Guidance

Visa decision waiting times: applications outside the UK

Check how quickly you’ll receive a decision on your UK visa application if you are applying from outside the UK.

Most UK visa application centres (VACs) have resumed services where local restrictions allow.

Priority and Super Priority services are only available in some locations. If available, you’ll be able to purchase these services when booking your appointment.

You are advised not to book any travel before you apply or before a decision is made on your application. You’ll only be refunded if we have not started processing your application.

When your application’s waiting time starts and ends

Once you’ve submitted your application online, the waiting time starts when you either:

  • attend your appointment and provide your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a visa application centre
  • verify your identity using the UK Immigration: ID Check app. This will depend on the visa you apply for and you’ll be advised if you can use this

The waiting time will end when you get an email containing the decision on your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

Visit the UK

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for a visa to visit the UK:

  • for a holiday or to see family or friends
  • for a business trip or meeting
  • to get married

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

Travelling through the UK

You should get a decision within 3 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for a visa to travel through the UK on your way to another country.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

Study in the UK

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks once you either attend your appointment at the visa application centre or use the ID Check app, if you are applying for a:

If you verify your identity at a visa application centre you may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

Work or invest in the UK

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks once you either attend your appointment at the visa application centre or use the ID Check app, if you are applying for a visa to work or invest in the UK.

You should get a decision within 12 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for a Turkish Business Person visa.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

Join family in the UK

You should get a decision within 12 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre to, if you are applying to settle in the UK as the spouse, partner or family member of someone who has British citizenship or is settled in the UK.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

If you are applying as the dependent of another applicant, you will get your decision at the same time.

If you are applying for an EEA family permit or an EUSS family permit you will get a decision as soon as possible after proving your identity and providing your documents.

Family reunion

You should get a decision 12 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for family reunion with a refugee or person with humanitarian protection.

Commonwealth citizens

You should get a decision within 3 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for an Ancestry visa.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

Windrush Scheme

If you are applying under the Windrush Scheme read the guidance and the latest correspondence on the work of the Home Office in relation to Windrush.

Returning residents

You should get a decision within 3 weeks you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for a returning resident visa.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

Replacing biometric residence permits

You should get a decision within 3 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for a visa to travel to the UK to replace your biometric residence permit (BRP).

Replacing residence cards

You should get a decision within 3 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you hold settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and are applying for an EU Settlement Scheme travel permit to travel to the UK to replace a lost or stolen residence card.

Transfer your visa from your passport

You should get a decision within 3 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying to transfer your visa from your passport.

Certificate of entitlement

You should get a decision within 3 weeks you attend your appointment at the visa application centre, if you are applying for a certificate of entitlement to prove you have right of abode in the UK.

Priority services – get a faster decision

Collection within 5 working days (priority service)

If you verify your identity at a visa application centre and the service is available in the country you’re applying from, you can choose the ‘priority service’ when you apply. There will be an additional cost for this service.

A decision will be made within 5 working days of your appointment at the visa application centre.

Check with your visa application centre to see if the priority visa service is available in the country you’re applying from. The priority visa service is available in most countries.

Next day collection (super priority service)

If you verify your identity at a visa application centre and the service is available in the country you’re applying from you can choose the ‘super priority service’ when you apply. There will be an additional cost for this service.

UK Visas and Immigration aims to make a decision on your super priority visa application and contact you to let you know that your passport is ready to be collected by the end of the next working day from when you provide your biometric information.

Check with your visa application centre to see if the super priority visa service is available in the country you’re applying from.

What happens next

If you verified your identity at a visa application centre you will be contacted when your documents are ready for collection.

If you verified your identity through the UK Immigration: ID Check app, and your application was successful, then you do not need a biometric residence permit (BRP). Your immigration status will be completely online.

When you’ll get your biometric residence permit

If you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months and you verified your identity at a visa application centre you will need to collect your biometric residence permit (BRP). Collect your BRP once you’re in the UK.

You must do this before the vignette sticker in your travel document expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.

If there’s a problem with your BRP

Report any problems with your BRP within 10 days of collecting it.

When you might wait longer

You might wait longer for a decision if your application is not straightforward and more information is required before a decision is made, for example:

  • if your supporting documents need to be verified
  • if you need to attend an interview
  • because of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

If you applied for a priority or super priority visa and your application is not straightforward, you may have to wait longer, but your application will still be put at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process. UK Visas and Immigration will try to process your application within our standard timescales.

Published 10 December 2019
Last updated 16 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Standard for super priority service amended to 'end of the next working day'.

  2. Guidance on visa application centres and online immigration status updated.

  3. Update to our waiting times due to the coronovirus (COVID-19).

  4. We have added: You do not need to book your travel before applying for a visa. Visa fees can only be refunded if we have not yet started processing your application.

  5. First published.