How Long Does It Take for UK Student Visa to be Approved in 2021?

This guidance relates to the latest UK Visa Processing Time after Biometrics 2021 for Standard (Normal), Priority and Super-Priority Student (aka Tier 4 Study) Applications. Moreover, for reference and better understanding, also answers the FAQs relating to UK student visa application processing time, fees, priority service, super-priority (premium) service, email notification etc.

1. Standard Applications 2. Priority Applications 3. Super-Priority Applications 4. FAQs

Get in Touch

1. Standard Applications

UK Student Tier 4 Visa Processing Time after Biometrics 2021

The service standards for Entry Clearance (EC) processing time after biometrics 2021 is to decide 90%, 98% and 100% of straightforward UK study (aka Tier 4 student) visa applications within 3, 6 and 12 weeks, respectively. Moreover, the Leave to Remain (LTR) applications service standards processing time after biometrics 2021 is to decide 98.5% of straightforward UK student Tier 4 visa extension and switching applications within 8-weeks.

Entry Clearance

From April 2019 to Dec 2020, UK student visa processing time after biometrics for 371,269 (95.23%) straightforward entry clearance applications was within fifteen working days. Therefore, there are more than 95% chances that UKVI may decide a straightforward UK student visa application after biometrics in 2021 within 15-working days (12-weeks). However, this does not mean that UKVI will process a non-straightforward application within 15-working days service standard. Please note, during the period, UKVI had received 18,587 non-straightforward (4.55% of the total 408,454 study entry clearance applications). The UKVI has no service standard for processing non-straightforward applications. Therefore, if UKVI categories a student entry clearance application as non-straightforward then it may experience delays in processing.

UK Student Visa Processing Time for Non-Priority Applications

Entry Clearance (EC)

Entry Clearance Standard (Non-Priority) Straightforward (SF) and Non-Straightforward Student Visa Applications Received by UKVI from Outside the UK
QuarterTotalNon-SFSFSF Apls Processed within 15-Days%Age of SF Apls Processed within 15-Days
2019 Q285,0312,28582,74681,94899.00%
2019 Q3119,2333,847115,386113,77498.60%
2019 Q428,1141,81826,29625,64897.50%
2020 Q117,4702,09715,37315,03197.80%
2020 Q21,2761281,14886074.90%
2020 Q397,6354,95192,68478,58084.80%
2020 Q459,6953,46156,23455,42898.60%
Total408,45418,587389,867371,26995.23%

Leave to Remain (LTR)

From April 2019 to Dec 2020, UK student visa processing time after biometrics for 50,559 (94.39%) straightforward extension or switching LTR applications was within 8-weeks. Therefore, there are more than 90% chances that UKVI may decide a straightforward Leave to Remain (LTR) application for UK student Tier 4 visa extension or switching after biometrics in 2021 within 40-working days (8-weeks). However, this does not mean that UKVI will process a non-straightforward LTR application within 8-weeks service standard. Please note, during the period, UKVI had received 14,569 non-straightforward LTR applications (21.37% of the total 68,150 student visa extension and switching applications). The UKVI has no service standard for processing non-straightforward LTR applications. Therefore, if UKVI categories a student extension or switching application as non-straightforward then it may experience delays in processing.

UK Student Visa Processing Time for Non-Priority Applications

Leave to Remain (LTR)

Leave to Remain (LTR) Standard (Non-Priority) Straightforward (SF) and Non-Straightforward Applications Received by UKVI for Student Visa Extension and Switching from Inside the UK
QuarterTotalNon-SFSFSF Apls Processed within 8-Weeks%Age of SF Apls Processed within 8-Weeks
2019 Q22,3151002,2112,06793.50%
2019 Q325,31339224,90724,48398.30%
2019 Q47,0801616,9196,78798.10%
2020 Q14,3326503,6823,60397.90%
2020 Q22,2612,244171588.20%
2020 Q317,88110,1667,7156,10979.20%
2020 Q48,9688568,1127,49592.40%
Total68,1501456953,56350,55994.39%
UK Student Visa Processing Time After Biometrics 2021

Get in Touch

Now YOU can get the Best Advice and Representation for All Types of UK Visa and Immigration Applications!

