Since February 2022, allegedly caused by the Home Office focussing on its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Home Office has been extending immigration application processing times.
Below are some key changes to note:
In mid-March, the Home Office suspended the priority service on work, study, and family routes.
The priority service is still available for some visitor visa applications depending on where the applicant is applying from. You can check the services available at the visa centre you are applying from here: https://www.gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre.
Family visa applications
The Home Office announced on 11 May that the decision waiting times would no longer be up to 12 weeks, but 24 weeks.
Work visa applications
The published waiting time has not changed from 3 weeks on gov.uk. However, the website does warn ‘UKVI is prioritising Ukraine Visa Scheme applications. Applications for work visas may take longer to process.’
Visitor and transit visas
The waiting time has gone from three weeks to six weeks.
In country applications
Most in country application timings are, so far, not as delayed as out of country applications.
Significant exceptions to this are applications made on the ten-year private and family life routes and asylum/protection claims, both of which have been suffering significant delays even before the Ukraine crisis.
On gov.uk it states that there are currently no standard processing times for applications submitted as a partner, parent or on the basis of private life. The average waiting time for these times of applications is currently 11 months. The super priority service, which means you get a decision by the end of the next working day after your biometrics appointment, is still available for these applications.
For a full list of the applications in country eligible for priority or super priority services, see here: https://www.gov.uk/faster-decision-visa-settlement/eligible-visas-when-applying-inside-the-uk.
The gov.uk website states that you will ‘usually get a decision on your application within 6 months’. However, the Refugee Council found in July 2021 that the average wait time for an initial decision is 1 to 3 years. The Home Office’s own published data shows a huge decline in the number of asylum applications decided within 6 months since 2014. There are also currently long waits to register asylum claims.
If you require immigration advice in relation to the above, we would be happy to help. Please contact us on 020 7401 6887 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.