans if there are unexpected delays or it takes longer to hear back. Decisions may take several months, and the need to submit your passport can cause problems. Traditionally, UKVI is not the easiest government department to contact, especially if your enquiry is urgent.

Our expert solicitors can help you to check your UK visa application status by guiding you to tools and resources, and by contacting UKVI or your visa application centre on your behalf. If there are problems with your application, we can help you to understand what went wrong and how you can rectify it.

For help with your UK visa status, call our team today on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London), or fill out an online contact form and we will call you back at a time convenient for you.


Checking visa processing times

A simple online tool provides you with a quick way to find out how long your visa might take to be issued. Note this is a general guide, and a wide range of results can be returned depending on where you’re applying, and what type of visa you want.

Priority visa processing

This is offered by many visa issuing offices overseas, but not for all visa routes. It is a premium service, and costs can be high. For example, if you choose priority processing for a settlement application submitted from outside the UK, you can expect to pay around £573 on top of standard visa fees. The priority service was temporarily suspended for new family applications made from outside the UK; however, it is hoped that the service will be reintroduced.

Tracking your visa application

An online tool on the gov.uk website offers a couple of options, if you have submitted a visa application either in the UK or abroad, and are waiting for a decision. Unfortunately, when you click through the questions, it usually takes you to general contact information for the various UKVI departments. Phone numbers are provided, but beware: calling these numbers can be expensive, and when your call is answered, the information you receive is likely to be limited, often to the point of being no help at all. Spending time on hold to be told your application is “under consideration” is of little use to anyone.

The online visa status tool does return better results if you’ve applied for a UK visa from abroad. As well as taking you to a general enquiries phone number, the option of a paid email enquiry appears. The current cost is around £2.74, and a reply is promised within five working days. Our experience is that the paid email option (there is a paid call option also available, costing 69 pence per minute, which is less effective) allows your enquiry to reach the casework team dealing with your case, and can lead to a quicker decision if you have a good reason, e.g. a medical emergency requiring urgent travel.

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS)

For in-country visa applicants, processing options are delivered via the UKVCAS network. There are various UKVCAS service points located in town and cities and throughout the UK. All of the centre offer both free and chargeable appointments, although availability of the former can be limited in the smaller locations. The larger centres located in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and Croydon tend to offer more free appointments.

Additional services offered by UKVCAS include express appointments, documentation checking, translation and interpretation, and an on-demand ‘Meet and Greet Plus’ service. Not all service points offer these services; details of the services on offer at the various locations can be found here.

A premium lounge located in central London is available offering high speed Wi-Fi and business facilities. Only chargeable appointments are offered by this centre.

Full details of the service, provided by UKVI’s commercial partner Sopra Steria can be found here.

Some applicants within the UK may instead be directed to a Service and Support Centre (SSC) to provide their biometrics. There are eight centres, located in Belfast, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Peterborough, Sheffield and Solihull. It is not possible to select whether to attend an SSC or UKVCAS appointment; which type of centre an applicant is required to attend will depend on the type of application submitted.

If you need assistance finding or accessing the visa application centre that is handling your visa application, our team can help you to do this and ensure that the process is being handled appropriately.

How we can help

At Latitude Law, our lawyers handle several hundred applications a year on behalf of the widest possible range of clients, from businesses to individuals. We maintain up-to-date, expert knowledge of UKVI processing methods, and can advise you on the best way to achieve a quick decision, or to ensure that you retain your important personal documents wherever possible.

We will help you to navigate the complexities of applying for a UK visa and ensure you comply with UK immigration rules. There are many pitfalls involved in the process and, without the help of a legal professional, you could make costly and time-consuming mistakes that affect your travel plans. By working with our team, you can avoid making any errors and have the best chance of having your UK visa application accepted within a timeframe suitable for you.

Our specialist migration lawyers have the expertise to advise the optimum approach to your Home Office application, and to provide you with effective advice and support if circumstances change and you need your documents back urgently. If you are interested in using any of these services, get in touch with a member of our team on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London).

FAQs about checking your UK visa application status

Can I track my UK visa application status?

