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.

1. Delay in UK Visa Processing 2020/21

Why UK Visa Getting Delayed 2020/21?

Perhaps, there are no obvious reasons for delay in the processing of a straightforward UK visa entry clearance, leave to remain or ILR application. However, at times, due to administrative bottlenecks such as workload or coronavirus restrictions, even the processing of a straightforward UK visa application may get delayed.

Delays in Processing of Non-Straightforward UK Visa Application

The common reasons of delay in  processing of complex (not-straightforward) UK visa application mainly pertain to an applicant’s adverse immigration history and genuine intentions. Accordingly, in some instances, a delay in processing of UK visa may be due to documents verification and interview. Perhaps, 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.

When processing may not get delayed?

An application with a clear purpose and proper documentation enhance the credibility of an applicant. This in tandem with a positive immigration history enables UKVI (Home Office) to decide an entry clearance, leave to remain or ILR application within the stated service standards.

Perhaps, poorly documented applications with an adverse travel history are also likely to decide quickly. Indeed, the caseworker doesn’t go into the nitty-gritty of the assessment process and refuses such applications prima facie. Therefore, there is no link between quick disposal and an affirmative decision!

2. Non-Settlement Visa

Delay in Processing of UK Visitor and Other Non-Settlement Visa

The service standard is to process 100% of the non-settlement applications within 12 weeks or 60 days. Therefore, technically speaking, the processing of UK non-settlement visa only delays after 12 weeks (60 working days). However, as a procedure, the UKVI may likely to intimate about the delay in processing after 3-6 weeks. Moreover, the details of UK visa processing time indicates that less than 2-3% applicants may experience delays.

Delays in Processing of UK Priority Visa

The Priority Service enables jumping an application on the queue. The service standard is to process a straightforward (non-settlement) visa applications within 5 working days (or one week). Therefore, processing of a straightforward priority non-settlement visa application (such as tourist, family, business visitor, Tier 2 work, Tier 4 student) is delayed if a decision is not made within 5 working days of the biometrics date. In such instances, UKVI usually informs the applicant within 5-working days if there are delays in processing of UK priority visa.

Priority Service in only for Straightforward UK Visa Applications

Moreover, it is important to note that 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 make a decision without further assessment and verification checks. Accordingly, if the UKVI decides to undertake further assessment then it notifies the delay in UK visa processing through an email. Therefore, it is not expedient to purchase a Priority Service if the UK visa application is complex (not-straightforward) due to past refusals, adverse travel, immigration history etc.

3. Settlement

Delays in Processing of UK Spouse Settlement Visa

The UKVI’s service standard is to process 100% of the settlement applications- such as spouse and family visa- from outside the UK within 24 weeks or 120 working days. Therefore, the processing of UK settlement visa delays only after 24 weeks. However, as a procedure, the UKVI may likely to intimate about the delay after 12 weeks. In fact, the information available at UK settlement visa processing time indicates that 5-10% of total decisions delay beyond 90-120 days.

Priority Spouse Visa

In fact, processing of a UK priority spouse visa application is delayed if a decision is not made within 30 working days of the biometrics date. Accordingly, the UKVI usually informs the applicant if there are delays in processing of UK priority spouse visa beyond 30 working days.

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4. Leave to Remain

Delays in the Processing of Leave to Remain

Indeed, the service standard of processing leave remain applications is within 8 weeks (40 working days). These applications may relate to partners, spouses, Tier 2 workers, Tier 1 entrepreneurs, Tier 4 students, and organisations seeking to sponsor a worker. However, at times due to workload and document verification applicants may face processing delays. Moreover, the priority and super-priority services are available for certain straightforward leave to applications. However, the use of the priority service does not affect the decision. Perhaps, an application may experience delays due to further assessment.

Home Office Delays in ILR Processing

The service standard of UKVI for processing ILR (settlement) applications from inside the UK is also 6 months. However, at times an ILR application may experience delays up to 3-6 months beyond the stipulated time. This may be due to a host of factors such as workload, verification checks, personal, work, employment, immigration history of an application etc. Most noteworthy: apart from ILR applications, all the other types of UK visa and immigration applications are of a temporary nature. Therefore, inevitably ILR applications require detailed assessment and scrutiny, which may cause delays in processing.

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.

5. 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. Perhaps, a frequent reason for the UK visit 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. Perhaps 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 28 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 15 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 60 working days (12 weeks).

Additional Reasons for Delays in UK Spouse Visa Processing

Perhaps, 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 are due to establishing the bona fide of an applicant’s relationship with the UK sponsor.

Accordingly, before making a decision 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.

6. 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 make a decision on it within the standard processing time.

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    *What happens next?

    Multilingual qualified London based immigration specialists will get back to you. Perhaps, 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 also quote the fees for processing the application.

    Have a great day!