Update on UK visa
processing times in
EMEA region

Last week, Smith Stone Walters reported that the Home Office has reintroduced the Priority visa service for new entry clearance family settlement applications from 20 February 2023.

This is a breakthrough for spouse visa processing times which have been severely impacted by delays since the war in Ukraine began last year. New family visa applications submitted from outside the UK using the Priority service will now be processed within 30 working days.

In light of the announcement, the EMEA entry clearance team at Smith Stone Walters has this week conducted an in-depth check on locations in the region which are currently offering the Priority service for settlement applications.

Where is Priority service currently available?

UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) in the EMEA region are run by TLScontact, a commercial partner engaged by the Home Office to provide UK visa services overseas.

Priority service for Settlement visas has been reinstated in most of the TLS centre locations in the EMEA region, but not all. The full list is as follows:

  • Algeria – Available
  • Belarus – Temporarily not available
  • Belgium – Available
  • Estonia – Available
  • Egypt – Available
  • Finland – Available
  • France – Available
  • Germany – Available
  • Hungary – Available
  • Italy – Available
  • Ireland – Available
  • Kazakhstan – Available (Almaty VAC only)
  • Mauritius – Available
  • Netherlands – Available (Amsterdam VAC only)
  • Nigeria – Available
  • Poland – Available
  • Portugal – Available
  • Romania – Available
  • Russia – Temporarily not available
  • Senegal – Available
  • South Africa – Available
  • Spain – Available
  • Switzerland – Available
  • Sweden – Available
  • Tunisia – Available
  • Turkey – Available
  • Ukraine – Available
  • Zimbabwe – Available.

Applicants should note that the availability of Priority service is subject to change at short notice. Although the above list is accurate at the time of publication, customers are advised to check with their chosen centre directly for more information on current service availability.

Standard processing times

Customers who choose not to pay for the Priority service will have their applications decided under the Home Office’s standard processing times.

Currently, standard applications are taking up to 24 weeks (120 working days) to be processed. However, last week’s announcement from the Home Office confirmed that settlement applications submitted under the standard service will be processed within 12 weeks (60 working days) from 3 April 2023.

Applicants who need a faster decision on their visa are strongly advised to use the Priority service if available.

Update on business visit visas

Priority service has also been reinstated for business visitor visas across the EMEA region. This is a breakthrough in the processing times as otherwise, applications for business visitors had been taking 5-9 weeks to be completed. Priority service should bring processing times to up two weeks which is vital for applicants travelling to the UK on business.

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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