UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has recently published service standards for waiting times for decisions on visa and immigration applications. Here, we look at UK Visa Processing and Decision Waiting Times, including the Home Office service standards for waiting times, current Home Office visa processing times, options for securing a faster decision on a visa or immigration application, and how to challenge a delay in the processing of a UK visa or immigration application.
UK Visa Processing and Decision Waiting Times – standard processing times
If a UK visa application includes all relevant information and supporting documents (and the Home Office does not need to request further evidence or explanation) then the following standardised waiting times should apply:
- Non-settlement visa applications submitted outside the UK: 90% to be decided within 3 weeks; 98% within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks of the application date (where 1 week is 5 working days);
- Settlement visa applications submitted outside the UK: 98.5% of settlement applications to be decided within 12 weeks of the application date and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date (where 1 week is 5 working days);
- Applications for leave to remain submitted within the UK, including as spouses, workers and students: 8 weeks to be decided;
- Applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) submitted within the UK: 6 months to be decided;
- Applications for no time limit (NTL) submitted within the UK: 6 months to be decided;
- Organisations seeking to sponsor a worker: 8 weeks;
- Organisations updating their sponsor licence details: 18 weeks.
The processing time standard for applications submitted via the priority service and super-priority service is 5 working days and the next working day respectively, where these services are available. Applications for a sponsor licence submitted via the pre-licence priority sponsor licence service should be decided within 10 working days.
What Factors Affect UK Visa Processing Times?
There are a number of factors which can delay UK visa processing times including:
- The complexity of the case,
- Concerns regarding suitability requirements such as criminality;
- Consideration of any adverse immigration history;
- Any concerns regarding the authenticity of documents;
- The volume of documents provided;
- Whether further investigations are required or an interview is scheduled;
- The capacity of caseworkers; and
- The time of the year.
There is no published service standard for waiting times for more complex applications and UKVI has a wide margin of appreciation with regard to the timing of their decisions.
Home Office decision-making is sometimes delayed. In the last couple of years, many UK visa applicants have experienced extended waiting times during the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, as we outline below, decisions on some UK visa applications are being delayed again as the Home Office seeks to prioritise Ukraine Visa Scheme applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine.
For expert advice and assistance regarding a UK visa application, contact our immigration lawyers on here for a free, no-obligation consultation.