Working in the UK

UK Visa Processing Times (Latest from UKVI)

The time it takes to process your application can be essential 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 circumstances and eligibility.

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

UK Visa Processing

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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.

Processing of the application begins either after the applicant has attended their biometric appointment or when they submit the application through the UKVI’s visa processing app, following the completion of ID checks.

Note that these standards do not apply to issuing Biometric Residence Permits (BRP). BRPs are usually received within seven 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 (see below update on current delays in processing)

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) *see below an update on current delays in processing

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 July 2022, UKVI advised that processing times are taking longer than the stated 3-week customer service standard for out-of-country applications, with the following:

  • Visit visas take an average of 6 weeks
  • Work visas take an average of 6 weeks
  • Student visa applications are being processed within the service standard

In June, UKVI updated that specific family applications made outside the UK, such as joining a family member in the UK, may take up to 24 weeks to process. We also know that dependant children and spouse visa applications take weeks longer than principal Skilled Worker applicants. There is also a delay with other types of applications, such as transit visas, which may take six weeks to process.

Priority & Fast-Track Services 

As of 14 March 2022, the priority and super priority services for visa applications outside the UK have been suspended. This decision was made by the Home Office to prioritize Ukraine Family Scheme applications due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine.

The Home Office recognizes that this suspension will result in longer processing times for work, study, and visitor visas applied for from overseas. Non-Ukrainian applicants can no longer access fast-tracked services even if their requirement is urgent. Therefore, UK employers should anticipate disruptions and delays in their recruitment activities and the commencement of employment due to the current suspension of priority services for applications from outside the UK. 

Priority services for applications made within the UK are still accessible. Still, it is essential to note that the availability of these services may be subject to changes as the Home Office manages its resources. 

When available, priority processing allows applicants for the Skilled Worker; for certain visa types such as Student, Intra-Company, and settlement applications for ‘indefinite leave to remain,’ applicants can expedite their processing by paying an additional fee. 

  • With this priority processing service, applicants can expect a decision within five days for £500. 
  • Alternatively, the super-priority service guarantees a decision within 1-2 business days for a fee of £800 for faster processing. This allows applicants to receive their biometrics residence permit within 7-10 days after making the decision.

Processing times for Certificate of Sponsorship requests & Changes in Circumstances

UKVI is experiencing significant delays in processing CoS applications under the standard service. Sponsors should note that CoS allocation requests are presently 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 five 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 particular UK visa, settlement and citizenship applications 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 applying if you must go through UKVCAS to process your application.

How might the time of year and other factors affect your UK visa processing time?

Other factors may affect the processing time of your UK visa application. These include:

Caseload

Summer is generally the busiest time for UKVI. Still, applicants should also note that, given the current changes in the UK immigration system, mainly resulting from the recent introduction of the EU settlement scheme, the processing is taking longer than in previous years due to the surge in UKVI workload.

Where do 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 needs to be increased, the processing time may be longer than expected if UKVI pauses processing to request further information from you to make a decision.

The best way to avoid this is to check your application thoroughly and ensure you have all the necessary documentation before applying.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the processing time for UK visa applications varies depending on various factors such as the type of visa, the country or Embassy where the application is made, and the applicant’s circumstances and eligibility. The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department sets standards for processing times, but these standards may not apply to issuing Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs). Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, processing times have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Delays in processing out-of-country applications have been observed, particularly for study, work, and family visas. Visit and work visas take an average of six weeks to process, and specific family applications may take up to 24 weeks. Priority and fast-track services for applications made from outside the UK have been suspended due to the prioritization of Ukraine Family Scheme applications.

Applicants may opt for priority processing if available, which allows for faster processing times at an additional fee. However, processing times for Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) applications and Changes in Circumstances requests are also experiencing significant delays.

UKVCAS (UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service) may impact processing times, as some applications must go through this system. Factors such as caseload, the time of year, and the country from which the application is made can also affect processing times. It is crucial to ensure that all information provided is accurate and that all required documentation is included to avoid delays caused by the need for additional information.

UK Visa Processing FAQs

The processing time for a UK visa application depends on various factors, including the type of visa, the country or Embassy where the application is made, and the applicant's circumstances.

Priority services for certain visa types are available, allowing applicants to pay an additional fee for expedited processing. However, priority services for applications from outside the UK are suspended.

The time of year, particularly the summer season, is typically a busy period for UKVI. However, processing times may also be influenced by changes in the UK immigration system, such as the introduction of the EU settlement scheme, which can increase the workload and lead to longer processing times.

It is essential to thoroughly check your application for accuracy and ensure you have all the necessary supporting documentation. Providing correct information or sufficient documentation may result in processing pauses and requests for additional information from UKVI. Contacting your country's UK embassy or consulate can also help identify any issues that may cause processing delays.

UKVCAS is a system for processing specific UK visas, settlements, and citizenship applications made by individuals already in the UK. Delays have been reported in application processing and scheduling appointments at UKVCAS centres. Whether an application must go through UKVCAS can impact processing times.

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