Priority service resumes
for new family visa

The Home Office has announced that the priority visa service will resume for new entry clearance family settlement applications from 20 February 2023.

New applications submitted from outside the UK from this date using the priority service will be processed within 30 working days. Furthermore, standard applications will be processed within 60 working days from 3 April 2023.

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. As a result of the increased demand for visa services, many routes were hit by temporary service suspensions and longer processing times whilst UKVI caseworkers were diverted from their normal duties to prioritise the Ukraine visa schemes.

For family visa applications, the service standard of 60 days was increased to 120 days and Priority visa services were suspended. The delays led to many families being separated in different countries for months at a time whilst their visa applications were being decided.

The reintroduction of Priority services and the gradual return to standard processing times will be a welcome change for applicants and demonstrates that the Home Office is slowly recovering from the service disruptions it experienced throughout 2022.

What is the Priority visa service?

The priority service allows visa applicants to receive a faster decision on their application from the Home Office. Those using the service will receive a decision within 30 working days. You’ll be told if you can use the service when you apply for your visa.

To use the priority service, you will need to pay an additional fee on top of your visa application fee. More information can be found here.

Applicants who require a visa quickly or who do not want to wait for their application to be decided under standard processing times are advised to use the priority service where possible.

Who can apply for a UK Family visa?

Foreign nationals wishing to live with a family member in the UK for more than 6 months must apply for a family visa. You can apply for a family visa to live with your:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner
  • child
  • parent
  • relative who will provide long-term care for you.

If your application is approved, you will be able to work and study in the UK.

Help with your UK visa application

If you need help with an existing UK visa application, you are best advised to contact the Home Office directly. They can be contacted here.

If you require support with submitting a new application, Smith Stone Walters can help. To speak to an immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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