Reasons for Delay in UK Visa Application Processing Time 2020/21

This relates to reasons for delays in processing of straightforward and complex (non-straightforward) UK visa applications. Accordingly, explains: why UK priority, spouse, tourist, family visit visa, work, student visa is getting delayed? Moreover, also explains, the reasons for delay in Home Office processing time of leave to remain (extension and switching) and ILR applications.

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1. Overview

Why UK Visa Getting Delayed 2020/21?

The common reasons of delay in processing of complex (not-straightforward) UK visa application pertain to an applicant’s adverse immigration history and doubtful intentions. Accordingly, in some instances, a delay in UK visa processing may be due to documents verification and interview. Quite a few complex (not-straightforward) UK visa applications require further assessment, which can take longer than the published customer service standards of UKVI (Home Office). Nevertheless, if an application is going to take longer than expected then UKVI will inform the applicant accordingly.

Please note, there are no obvious reasons for delay in processing of a straightforward UK visa application. However, at times, due to administrative bottlenecks such as seasonal workload or coronavirus restrictions, even the processing of a straightforward UK visa application may get delayed.

When may UK visa processing not get delayed?

An application with a clear purpose and proper documentation enhances the credibility of an applicant. This in tandem with a positive immigration history enables UKVI (Home Office) to decide a UK visa application within the respective service standards.

Nevertheless, poorly documented applications with an adverse travel history are also likely to decide quickly as such applications do not necessitate a detailed assessment process. Therefore, there is no link between quick disposal and an affirmative decision!

Why UK Priority Visa Getting Delayed 2021?

The priority service is only for straightforward applications. However, some applicants with adverse immigration history purchase priority service because they think that it may influence the decision-making process. Certainly, in such instances, it is not possible to decide without further assessment and verification checks. Accordingly, if the UKVI decides to undertake further assessment then it notifies the delay in UK priority visa processing through an email. Therefore, it is not expedient to purchase Priority Service if the UK visa application is complex (not-straightforward) due to past refusals, adverse travel, immigration history etc.

What is the notification that your visa application will not be processed within our service standards?

If a UK visa application is not-straightforward then an applicant may get an Email Notification from UKVI (Home Office) stating, “unfortunately, we will not be able to make a decision on your visa application within these service standards because we require further information to fully assess your application. we will contact you should we require any additional information from you.”

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Delay in UK Visa Processing 2021

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    *What happens next?

    Multilingual qualified London based immigration specialists will get back to you, usually within 2-3 working days. If you have not attached any documents, then the UK based Law firm may ask for the relevant Case-Specific Document(s) such as Refusal Letters, Deportation Orders, Application Forms etc. Moreover, after reviewing the papers and information, the legal advisor may advise a course of action and quote the fees for processing the application.

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    2. Entry Clearance (Non-Settlement)

    Delay in UK Visa Processing

    The service standard is to process 90% of the non-settlement entry clearance UK visa applications within 15-working day (3 weeks).

    Usually, 2.5-3% of the Non-Settlement Entry Clearance (EC) applications are non-straightforward. Additionally, 1.5-2% of straightforward applications are not decided within 15 working days. Therefore, 4-5% of the UK visitor, tourist, work, student visa applicants may experience delay in processing beyond 15-working days.


    The service standard is to decide a straightforward priority non-settlement entry clearance UK visa application within 5 working days (1-week).

    Usually, 2.5-3% of the priority EC Non-Settlement applications (such as tourist, family, business visitor, Tier 2 work, Tier 4 student) are not straightforward. Additionally, 4.5-5% of straightforward applications are not decided within 5 working days. Therefore, 7-8% of the priority applicants may experience delay in UK visa processing.


    The service standard is to decide a straightforward super-priority non-settlement entry clearance UK visa application by next working day (24-hours).

    Usually, 5-7% of the super-priority UK visa applications are not straightforward. Additionally, 3-5% of straightforward super-priority applications are not decided by next working day (24-hours). Therefore, 8-12% of the super-priority applicants may experience delay in UK visa processing.

