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. It is a premium service, and costs can be high. For example, if you choose priority processing for a settlement application, you can expect to pay an additional £500 on top of the standard visa fees.
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, such as European or asylum casework. 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 £5.48, and a reply is promised within 2 working days. Our experience is that the paid email option (there is a paid call option also available, 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, eg a medical emergency requiring urgent travel.
UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS)
For in-country visa applicants, in late 2018 UKVI began rolling out new processing options.which will be delivered via the new UKVCAS network.
Of the 57 UKVCAS centres, 6 will be core service centres which will offer free appointments. The 6 core centres will be in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and Croydon.
50 enhanced service points will be accessible in several cities in libraries across the UK and will charge for appointments. Exact fees have not been confirmed as yet, but services available will include next day appointments, documentation checking and an on-demand VIP service.
A premium lounge located in central London will also be available offering high speed Wi-Fi and business facilities.
Full details of the service, provided by UKVI’s commercial partner Sopra Steria,can be found here.
Local Authority Checking / Passport-Passback Service
If you are applying from inside the UK, this option is only available for certain categories of case; it allows you to submit a completed application in-person at a designated local council office, where your papers are reviewed, scanned then forwarded to UKVI for processing. Crucially, you retain your passport while your application is being considered. Currently, only applicants for naturalisation, settlement as a partner (5-year route) and for certain EEA residence documents are able to make use of this service. A small additional fee is payable.
If applying for a UK visa from abroad, many application centres offer passport-passback as a premium service option.
Need your passport back in an emergency?
As a last resort, you may need to do this, but remember if you have made an application for limited or indefinite leave to remain from within the UK, the effect will be to automatically withdraw your application. You must, therefore, think very carefully about going ahead with the passport return service.
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.
Why choose Latitude Law?
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 0161 234 6800 (Manchester and London) or 0151 305 9600 (Liverpool).