14 + 6 =

*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.

Have an enjoyable day!

2. Priority Applications

UK Student Priority Visa Processing Time after Biometrics 2021

Please note, the 5-days priority service (£220) is available for student Tier 4 entry clearance visa applications processing from outside the UK. Moreover, the 5-day priority service (£500) is available for student visa extension and switching leave to remain (LTR) applications in the UK.

Entry Clearance

If an applicant pays an additional amount of £220 for the priority service, then the service standard for UK student Tier 4 visa processing time after biometrics is within 5-working days.

From April 2019 to Dec 2020, UK visa processing time after biometrics for 199,239 (92.55%) straightforward priority student visa applications was within 5-working days. Therefore, in 2021, the expected UK priority student visa processing time after biometrics is within 5-working days (1-week). However, this does not mean that UKVI will process a non-straightforward priority student visa within 5-working days service standard. Please note, during the period, UKVI had received 10,588 non-straightforward (4.82% of the total 219,574 priority student Tier 4 entry clearance visa applications). The UKVI has no service standard for processing non-straightforward priority student visa applications. Therefore, if UKVI categories a priority student entry clearance visa application as non-straightforward then it may experience delays in processing.

Please note, for all priority visa applications where the customer has met all their obligations, the aim of UKVI is to complete all priority visa applications within 5-working days (excluding Bank Holidays and weekends), where the first day is the day of biometric enrolment. Moreover, immediately after the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, the provision of priority service for UK student visa application processing remained suspended for some time. However, from July 2020, the provision of priority service has gradually resumed for UK student visa application processing.

UK Student Priority Visa Processing Time after Biometrics

Entry Clearance (EC)

Priority Student Entry Clearance Visa Processing Time for Straightforward (SF) and Non-Straightforward Applications from Outside the UK
QuarterTotalNon-SFSFSF Apls Processed within 5-DaysPercentage of SF Processed within 5-Days
2019 Q226,08477525,30924,75097.80%
2019 Q396,9812,64794,33491,46097.00%
2019 Q422,3101,59120,71919,69895.10%
2020 Q119,1541,78817,36617,14098.70%
2020 Q232100.00%
2020 Q334,0771,26732,81029,15488.90%
2020 Q420,9652,51818,44717,03792.40%
Total219,57410,588208,986199,23995.34%

Leave to Remain (LTR)

If an applicant pays an additional amount of £500 for the priority service, then the leave to reman (LTR) service standard for student visa extension or switching application processing time after biometrics is within 5-working days from inside the UK.

From April 2019 to Dec 2020, UK visa processing time after biometrics for 4,824 (96.17%) straightforward priority student visa extension or switching LTR applications was within 5-working day. Therefore, in 2021, the expected UK priority visa processing time after biometrics in 2021 for study Tier-4 student visa extension or switching LTR applications is within 5-working days. However, this does not mean that UKVI will process a non-straightforward priority student visa extension or switching LTR application within 5-working days service standard. Please note, during the period, UKVI had received 1,166 non-straightforward applications (18.75% of the total 6,219 priority student visa extension or switching LTR applications). The UKVI has no service standard for processing non-straightforward priority student visa extension or switching LTR applications. Therefore, if UKVI categories a priority student visa extension or switching LTR application as non-straightforward then it may experience delays in processing.

Please note, for all Priority visa applications where the customer has met all their obligations, the aim of UKVI is to complete all priority visa applications within 5-working days (excluding Bank Holidays and weekends), where the first day is the day of biometric enrolment. Moreover, immediately after the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, the provision of priority service for student visa extension or switching LTR application processing have remained suspended.

