UK visa processing times:
How long can I expect
to wait?

When applying for a UK visa or immigration permission to remain in the UK, the Home Office has set timeframes in place to advise customers how long they can expect to wait before receiving a decision on their application.

If your UK visa or settlement application is straightforward and the Home Office does not need to request further information, your application will be decided within the standard processing times.

Processing times will vary depending on the type of application you are submitting, whether you are filing your application from inside or outside the UK, and whether you choose to utilise any of the Home Office priority services to receive a faster decision.

Standard processing times by application type

The Home Office’s standard processing times will begin once your application has been received. Applicants should note that the service standard timeframe does not include the time taken to issue a Biometric Resience Permit (BRP). You will usually receive your BRP within seven working days after a decision has been made on your application.

Currently, the Home Office’s standard processing times by application type are as follows:

  • Applying for a visa from outside the UK – The Home Office aims to reach a decision on 90% of non-settlement applications within 3 weeks. 98% will be processed within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks of the application date (where one week is five working days).
  • Applying for settlement from outside the UK – 98.5% of settlement applications will be processed within 12 weeks, and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date (where one week is five working days).
  • Applying to remain in the UK as a worker, spouse, entrepreneur or student – Allow up to 8 weeks to receive a decision under standard processing times.
  • Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or no time limit (NTL) from within the UK – Your application will be processed within 6 months.

The following standard processing times also apply for certain applications filed by sponsors:

  • Organisations seeking to sponsor a worker – 8 weeks
  • Organisations applying to update their sponsor licence details – 18 weeks

Getting a faster decision on your application

If your application is urgent, the Home Office also offers Priority and Super Priority services for an additional cost.

Those using the Priority service will usually receive a decision within five working days, and those using the Super Priority service will usually receive a decision by the end of the next working day. For both Priority and Super Priority applications, the service standard will start when you complete your appointment to provide your biometric information and supporting evidence.

Due to COVID-19, priority services are currently only available at selected UK visa application centres overseas. More information about these services and how much it costs can be found here.

How to ensure your UK visa application runs smoothly

Your application may not be decided within the standard processing times if your case is complex, if your application is incomplete or if the Home Office needs to request further information.

If there is a problem with your application, the Home Office will contact you to let you know why it will not be decided within the standard processing times, and what will happen next.

To ensure the Home Office can reach a decision on your application within the standard processing ties, you should ensure that:

  • Your application is submitted before your current visa expires
  • Your application is completed accurately
  • You include all necessary documents, photographs and evidence of funds if required on the application form
  • You enroll your biometric information and respond to any requests for further information by the dates indicated
  • If submitting a paper form, ensure it is signed and dated and it is submitted with the required documents and payment.

Support with filing your UK visa application

If you require assistance with filing a UK visa or settlement application and collating the required documents, Smith Stone Walters can help.

Our team are experienced in filing a wide range of visa and settlement applications on behalf of our clients. With offices in London, New York, Hong Kong and Mumbai, our consultants are on hand to provide practical support wherever you are in the world.

To discuss your requirements, please contact us today.

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