May 2022 Update: UKVI is prioritising Ukraine Visa Scheme applications. It may take up to 24 weeks to receive a decision for people applying to join family in the UK.
April 2022 Update: Priority and super priority visa services have been temporarily suspended for new study, work and family visa applications made outside the UK to join family in the UK. Standard visitor visa applications are currently taking on average 6 weeks to process. The UKVI are working hard to process applications to get back to the 3-week service standard.
March Update: Due to Exceptional Circumstances, UK Visa applications may take longer to consider. There are a significant number of applications being processed at the moment due to an international effort to support the security of those fleeing conflict. Priority Services have also been disrupted, therefore consider whether it is worth using this service abroad.
UK Visa Waiting Times (Pre-Humanitarian crisis)
One of the most common questions applicants have with regard to their visas is how long they will have to wait for a decision.
Ukraine Visa applications
Under the Ukraine Visa schemes available for those who are applying to join family in the UK and those who are applying under the ‘Ukraine for Homes’ the current waiting time is 7 days. Due to a significant number of applications being submitted the processing times may be extended. The home office resources are being reassigned to tackle high volumes of applications.
Applications made outside of the UK
If you are applying from outside of the UK then your application’s waiting time starts, once you’ve submitted your application online, either from the time that you attend your biometric appointment or verified your identity using the IDV App. The waiting time also depends on the visa you have applied for. See below.
Visit visa (for a holiday or to see family or friends; for a business trip or meeting; to get married) – You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in. See priority services section below
Study in the UK/Work or invest in the UK (this also includes dependants of the main applicant) plus returning resident and ancestry – You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks
Join family in the UK (partner/parent/child) incl. dependants applying at the same time – You should get a decision within 12 weeks
EEA family permit or an EUSS family permit you will get a decision as soon as possible after proving your identity and providing your documents.
Visa decision waiting times: applications inside the UK
The waiting time starts, not when you have submitted your biometrics, rather as soon as you’ve submitted (paid) your application online.
For the visas outlined above which typically take 3 weeks consideration time outside of the UK – Switching or making extensions – 8 weeks other than applications to switch to a Start-up visa or extend a Health and Care Worker visa, both of which take 3 weeks
Family-based visas – Applications for leave to remain take 8 weeks
If you’re currently applying on the basis of your private life as you are unable to meet the requirements there are no standard processing times. The average wait time for a decision is currently 8 months although The Home Office state that they are endeavouring to reduce this waiting time.
Applying for settlement – All standard route applications for ILR (settlement) normally receive a decision within 6 months, although this is often shorter and very occasionally longer (see when you might wait longer section below)
Priority services – pay a premium (check go.uk website for current visa fees) for a faster decision (where available)
Collection within 5 working days (priority service); next working day (super-priority). These will be offered at point of payment, if currently available for your location and/or route.
When you might wait longer
You might wait longer for a decision if your application is not straightforward and more information is required before a decision is made, for example: if your supporting documents need to be verified, if you need to attend an interview; your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction). These holdups can often be avoided by submitting a well-presented and more than adequately documented application.
If, you applied for a priority or super priority visa and your application is not straightforward, you may have to wait longer. It is therefore advisable that, should you feel your application is not straightforward or has not been accompanied by ample supporting evidence, then perhaps it be best not to pay a premium for a faster decision.