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    UK Visas Processing Times

    The processing time of permission documents plays a vital role in travel planning. It is crucial to know the amount of time required for the authorities to review a case, as it will enable you to submit the application on time. As for the UK visa waiting time periods, they may vary. The two strongest factors that determine these periods are the types of visas and the location of submission. There might also be some delays in each particular case.

    As one would expect, the reviewing periods were longer during the pandemic lockdowns. With some applications, the delays are still rather common. The good news is that they are gradually normalising already. The situation might create some confusion, so it is recommended to discuss the matter with professionals who are aware of current UK visa processing times for every permission document.

    UK visa processing service standards

    The general rules for reviewing periods are set by UKVI, which is a department of the Home Office.

    It is worth mentioning that in most cases, the reviewing period starts from the moment the person attends to share their biometric data. In some cases, it starts from the moment the submission is made through the official permission document application process.

    It is also worth mentioning that these rules are not associated with BRPs, which are typically provided within a week after the application has been decided or after the applicant has arrived in the UK.

    According to the official information from the Home Office, the reviewing periods for different services are as follows:

    Service Reviewing Period
    Submissions for visas made from overseas (outside the United Kingdom) 90% of such submissions are reviewed within three weeks, 98% – in six weeks and 100% of submissions are reviewed within twelve weeks
    Submissions for settlement made from overseas 98.5% of these submissions are reviewed within twelve weeks and 100% – in twenty-four weeks
    Submissions for temporary permission documents for dependents, students, employees, businessmen, and companies with sponsors These submissions are reviewed in eight weeks. For some of them, there is a paid priority service available
    Submissions to renew sponsor licence information These submissions are reviewed within eighteen weeks
    ILR and NTL submissions made on the territory of the United Kingdom The submissions of this kind are reviewed within six months

    The rules are being refreshed regularly. Their latest version goes as follows:

    • Permission documents associated with employment visas are supposed to be reviewed within three weeks after the person provided biometrics.
    • Permission documents associated with visiting the country are supposed to be reviewed within three weeks after biometrics are provided.
    • Submissions related to studying are reviewed within three weeks after biometrics are provided.
    • Submissions for family visas should be reviewed within twenty-four weeks from the biometrics appointment. The authorities have announced their plans to shrink this period to twelve weeks.

    What Factors Affect UK Visa Processing Times?

    There are a range of factors that may increase the UK visa processing time or the reviewing period for any other permission document. They include:

    • some individual issues related to the particular submission that require the authorities to perform additional procedures;
    • the necessity for the Home Office to perform an additional check of the criminal record of the person;
    • a deeper investigation of the subject’s history of immigration;
    • the necessity to perform additional verifications of documents;
    • an insufficient number of documents attached to the application;
    • the necessity to perform an additional interview with the person;
    • the number of Home Office employees who are available to assist with the case;
    • the load on the immigration department.

    Unfortunately, for submissions that fall outside of the regular categories and have unique individual aspects to them, the Home Office does not have a fixed reviewing period. The delays in such cases mostly depend on their complexity.

    The reviewing periods might be temporarily extended. This was exactly the case during the global pandemic, as a significant number of immigrants had to wait longer than usual to have their submissions approved. At the present time, there may be some delays in the UK spouse visa processing times or the reviewing periods of other documents. These are associated with the government’s focus on providing the required immigration assistance to Ukrainian citizens.

    What are the different types of UK visa applications?

    To answer the question of how long it takes to receive a visa, it is necessary to discover all the types of permission documents that are issued by the Home Office. As one would expect, different visas are designed for different situations and are valid for different periods of time.

    Work in the UK

    The Home Office has a variety of permission documents that enable travellers to legally work in the country. The list includes:

    As all these permission documents are designed for different cases, they all have unique requirements. The processing times for all these documents varies as well. For example, the processing time for a Skilled Worker visa is usually no more than 3 weeks. It is worth noting that delays associated with the focus on assistance to Ukrainian citizens should be expected for all the documents on the list.

