Priority service upgrades for
customers with existing family
10 January 2023
The Home Office will shortly begin offering customers with an existing Marriage or Family entry clearance visa application the chance to ‘upgrade’ their submitted application to Priority service to receive a faster decision.
This is a milestone change for family visa processing times which have been severely impacted by delays since the war in Ukraine began last year. Those applying for a spouse visa are currently facing waiting times of up to six months to receive a decision from the Home Office.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK government set up several dedicated visa schemes to support Ukrainians wishing to come to the UK. To manage the increased demand, UKVI staff were diverted from their normal work to prioritise the processing of visa applications under these schemes. As a result, a range of visa routes were impacted by temporary service suspensions or processing delays.
For Marriage and Family entry clearance applications, the service standard of 60 days was increased to 120 days and Priority visa services were suspended. The Home Office are currently operating within this revised service standard and are hopeful that normal service standard will soon be reinstated and Priority services will resume for new customers.
As part of its operational recovery, UKVI is reintroducing the Priority service for customers with an existing undecided application made outside the UK. Customers will be given the option to pay an additional fee to upgrade their application, or to continue under the standard service.
What does the Priority service upgrade offer?
The Home Office has begun contacting customers who are eligible to use the Priority service upgrade to expedite their pending visa application. This upgrade service is being offered to existing customers ahead of the Priority service resuming for new applications.
There will be an additional fee of £573 to use the service, which will enable your existing application to be considered within 15 days, rather than the standard 30-day Priority visa service.
Applicants should note that paying the additional fee does not guarantee that your visa will be issued, only that your application will be considered earlier. Should the Home Office determine that your case is complex or if additional information is required, your application may not be concluded within the 15-day timeframe, and no refund will be given.
How to use the service
Customers with an existing undecided application will soon receive an email from the Home Office offering them the chance to use the service and more details on how to apply.
Applicants will be contacted in date order, with the oldest outstanding applications being contacted first. The Home Office email will also advise on current processing times to help applicants make an informed choice as to whether they wish to proceed with the Priority service.
Should you wish to proceed, you must confirm using the details in the email after which you will be sent a link that will enable you to make the payment. Once your payment has been received, your application will be assessed within 15 full working days after the date the Home Office confirms receipt of your payment. For example, if the Home Office confirms your payment is received on 16 January 2023, the 15 working day processing time commences on 17 January 2023.
The Home Office will continue to process standard applications in date order for those customers who choose not to use the Priority service.
At present, no date has been given for when the Priority service will resume for new customers, but communications from the Home Office have suggested this option could return soon.
Help with your UK visa application
If you need help with an existing UK visa application, you can contact UKVI here.