UK Student Priority Visa Processing Time after Biometrics

Leave to Remain (LTR)

Priority Leave Remain Straightforward (SF) and Non-Straightforward Student Visa Applications Processing Time for Extension and Switching from Inside the UK
QuarterTotalNon-SFSFSF Apls Processed within 5-DaysPercentage of SF Processed within 5-Days
2019 Q251914037737198.40%
2019 Q33,6269142,7102,70299.70%
2019 Q41,478901,3681,23490.20%
2020 Q15962256151792.20%
2020 Q20000:
2020 Q30000:
2020 Q40000:
Total6,2191,1665,0164,82496.17%

3. Super-Priority Applications

UK Super Priority Student Visa Processing Time After Biometrics 2021

Please note, the £956 super-priority service is available for student Tier 4 entry clearance visa applications processing from outside the UK. Moreover, the £800 super-priority (aka Premium) service is available for student visa extension and switching leave to remain (LTR) applications in the UK. The super-priority service standard is to process a UK student visa by next working day (24-hours).

Entry Clearance

If an applicant pays an additional amount of £956 for the super-priority service, then the service standard for UK student Tier 4 visa processing time after biometrics is by next working day.

From April 2019 to Dec 2020, UK visa processing time after biometrics for 14,336 (96.86%) straightforward super-priority student visa applications was by next working day. Therefore, in 2021, the expected UK super-priority student visa processing time after biometrics is by next working day (24-hours). However, this does not mean that UKVI will process a non-straightforward super-priority student visa by next working day service standard. Please note, during the period, UKVI had received 1,793 non-straightforward (11.50% of the total 15,598 super-priority student Tier 4 entry clearance visa applications). The UKVI has no service standard for processing non-straightforward super-priority student visa applications. Therefore, if UKVI categories a super-priority student entry clearance visa application as non-straightforward then it may experience delays in processing.

Please note, for all super-priority study Tier 4 student visa applications where the customer has met all their obligations, the aim of UKVI is to complete all super-priority visa applications by next working day (excluding Bank Holidays and weekends), where the first day is the day of biometric enrolment. Moreover, immediately after the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, the provision of super-priority service for UK student visa application processing remained suspended for some time. However, from July 2020, the provision of super-priority service has gradually resumed for student visa application processing from outside the UK.

UK Student Super-Priority Visa Processing Time after Biometrics

Entry Clearance (EC)

Super-Priority Student Entry Clearance Visa Processing Time for Straightforward (SF) and Non-Straightforward Applications from Outside the UK
QuarterTotalNon-SFSFSF Apls. Processed by Next Working DayPercentage of SF Apls. Processed by Next Working Day
2019 Q21,671991,5721,56199.30%
2019 Q38,3667407,6267,51098.50%
2019 Q42,3262912,0351,99097.80%
2020 Q176654675174799.50%
2020 Q20000-
2020 Q31,779491,7301,53688.80%
2020 Q46906862254287.10%
Total15,5981,79314,33613,88696.86%

Leave to Remain (LTR)

If an applicant pays an additional amount of £800 for the super-priority (aka premium) service, then the UK visa processing time after biometrics 2021 service standard is to decide a study Tier-4 student extension or switching leave to remain (LTR) application by next working day (or 24-hours).

From April 2019 to Dec 2020, UK visa processing time after biometrics for 1,228 (96.39%) straightforward super-priority student visa extension or switching LTR applications was by next working day. Therefore, in 2021, the expected UK super-priority visa processing time after biometrics in 2021 for student extension or switching LTR applications is by next working. However, this does not mean that UKVI will process a non-straightforward super-priority student visa extension or switching LTR application by next working day service standard. Please note, during the period, UKVI had received 92 non-straightforward applications (6.63% of the total 1,387 super-priority student visa extension or switching LTR applications). The UKVI has no service standard for processing non-straightforward super-priority student visa extension or switching LTR applications. Therefore, if UKVI categories a super-priority student visa extension or switching LTR application as non-straightforward then it may experience delays in processing.

