A Comprehensive Guide to UK Visa Processing Times and Delays

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Sanwar Ali workpermit.com

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By Sanwar Ali:

It is important to understand visa processing times. Whether you're a potential student, a skilled professional, or a family member looking to reunite with loved ones, the UK visa processing timeline can greatly impact your plans. This comprehensive guide will explore the current state of UK visa processing times, how they've evolved, and what we might expect in the future.

Understanding UK Visa Processing Times

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department stipulates standard processing times for various visa categories. These timelines serve as indicators of how long it takes to process straightforward applications. However, delays can occur due to high volumes of applications, complexities in individual cases, or the need for additional evidence.

UKVI Standard Processing Times

UKVI's service standards for visa processing times are as follows:

  1. Non-settlement visa applications from outside the UK: 90% should be decided within 3 weeks, 98% within 6 weeks, and 100% within 12 weeks.
  2. Settlement visa applications from outside the UK: 98.5% should be decided within 12 weeks, and 100% within 24 weeks.
  3. Applications for leave to remain within the UK, including as spouses, workers, and students: 8 weeks.
  4. Applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) within the UK: 6 months.
  5. Applications for no time limit (NTL) within the UK: 6 months.
  6. Organisations seeking to sponsor a worker: 8 weeks.
  7. Organisations updating their sponsor licence details: 18 weeks.

The premium priority and super-priority services offer faster processing times, with decisions expected within 5 working days and the next working day, respectively.

Factors Influencing UK Visa Processing Times

Several factors can impact the UK visa processing timeline:

  • Complexity of the case
  • Concerns regarding suitability (such as criminality)
  • Consideration of adverse immigration history
  • Questions concerning the authenticity of documents
  • Volume of documents provided
  • Need for further investigations or interviews
  • Capacity of caseworkers
  • Time of the year

Current Home Office UK Visa Processing Times

The Home Office publishes the current average visa processing times for applications submitted both within and outside the UK. These times can vary based on a range of factors including the type of visa applied for and the current volume of applications.

Work visas for the UK

The UK provides several types of work visas including the Skilled Worker visa, Health and Care Worker visa, Global Business Mobility visas, Temporary Work visas, Innovator Founder visa, Global Talent visa, High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, and Scale-up Worker visa. The standard processing times for these visas are 3 weeks for overseas applications and 8 weeks for in-country applications.

Join or Stay With Family in the UK

Family visas are for individuals looking to live in the UK with a British or settled family member. The current processing time for partner and family visas is 12 weeks for overseas applications and 8 weeks for in-country applications.

Visit visas for the UK

The UK offers multiple types of Short Stay Visit Visas. The current processing time for these visas is around 3 weeks.

Study visas for the UK

For those looking to study in the UK, there are several Student visas available. The processing time for these visas is around 3 weeks for overseas applications and 8 weeks for in-country applications.

Hong Kong British National (Overseas)

The Hong Kong BN(O) Status Holder Visa and Hong Kong BN(O) Household Member Visa have a standard processing time of 12 weeks for overseas applications and for in-country applications.

UK Ancestry

For Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK, the UK Ancestry visa has a processing time of 3 weeks for overseas applications and 8 weeks for in-country applications.

Returning Residents

For non-UK citizens who have previously been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, and need to apply to have it reinstated, the Returning Resident visa has a processing time of around 3 weeks.

Expedited Processing of Applications

In certain circumstances, you can expedite the processing of visa applications by using the Home Office's priority services for an additional cost. The Priority service promises a decision within 5 working days, while the Super Priority service promises a decision by the end of the next working day.

Tracking Your Visa Application

You can track the status of your visa application online. However, the Home Office says that you should not contact UKVI to ask about your application if it is still within the usual processing times.

Dealing with Visa Delays and Backlogs

Visa delays and backlogs can be frustrating and may impact your plans. If your application is delayed, you should receive a letter explaining the reasons and the next steps. You can also contact the Home Office directly to request an update on your application status. If you are facing an urgent situation or if the standard processing time has passed, you can request for your case to be escalated as a priority.

Future Outlook for UK Visa Processing Times

The future of UK visa processing times is influenced by a variety of factors. The current global situation, political changes, and changes in immigration policy can all impact processing times. Additionally, the introduction of digital technologies and automation may also influence how quickly applications are processed in the future.


While the UKVI aims to process applications within the standard processing times, delays can occur. Applicants should be prepared for potential delays and plan their travel accordingly. Staying informed about the current processing times can help you plan your application and manage your expectations.

How Workpermit.com Can Help with Sponsor Licences

If you need help with employing Skilled Workers and help to apply for a Sponsor Licence, including complying with your Sponsor Licence obligations, Workpermit.com can help.

For more information and advice, please contact us at 0344 991 9222 or at london@workpermit.com(link sends e-mail)