In the news: Home Office Processing Time Delays Preventing the Families of Grenfell Tower Victims from entering the UK

It is no secret that Home Office processing time delays have become increasingly common in recent years. These delays are due to the Home Office struggling to keep up with the number of visa applications that are submitted. Unfortunately, this can have a profoundly detrimental impact on the Applicant and their families. A recent case highlighted by The Independent reports that the applications of the family members of a Grenfell Tower victim are being ‘blocked’ by the Home Office from entering the UK in order to participate in the inquiry into the cause of the devastating fire last June.

Delays in Home Office processing time

The Home Office has become known for its significant delays in its processing time for UK Visas and Immigration applications. As a result of these disproportionate lengthy delays, many Applicants are being left in difficult circumstances whereby they are losing out on valuable employment and education opportunities or are being estranged from their families and missing out on significant life events. In response to the growing criticism, the Home Office has stated that they are actively working through the backlog of cases and are trying to process applications efficiently. Figures highlight that the longest time an Applicant had to wait for a decision on a residency application between January 2014 and June 2017 was 719 days, whilst the longest an application was on hold for during the same period was 1,001 days. This clearly demonstrates that the Home Office needs to overhaul its method of processing and deciding applications.

Family Members of Grenfell Tower Victim Visa Applications affected by Home Office processing time delays

The mother and brother of one of the Grenfell Tower fire victims are Moroccan nationals and have applied for Visitor Visas in order to come to the UK in order to participate in the public inquiry surrounding the fire. After 45 days their applications are still pending with no update from the Home Office. The Home Office has also retained their passports. The family members had previously been granted Visitor Visas to the UK in June and July last year in search for answers as to what happened to their daughter and sister. They applied to extend their visas in September 2017 when it became apparent that the inquiry would not be concluded by December however the Home Office took so long to respond to their extension request that they then returned to Morocco in order to not overstay their visas.

According to the Home Office’s data published in December 2017, the standard processing time for most visa applications from Rabat is 30 days, although a disclaimer mentions that processing times can vary “depending on a range of factors”. The family have accused the Home Office of “exacerbating their suffering in the aftermath of the fire”. In response, a Home Office spokesperson said that it did not comment on individual cases but the Government would help support the Grenfell inquiry by ensuring visa applications were dealt with in a “timely manner”.

What to do in the event that your application is subject to Home Office processing time delays

There is limited action that can be taken to the Home Office when it fails to process an application or provide a decision in accordance with its standard processing times. Whilst there is an application status tracking service available which allows Applicants to check the status of their applications, we often get informed by our clients that this Visa Application status tracking tool to be defective and unresponsive.

The Home Office can be contacted via phone and email but they have recently changed its procedure and have started to charge £1.37 for every call and £5.48 per email relating to the same enquiry. As a last resort, Applicants can write to their local MP to inquire about why their application is being delayed as well to report a Home Office failure in providing adequate responses to queries.  Whilst this is an option available for Applicants, there is no obligation for the Home Office to respond to a letter from an MP and therefore it may be best to obtain legal assistance, such as from our Immigration Team, in order to chase up the Home Office for decisions.

Using Legal Representation to Overcome Home Office processing time delays

Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to overcome Home Office processing time delays

Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.

This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.

Successfully overcome Home Office processing time delays

Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your visa and immigration application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

Our offices are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.

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