UKVI offers a
but no guarantee
October 9, 2017
For a fee, UK Visas & Immigration offer customers an optional Priority Visa Service which aims to process non-settlement priority applications within 5 working days and sends settlement priority applications to the front of the queue.
The Priority Service is not cheap. In addition to the standard visa fee, it attracts an additional fee of £184 for each non-settlement visa application and £551 for each settlement visa application.
A significant number of UKVI customers are enticed by the idea of their visa application being assessed as a matter of priority and placed at the head of the queue. Many consider the additional cost is a price worth paying to receive their visa quickly, even if that extra cost amounts to over £2200 for a family of four. Unfortunately, there is a catch. A big catch.
The Priority Visa service is not a guaranteed service. The Home Office will not promise that a ‘priority’ application will be processed or that the passport(s) will be returned within the period specified. Scratch beneath the surface of their published services and you will find that the small print states ‘you do not make travel or any other plans that are contingent upon our compliance with that timescale.’
Smith Stone Walters has noted some applications filed via the priority service taking more than 6 weeks to complete. This is despite being supposedly placed at the front of the queue. It is apparent that the Home Office’s systems and processes for handling visa applications are not geared to offer a guaranteed ‘priority’ service.
Consequently, many UK Visas & Immigration customers are left scratching their heads and asking how they have been sold a priority service on the basis of their case being ‘placed at the front of the queue’ without a defined processing timescale.
Customers should expect an enhanced service from this expensive option. Unfortunately, there appears to be little change on the horizon. The Home Office seems quite content to continue to collect additional fees from those clients purchasing a priority service and then point to its small print when it does not deliver one.
UK Visas & Immigration customers should therefore read the small print ahead of signing up for this Home Office additional service to avoid being drawn into believing they will receive a swift decision on their applications.