The UK is currently receiving a significant increase in visa applications, partially brought on by the addition of EU citizens to the list of nationalities required to apply for entry to the UK under the Points Based System (PBS). In 2021, when international travel was reduced because of the pandemic, the full impact of the UK’s departure from the Single Market was not felt. In 2022, as global mobility begins to recover, pressure on the PBS and its supporting infrastructure has increased.
As we enter the summer period, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) expects a significant demand for entry permissions to the UK for university graduates expecting to start work in September.
At the same time, a large group of Home Office Caseworkers have been taken off normal duties and assigned to deal with the influx of applications under compassionate schemes for Ukraine citizens. Consequently, priority services for most entry-clearance applications were suspended in March, and a date has not yet been fixed for resumption.
This combination of events is placing the UK immigration system under strain and means that:
- Processing times for work visas are estimated at around 6 weeks, with longer delays for applicants required to attend biometrics appointments.
- Visit visa applications have doubled from 3 to 6 weeks, with family visa applications facing wait times of 24 weeks.
- Delays are also occurring with communication of decisions and with return of passports.
There is currently no assurance about how the Home Office plans to reduce delays over the coming months. 60,000 EUSS applications are waiting for decisions 9 months after the deadline, whilst asylum applications have doubled over the last year.
Prospective applicants should plan their travel arrangements and start dates in line with current processing delays and begin the application process as soon as practicable. Employers and Global Mobility professionals will have to manage expectations regarding assignment start dates.
Please do not hesitate to contact your Magrath Sheldrick representative for further information.