Fast Track UK Visa Processing Time

This guidance tries to answer the FAQS relating to UK priority visa service (aka premium or express service) for fast-tracking settlement and non-settlement entry clearance applications. And also priority and super-visa service for fast-tracking leave to remain, extension and ILR applications from inside the UK.

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UK Priority Service for Fast-Tracking Visa Applications

The UK priority and premium services are optional user-pay services, which are exclusive to the application fee. Therefore, depending on the type of service (priority or super-priority) and application (entry clearance, leave to remain and ILR) an applicant needs to pay an additional amount (£220£956). Moreover, the UK priority and super-priority fee is not refundable after biometrics.

Types of UK Priority Visa Service

At present, there are 6 types of UK priority visa services for fast-tracking different types of UK visa applications. However, the most commonly used UK priority visa service is the £220 service to fast track the processing of visitor visa applications within 5 working days instead of the 3-weeks. Moreover, the details of all types of UK priority visa services are as under:

  1. UK Priority Visa Service (£220) to fast-track non-settlement applications- such as visitor visa, Tier 2 General, Tier 4 student– within 5 working days or 1 week instead of the usual processing time of 15 working days or 3 weeks.
  2. Super-priority Visa Service (£956) to fast-track non-settlement applications– such as visitor, Tier 2 work, Tier 4 student- within 24 hours instead of the usual processing time of 15 working days or 3 weeks.
  3. UK Priority Visa Service (£573) to fast-track family settlement applications- such as spouse, child, parent of a child visa application under Appendix FM– within 30 working days or 6 weeks instead of the usual processing time of 60-120 working days or 12-24 weeks.
  4. Priority Service (£500) to fast-track temporary leave to remain applications within 5 working days instead of 8 weeks or 40 working days
  5. Super-Priority Service (£800) to fast-track temporary leave to remain applications within 24-hours instead of 8 weeks or 40 working days
  6. Super-Priority Service (£800) to fast-track ILR applications within 24-hours instead of 6 months or 120 working days

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Purpose of UK Priority Visa Service

Perhaps, the UK priority and super-priority visa services are only to fast track UK visa processing time by putting an application at the front of the queue. Certainly, the purpose of priority or super-priority service is not to influence the decision. Apparently, priority and super-priority services are not available for all types of visa applications. Moreover, the UK priority visa service is only for processing a straightforward case and not complex applications. However, if an application is complex and an applicant likes to use the service then no one will be stopping.

When an applicant can fast track a UK visa application?

If priority or super-priority visa services are available for entry clearance, leave to remain and ILR (settlement) then an applicant can fast track a UK visa and immigration application. Accordingly, if the service is available and the applicant can afford with an intent to get the decision as soon as possible then may opt for UK priority visa service. However, if an applicant thinks that by using the priority service he/she will get the visa then is surely mistaken! Certainly, the UK priority visa processing service is not meant to increase the balance of probabilities and influence the decision. For further details, please refer to the News Story, which clearly indicates how some applicants faced delays despite paying the priority and super-priority fee.

When it is not advisable to use priority service?

Certainly, if the case is not straightforward and well-documented then it is quite inevitable to experience delays. Accordingly, it is not advisable to use priority and super-priority services where an applicant:

  1. has either been refused a visa (for UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, or the Schengen countries) or leave to enter the UK and/or;
  2. have either overstayed or been deported, removed, or otherwise required to leave the UK, and/or;
  3. leave to remain in the UK was curtailed by the Home Office, and/or;
  4. refusal of leave to remain in the UK by the Home Office, and/or;
  5. was interviewed, detained, or prosecuted by the police for any offence in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, and/or;
  6. has an unspent criminal conviction in any country, and/or;
  7. has committed a criminal offence in any country.

Therefore, if the application is not straightforward and well-documented then in spite of paying the service charges for UK priority visa service, an applicant may experience delays in the UK Visa Processing Time beyond the stated service standards.

Does purchasing priority service guarantees a decision?

No. Quite clearly, the UK priority or premium service is only to fast track a straightforward and well-documented case. Moreover, these services do not have any influence on the outcome. However, an applicant may use these services if the focus is to get the decision as quickly as possible. Perhaps, it is quite futile to use these services merely to increase the balance of probabilities for a positive decision.

Priority Visa Service to Fast Track Entry Clearance Applications

To fast track visa processing time from outside the UK, the following types of services are available:

  1. UK Priority Visa Service to fast-track non-settlement applications- such as visitor visa, Tier 2 General, Tier 4 student- within 5 working days or 1 week instead of the usual processing time of 15 working days or 3 weeks.
  2. UK Priority Visa Service to fast-track settlement applications- such as a spouse, child, parent of a child visa application under Appendix FM- within 30 working days or 6 weeks instead of the usual processing time of 60-120 working days or 12-24 weeks.
  3. Super-Priority Visa Service to fast-track non-settlement applications– such as visitor, Tier 2 work, Tier 4 student- within 24 hours instead of the usual processing time of 15 working days or 3 weeks.

