Updates on Immigration Registration Decision Timeframes

Updates on Immigration Registration Decision Timeframes

Collecting your documents ready for your visa application can take time, but waiting for a decision once you’ve completed your application can take even longer, and be a stressful wait. With many geopolitical events taking place, there are sometimes disruptions to the processing time, meaning applications take even longer before a decision is made.

Let’s look at how long visas currently take to process and what you need to watch out for with the new Work and Family visa changes coming in in April 2024.

UK Visa Processing Times

UK Visa Processing Times

Most UK visas take up to 3 weeks to be processed by the Home Office when the application is sent from outside of the UK and up to 8 weeks when the application is submitted from within the UK. All visas need to be completed online, except for very special circumstances when the applicant has no internet access or a disability preventing them from completing the application online – in which case, the timeframe for the decision may differ. However, in either case, after each application, the applicant will receive information on an approximate timeframe for their visa response.

Family visas, on the other hand, take up to 24 weeks for a decision to be made when the application is submitted from outside the UK, and the standard 8 weeks when submitted within the UK. Other applications, such as for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and British citizenship can take up to 6 months to receive a decision, although some cases may take longer, and there are still some delays as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

It’s possible to experience delays in receiving a decision from the Home Office if you’ve made a mistake on your application, are missing documents, don’t have sufficient supporting evidence with your application or perhaps you have a complicated case. Cases can be complicated if you have a previous criminal conviction, for example, that the Home Office needs to investigate to make an assessment on your character and perhaps invite you for an interview.

There can also be delays in processing at other times of the year and in different circumstances.

Are There Delays in UK Visa Processing?

There are still some delays in making decisions on UK visas as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and further delays for some visas due to the prioritisation of visas from Ukrainian citizens looking to move to safety after the Russian invasion in February 2022 (following the annexation of Crimea in 2014).

However, on 25 March 2024, the OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) announced further delays to the processing of visa applications in the UK.

The delays to decisions from the UK’s immigration authorities are said to be caused by a 20% increase in the number of applications for registrations as well as the introduction of new technologies. Many applications are still being processed on time, but it isn’t possible for all of them, so an apology has been issued and some visa applications may take up to 6 months to be processed for the time being.

Enlisting the help of a specialist immigration service to help you understand your rights if your current visa has expired while you wait, or your proposed working start date in the UK has been affected by the longer processing time, for example, is highly recommended. Services like Synergy Immigrations Solutions can help you navigate the complicated immigration process.

Checking Your UK Visa Status Online

Checking Your UK Visa Status Online

While you may be able to check the status of your UK visa application online on VFS Global, you will only be able to see if your visa is being processed or if a decision has been made. You won’t be able to see a timeline of the various checkpoints in the process to estimate when your decision will be ready.

To check your UK visa application status, you’ll need to enter various details including your full name, ID number and reference number for your application. If a decision has been made, you may also be able to see whether your application has been approved or refused. If your application has been refused, you’ll receive a letter explaining why and whether you have the right to appeal the decision.

For applications that are taking longer than expected to be processed, you may benefit from contacting the Home Office, or asking your visa agency to, to find out what’s causing the delay, so if your application is missing a document, you can provide the relevant evidence to speed up the process and increase your chances of a successful application.

It’s useful to check regularly to see when a decision has been made so you can make travel arrangements, query why your visa has been rejected or give more documents. However, be wary not to obsessively check your visa status as waiting for a response can be a nerve-wracking process.

It’s also worth noting that your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account can’t be used to track an application, but it can prove your immigration status if you need it for landlords or employers when in the UK.

Applying for the UK Family Visa

Applying for the UK Family Visa

Family visas take longer for decisions, but the application process isn’t necessarily more complicated than any other UK visa.

Family visas refer to:

  • Partner or Spouse visas
  • Parent visas
  • Child Dependant visas
  • Adult Dependant Relative visas

Therefore, not everyone can apply for a Family visa; nephews and nieces aren’t close enough relatives for applications, while brothers and sisters, parents with children over 18 and grandparents can only apply to join family in the UK if they qualify as adult dependants.

Of course, your extended family and parents can still visit for short periods – up to 6 months – such as to attend weddings, but cannot move to the UK without a valid long-term visa.

When applying for a Family visa, the applicant themselves must complete the application, not the sponsor, submitting their supporting documents online as well as paying the application fee and IHS. Invitation letters aren’t necessary but they can be submitted if you believe it’s relevant to your application.

Changes to Family and Work Visas in 2024

In Spring 2024, changes are being brought in to deter applicants of certain visas and their family members from applying to move to the UK.

These changes include:

  • An increase in the minimum salary for Skilled Workers from £26,200 to £38,700
  • An increase in the minimum salary for Health and Care Worker from £26,200 to £29,000
  • Care workers (and most students) can no longer bring dependants
  • An increase in the minimum income for Partner or Spouse visa sponsors from £18,600 to £29,000 (with a move to increase further in Autumn 2024 and Spring 2025)

These changes don’t impact current visa holders, but are requirements for new first-time applicants from the beginning of April 2024. Visa agencies can help you navigate the changes as they come into effect throughout the year.

Extending and Switching Your Visas

Extending and Switching Your Visas

If you’re nearing the end of your visa, you should apply to extend your visa before yours runs out to ensure you can remain in the UK while your visa is being processed. If you can’t renew your visa as you no longer meet the requirements, you can switch to another visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa, as long as you meet the new requirements. If you work in a job on the list of eligible occupations for the Skilled Worker visa while on a Family visa, it may be worth switching visas instead of extending.

You cannot switch to or from a Standard Visitor visa while in the UK.

Once you’ve been in the UK for 5 years on valid visas, it’s worth applying for permanent residence (ILR) as soon as possible to have more security for your rights to remain in the UK. After 12 months in the UK with ILR, you can usually then apply for British citizenship if you wish.

Need Visa Advice? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

UK visa processes are complicated, so don’t go it alone. Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions today to learn how we can help you with your application.

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