How long it takes for your application to be processed can be a big factor in figuring out when to apply and when to book travel. But the time it takes to get a UK visa depends on a lot of things, like the type of visa being requested, the country or embassy where the request is made, and the applicant’s own situation and eligibility.
Since UK visa processing times haven’t gone back to how they were before COVID, people who want to apply for a visa should find out what the current processing times are for their type of application.
The UK’s visa system is run by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), which is part of the Home Office. UKVI sets standards for how long it takes to process a UK visa.
Most of the time, the processing date starts after the applicant has gone to their biometric appointment or, if they are using the UKVI’s visa processing app, after their ID has been checked and their application has been sent.
Note that these standards do not apply to giving out Biometric Residence Permits (BRP). When a decision is made on your application, BRPs are usually sent to you within 7 working days.
On the website of the Home Office, the following standard processing times are given:
Non settlement visa applications from outside the UK – 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)
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
Due to the current processing priority for Ukraine Family visa applications, the Home Office has said that “applications for study, work, and family visas may take longer to process.”
In May 2022, the Home Office changed its advice to say that visa decisions for applications sent from outside the UK would take longer. Under the new rules, it may now take up to 24 weeks to process some family applications made outside of the UK, such as joining a family member in the UK. We also know that visas for children and spouses who live with the main Skilled Worker visa applicant can take weeks longer to process. There are also delays with other kinds of applications, like visit and transit visas, which can take up to six weeks to process.
In other countries such as the Philippines and other Asian countries, we have received unofficial information that decisions are no longer done in Manila. Most decisions are done in Beijing, China. Due to the China lockdown (again), ECOs are unable to make decisions that affects many applications being left out at the decision-makers’ desk.
Priority service and super priority services for applications being made from outside the UK have been suspended since 14 March 2022. The Home Office has advised the suspension is due to UKVI “prioritising Ukraine Family Scheme applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine”.
The Home Office has also acknowledged that the suspension will result in longer processing of work, study, and visitor visas being applied for from overseas, since fast-tracked services are no longer available for non-Ukrainian applicants even if the requirement is urgent. For UK employers, this is likely to lead to disruption and delays in recruitment activity and employment start dates.
Priority services for applications made within the UK remain available, but applicants are advised that this may change as the Home Office moves to further ease resource pressures.
When available, priority processing allows applicants applications to pay an additional fee for fast-tracked processing with a biometrics residence permit within 7-10 days of the decision:
- Priority processing for a decision in five days at a fee of £500
- Super priority processing for a decision in 1-2 business days at a fee of £800
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