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 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.

If you are applying to extend or switch a visa within the UK, check the individual visa guides to find out how long it will take.

If you want to visit the UK

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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.

If you’re travelling through the UK

You should get a decision within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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.

If you want to study in the UK

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre or 3 weeks of submitting your application if you are using the UK Immigration: ID Check app, where 1 week is 5 working days, if you are applying for a:

  • Short-term study visa
  • Student visa
  • Child Student visa

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.

If you want to work or invest in the UK

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, if you are applying for a visa to work or invest in the UK.

You should get a decision within 12 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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.

If you want to join family in the UK

You should get a decision within 12 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, if you are applying to settle in the UK as a:

  • 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 attending your appointment at the visa application centre.

Family reunion

You should get a decision 12 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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 of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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 of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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.

Replacement biometric residence permits

You should get a decision within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, if you are applying for a visa to travel to the UK to replace your biometric residence permit (BRP).

Replacement residence cards

You should get a decision within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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 of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, if you are applying to transfer your visa from your passport.

Certificate of entitlement

You should get a decision within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, where 1 week is 5 working days, 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.

Collection within 24 hours (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 within 24 hours from when you submit 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.

When your application’s processing time starts and ends

The time starts when you attend your appointment at the visa application centre and submit your biometrics (if applicable) or when you complete and submit your application if you are using the UK Immigration: ID Check app. The processing time will end when your passport is ready for collection or your online immigration status is available to access.

What happens next

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.

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

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.

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. If your application is delayed, you will be informed within the standard timescales for your visa.

If you applied for a priority or super priority visa and your application is not straightforward, it may not be possible to meet the timescale. If this is the case, your application will still be put at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process, and UK Visas and Immigration will aim to process your application within standard global timescales.

Published 10 December 2019
Last updated 5 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Guidance on visa application centres and online immigration status updated.

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

  3. 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.

  4. First published.