Please note: the UK Priority Service is available for settlement as well as non-settlement entry visa applications from most of the UK Visa Applications Centres (UKVACs). Moreover, at a few UKVACs, Super Priority Visa Service is also available only for non-settlement applications.

How to pay for the UK priority visa service?

If an applicant wants to use the UK priority visa service, then needs to select the Priority Service option in the online application. Accordingly, the priority or super-priority visa fee will add to the total application fee. For instance, if an applicant is applying for 6 months standard visitor visa then instead of £95 the applicant will be paying £315 or equivalent in US$ or local currency. Please note: the fee is non-refundable after biometrics!

Can an applicant upgrade service?

Yes, if an applicant has selected Standard Service then can easily upgrade it to Priority or Super Priority Service before application submission at the UKVAC.

Do applicants use priority service to fast-track?

Yes, perhaps, the priority service has become exceedingly popular as applicants like to get a decision as soon as possible. Therefore, an applicant can fast track non-settlement application by paying £220 for a UK priority visa service. Moreover, an applicant can fast-track a family settlement application for spouse, child, parent visa from outside the UK by paying £573, in addition to the application fee.

Apparently priority service is quite popular for UK visitor visa applications. The information available at UK business and tourist visa processing time indicate that apart from a few exceptions at an average approx. 40-60% of the visitor visa applications are decided within 5 working days. This indicates that in order to get a decision quickly, applicants like to opt for the priority service.

Moreover, the information available at UK settlement visa processing time indicates that 25-50% of applicants are also using the priority service for settlement applications.

What is the benefit of using the UK priority visa service?

Apparently, the service standard of UKVI is to process 90% of non-settlement applications within 3 weeks or 15 working days. And 98% and 100% of applications within 6 and 12 weeks after biometrics, respectively. However, by using the priority service an applicant can fast track the non-settlement application and can get a decision within 5 working days!

Moreover, the service standard of UKVI is to process 90% of the settlement applications within 12 weeks and 100% within 24 weeks of an applicant biometrics’ date. However, by using the priority service an applicant can fast track the settlement application. And accordingly can get a decision within 30 working days or 6 weeks!

Super-Priority Visa Service

The Super-priority visa service is the 24-hours service. And costs £956, in addition to the application fee. Perhaps, the service is not available in most of the countries and UKVACs. And it is also not available for settlement visa application processing. For instance, super priority visa service in India is only available at UKVAC New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai for visitor visas, Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa applications.

Does UKVI inform about delays in UK priority visa processing?

Yes, in case of a delay in UK priority visa processing, the UKVI usually send this message to the applicant:

Dear Customer,
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. THIS MAILBOX IS NOT MONITORED.

Your UK visa application is currently under consideration.

We are aware that you purchased the priority service. And I can confirm that your application was assessed ahead of other visa applications. Unfortunately, the processing of your application has been delayed while we undertake further assessment. This means that we will be unable to make a decision within our published customer service standards.
We will notify you when your application has been concluded. And you will be contacted by the Visa Application Centre when your documents are ready for collection. Please do not go to the Visa Application Centre before they have contacted you.

Please avoid making travel arrangements until you have collected your passport.

We would be grateful if you could keep your correspondence to a minimum during the consideration process. If however, you need to contact us or would like to track the progress of your application, you can do so via our International Enquiry Service at www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-outside-uk
Kind regards,
UK Visas and Immigration
British Embassy Abu Dhabi
www.gov.uk/ukvi

Should an applicant contact UKVI during the assessment?

In some circumstances, an application may require further assessment. Therefore, processing time may take longer than the published customer service standards of UKVI. If an application is going to take longer than expected then the UKVI will inform the applicant accordingly. Therefore, applicants should keep their correspondence to a minimum during the consideration process.

Can an applicant track application by using the GWF number?

Perhaps, a few years ago, applicants were able to track their UK application status online. However, since the introduction of the GWF number, there is no free online service for tracking the application status. Accordingly, if an applicant is keen to know about the UK visa application status then needs to contact UKVI. However, it is not a free service but a paid service.

How to Contact UKVI?

If an applicant intends to track the progress of an application then may contact the UKVI’s enquiry service from inside and outside the UK. In fact, the staff of UKVI is usually very polite and considerate. However, they cannot give any advice about the personal circumstances of an applicant. Therefore, may ask questions for which the staff of the contact centre may be able to give adequate replies!

Calling UKVI to track the visa application

From outside the UK, an applicant may call UKVI at +44 2034811736 to know the status of the UK visa application. Apparently, the service is available 24 hours from Monday to Friday. Perhaps, the representatives of UKVI are usually quite polite. And also apart from English, the service is also available in Arabic, Cantonese, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish. Usually, after greetings, the UKVI asks for caller’s name and the Credit or Debit Card number. And also informs about the service charges of £1.37 per minute exclusive of international call charges. For instance, if an applicant talks to UKVI for 5 mins, the service charges will amount to £6.85.

