News Update: Pending Family Entry Clearance Applications To Be Offered Option to Upgrade To Priority Processing Service
The Home Office recently confirmed its intention to resume the priority processing service for family visas, including for spouse and child-dependant visa applications. Currently, priority and super priority visa processing services are not available for new family visa applications. As a result, some family visa applicants have been waiting for up to 6 months to receive a decision on their case.
Why did the Home Office put a temporary hold on priority processing?
The Home Office made the decision to place a temporary hold on priority processing in April 2022 to enable it to divert resources to deal with the Ukraine immigration scheme. Immigration minister Kevin Foster stated in a written parliamentary answer, “UKVI is currently prioritising applications made under the Ukraine Family Scheme, following its launch and in response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the invasion of Ukraine…As a result, UKVI have temporarily suspended paid for priority and super priority services for new study, work, and family applications”. Priority services for In-country visa applications were not suspended, however.
Family visa applicants are to be offered an opportunity to upgrade to priority processing
While the priority processing services are not yet open for family visa applications, since 9th January 2023, some with pending applications have received an email from UKVI advising that it is due to resume.
UKVI have started writing to family visa applicants who have been waiting for the longest, offering them the chance to pay to upgrade to the priority service.
Those offered the chance to upgrade to the priority service will first need to make the required payment using the link provided. The priority family visa application will then be processed within 15 days.
UKVI will still continue to handle family visa applications in the order they have been received for those who choose not to pay extra for the priority service.
How much will family visa applicants pay to ‘upgrade’ to priority processing?
Those waiting for a decision on their family visa application will pay an additional fee of £573 to use the priority service.
It is important to note that paying for the priority service does not guarantee that a family visa will be issued; rather, it will be considered by the Home Office much sooner. The family visa applicant must meet all of the requirements for validity, eligibility, and suitability before being granted their family visa.
Resuming normal service for family visas later in 2023
Later in 2023, it is expected that the priority processing service will be opened up to all family visa applicants. The Home Office also plans to reduce the standard processing time from 24 weeks to 12 weeks later this year, marking a return to normal service.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your family visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!