Important update for UK
visa applicants in

When applying for a UK visa from overseas, in most cases you will need to attend an appointment at a UK Visa Application Centre (VAC).

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) runs a network of UK VACs overseas which are managed by commercial partners. In Australia, visa centres are run by VFS Global, with service points in seven locations across the country. Due to local COVID-19 restrictions, some UK VACs in Australia are subject to temporary closures and reduced operating hours, therefore securing an appointment may be more difficult than usual at the present time.

To help keep our clients informed of any expected service disruptions, Smith Stone Walters recently reached out to VFS Global to request an update on the current service availability at Visa Application Centres (VACs) in Australia.

Following our enquiry, a spokesperson at VFS has confirmed that priority service is currently suspended for all non-settlement visa applications across Australia until further notice. However, the priority service is still available for settlement applications.

With this in mind, visa applicants and their employers should be prepared to factor in the Home Office’s standard visa processing times when planning their move to the UK whilst priority processing remains unavailable.

UK visa centres in Australia

There are seven UK VACs in Australia, in the following locations:

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Canberra
  • Hobart
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney

Customers should note that due to local COVID regulations, the centre in Hobart will be closed until further notice. All other centres remain open, but may be operating with reduced opening hours. An up to date schedule and opening hours for VACs in Australia can be found here.

Applicants are advised to check the VFS Global website for the latest updates on their local VAC before travelling to an appointment.

Priority services in Australia

Although the priority service is currently suspended for non-settlement applications, those submitting settlement applications can still take advantage of this service.

Under standard processing times for settlement applications made outside the UK, the Home Office aims to process 98.5% of applications within 12 weeks, and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date. If you would like to settle in the UK and need a settlement or migration visa in a hurry, you can use the Settlement Priority Visa service. Your application will be at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process.

The cost to use the Settlement Priority Visa service in Australia is AUD 1,126. Under Priority processing times, UKVI aims to make a decision on your settlement application within 30 working days from the date you submit your biometric information.

The cost of the Priority service is in addition to your visa application fee and is non-refundable if the visa application is refused or if it takes longer to process. Using the Settlement Priority Visa service does not guarantee that your application will be successful, and all visa applicants must meet the requirements of the UK Immigration Rules.

How will the suspension impact visa applicants in Australia

Those planning to submit a non-settlement application (such as an application for a Skilled Worker or ICT visa) from Australia should be aware of the standard processing times whilst the priority service is unavailable for this type of submission.

Typically, when applying for a visa from outside the UK, you should receive a decision within three weeks once you have attended an appointment at a VAC. However, it may take longer to get a decision if the Home Office needs to request further details or if you need to attend an interview.

Applying for a UK visa from Australia?

If you are submitting a UK visa or settlement application from Australia and require assistance with the process, Smith Stone Walters can help.

Our qualified immigration consultants based in our Hong Kong office cover the entire APAC region and can provide advice and practical support with your application at a time to suit you. To speak to a member of the team about your case, please contact us today.

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