Priority appointments reduced
for Visit visas to help clear
20 July 2022
Individuals applying for a UK visa from overseas should be aware of the widespread delays currently affecting processing times whilst the Home Office continues to prioritise applications under the Ukraine visa schemes.
Smith Stone Walters recently reported that it is currently taking the Home Office double the amount of time to provide a decision on some applications, with no clear date in sight for when we can expect processing times to return to normal.
Whilst Home Office caseworkers tackle the growing backlog of pending applications, the department has been forced to temporarily suspend priority and super priority visa services for some categories including work, study and family visas. However, those applying for a visa to visit the UK can still make use of priority and super priority appointments where these are available.
The demand for UK visit visas has increased dramatically following the re-opening of international borders and the relaxation of COVID-19 travel restrictions. This high volume of applications combined with the Ukraine crisis means caseworking resources are stretched and visit visa applications are currently taking on average 7 weeks to process, up from the 3-week service standard.
For this reason, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has announced that the number of weekly priority slots available at UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas has been reduced until further notice.
If you are applying for a visit visa, you may be able to pay for a faster decision by booking a priority or super priority appointment where available.
To help manage the significant global demand for visit visa applications, from 15 July 2022 UKVI will offer a reduced number of priority visa appointments each week in locations where these are available. The reduction in priority visa appointments for new visit visa applications will enable UKVI to process more standard applications and gradually reduce the overall processing time for all customers.
Super priority visa services for visit visas will remain available as normal, where these are offered.
Work, study and family visas
Priority and super priority services for new study, work, and family applications continue to be suspended. UKVI continue to monitor this, and updates will be provided once these services are ready to be resumed. Further information can be found here.
How to book Priority and Super Priority visa services
Priority visa appointments for new visit visa applications must be purchased online during the appointment booking process and cannot be purchased in the VAC. Super priority visa appointments can also be purchased online during the appointment booking process.
Where available, Priority and Super Priority Visas will be displayed when you book your appointment. Where appointments are showing as unavailable this means that the weekly number of appointments have been taken.
Further Priority Visa appointments will be released once a week. All new Priority Visa appointments will be released at the same time each week. With this in mind, applicants are advised that it may take several attempts to secure a priority slot.
Retrospective Priority and Super Priority Visas services are not currently available in any visa category.
UK visa processing times
UKVI is prioritising Ukraine Scheme applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine. Applications for visit, transit, study, work and family visas may take longer to process. Further information on current visa processing times can be found here.
Find your nearest VAC
UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas are run by two commercial partners engaged by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Depending on the country, applicants filing a UK visa application from overseas will access the service through one of the following providers:
Important note: The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication, however changes to service availability and processing times can happen at short notice. For this reason, applicants are advised to check the website of their chosen VAC for the latest service updates.
Smith Stone Walters will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates where available. To ensure you are kept informed of the latest immigration news, why not find us on social media or sign up to our free news service.