Please note, for all Super Priority visa applications where the customer has met all their obligations, the aim of UKVI is to complete all super priority student visa applications by the end of next working day (excluding Bank Holidays and weekends), where the first day is the day of biometric enrolment. Moreover, immediately after the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, the provision of super priority (premium) service for student visa extension or switching LTR application processing have remained suspended.

UK Student Super-Priority Visa Processing Time after Biometrics

Leave to Remain (LTR)

Super-Priority Leave Remain Straightforward (SF) and Non-Straightforward Student Visa Applications Processing Time for Extension and Switching from Inside the UK
QuarterTotalNon-SFSFSF Apls. Processed by Next Working DayPercentage of SF Apls. Processed by Next Working Day
2019 Q21511613513499.30%
2019 Q37744373072899.70%
2019 Q42721724221588.80%
2020 Q11901616715190.40%
2020 Q20000:
2020 Q30000:
2020 Q40000:
Total1,387921,2741,22896.39%

4. FAQs

UK Visa Processing Time After Biometrics 2021

How popular is the UK priority student visa service?

Please note, before the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak in March 2020, the priority service was available at most of the UK visa application centres. However, after the suspension in March-June 2020, the priority service is yet to be resumed at several UK visa application centres.

From April 2019 to March 2021, 233,728 applicants (33.80% of the total 691,553) used the 5-working days priority service to expedite the processing of UK student visa entry clearance applications within 5-working days instead of the standard (normal) 15-working days (2-3 weeks). Therefore, the priority service has been quite popular, especially before the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak as 35-45% of the study Tier 4 student visa applicants were using it. After the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak in March 2020, the priority service remained suspended for few months. Since July 2020, the UKVI has been making the requisite arrangements for the provision of priority service for UK student visa applications. During Jan-Mar 2021 Q1, 14,154 student visa applicants (31.27% of the total 45,263) used the priority service.

How popular is the UK super-priority student visa service?

Please note, even before the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak in March 2020, the super-priority service for student visa was only available at a few application centres. However, after the suspension in March-June 2020, the priority service is yet to be resumed at several UK visa application centres.

From April 2019 to March 2021, 18,597 applicants (2.69% of the total 691,553) used the 24-hours super-priority service to expedite the processing of UK studen visa entry clearance applications. Therefore, even before the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak, only a handful applicants were using the super-priority service due to its lack of availability in most of the countries/application centres and high price. After the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak in March 2020, the super-priority service remained suspended for a few months. Since July 2020, the UKVI has been making the requisite arrangements for the provision of super-priority service for UK student visa applications. During Jan-Mar 2021Q1, 333 student visa applicants (0.74% of the total 45,263) used the super- priority service.

Share of Priority and Super-Priority UK Student Visa Applications

Entry Clearance (EC)

Total Student Visa Entry Clearance Standard, Priority, and Super-Priority Applications Received by UKVI from outside the UK
QuarterTotal ReceivedStandardPriorityPriority Visa ShareSuper PrioritySuper Priority Share
2019 Q2112,78685,03126,08423.13%1,6711.48%
2019 Q3224,580119,23396,98143.18%8,3663.73%
2019 Q452,75028,11422,31042.29%2,3264.41%
2020 Q140,05617,47019,15447.82%3,4328.57%
2020 Q21,2771,27430.23%00.00%
2020 Q3133,49197,63534,07725.53%1,7791.33%
2020 Q481,35059,69520,96525.77%6900.85%
2021 Q145,26330,77614,15431.27%3330.74%
Total691,553439,228233,72833.80%18,5972.69%
Source: Migration Transparency Data

Leave to Remain (LTR)

Total Leave to Remain (LTR) ​Standard, Priority and Super-Priority Applications Received by UKVI for Student Visa Extension and Switching from Inside the UK
QuarterTotal ReceivedStandardPriorityPriority Visa ShareSuper PrioritySuper Priority Share
2019 Q22,9852,31551917.39%1515.06%
2019 Q329,71325,3133,62612.20%7742.60%
2019 Q48,8287,0781,47816.74%2723.08%
2020 Q15118433259611.65%1903.71%
2020 Q22,2612,26100.00%00.00%
2020 Q317,88117,88100.00%00.00%
2020 Q48,9688,96800.00%00.00%
2021 Q16,2985,9582984.73%420.67%
Total82,05274,1066,5177.94%1,4291.74%

How much does the UK priority student visa cost?

