Priority and super priority entry clearance services
Revised standard entry clearance processing times
Expansion of pre-licence priority service slots

The Home Office has provided updated processing information in a communication to stakeholders on 12 August 2022. Developments include the reinstatement of priority and super priority visa services in work and study routes. The capacity of the pre-licence priority service for new sponsor licence applications has also been expanded.

Priority and super priority entry clearance services

Priority visa (PV) and super priority visa (SPV) services have been reinstated in existing overseas locations for new work and study route entry clearance applications submitted from 12 August 2022.

PV and SPV services continue to be available at reduced capacity for visit visa applications, to enable the Home Office to work towards bringing processing in this route back within the normal three-week global average as soon as possible.

PV and SPV services must be paid for separately for the main applicant and each accompanying family member (if a family group wishes to receive a decision on all the applications at the same time).

It is not possible for an existing application to be "upgraded" if the applicant has already booked or attended their appointment to submit their biometrics (facial image and fingerprints) at a visa application centre. Applicants may request expedited processing via the visa application centre or UK Visas and Immigration; however, this is considered on a case-by-case basis and allowed only where the Home Office accepts that there are extremely compassionate or compelling circumstances.

An existing application can be withdrawn, and a fresh application submitted, using a priority service if this is available in the location of submission. Caution should, however, be exercised when considering this option as it will mean the resubmission of biometrics and fees will not be refunded in all cases. The eligibility requirements for the visa will also have to be rechecked before resubmission, which may involve issuing a new certificate of sponsorship and updating supporting evidence.

PV and SPV services have not yet been reinstated for entry clearance in the following routes:

  • Innovator;
  • Start-up;
  • High Potential Individual; and
  • Family.

Applications made using the UK Immigration: ID Check app are also ineligible to use the services.

Revised standard entry clearance processing times

The current global average entry clearance processing times are as follows:

  • work visas – four weeks (down from five weeks);
  • student visas – three weeks;
  • visit visas – seven weeks (up from six weeks); and
  • family visas – 24 weeks.

The Home Office advises that applicants should apply as early as possible to maximise the likelihood of meeting their intended travel date.

Processing times for entry clearance applications are revised weekly on the government's website.

Expansion of pre-licence priority service slots

Since 1 August 2022, the Home Office has expanded the number of pre-licence priority service slots from 10 to 30 per day. This allows businesses with an outstanding sponsor licence application to have it processed within 10 working days of paying a £500 priority service fee.

The standard processing time for these applications is eight weeks; however, processing can take longer if the Home Office asks for additional information or carries out an onsite visit to the business.

For further information on this topic please contact Stephen O'Flaherty, Parvin Iman or Tyler Jones at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000‚Äč) or email (stephen.o'[email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at [email protected])