On 20 February 2023, the UK Home Office reintroduced the Priority Service for people applying to enter the UK to live with family members. However, this route mainly applies to partners and children.
The change follows a difficult period where waiting times for decisions reached 6 months. This was due to the situation in Ukraine, which forced the Home Office to transfer staff to handle the large number of emergency applications from that country. Applicants from other countries had to wait for 6 months to receive a decision on their visa application. Whereas, the normal waiting time is 3 months.
The six month wait caused hardship for families who spent long periods apart from each other.
The Priority Service aims to deliver a decision within 6 weeks or 30 working days. There is an extra fee of £573 to use this service. It is therefore vital to remember that not all applications are suitable for the Priority Service. If the application is not simple and straightforward, the application will still be put at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process, but a decision within 30 working days will not be guaranteed.
We have seen an improvement on waiting times over the past weeks as the Ukrainian workload has reduced. In addition, the new Priority Service means that people applying for several family visas can now get a faster decision.
From 3 April 2023, family visa applications will be processed within 60 working days; back to the original 12 week timescale. This is a very welcomed development.
The new Priority Service and waiting times will apply to the following visas:
To this end, please contact a member of our team if you have any questions about the Priority Service or reduced waiting times.