As of this writing, the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) department is receiving a significantly high volume of UK visa applications from overseas posts. Since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, the processing times for all applications have been increasing. The UKVI has been prioritising the processing of UK visa applications from Ukrainians fleeing the invasion, and this has caused delays for all other UK visa applicants. As we approach summer, the UKVI expects a significant increase in demand for UK visas.

All priority services for entry clearance applications under the work, study, and family routes have been temporarily suspended since mid-March 2022. As a result, the processing times for all overseas UK visa applications are expected to exceed 3 weeks from the appointment date. Many of the Visa Application Centres abroad are advising the applicants of a processing timeframe of 6 weeks.

Because priority is being given to applications from Ukrainian nationals, the UKVI is shifting their resources on handling those applications as a priority. Therefore, the UKVI has announced heavy delays and backlog of other visa applications.

  • All sponsors of Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility visas received a notification on their Sponsor Management System that the UKVI is experiencing an unusually high volume of applications which they are working through in date order with a view to making decisions as early as possible. Unfortunately, because of these volumes, occasionally a decision may unavoidably take longer than normally expected. The UKVI is requesting that applicants not chase up applications unless there are exceptional circumstances such as death or illness that require urgent consideration.
  • Latest news in connection with UK family-based applications made from overseas is that applicants should expect an increase from 12 weeks to 24 weeks in processing time since 11 May 2022.

We advise all clients and foreign nationals not to make any irreversible plans, such as booking flight tickets, accommodation etc. Employers need to be advised that some applicants might not be able to start employment on the planned date due to the visa delays. We invite all clients and foreign nationals to submit their visa applications as soon as practicable.

Finally, applications from Russian and Belorussian nationals are still possible at the visa centres in these countries. However, applicants are experiencing heavy delays.

On 28 April 2022, changes to the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 with addition of sections 70, 71, and 73 were brought into force. These provisions allow the Home Office to make Immigration Rules that impose visa penalties on any country the Home Secretary specifies as having taken action that:

  • Gives, or is likely to give, rise to a threat to international peace and security;
  • Results, or is likely to result, in armed conflict; or
  • Gives, or is likely to give, rise to a breach of international humanitarian law.

The visa penalties that may be imposed under the Immigration Rules are:

  1. Requiring entry clearance not to be granted to nationals of a specified country before the end of a specified period;
  2. Suspending the Home Office’s power to grant entry clearance in respect of such an application;
  3. Requiring such an application to be treated as invalid; and/or
  4. Requiring such an applicant to pay an additional fee of £190 (or other amount if approved under regulations).

It is necessary for the Home Office to give the country reasonable notice of the intention to impose visa penalties, and such penalties cannot be applied to any application that has been made before the day the relevant Immigration Rules are made effective.

Immigration Rules may come into effect on the date they are announced , and so Russian and Belorussian citizens who intend to make a UK visa application are advised to do so as soon as possible.