Emailing UKVI to know the UK visa application status

An applicant can contact UKVI by email. However, an enquirer needs a credit or debit card to use the email service of UKVI. Accordingly, this first requires filling in the online form and the payment details before sending the email. Perhaps, the cost of each enquiry is £5.48. And this is inclusive of initial email plus any follow-up emails relating to the same enquiry.
Therefore, to know the UK application status the applicant may provide the GWF number and other relevant details. Usually, the UKVI service standard is to reply within two working days. Please note: the UKVI contact centre staff are not involved in the decision process. And for urgent enquiries, it is recommended to use the phone service.

Priority Service to Fast Track Leave to Remain & ILR Applications

To fast track visa processing time from inside the UK, the following types of services are available:

  1. UK Priority Visa Service (£500) to fast-track temporary leave to remain applications within 5 working days instead of 8 weeks or 40 working days
  2. Super-Priority Service (£800) to fast-track temporary leave to remain applications within 24-hours instead of 8 weeks or 40 working days
  3. UK Super-Priority Visa Service (£800) to fast-track ILR applications within 24-hours instead of 6 months or 120 working days

Perhaps, if an applicant intends to expedite the processing of leave to remain or ILR (settlement) application then can simply select the optional priority and super-priority service before making online payment of the application. The cost of the priority or super-priority service will add to the application fee.

Please note: prior to November 2018, there were three services for expediting/fast-tracking UK visa viz. Priority Service, Premium Service Centres and Super Premium Service. However, with the introduction of the UK Visa Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS), the aforesaid services have been replaced with the priority and super-priority service for leave to remain and ILR (settlement) applications from inside the UK. Moreover, in the previous system, fast-tracking time through the Premium Service Centres was 10 working days.

Priority Visa Service from Inside the UK

Priority Service to fast-track leave to remain applications

The priority service is to process temporary leave to remain applications such as spouses, workers, Tier 1 entrepreneurs, students and organisations seeking to sponsor a worker in 5 working days instead of 8 weeks or 40 working days. However, the priority service is not available for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) applications. Accordingly, the price of priority service from inside the UK is £500 per applicant. And the service standard is to process a straightforward temporary leave to remain application within 5 working days of an applicant’s biometric information (fingerprints and photo) at UK Visa and Citizen Application Services (UKVCAS) appointment centre.

Cost of Leave to Remain Application with Priority Service

For leave to remain application, the final application cost with priority service from inside the UK will comprise of:

  1. Home Office Fee for a Leave to Remain Application, which is usually £1,033, but may be different for different types of applicants
  2. Biometrics Enrolment Fee £19.20
  3. Priority Service Fee £500
  4. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) usually £400 per year (or £300 per year for students and Tier-5), which an applicant needs to pay separately and is refundable in case of a refusal

Super-Priority Visa Service from Inside the UK

The 24-hours super-priority service has replaced the premium or same-day visa through the Premium Application Centres. Accordingly, the super-priority service is available for a fee of £800. This service can be used for extension applications (‘limited leave to remain’) and also for permanent settlement applications (ILR).

Certainly, an applicant must have all the requisite information to enable the provision of a decision within 24-hours. Moreover, depending on the circumstances and documentation of the applicant, it may take longer to reach a decision due to extra checks and verifications.

Please note: the super-priority service was previously known as UK premium visa service and was only available through the 8 Premium Service Centres across the UK.

Super-Priority Service to fast-track leave to remain applications

The same-day UK super-priority visa service through UKVCAS is to fast-track, a temporary leave to remain application such as spouses, workers, Tier 1 general and entrepreneurs, students and organisations seeking to sponsor a worker within 24 hours instead of 8 weeks or 40 working days.

Cost of Leave to Remain Application with Super-Priority Service

For leave to remain application, the final application cost with super-priority service from inside the UK will comprise of:

  1. Home Office Fee for a Leave to Remain Application, which is usually £1,033, but may be different for different types of applicants
  2. Biometrics Enrolment Fee £19.20
  3. Super-Priority Service Fee £800
  4. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is usually £400 per year (or £300 per year for students and Tier-5). However, an applicant needs to pay IHS separately and is refundable in case of a refusal

Same-day 24-hours service to fast-track ILR applications

The UK super-priority service through UKVCAS is for fast-tracking all types of indefinite leave to remain (settlement) application within 24 hours instead of 6 months or 120 working days.

Email from the Home Office

In fact, an applicant may get an email from the Home Office (UKVI) only if the application is successful. However, in case of a rejection, the applicant may only receive a refusal letter in the post. Accordingly, an applicant may receive the biometric residence permit (BRP) within 7 to 10 days of the email.

For instance, if an applicant applies for leave to remain in the UK on April 22 by using the UK super-priority visa service. Then in case of an affirmative decision, an applicant may receive an email from Home Office the next day. Accordingly, the applicant may get the BRP by May 3!

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Country-specific details:

Moreover, to know the country-specific details of UK visa applications and priority service please refer to Egypt, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, RussiaSaudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE and the USA.