Priority Service Reinstated for Applicants Outside the UK

Priority services for new customers applying in family applications have been reintroduced by U.K. Visa and Immigration (UKVI). Due to the Home Office staff’s diversion to address the Ukraine crisis, most visa services experienced delays. However, visa services for employers are now operating at normal speed, and services for family members are also expected to resume normal service.

Although Home Office staff were redirected to process Ukrainian applications, priority services for applications within the UK remained unaffected. However, waiting times for all applications increased. Fortunately, UK application processing times are gradually returning to their standard duration.

The Home Office reinstated work and business priority services for out-of-country applications starting in August 2022. Currently, clients with pending family visa applications are receiving emails from the Home Office notifying them that the option to utilise priority service will soon be restored. Now, applicants may once again expedite the decision on their visa application by paying for priority service.

What are priority and super priority visa services?

Priority service

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) provides priority and super priority services, which enable your visa to be processed more quickly than other visa applications. Applications for the priority service are typically processed within five working days with an extra fee. You may select the “priority service” when you apply if you verify your identification at a visa application centre and the service is offered in the country from which you are applying. Within five working days after your appointment at the visa application centre, a decision will be made.

To find out if the priority visa service is offered in the nation from where you are applying, check with your visa application centre. The majority of countries provide the priority visa service. Your application will not be processed with the priority and super priority services if it is not properly drafted or there are documents missing and you will end up wasting hundreds of pounds. It is therefore best to engage a professional immigration solicitor at the first instance.

Super priority service:

You can select the “super priority service” when you apply if you verify your identification at a visa application centre and the service is offered in the country from which you are applying. This service will have an extra fee. By the end of the next working day after receiving your biometric data, UK Visas and Immigration intends to have decided on your super priority visa application and call you to let you know that your passport is prepared for pick-up. To find out if the super priority visa service is offered in the country from where you are applying, contact your visa application centre.

Who is now eligible for the priority service?

Priority service for family visa applications

Starting on February 20th, 2023, UKVI will be reintroducing priority visa services for individuals applying for a new overseas family visa. Within 30 days or 6 weeks from the date of biometric submission, priority visa applications will be evaluated. The fee for this service remains the usual priority service fee of £573.

Priority service for new visit visa applications

To improve processing times for all customers, UKVI is still reducing the number of priority service appointments available for new visit visa applications. However, appointment availability for super priority services (Super Priority Visa) for new visit applications will remain unchanged, where available.

It’s important to note that both priority and super priority service appointments for new visit visa applications cannot be purchased retroactively.

Priority Visa Services for new study and sponsored work applications

You can now purchase priority and super priority visa services online or at the Visa Application Centre before submitting your biometrics, if they are available. It’s important to note that these services cannot be purchased retroactively.

However, customers who are applying as dependants in eligible work routes are unable to purchase prioritisation while booking their appointments. If needed, Priority and Super Priority Services can be bought at the Visa Application Centre at the time of the booked appointment, before submitting biometrics. Please note that Priority Services cannot be purchased retrospectively.

It’s also important to note that the ability to purchase priority and super priority visa at the time of the appointment doesn’t apply to customers applying through Application Support Centres in the US.

What if I am awaiting a decision on an existing family visa application?

Previously, priority services were suspended while staff and resources were allocated to process applications under the Ukraine schemes. As a result, the processing time for family visa applications made outside the UK increased from 12 weeks to 24 weeks.

The Home Office is now contacting applicants in date order and offering them the option to pay an additional fee to upgrade to the priority service, with a reduced processing time of 15 working days for applications pending before 20 February 2023. However, there is no guarantee of a refund if the processing time is not met.

What is the cost of the priority service?

The cost of the priority service is £573 per applicant, or £2,292 for a family of four applying together, in addition to the standard application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge.

What if I decide not to use the priority service?

If you do not use the priority service, the processing time for visa applications should be within the standard 24-week time frame. The Home Office is working to reduce this time frame back to the previous 12-week standard, and applicants should check Visa decision waiting times: applications outside the UK for updates.

Reasons for the suspension of UK priority visa

In order to give priority to applications for the Ukraine Family Scheme amid the war in Ukraine, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) temporarily suspended all priority visa services, including normal priority and super priority, for any applications made outside of the UK. This includes family and student visa applications, as well as the Spouse Visa and Skilled Worker Visa..

A UKVI statement said:

“The reason for the suspension is that we are prioritising Ukraine Family Scheme applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to UKVI data, more than 8,000 UK visas have been issued to Ukrainians, but numbers are expected to rise even more.”

The Ukraine Family Scheme allowed Ukrainian’s who were residing in Ukraine before the 1st January 2022 to join family members who are either British nationals or someone settled in the UK, this includes both immediate and extended family members.

How can we assist you with your UK Visa Application

Our team of solicitors and barristers represent your interests at all times. We start off with a customised strategy for each client. Before your case even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department, we will be able to advise you regarding your immigration status or queries from our very first appointment.

Our immigration solicitors in London prepare UK Visa applications to the highest standard. We have an impeccable track history of submitting successful UK Visa applications for a range of different clients. The key to submitting successful applications is being aware of the relevant Immigration Rules.

Our immigration solicitors in London guide Applicants through the requirements and prepare detailed legal submissions in support of the application. In addition to the legal representations, our team of solicitors also provides multiple substantial reviews of the application bundle to ensure that the correct documentary evidence is submitted. We also prepare and assist with the submission of the application.

We are based in the legal epicenter of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Royal Courts of Justice, and other central London courts.

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 02030110276 or complete our contact form.

Authored by Tehreem Fatima, Paralegal

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