The sense of certainty is invaluable, especially when it comes where we will live and work. For those waiting for decisions on UK visa applications, however, the wait can be deeply unnerving, as they are unable to make firm plans regarding their future. The standard processing times for immigration visa decisions, depending on the type being applied for, maybe as long as 6 months (for Indefinite Leave to Remain), or even more if the matter does not progress smoothly. There is another way, however. For an additional fee, the Super Priority Service can remove the wait almost entirely. In this article, we will outline the options available, who can use this service, the process and costs, and how fast you can expect to receive a decision.
What is the Super Priority Service?
The new Super Priority Service is a ‘user-pays’ visa application option (within the UK), which was launched at the end of 2018. The application process is handled by the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) (by a third-party company called Sopra Steria) and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). There are two priority services available:
- Priority service – for £500 + the standard application fee, a decision will be received within 5 working days of your appointment with UKVCAS.
- Super-priority service – for £800 + the standard application fee, the super-priority service provides a decision by the end of the next working day following your appointment with UKVCAS.
Not all visa applicants are eligible for priority application services; those that are (currently) include (but are not limited to) those seeking:
- A tier 2 visa
- A tier 4 visa
- A dependant visa for tier 1, 2, 4 or 5 visa holders
- Leave to remain in the UK (under family or private life)
You will be required to attend a meeting at a UKVCAS service point, where you will be asked to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph), and provide any supporting documentation to be digitally scanned for your application. This will then be sent to UKVI to process your application.
While most people do tend to receive a decision within the timeframe requested, it should be noted that there is no guarantee of this. As such, if time is of the essence, consider seeking the services of an immigration Solicitor who will do all they can to overcome any barriers to receiving a quick and positive decision, and alert you of any possible challenges which need to be addressed.
When can I arrange an appointment with UKVCAS?
There are a range of appointment options available to applicants:
- Out of hours
- Next day
- Same day
Each of these services are subject to availability and incur an additional fee, from £100 per person in addition to the standard appointment fee. It may be that your preferred service point has early availability of appointment slots, negating the need to pay extra for same or next day services, and hence saving you money. Regardless of which appointment service you choose, you will need to pay £19.20 to enrol your biometric information.
How will I receive my SPS visa decision?
Once a decision is made, you will typically receive an email (if approved) within the priority or super-priority service timescale, followed by a formal letter explaining the outcome (whether approved or declined). If there is a problem with your application, you will be contacted within the timescale to discuss the matter. It is important to understand that the next day or within 5 working days decision targets will only apply a) from the date of your UKVCAS appointment and b) if your application is complete. Any ommissions which need to be rectified may extend the decision timeframe.
If applying for UK residence, you will typically receive your biometric residence permit (BRP) within 7 to 10 days of the decision being made.
How do I make my application using SPS?
When making your online visa application, one of the final stages (payment) provides the option to choose the standard or priority service. This will then show the full application cost in addition to the SPS fee. Once the payment has been made, and the application accepted, you will then be given a list of additional tasks which must be completed, including booking your appointment, and preparing the necessary documents. It is recommended to ensure your evidence/documents are scanned and uploaded before the appointment to avoid any delays (and take all originals with you to your appointment).
The availability of the super-priority service can provide great certainty for individuals seeking to live and work in the UK. If time is truly of the essence for your application, it is crucial that no mistakes are made during the process; even a small oversight may mean you need to wait longer for a decision. A specialist UK immigration Solicitor can take care of the process for you, ensuring that every stage is completed to the standard required of UKVCAS and UKVI, and will accompany you to your appointment. This provides the ultimate peace of mind that your visa application is fully in hand and you are closer to being able to continue the next stage of your life in the UK.
If you require advice on any of the issues mentioned in this article, please call us on 020 3372 5125 to make an appointment.