There will be no increase in the UK student visa fees from April 6, 2021. Accordingly, the student visa cost from outside the UK in 2021 will remain at £348. For fast tracking, applicants need to pay an additional cost of £220 and £956 for priority and super-priority (aka premium) service, respectively. Therefore, the UK priority and super-priority student visa fees in 2021 for entry clearance application will be £568 and £1,304, respectively. Moreover, the UK visa cost for child students and dependants is also the same.

The Home Office fees 2021 for student visa extension and switching application from inside the UK will remain at £475. For fast tracking, applicants need to pay an additional cost of £500 or £800 for 5-day priority or 24-hour super-priority (aka premium) service. Therefore, the Home Office 5-day priority and 24-hour premium student visa fees in 2021 for leave to remain application will be £975 and £1,275, respectively. Moreover, the Home Office fees for child students and dependants are also the same.

What is the UKVI response time after biometrics?

In most of instances, a student visa applicant gets the response within 10-15 working days (2-3 weeks) after biometrics. However, if UKVI is not able to decide the study Tier-4 visa application within the stipulated service standards then may intimate the applicant within 3-6 weeks after biometrics.

If the student visa applicant has purchased the priority service, then the response time after biometrics is within 5-working days. Moreover, if the study Tier-4 student visa applicant has purchased the super priority service, then the response time after biometrics is by the next working day.

Are the UK student visa service standards different for different countries?

No, the UK visa processing time service standards are same for all overseas countries and territories. However, the UK student visa processing time after biometrics may slightly vary on a case-to-case basis due to the nature of the application and the administrative workload/consideration of the UKVI.

The time starts when you attend your appointment at the visa application centre and submit your biometrics (if applicable). The processing time will end when your passport is ready for collection.

UKVI

Has the priority service resumed after Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

Indeed, immediately after the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19), the UKVI suspended the priority and super-priority visa services for student visa applications from outside the UK. However, both the priority and super-priority visa services have gradually re-opened since July-Sept 2020 Q3 for student applications.

In fact, due to the ongoing global impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19), disruptions to local travel and courier routes have increased visa processing time UK 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 student visa processing time after biometrics during coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic may take more than fifteen working days (3 weeks). Moreover, at a few visas’ application centres, priority and super-priority service may not be available due to coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions.

What are the UK student visa timelines after interview?

In most of the instances, there are no interviews for the UK student visa applications. Accordingly, the caseworker decides on papers. However, for a second opinion, the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) may schedule an interview. Moreover, an interview usually takes places over the video link at the UK visa application centre (UKVAC). Certainly, the UK student visa processing time after an interview is not more than 3-5 working days. Accordingly, if the interview is on Monday, then an applicant may have the final decision by Thursday or Friday.

Can an applicant get a UK visa decision within 2-3 days?

Yes, there is a remote possibility of getting a decision within 2–3 working days with priority service. However, if an applicant has used the super-priority service, then there is more than 95% chance of getting a UK student visa decision after biometrics by the next working day (24 hours!).

How long does it take for visa to be approved?

A standard (non-priority) student visa applicant may expect a decision within 2-3 weeks (10-15 working days). However, if a student has purchased the priority or super-priority service then may expect a decision within 3-7 working days or by next working day, respectively.

What is the processing time for a complex visa application?

In fact, there are no time limits for deciding a non-straightforward (complex) UK study Tier-4 student visa application. If the ECO has doubts about the purpose, intentions, and credibility of the applicant then may institute verification checks. The ECO will only decide after the completion of the verification process. Therefore, a decision on a non-straightforward student visa application may delay beyond the service standard due to administrative checks and verifications. However, even in case of a delay, there is still no correlation between the processing time and the outcome.