    For instance, in 2019Q3, UKVI received a total of 15,623 super-priority applications – 14,844 (95%) straightforward and 779 (5%) not-straightforward. Moreover, 483 (3.09%) straightforward applications were not processed within 24-hours. Therefore, 1,262 (8.07%) super-priority applicants experienced delay in UK visa processing.

    3. Entry Clearance (Settlement)

    Delay in UK Visa Processing

    The service standard is to process 98.5% of the UK spouse and family settlement visa application within sixty working days (12-weeks). If a spouse visa not decided within sixty working days, then UKVI may inform the applicant after 12 weeks.

    Usually 18-20% of the EC settlement applications are not-straightforward. Additionally, 2-3% of straightforward applications are not decided within sixty working days. Therefore, 20-23% of the applicants may experience delays in UK visa processing.


    The service standard is to process a UK spouse settlement priority visa within thirty working days (6-weeks)

    Usually, 8-10% of the UK entry clearance settlement priority applications are not straightforward. Additionally, 10-12% of straightforward priority settlement applications are not decided within thirty working days. Therefore, 18-22% of the entry clearance settlement applicants may experience delay in UK visa processing.

    4. Leave to Remain (LTR)

    Delay in UK Visa Processing 2021

    The service standard for processing leave remain applications such partners, spouses, Tier 2 workers, Tier 1 entrepreneurs, Tier 4 students, and organisations seeking to sponsor a worker, is 8-weeks (40 working days).

    Usually, 7-10% of the Leave to Remain (LTR) applications are not-straightforward. Additionally, 2.5-3% of straightforward LTR applications are not decided within 40 working days. Therefore, 9.5-13% of applicants may experience delay in leave to remain application processing.

    5. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

    Delay in UK Visa Processing 2021

    The service standard of UKVI for processing ILR (settlement) applications is 6-months.

    Usually 7-10% of ILR applications are not-straightforward. Additionally, 3-5% of straightforward ILR applications may experience delays in processing Therefore, 10-15% of the applicants may experience delays in processing.

    6. UK Visa Delay Reasons

    Why UK Visa Getting Delayed: Reasons for Delay in Processing

    Indeed, usually the processing of a UK visa application may experience delay due to one of the following reasons:

    1. Past Refusals
    2. Removal or Deportation Order
    3. Rejection of a Leave to Remain Application
    4. Adverse Immigration History
    5. Criminal Conviction
    6. Documents Verification
    7. Additional Information and Interview
    8. Sponsor Verification
    9. Administrative Workload
    10. Coronavirus (Covid-19)

    1. Past Refusals

    Quite clearly, a past refusal undermines the credibility of an applicant. A frequent reason for the UK visitor visa delay is a past refusal or 10-year ban. If a UK visit visa application from an applicant with a previous refusal explains the details of the past refusals. And properly establishes the credentials of the applicant even then may experience delays in UK visa processing.

    2. Removal or Deportation Order

    If the Home Office has served removal or deportation order, then a fresh application is liable for further verification. This may cause delays in UK visa decision time.

    3. Past Refusal of a Leave to Remain Application

    Similarly, if an applicant has overstayed in the UK and/or the Home Office has refused a leave to remain then any future application of such an applicant may subject to further verification.

    4. Adverse Immigration History

    If an applicant has accumulated refusals from other countries such as USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or the Schengen countries then this also undermines the credibility of an applicant.

    For instance, if an applicant after getting a 2-year UK visitor visa, applied for Schengen visa. However, instead of the Schengen visa, the applicant gets a refusal on more than one occasion. Therefore, any future UK visa applications from such applicants may experience delays in processing.

    5. Criminal Conviction

    The processing of UK visa applications of persons convicted of criminal offence in their home country or in any other country may experience delays.

    6. Documents Verification

    The immigration officer might like to get documents verified and this may cause UK visa processing delay. For PBS Tier 1 entrepreneur, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 it is quite common to verify points related documents such as bank statements, tax returns, sponsor documents, COS, CAS etc.

