UK Government Announces Measures To Speed Up Immigration Decisions
As many UK visa applicants and those with appeals pending before the Immigration Tribunal continue to face delays in the immigration system, the UK Government has announced two measures that it hopes will speed up some immigration decision-making.
Priority Service Reinstated For Pending Partner and Family Visa Application
The published Home Office service standard for deciding an application from outside the UK to settle in the UK as the spouse, partner or family member of a British citizen or settled person is currently 12 weeks. However, the Home Office is currently advising that applications for family visas submitted from outside the UK may take up to 24 weeks to process whilst it prioritises Ukraine Visa Scheme applications.
Whilst super priority and priority visa services remain temporarily suspended for new partner and family visa applications submitted outside the UK, there is some good news for those who have already applied. The Home Office has announced that, from 9 January 2023, applicants with a pending family visa entry clearance application will be retrospectively offered the option of upgrading to a priority service in order to receive a faster decision on their application.
Existing applicants with a pending partner or family visa application will be contacted by email and offered the option of upgrading to a 15 full working days/3 weeks priority service. The fee to receive a faster decision on an outstanding partner or family visa application will be £573. Applications will be decided within 15 working days / 3 weeks of receipt of payment.
One may reasonably question why applicants who have been waiting many months for a decision on their partner or family visa application, in circumstances where the 12 week Home Office customer service standard has been significantly exceeded, should now have to pay an additional fee in order to receive a quicker decision on their application. However, for those willing and able to pay, the reinstatement of the priority service for pending partner and family entry clearance applications should put an end to months of agony and frustration.
The reintroduction of a priority service for pending partner and family visa applications submitted outside the UK does not offer any immediate relief to those considering making a new partner or family visa application from overseas, who still face a wait of up to 24 weeks for a decision. However, the Home Office has announced that it is aiming to reintroduce a priority visa service for new partner and family visa applications submitted outside the UK in early 2023 and that it hopes to be able to reduce the customer service standard for new partner and family entry clearance applications from 24 weeks to 12 weeks later in the year.
More Immigration Appeals To Be Heard In The Immigration and Asylum Tribunal
In a further development aimed at speeding up immigration decision-making, the Government has announced that thousands more immigration appeals will be heard by the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal before the end of March 2023.
By increasing the number of days that the Immigration Tribunal can sit, funded by £5 million of government investment, it is anticipated that up to 9,000 more immigration and asylum appeals will be heard before the end of March 2023.
There are currently 25,000 immigration cases pending in the immigration appeal system.
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