UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) offers a 'Priority Service' and a 'Super Priority Service' for applicants who, for an additional fee, would like to receive a faster decision on their UK visa or settlement application.
In this comprehensive guide to UK Visa Premium and Priority Services, we look at the Priority Service and Super Priority Service in detail, covering everything from processing times, to current availability, costs and whether your application is likely to be suitable for an expedited decision.
Priority Service and Super Priority Service Processing Times
UK Visa Priority Service
Eligible applicants who apply via the UKVI's Priority Service should receive a decision within 5 working days of their appointment at the visa application centre (for overseas applicants) or within 5 working days of either the day of their appointment at a UKVCAS appointment centre or the working day after having finished uploading documents if using the UK Immigration: ID Check app (for in-country applicants).
Applicants should note, however, that if an application is not straightforward then it may not be possible for the Home Office to meet this service standard. If this is the case, then the application will still be put at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process.
UK Visa Super Priority Service
Eligible applicants who apply via the UKVI's Super Priority Service should receive a decision by the end of the next working day after their appointment at the visa application centre (for overseas applicants) or their appointment at a UKVCAS appointment centre (for in-country applicants) or within 2 working days if the appointment is at the weekend. In-country applicants cannot use the Super Priority service if applying using the UK Immigration: ID Check App to confirm their identity.
Availability of Home Office Priority Service and Super Priority Service
The Home Office has announced that both Priority and Super Priority visa services are currently temporarily suspended for new Family visa applications submitted outside the UK whilst it prioritises Ukraine Visa Scheme applications. This suspension has been in place since 14 March 2022.
However, for work and business routes (except the Innovator, Start-up and High Potential Individual routes), Priority and Super Priority services are currently available in the majority of overseas locations on an appointment basis.
Priority and Super Priority services are also available for most Visit visa applications submitted overseas, although there is a reduction in availability of the Priority Visa service. Super Priority Visa services for visit visas remain available as normal, where these are offered.
The Priority and Super Priority services are currently both available to applicants who are applying for leave to remain and settlement in eligible routes from within the UK.
Check if a Premium Service Is Available for Your Visa or Settlement Application
Applications from outside the UK
If you are applying for a UK visa from overseas, you should keep in mind the temporary suspension mentioned above and then, if your immigration route is not subject to a suspension of Premium Services, check with your visa application centre to see if the Priority Visa Service or Super Priority Visa Service is available in the country you are applying from, for your application type.
Not all visa application centres offer faster decisions, but both TLS Contact (the Home Office's commercial partner for all UK visa applications submitted from Europe, Africa or from within Jordan or Israel) and VFS (the Home Office's commercial partner for all UK visa applications submitted elsewhere) publish details of the service options available at their visa application centre locations throughout the world.
Where a visa application centre offers a Priority or Super Priority Visa service and a suspension does not apply, a Premium Service will generally be available for all application types apart from applications for visas to visit other Commonwealth countries, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies (the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), ECAA, EUSS, EEA and British National Overseas (BNO) applications.
Applications from inside the UK
If you are applying from within the UK then you can proceed on the basis that the Premium Services are not suspended, but since whether you can get a faster decision on your application will depend on both the type of application you are making and how you prove your identity, you should check the eligible visa and settlement application tables to confirm whether the visa or settlement application you are making is eligible for either the Priority 5 working day or Super Priority next working day service (note that there are separate tables for switching/extending applications and settlement applications).
Is Your UK Visa Application Suitable for a Faster Decision?
Even if an application is eligible for a Home Office Premium Service, a Priority or Super Priority Service application may not be appropriate for a complex application which cannot be processed expeditiously. In such cases, the application will be put at the front of the queue at each decision-making stage, but a decision may exceed the Priority and Super Priority timescales.
Your application may not be regarded as straightforward if you have:
- Previously been refused a visa for the UK, and/or;
- Previously been refused leave to enter the UK, and/or;
- Previously been deported, removed, or otherwise required to leave the UK, and/or;
- Previously overstayed a period of leave in the UK, and/or;
- Previously had leave to remain in the UK curtailed by the Home Office, and/or;
- Previously been refused leave to remain in the UK by the Home Office, and/or;
- Previously been refused a visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States of America, or the Schengen countries, and/or;
- Previously been interviewed, detained, or prosecuted by the police for any offence in the UK or elsewhere, and/or;
- You have an unspent criminal conviction in any country, and/or;
- You have committed a criminal offence in any country, and/or;
- There is a need to check or gather further information in order to complete your visa application.
If you fall into one of these categories, then the Priority and Super Priority Visa services may not be appropriate because UK Visas & Immigration may be unable to process your application within the appropriate timescale.
Home Office Premium Services should also be considered carefully when making extension applications or switching categories where there is a risk of refusal. Specialist advice should be sought to ensure that complex applications are timed strategically and sensibly.
Priority Service and Super Priority Service Application Fees
The Priority Service and Super Priority Service are both optional and the cost of using one of these Premium Services must be paid in addition to the standard visa application fee.
The 5-day Premium Service costs £500 in addition to the standard visa or settlement application fee.
The next working day Super Priority Service costs £800 in addition to the standard visa or settlement application fee.
If any family members apply at the same time as a main applicant they will need to pay an additional £500 to receive a decision within 5 working days or £800 to receive a decision by the end of the next working day.
Family members who apply together cannot receive different decision times for different family members. Therefore, if one family members wants to receive a faster decision, every family member will need to apply via a Premium Service.
The Premium Service fee is non-refundable if a visa application is refused, or in exceptional cases, if a visa application takes longer to be decided.
How to Book a Priority or Super Priority Visa Appointment
Where available, the option to apply via the Priority Visa service or the Super Priority Visa service will be displayed when you book your appointment at a visa application centre or UKVCAS appointment centre. If appointments are showing as unavailable then this means that the weekly allocation of Premium Service appointments has already been filled.
Further appointments are generally released once a week.
It is not possible to apply via the Priority Visa service or Super Priority Visas service once an appointment at a visa application centre or UKVCAS appointment centre has been booked.
Decisions on Premium Service Applications
Using the Priority Visa service or the Super Priority Visa service does not mean that your application will be approved. Nor will applying via a Premium Service increase the prospects of a successful application. All UK visa and settlement applications must meet the strict requirements of the relevant UK's Immigration Rules. It is therefore important that any UK visa or settlement application is prepared properly.
Additional Considerations for UK Visa Premium Service Applicants
The "Keep My Passport When Applying" service that is generally available to applicants when applying for a UK visa from outside the UK is not compatible with UKVI's Premium Services. Therefore, if you apply via the Priority Visa service or the Super Priority Visa service from outside the UK you will not be able to use the "Keep My Passport When Applying" service.
Applicants who apply from within the UK will receive a biometric residence permit (BRP) approximately 7 to 10 days after receiving a decision. Applying via a Premium Service will not speed up the time it takes for a BRP to be issued.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.