Knowing how to track your UK Visa Application status is important if you are planning to apply for a visa or are awaiting a decision on an immigration application. The Home Office UKVI have set standards on their average processing times, these can vary based on several factors. For example, the processing time for a UK Spouse Visa Application submitted outside the UK was usually 12 weeks. This was changed to 24 weeks to give priority to Ukrainian applications. Couples who were planning to start their lives together in the UK were significantly affected by this announcement.
Processing times will largely depend on which category of visa you are applying for and whether you have applied to either come to or remain in the UK. The UKVI publishes standard application processing times on its website per its customer charter. Information in the post should be treated as a guideline, as processing times may vary.
Planning is a significant part of the UK immigration process. It is helpful to know how to check the progress of your application and how to avoid application delays whether you are applying for your first visa, extending your current leave or applying for entry clearance to enter the UK from another country.
In this post, we take a look at the UKVI processing times and how to track your UK Visa application status when applying from outside the UK or making an in-country application with UKVI.
Information needed to track your UK visa status
Before we go over the process of tracking the status of a UK immigration application, you will need some basic information regardless of whether the application was made inside or outside the UK. This information can be found in your emails or letters from UKVI. You may need some of the following information to track your visa status:
- Unique Application Number (UAN) – this is the number provided when you submitted your application
- Your case reference number or Case Identification Number or Case ID – this is provided in correspondence from UKVI
- Payment Reference Number – you will have received this when paying the Home Office application fee
- Your Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) reference number – this is provided when you make a payment towards the IHS fee
- Global Web Form (GWF) number – this is the number provided when you submitted your application
- Your Biometric Residence Permit Number – if you have one. This will be a combination of letters and numbers and can be found on your BRP Card
- Your passport number – the passport used to make the application
- Date of application – the date the online application was submitted
- Date of biometrics submission – the date that you attended the service centre to submit your biometric information
- Location of biometric appointment – the address of the service centre where you submitted your biometrics
- Email address – used to make the application.
Application processing times outside the UK
Waiting times for visa applications from outside the UK will be much shorter than in-country applications. When submitting your application outside the UK, you must book and attend either a TLScontact or VFS visa service centre as part of the application process. The TLS and VFS are third-party partners of the Home Office UKVI. Your visa processing time will begin once you have submitted your online application, supporting documentation and biometric information as part of the application process.
The Home Office publishes average processing times for applications based on categories:
According to recently published service standards, it is estimated that 90% of non-settlement applications will be processed within 3 weeks, 98% within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks of the application date.
For those applying for settlement from outside the UK, it is estimated that 98.5% of settlement applications will be dealt with within 12 weeks of the application date, and 100% within 24 weeks of the application date.
In both cases, 1 week is 5 working days.
Applications that require further information may take longer to process as the UKVI may have to contact you accordingly.
How to check UK visa applications made outside the UK
You will not be able to check the progress of your application online if you have applied from outside the UK, but you can contact UKVI for an update. You can contact the UKVI for assistance with the following types of queries:
- General queries about applying for a visa to come to the UK
- Questions about the progress of your application
- Technical problems with your application
- Made a mistake in your online application
- Problems logging into your account or with your password
- Problems with making a payment to UKVI online or pending payments.
You can get in touch with the contact centre staff either by either one of the following methods:
- You can email your enquiry to the UKVI contact centre. However, you will need a credit or debit card to use this service.
- You will be charged £2.74 for a query. This fee covers your initial email and any following emails on the same matter.
- Responses to email enquiries should be received from UKVI within 5 working days except on holidays.
- Telephone: +44 (0)300 790 6268 (or +44 (0)203 875 4669 if you cannot dial 0300 numbers) and select option 1
- Contact Centre Staff are available Monday to Friday, 24 hours
- Calls cost 69 pence per minute on top of your standard network charges.
Contact the Citizenship and Nationality Enquiries team if you have questions about British citizenship, for example, the Life in the UK test.
- You can email the team at [email protected]
- Telephone: +44 (0)300 790 6268 (or +44 (0)203 875 4669 if you cannot dial 0300 numbers) and select option 2
- Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm UK local time
- Friday, 9am to 4:30pm UK local time.
Application processing times inside the UK
As part of the application process, when submitting your application inside the UK, you will need to attend an appointment with the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) or a Service and Support Centre (SSC) to submit your biometric information.
Some applications for extensions, settlement and citizenship can now be made through the UK Immigration: ID Check app. You will be informed whether you can use the IDV app. If you verify your identity through the app then your attendance at a service point will not be required. The IDV app was introduced to further the UKVI’s efforts to digitise the UK immigration process. Hence why, most BRP cards are being issued with an expiration date of 31 December 2024.
