In welcome news for those due to make a family visa application from outside the UK, UKVI has now restarted its priority processing services as of 20th February 2023. This means that new family visa applicants can, once again, pay to receive a much faster decision on their case. Family visas include spouse/civil partner visas, fiancé/fiancée visas, child visas, parent visas, and adult dependant care visas. The priority processing of family visas was put on hold in order to focus UKVI resources on handling applications for the Ukraine visa scheme. This also meant that the standard application processing time for family visa applications increased to 24 weeks from 12 weeks.
Family Visa Priority Processing Times
The announcement published by the Home Office confirms that from 20th February 2023, family visa applications handled through the priority visa service will be assessed within a period of 30 days (6 weeks). It is important to note that this timescale is not from the date of the online application but rather from the date that any biometrics have been submitted. The priority visa service is not available in all countries, however. The availability of faster processing services for family visas will depend on the country in which the application is being made.
Fee For Family Visa Priority Processing Service
Those who wish to take advantage of the family visa priority processing service will need to pay an additional fee of £573 over and above the normal application fees. The standard processing fee for family visa applications is £1,538 where submitted outside the UK and £1,048 for applications made inside the UK. Applicants must also pay the healthcare surcharge of £1,872 (for those staying for an initial period of 2 years and 9 months).
Priority Processing Of Pending Family Visa Applications
As we wrote about in January 2023, UKVI has been and is continuing to write to existing marriage and family visa applicants, offering them the chance to ‘upgrade’ to the priority visa service. Applicants who accept the offer of an upgrade will have their case processed within 15 days rather than the 30 days currently on offer for new applicants. This is partially an acknowledgement of the fact that many applications have been pending for a substantial period of time.
Standard Processing Times For Family Visa Applications
Where family visa applicants do not use the priority visa service, applications will be processed within the standard processing time of 24 weeks. The Home Office guidance states, “You should get a decision within 24 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre if you are applying to settle in the UK as the spouse, partner or family member of someone who has British citizenship or is settled in the UK”. It is expected that this will be reduced to 12 weeks later in 2023 as the UKVI visa processing services return to normal.
Garth Coates is a leading niche immigration firm based in the heart of London, specialising in all forms of personal and business immigration, including visas, global mobility, sponsorship and compliance, settlement, and citizenship. For more details on the priority processing service for family visas for new and pending applications, speak to a member of our family immigration team on Tel: +44 (0)20 7799 1600 or by completing our online contact form.