Great news for anyone moving to the UK as priority services have been resumed for family and partner visas to the UK. Standard family visa processing times are also set to reduce from the current six months.
The diversion of Home Office staff to tackle the Ukraine crisis (issuing 212,600 visas so far to Ukrainian refugees) meant delays to most visa services, but visa services for employers are now back to speed and those for family members are set to resume normal service too.
The options of priority services for UK visas allowing applicants to pay for faster decisions were suspended as Home Office staff responded to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine with new immigration schemes set up for those seeking sanctuary in the UK.
Priority services for in-country applications were unaffected, though waiting times for applications across the board rose as Home Office staff were diverted to handling Ukrainian applications.
UK application waiting times are slowly returning to normal, as well as the option to expedite a decision on a visa application by paying for priority service.
Work and business out-of-country priority services were the first to be reinstated from August 2022. Our clients with outstanding family visa applications have now started receiving emails from the Home Office to let them know the option of priority service will be reinstated. This will allow them to pay £537 extra to cut the waiting time on a decision by UK Visas and Immigration from the current six months to a three-week turnaround (an improvement on what used to be a six-week service before the Ukraine war.)
We are told that emails are to be sent by UK Visas and Immigration targeting longest-waiting applicants first, offering them the option to upgrade. The Home Office says that this option will be rolled out to new family visa applicants “in early 2023”.
The current published service standard – the wait for a decision on a family visa application - is 24 weeks. The Home Office have also said that this wait should be reduced to 12 weeks at some point this year.
Please contact Vanessa Ganguin to discuss any visa, sponsorship, right to work or immigration-related compliance issues.