December update on UK
visa processing times
6 December 2022
When you apply for a UK visa, the length of time you can expect to wait for a decision will vary depending on the type of visa you have applied for, whether you applied from overseas or from within the UK, and whether you have utilised any of the Home Office’s paid for priority services.
The Home Office has standard processing times in place to give customers an indication of an estimated lead time for most straightforward applications. However, there are occasions when visa processing times may extend beyond this target, leaving applicants waiting much longer than normal for a decision.
UK visa processing times have been hit by widespread delays this year, mainly due to increased global demand for visas and the fact that the Home Office continues to prioritise applications filed under the Ukraine visa schemes. Over 250,000 applications have been received so far this year under the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme combined.
As we approach the end of 2022 we are beginning to see a gradual return to standard processing times for most visa categories. Below is an update on current processing times for applications made both outside and inside the UK.
Visa processing times outside the UK
If you are applying for your UK visa from overseas, you are advised not to book any travel until a decision on your application has been made. The current waiting times per category are as follows.
Processing times for this category are largely back to the service standard and those applying to work or invest in the UK should receive a decision within 3 weeks.
Student and Child Student visas are currently being processed within the service standard of 3 weeks. However, Short-term study visas are currently taking on average 5 weeks to process.
If you are applying to settle in the UK as the spouse, partner or family member of someone who has British citizenship or is settled in the UK, you should get a decision on your application within 24 weeks. If you are applying as the dependant of another applicant, you will get your decision at the same time.
Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visas:
If you are applying for a BNO visa, you should get a decision within 12 weeks.
Visit visas, including Standard Visitor visa applications, are currently taking on average 5 weeks to process, however some applications might take longer. The same timeframe applies to transit visa applications. The Home Office is working hard to process applications to get back to the 3-week standard.
Visa processing times inside the UK
If you are applying to extend your visa or switch to another visa category from within the UK, processing times are usually longer than for overseas applications. Below is an overview of current waiting times for in-country applications per category.
It is currently taking 11 weeks on average to get a decision if you apply to extend or switch to a Skilled Worker visa or a Health and Care Worker visa. Other categories, including the High Potential Individual, Graduate and eligible Temporary Worker visas are currently being processed within the 8-week service standard. Those applying to switch to a Start-up visa should get a decision within 3 weeks.
You should usually get a decision within the service standard of 8 weeks once you’ve applied to switch to or extend a Student or Child Student visa.
If you are applying to switch to or extend a family visa, you should usually get a decision on your visa within 8 weeks. If you’re currently applying under a 10-year route to settlement (or 5-year parent route to settlement), there are no standard processing times for applications submitted as a partner, parent or on the basis of your private life. The average wait time for a decision is currently 11 months. The Home Office is working hard to reduce this.
Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visas:
If you are applying to switch to or extend a BNO visa, you should get a decision within 12 weeks.
There are limited circumstances in which you can apply to extend a Standard Visitor visa from within the UK. You should usually get a decision on your extension application within 8 weeks if you have applied as a patient receiving medical treatment, an academic or a graduate doing a clinical attachment or retaking the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test.
If your UK visa application is urgent, you are advised to use the Priority or Super Priority services where these are available.
- With Priority service you will usually receive a decision within 5 working days.
- With Super Priority service you will usually receive a decision by the end of the next working day.
Priority and Super Priority visa services have been temporarily suspended for new family visa applications. For visitor visa applications, there is a reduction in the availability of the Priority visa service.
When your application’s waiting time starts and ends
Once you’ve submitted your application online, the waiting time starts after you’ve proved your identity either by attending an appointment at a visa application centre, or by using the UK Immigration: ID Check app. The waiting time ends when you receive an email from the Home Office containing a decision on your application and explaining what you need to do next.
Factors affecting UK visa processing times
As well as the war in Ukraine and the increased global demand for UK visas, there are other factors which can impact how long your application will take to process. You may need to wait longer for a decision if:
- Your case is complex, for example if you have any adverse immigration history or a criminal record.
- The Home Office needs to request further information or schedule an interview.
- There are any concerns regarding the authenticity of your supporting documents.
- You are applying at a busy time of year.
UKVI generally receives the highest volume of visa applications in the summer, therefore caseworkers are likely to have a higher caseload during peak season.
Find the latest processing times
The Home Office (Tel. no: 0300 790 6268 / +44 (0)203 875 4669) publishes a list of current processing times for applications filed outside the UK and inside the UK. Applicants are advised to check these links for the most up to date estimates.
If you require support with your UK visa application, Smith Stone Walters can help. Contact us today to speak to a qualified immigration advisor.