    Holiday, family visit or business trip

    The Standard Visitor visa is usually suitable for tourism, vacations and short-term medical treatment. It includes:

    • Business visitor and prospective entrepreneur permissions;
    • Family visitor routes;
    • Child visitor visa;
    • Sports and entertainer visas;
    • Private medical treatment visitor documents;
    • Approved destination status permissions;
    • General visitor visa.

    The Standard Visitor visa enables a person to visit the country for no longer than six months in most cases.

    It is necessary to submit the documents for this permission document no earlier than three months prior to the planned visit of the United Kingdom. The majority of applications of this kind are reviewed within three weeks from the moment the person visits the visa centre.

    Studying in the UK

    There are three different permission documents associated with studying in the United Kingdom:

    • The Short-term Study route is designed for visitors aged sixteen years and over who wish to attend an authorised English language course in the United Kingdom that lasts less than eleven months.
    • The regular Student visa is designed for studying various subjects. It is also compatible with longer courses. One of the main criteria here is that the course provider is approved by the Home Office.
    • Child student visas are issued for travellers aged from four to seventeen, who are coming to study at an independent school.

    It is necessary to make a submission within three months prior to the planned travel to the UK. The submissions in this category are typically reviewed within three weeks after the visit to the Home Office department. Note that the UK student visa processing time may also be delayed.

    Entrepreneurs & investors

    For entrepreneurs, there are two most common options available:

    • The Start-up visa is designed specifically for entrepreneurs who wish to launch an enterprise in the UK. EEA and Swiss applicants may be approved if they are endorsed by an eligible body.
    • The second option is the Innovator route. It is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to launch a company in the United Kingdom. As one would expect, the idea has to be innovative and there is a minimum level of investment of £50,000.

    The processing of business visas is more complicated than other categories because of the complexity of the application documentation and evidence. Therefore, the submissions are reviewed for longer periods, although it is only possible to submit the documents three months prior to the planned arrival in the UK.

    Joining family in the UK

    There is also a route that enables people from outside the United Kingdom to join their family members who already reside in the country. It is suitable for cases in which the applicant intends to stay for more than half a year.

    The reviewing period is usually up to eight weeks for the submissions made on the territory of the United Kingdom. In case the submission is made from overseas, it may take the Home Office twelve weeks or more to make a decision.

    To get married in the UK

    Another option is to travel to the country to get married with a view to settling in the UK. The corresponding permission document is also available to enter into a civil partnership.

    Note that this document itself won’t enable the holder to obtain permanent residence permission in the country, as it is only aimed at giving the time to arrange the ceremony. To be on a route to settlement, the applicant will need to switch to a spouse visa after marriage.

    Travelling through the UK

    In case you are travelling through the country, you might need to obtain one of the two available documents associated with this process. The first one is the Visitor in Transit visa, which is designed for travellers who are passing through the UK border control and do not stay in the country for more than two days.

    For the cases where the border control is not passed, there is a Direct Airside Transit visa available. If the period of your stay in the country exceeds two days, you will have to get a regular Visitor permission document.

    UK Ancestry visa

    For citizens of Commonwealth countries who have a grandparent who originated in the United Kingdom, there might be an option to go for the Ancestry route. This document will enable the holder to reside and be employed in the United Kingdom. Submissions may only be made from outside the country.

    The majority of cases are reviewed in the timeframe of three weeks from the moment of providing biometrics. This permission document may also be extended, and such applications are reviewed within the time frame of eight weeks.

    If you apply for settlement, a decision will usually be made within six months.

    Returning Residents

    Thisroute grants an opportunity for previous ILR holders to return to the United Kingdom. With the Returning Resident permission, applications are reviewed within three weeks.

    Need assistance?

    The team of Sterling Law is willing to help you at any stage of the process. Our professional solicitors will be glad to suggest the most suitable visa for your specific case and help you with preparing the documents to maximise the chances of the submission being approved.

    Our experience with immigration law is rich, and we have already helped hundreds of travellers to achieve their goals. It will be a pleasure for us to discuss your case. Feel free to contact us for assistance.

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