If you have already submitted a UK visa application and are now waiting to hear the outcome, you cannot track your individual visa application online; however, you can make general immigration queries.
When applying from inside the UK, provided you applied for your new visa before the expiration of your existing visa, you should still be allowed to stay in the UK pending any decision from UKVI.
The Home Office publishes average processing times for applications based on categories:
For those applying to extend their leave in the UK temporarily, including spouses, workers and students, the standard processing time is 8 weeks. Applications for indefinite leave to remain made from inside the UK will usually be dealt with within 6 months.
Tracking UK visa applications made inside the UK
You can call the UKVI regarding extending your stay in the UK, visas or general immigration enquiries. You can phone UKVI using the following details:
- Telephone: 0300 790 6268 – select option 1, then option 2
- Monday to Thursday (excluding bank holidays), 9am to 4:45pm
- Friday (excluding bank holidays), 9am to 4:30pm.
How will you know if your UK visa is approved?
The Home office UKVI will inform you of their decision on your visa application by email, by post or by text message, depending on where you are applying from.
If you are outside of the UK and your application has been approved, you will receive a sticker (called a “vignette”) in your passport that allows you to travel to the UK. Your vignette will contain details of the visa granted, such as the type of visa issued, visa start and end dates and conditions of your visa. If you submitted your passport during your application process, you would receive it back with the vignette inside, or if you kept your passport after the application, you would need to return to the visa centre to receive your vignette.
You must show your passport with a vignette to enter the UK. Those who have applied to stay for longer than 6 months, such as Skilled Workers or Spouses, will have 10 days to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP Card). Where you collect your Biometric Residence Permit will depend on where you specified in your application.
If you have applied from within the UK, then you should receive an email or letter that confirms that your application is approved. Once approved, your BRP Card should arrive with you by courier within 7 days of receiving your decision letter. You will need to provide a signature to receive delivery from the courier. If your Biometric Residence Permit does not arrive, you must report it lost to UKVI so they may issue another permit.
We recommend checking your email “spam” folder for any emails from the Home Office whilst your application is under process.
Reasons for a UK visa decision delay
Applications that are straightforward and where all the necessary information and payments have been provided will typically be processed within the published time scale. Many factors delay application processing leading the Home Office to go over their published processing times. Some of these factors are:
- If your supporting documents need to be verified
- More information or documents are required to make a decision
- Your application is complex due to certain aspects, such as criminal history
- You are required to attend an interview to provide more details before a decision can be made
- There is a discrepancy in the information and the documentation provided
- There is a large backlog of applications.
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 at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process.
How can I ensure that my UK immigration application is processed on time?
A straightforward application will be decided within the standard processing time, and you cannot get a progress update. An application will be treated as straightforward when the applicant meets the criteria under the Immigration Rules and provides the necessary information and documentation to support their application. Furthermore, you must ensure that:
- Your application is made before your current visa expires if you are applying from within the UK
- Your online application is completed accurately
- You provide evidence of funds to maintain yourself if required on the application form
- You enrol your biometric information within the specified deadline
- You respond to any requests for further information within the specified deadline
- When you attend your appointment at a local visa centre, you submit the required documents with your application.
Can I speed up my visa application decision process?
Receiving the correct immigration advice is vital when applying for a UK visa. Needless to say, a well-prepared application has the best chance for a relatively quick and more successful outcome. An immigration advisor will work with you to ensure that you meet the criteria under the Immigration Rules and will help gather the right documentation to support your application. An experienced caseworker will help spot potential problem areas and work with you to put forward a strong application from the outset. Seeking professional assistance with your application will help avoid unnecessary delays.
Depending on the visa application type and location, you may have the option of using the priority application service, which provides a decision within 5 working days for an additional cost of £500. You may also be able to use the super-priority service, which provides a decision within 1 working day for an additional cost of £800. Depending on availability., these options may be available at the time of submitting your application.
How can Whytecroft Ford help?
We can provide you with clear and concise UK immigration advice after reviewing your case. In addition, we can review your application before submission or handle your visa application on your behalf. We work with you to ensure that your application has the best chance of success.
Speak to our professional team on 0208 757 5751 or use our contact form to get in touch with us.
Frequently asked questions
If you have applied overseas for a UK visa and attended an appointment at a visa application centre, you can track your application status by logging in to the VFS or TLS partner site. The status will show that the application is with either the DMC (Decision Making Centre) or VAC (Visa Application Centre).
The published processing time for a UK Citizenship application is up to 6 months. Usually, our applications are approved within 1 or 2 months.