You might wait longer for a decision if your application is not straightforward, and more information is required before a decision is made. If your application is delayed, you will be informed within the standard timescales for your visa.

UKVI

When students start thinking that visa is getting delayed?

Indeed, more than 95% of super-priority (premium), priority and standard student visa applications are processed within 24-hours, 5, and 15 working days, respectively. Therefore, student not getting a decision within these time limits start thinking that UK visa application is getting delayed.

Is there a relationship between timelines and the outcome?

There is no correlation between the UK student visa waiting time and final decision. Therefore, a student visa might be refused or granted within a given period. Please note, a well-documented application has a better chance to decide quickly and favourably in the assessment process.

What is the meaning of biometrics?

At the time of student visa application submission, an applicant needs to go through the biometrics, which is the scanning of fingers and thumbs- and usually does not take more than 2-3 minutes Moreover, apart from biometrics, the staff of the application centre also takes an electronic photo of the applicant for record and for affixing on the visa vignette.

When an applicant receives UK visa email notification?

The UKVI usually notifies via email that the student visa application is concluded and has been sent to UKVAC. Accordingly, the UKVAC contacts the student when the passport is ready for collection. Most of the students feel quite anxious after receiving the UK visa decision email. And try to read between the lines and do the guesswork to know the outcome. Therefore, it is better to wait for the call, text message or email from the UKVAC for the collection of the passport. Accordingly, after receiving the intimation should go to the application centre for passport collection.

Please note, in the presence of the applicant, the dealing staff member of the UKVAC will open the sealed envelope containing the passport (and a refusal letter in case of a rejection decision). Therefore, if there is no refusal letter in the envelope then this means that the UK student visa is approved. Accordingly, the applicant may flip through their passport to see the affixed UK student visa vignette, which prima facie provides the details of the validity and duration of the approval.

Is it possible to track UK student visa application?

Perhaps, a few years ago, applicants were able to track UK student for free. However, now it is not possible to track UK student visa applications during processing. However, if for any reason an applicant wants to know the application status then can contact UKVI by phone or email:

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’s enquiries cost £5.48. You will not be charged for any follow-up emails about the same enquiry.

You’ll get a reply to your email within 2 days, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and UK public holidays.

UKVI

How to know if the UK student visa is approved?

An applicant only comes to know about the UK student visa approval or refusal decision after collecting the passport from the application centre.

What is the UK student visa success rate in 2021?

There were 256,845 student visas granted in the year ending March 2021, 38.21% (158,828) fewer than the previous year (415,673) due to Coronavirus pandemic. In the year ending March 2021, a total of 265,641 students applied for a UK study visa, 268,745 applications decided, 256,845 visas granted, and 82,790 applications rejected. 10,766 applications rejected. Therefore, the UK student visa success and refusal rate for the year ending March 2021 was 95.57% and 4.01%, respectively.

What to do if UK student visa is refused?

After a UK study visa refusal, a Tier-4 student can reapply or file an administrative review. Please note there is no right of appeal against the refusal of student visa. However, if the administrative review is rejected than the Tier-4 student can file judicial review against the UK visa rejection decision.

UK Student Visa Processing Time after Biometrics 2021

Service TypeService Standard
Standard (Normal)To process 90% of straightforward applications within 15 Working Days (3-Weeks)
Standard (Normal)To process 98% of straightforward applications within 30 Working Days (6-Weeks)
Standard (Normal) - 100% of straightforward applicationsTo process 100% of straightforward applications within 60 Working Days (12-Weeks)
Priority (Additional Cost of £220)5 Working Days
Super Priority (Additional Cost of £956)Next Working Day
Non-Straightforward (Complex) ApplicationsNo Service Standard
UK Student Visa Processing Time After Biometrics 2021