What to do if your visa application is delayed?

Delays in application decisions have been particularly acute in the last year. With a step into 2023, processing times are now gradually returning to normal, however, applicants will still experience delays in the processing of UK visa applications from time to time.

Here are some options available to individuals experiencing this type of problem.


Assessing whether it is a delay

Firstly, you should determine whether your application falls within the general processing timeline. The processing times will be updated by Home Office and are available on the UKVI website:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visa-decision-waiting-times-applications-outside-the-uk#full-publication-update-history for applications made outside the UK

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visa-decision-waiting-times-applications-inside-the-uk#full-publication-update-history for in-country applications.

In general, processing times vary depending on the type of visa:

Outside the UK applications

Visit the UK (including transit)5-6 weeks
Study in the UK (including short-term study)3 weeks
Work or invest in the UK4-5 weeks
Join family in the UK24 weeks
Hong Kong BN(O) visa12 weeks
UK Ancestry visa3 weeks
Returning residents3 weeks
Replacing biometric residence permits (including vignette transfer)3 weeks
Certificate of entitlement3 weeks

Inside the UK applications (Switch/extend)*

Student8 weeks
Family visa8 weeks
Work or business visa8 weeks (3 weeks for Start-up visa)
Hong Kong BN(O) visa12 weeks
Ancestry visa8 weeks
BRP replacement8 weeks
Settlement3-6 months
Naturalisation3-6 months
Registration of minor3-6   months

*Please note that ILR applications are currently taking up to 6 months.


Reasonable cause for delay

If there are complexities in your case, such as a prior refusal, the processing will naturally exceed the normal time frame, in which case your complaint will be disregarded. In addition, your case might take longer if one of the below applies:

  • if your supporting documents need to be verified
  • the volume of documents provided – further information required or excessive documentary evidence
  • if you need to attend an interview
  • because of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction or refusal history)


Delays after using priority service

If available, you may wish use priority service or super priority service while applying for certain UK visas. You’ll need to pay an additional fee of £500 for 5 working days of processing, whilst receiving a decision in the next working day would cost you £800.

According to the Immigration and nationality refunds policy, you should expect to receive a full refund of the priority fees from Home Office if your case is  deemed a “Non-complex application not processed in published timescales“.


Chasing  a delayed application

If you are experiencing unexpected and unreasonable delays in the application, you may decide to

Contact UKVI

You could either send an emails or make a phone call to get in touch with the advisors, they cannot help  with specific information, but can tell you whether the application is awaiting a decision or if a decision has been made. Use https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk to find the contact details. Please note that you are required to provide fees; home office reference number/GWF number; submission date; visa centre in the correspondence with Home Office.

You can request that a case be escalated or fast-tracked as a priority, but you may be asked to provide evidence of urgency. It is advisable to ask the Home Office to refund you for the priority or super-priority service fee if you paid for this.

Send a complaint to UKVI

You could use the online form on https://www.gov.uk/complain-uk-visas-immigration to complain about the delays. Investigating your complaint can take up to 20 working days. Alternatively, you could write a letter to the Complaints allocation hub at: Central point of receipt 7th Floor Lunar House 40 Wellesley Road Croydon CR9 2BY

Or emailing to [email protected]. You will need to provide:

– your contact details – it is important you include your address and phone number as we may contact you to resolve your complaint by phone or to request further information

-the names of the applicant/original complainant if you’re completing this on behalf of someone else – we must have written authority to disclose information about another person’s case

-full details of the matter you’re complaining about, including times, dates and locations

-details of any reimbursement issues including papers and receipts to support your claim

Contact your local MP

You can also contact your local MP to help you contact the Home Office and to press for progress on your behalf.

You can use this link https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons to find your MP as well as his/her contact details. Get in touch with them directly for help by writing or emailing. Please ensure that you provide them with all of the information regrading your application.


Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of the UK visa application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075.


The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.

We remain open for business and can arrange meetings by phone call or video conferencing to advise and assist with any UK immigration matters.
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