Tracking the status of your UK visa application is an essential aspect of the immigration process, providing reassurance and clarity on the progress of your application. In the UK, you have the option to track your visa application status using the tools provided by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This facility is available to applicants both inside and outside the UK, ensuring consistent and accessible updates regardless of your location.

To track your UK visa application, you typically need your Global Web Form (GWF) number, which is assigned to you when you first submit your application. This GWF number is a unique identifier for your application and is essential for the UK visa tracking process. It’s important to keep this number secure and handy, as you will need it to access any updates about application status.

When you wish to track your visa application in the UK, you can do so by visiting the official UKVI website or the visa application centre where you submitted your application. The online tracking system usually requires you to input your GWF number and some personal information to authenticate your identity. Once logged in, you’ll be able to see the current status of your application, including any actions required from your side or updates on the decision-making process.

For those outside the UK, the process to track a visa application is similar. You’ll still need your GWF number and may access the UK visa application tracking system via the UKVI website or through the local visa application centre’s website, depending on your location. This online tracking service is designed to keep you informed about the progress of your application, reducing uncertainty and helping you plan your future steps accordingly.

It’s important to note that while the UK visa tracking system provides valuable information about the status of your application, it may not offer detailed updates on every stage of the application process. Therefore, it’s recommended to check the system regularly for any new information or wait for official communication from the UKVI regarding your application.

How long does it take for UKVI to make a decision?

The time it takes for the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to make a decision on an application varies depending on the type of visa. As of the latest update in September 2023, here are some indicative processing times for different categories of visas:

  • Visit Visa – approximately eight weeks.
  • Study Visa – approximately eight weeks.
  • Family visas – varied times depending on the specific visa type, ranging from eight weeks for partners, spouses and children, to six to eight months for certain partner/spouse and parent visas. Special schemes like the Homes for Ukraine, Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Extension Scheme are processed as quickly as possible.
  • Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visas – three weeks for Health and Care Worker visas and eight weeks for Skilled Worker visas.
    Temporary Work visas – generally eight weeks for various categories including Government Authorised Exchange, Charity Worker, Creative Worker, International Agreement and Religious Worker.
  • Work visas without a job offer – processing times range from three weeks for the India Young Professionals Scheme to eight weeks for other categories like Global Talent, Graduate, Overseas Domestic Work, High Potential Individual, and UK Ancestry.
  • Other visas and permits – these include visas like British National (Overseas) with a 12-week processing time, and others such as Entrepreneur, International Sportsperson, Investor, Minister of Religion, Scale-up Worker, Turkish Businessperson, and Turkish Worker with varied times ranging from eight weeks to six months.

It’s important to note that these times are indicative and can vary based on the volume of applications and other factors. In certain circumstances, such as inaccuracies in the application, the need for further evidence, verification of documents, interviews, or high visa demand, the UKVI application status may indicate a longer processing time.

What are the standard processing times for UK visa applications?

If you are applying for a UK visa while you are currently residing in the UK, you can expect the processing of your application to take approximately 12 weeks from when you attend your UKVCAS appointment or submit your individual visa application online.

If you are applying for a UK visa while you are residing outside of the UK, your application may take different amounts of time to process depending on which visa you are applying for. Work visas will typically take around 12 weeks to process, but visiting visas can typically take three weeks. To finish your visa application, you will need to attend a meeting at a visa application centre in the UK, so you should plan your travel around this.

Your visa application may take longer to process if there are issues with your application, or if there are children involved, as the UK government will want to be sure that you have the correct permissions to bring any children into the country.

How does the premium visa processing work?

When applying from within the UK, you may be able to have your visa application processed more quickly, either by the end of the next working day or within five working days. The five-day priority service costs an additional £500, while the next working day service is an extra £800. You can expect the relevant deadline to apply once you have either uploaded your identification documents to the UK Immigration: ID Check app or prove your identity at your UKVCAS appointment. Note that if biometrics are provided at a weekend or on a bank holiday, a decision to use the £800 service should be expected within the next two working days.

The two priority services can only be used in conjunction with certain applications; for example, only the £800 service can be purchased when making a partner application. Details can be found here of which type of applications are eligible for which priority service.

What can delay a visa application?