    Accordingly, the caseworker may write to third parties such as government authorities, tax department, commercial banks, applicant’s sponsor etc. Usually, a caseworker expects a reply within twenty-eight working days. Therefore, depending on the reply of the third party the processing time may escalate accordingly.

    7. Additional Information and Interview

    If the documents submitted with the application are not conclusive for decision making, then the immigration office can direct the applicant to furnish additional information. For instance, the officer may ask for latest bank statements, tax returns of the preceding years etc. Similarly, the officer may arrange an interview to second guess an applicant’s credentials. Moreover, in case of a fresh application, it is quite possible that if an application satisfies the immigration officer, then an interview may be arranged. Accordingly, the additional information and interview will inevitably lead to a UK visa decision delay. However, after submitting the additional information or date of an interview, it may not take longer than a week’s time to get the decision.

    8. Sponsor Verification

    The ECO may like to check with the sponsor, especially in case of a visitor visa, about the purpose of the visit and an applicant’s planned activities in the UK. Accordingly, these checks on the sponsoring individual or institution relating to credential and the purpose of visiting the UK may cause a delay in processing.

    9. Administrative Workload

    The UK visa processing delay due to seasonal factors such as a more than estimated visa applications. For instance, from tourist during the summer months or student submitting applicants before the start of the Fall or Winter Semester. Accordingly, during the busy months, a few applicants may experience delays in the decision. Perhaps, using priority service might help mitigate delay in UK visa processing due to administrative workload.

    10. Coronavirus (Covid-19)

    Due to the ongoing global impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19), disruptions to local travel and courier routes have increased UK visa processing time in some regions and countries. These delays mean that it may take longer than usual for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to assess entry clearance applications. Accordingly, the UK non-settlement visa (such as visit, tourist, work, student) processing time after biometrics during coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic may take more than fifteen working days (3 weeks). Moreover, the settlement visa (spouse or family under Appendix FM) processing time after biometrics for applications from outside the UK may take more than sixty working days (12 weeks).

    Additional Reasons for Delays in UK Spouse Visa Processing

    Only a very few spouse settlement applications decide within 10 days or remain pending after 120 days. The disparity in deciding the spouse visa applications is due to establishing the bona fide of an applicant’s relationship with the UK sponsor.

    Accordingly, before deciding it is requisite to check and verify the bona fide of an applicant. For settlement visa, this means evaluating the genuineness and subsisting nature of the marriage or civil partnership relationship. Moreover, the applicant might also get a call from the Home Office. During the interview, the decision maker may ask questions relating to the date of birth, house address, spouse’s date of birth, where the British spouse lives in the UK or elsewhere, date of marriage or starting of the civil partnership, employment, and sources of income. Therefore, in the light of the interview, may ask for additional documents, which may cause further delay in UK visa processing.

    Since the decision making processing of family and spouse visa is centralized. Therefore, at times, administrative workload of the Home Office may cause delays in UK spouse visa processing.

    UK Visa Application Not Straightforward

    7. What to do?

    Delay in Processing: What to do if UK Visa is delayed?

    If the processing of UK visa is delayed, then an applicant can contact UKVI (Home Office) via email or telephone to know the status of application:

    • Telephone: 00 44 203 481 1736 Monday to Friday, 24 hours. Calls cost £1.37 per minute on top of your standard network charges
    • Email Enquiries: cost £5.48. You will not be charged for any follow-up emails about the same enquiry

    It is better to contact UKVI via email to know the reasons for delays in UK visa processing as there are no additional charges for the follow-up emails.

    Please note, if an entry clearance, leave to remain or ILR application is straightforward then there are more then 90% chance that it will be processed within service standards. Moreover, if there is delay in UK visa processing of straightforward or complex (not-straightforward) application then the UKVI (Home Office) will inform the applicant within 3-6 weeks.

    If your application is straightforward, we (UKVI) will decide on it within the standard processing time.

    If there is a problem with your application or if it is complex, we will write to explain why it will not be decided within the normal standard. We will write within the normal processing time for the 8 week standard and within 12 weeks for the 6 month standard. The letter will explain what will happen next.

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