Depending on what UK visa you apply for, where you are registered as a citizen, where you are applying from and how long you intend to stay in the UK, the amount of time the Home Office take to process it will vary.
However, the Home Office is quite committed to staying within their time frames when it comes to UK visa processing times, so it is only in very exceptional situations that they will take longer than they say they will to come back to an applicant with an answer about their application. Below you can find the general processing times which the Home Office give for the different UK visa categories:
- Temporary visas applied for from outside the UK, for example as a spouse, temporary worker, or student – up to 8 weeks processing time
- All other visas (including long-term visas) applied for from outside the UK – 3 to 12 weeks processing time
- Settlement applied for from outside the UK – 12 to 24 weeks
- Update of your organisation’s sponsorship details – up to 18 weeks
- Indefinite leave to remain applied for from inside the UK – up to 24 weeks
If you are from Turkey and have applied to enter the UK under the European Community Association Agreement, or you are a non-EEA family member of an EEA national applying under European regulations for a residence card, your application should be processed within six months of when you first apply.
Fast tracking your visa
If you don’t want to or can’t wait the usual amount of time for your visa to be processed for whatever reason, you might be able to opt to fast-track your application. You could get a decision within a week or the next day. Student, family or work visas can be fast-tracked.
After submitting your application
After you have submitted your visa application, you will have to book an appointment at a visa application centre in order to provide the Home Office with your biometric information. This includes a photograph of your face and copies of your fingerprints.
When you attend your appointment you will also have to submit documents which prove that you are eligible to be granted the visa you have applied for. You will get a confirmation that your application has been received not long after you submit it. You will then have to wait for the amount of time given above, after which you will receive a letter with the result of your application on it.
If you have been successfully granted leave, you will receive a sticker – called a vignette – which will go in your passport and show which visa you have been granted, its validity dates and its conditions. For example, the conditions mights say ‘no work’, ‘no access to public funds’ or ‘restricted work’. If your application has been unsuccessful, you will receive a letter which will explain why and will tell you if you have the right to a review or appeal.
Visa extension processing times
If you are already in the UK and want to extend your visa, the processing times are slightly different. It is important that you don’t leave it too late to apply for an extension and let your current visa expire, else you risk getting in trouble with UK immigration enforcement.
If you are currently in the UK on one of the following visas, your extension should be processed within eight weeks of when you first apply:
- Spouse visa
- General work visa
- Student visa
- Visit visa
It may take longer, but only in very specific circumstances, like if your situation is quite complicated. Visa extensions are just as complex as standard visa applications so you would generally be advised to contact an immigration solicitor or specialist to assist you with your application before submitting.