The most common reasons for visa applications to be delayed are due to the lack of required documents. In some cases, this can be fixed by simply providing the missing documents, but this can be more difficult if you do not have them. You may be required to book another appointment or submit your application all over again, also needing to pay the application fee.

Other reasons that a visa application can be delayed include:

  • Having a criminal conviction
  • There are children involved in your plans to move to the UK
  • Your supporting documents need to be verified
  • You are required to attend an interview online or at a visa application centre

What is the process of applying for a UK visa?

To apply for a UK visa, you should seek the help of a legal professional before making any decisions. It is essential that you do this as mistakes in the visa application process can be costly, and due to the complexity of UK immigration law and its requirements, you will struggle to navigate through successfully without a solicitor.

The application process for your visa will vary depending on the type of visa, as your unique circumstances must meet those required of the visa you are applying for, and you will be expected to provide different supporting documents and evidence. For example, if you are planning to move to the UK with children, you may need to secure visas for them, but you will not be required to provide the same level of identification as for yourself. Or, if you are planning to study in the UK, your chances of success will depend on the course and your qualifications.

Depending on your reasons for travel, you may need to provide:

  • Proof of your identity, including a passport, driving licence, national identity card or biometric residence permit
  • Financial proof that you will be able to support yourself and any dependants
  • Translations of any documents you provide that are in a language other than English or Welsh
  • A sponsorship letter detailing the relationship with your sponsor and how your sponsorship will work
  • Confirmation from your employer or educator that you will be working there and what your income will be, if you are paid
  • Biometric information
  • Confirmation of your legal residence and nationality
  • Invitations to any events that you are performing at
  • Details of any medical treatment you are having

This list is not comprehensive and you should speak with your solicitor to understand what you will need for your visa application.

You will also need to pay the right fee for your visa application. This will depend on how long you plan to stay in the UK and the type of visa you are applying for. You can find a breakdown of UK visa costs in this government resource.

Once you have gathered the necessary information, your solicitor will help you to submit it to the Home Office, after which you will begin the waiting period.

If your application is successful, you will receive confirmation, your date for travelling to the UK will be set and you will be expected to meet your requirements when it comes time to move. If your application is unsuccessful, you will be required to submit your application and pay the application fee again. Our team will work closely with you to ensure that you meet all of the eligibility requirements of your desired visa and that your application is sent with all the necessary documentation.

How long does it take to get a UK visa after submitting biometric information?

If you have submitted biometric information via the UKVI as part of your visa application, you can expect to wait approximately three weeks for your application to process. This specifically applies to visitor, tourist, work and student visas. For spouse, partner and family visas the processing time is typically around 12 weeks. This is because these visas usually last for a longer time and may lead to settlement, so the UKVI will need to be sure that your submitted information is correct.

The Ukraine crisis led to increased processing times across a number of routes, and family visa applications made from outside the UK have been taking up to six months to process. It does now appear that these processing times are reducing again, though some delays should still be expected.

Why is my UK visa application taking so long?

Applying for a visa is a complex process and varies on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the type of visa you are applying for and your own personal circumstances, your application may be more or less complicated, leading to differing processing times. Even in cases where your application may be simpler, the UK authorities must take their time to ensure that all of your necessary information is accounted for and is accurate.

If you are moving to the UK with dependents, such as children, there are a number of factors that can affect how long your application takes. For example, if you are a step-parent or single parent, the UK authorities will need to be sure that you have the permission of the children’s other biological parent to remove them from the country and bring them to the UK. This is just one example of how a visa can pose unique challenges that the authorities must navigate.

We will help you to track the progress of your visa and ensure that it is going according to plan. If there are any delays along the way, we will work with the relevant authorities to ensure these issues are resolved as quickly as possible.

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What our clients say…

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Successful visa application for wife of British citizen

Latitude Law is the best immigration law firm that I have ever come across. The quality of service & professionalism from Katerina, Alexandra, Natasha & Anna is out of this world. They invested time to make sure the application was successful & I received the decision exceptionally quickly. I can't thank them enough. If you are looking for an immigration firm to deal with your visa, Latitude Law is the best ever. Special thanks to Mr Gary - star of the immigration world!
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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/09/2021