Many clients will be aware of the recent problems with delayed applications and the absence of priority/super priority services by the Home Office.
In positive news:
- In-country (e.g. extension applications or switching visa category applications) priority and super-priority services now appear to be available again. Meaning that for £500 per person the application should be decided within 5-10 days, or for £800 per person it should be decided within the next working day.
- Entry Clearance applications are now largely being completed in line with published service standards - i.e. 3 weeks for standard service, or 5 days for priority service.
- The ID App is available for certain individuals (eligibility is determined at the point of application, when inserting the individual details) and this allows an applicant to verify their identity via a mobile phone app, avoiding the need to attend a physical appointment.
However, the continuing negative aspects of the Home Office service are:
- The priority service is unavailable for family members using the ID App, i.e. priority service via the App is only available for the main applicant.
- Despite the priority services being reinstated, there appears to still be a significant backlog of applications. Many clients have waited around 11-12 weeks for their visa decisions, instead of the published service standard of 8 weeks. The wait for some applicants (particularly those applying for new-born children, born in the UK) is even longer with some clients waiting for 15 weeks and still without a decision on their application.
- Even priority services are facing delays beyond the usually expected period, although still significantly shorter wait times than using the standard service.
- There is no way of obtaining an update from the Home Office on the current status of an application and no way of obtaining an estimated timescale for the completion of cases in progress. The Home Office does not provide direct contact details for the case working teams, with the telephone numbers going to a general service that provides no specific details on applications. The only option is to file a formal complaint and then simply wait to receive the application.
Overall, the service provided by the Home Office continues to be very unsatisfactory for the majority of clients making their applications from within the UK. Whilst there is no confirmation of why this is, it is presumed it is simply due to a lack of resources within the Home Office. This has potentially been made worse, firstly by the focus on processing applications from Ukraine, and more recently by there likely being a focus on processing claims for asylum due to recent media attention.
Through our membership of the representative body for immigration lawyers, we are aware that this is a widespread issue being faced by working visa applicants at the moment and we understand that an enormous number of complaints have been raised with the Home Office on the issue of delays.
How 3CS can help
Unfortunately, these delays are continuing to make it very difficult for individual applicants and their companies to plan essential business travel. 3CS of course will take all action necessary to assist clients as far as possible, including submitting online applications to protect visa status, even where the formal decision cannot be received from the Home Office swiftly. For further information on work visas, or any other immigration matter please contact a member of our team.