Spouse Visa UK Processing Time in 2022 [JUNE Update]

The standard spouse visa UK processing time in 2022 is currently 3-6 months (on average) if you are making the application from outside the UK and 6-8 weeks (on average) if you are making the application from inside the UK.

Spouse visa UK 2022 processing times
Standard out-of-country applications 3-6 months
Priority out-of-country applications 6 weeks or 30 working days where available
Standard in-country applications 6-8 weeks
Super-priority in-country applications 1 working day

On 11 May 2022, the Home Office changed its guidance to state that out of country UK spouse and partner visas may take “up to 24 weeks to receive a decision for those applying to join family in the UK”.

This was an increase of their previously stated service standard of “up to 12 weeks (30 working days)”.

The following email has also been sent to out-of-country partner visa applicants:

Thank you for applying for a UK visa. Your visa application has been received and is under consideration.

We are writing to inform you that due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine, UKVI is prioritising Ukraine Visa Scheme applications. This means that customers applying for other routes will experience some delays in the processing of their application. We have therefore made the decision to temporarily amend our Marriage and Family service standard to 24 weeks, from our usual service standard for this route of 12 weeks. This means you should get a decision within 24 weeks (120 working days) from the date you attended the Visa Application Centre to give your biometrics, rather than 12 weeks.

We are working to reduce the current processing time as quickly as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. Where there are extremely compassionate or compelling circumstances (for example, a medical emergency), we may consider expediting specific cases. However, the bar for this is high and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If your request is exceptionally urgent you can contact https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk for help.

Please note that this is a chargeable service for overseas customers. For all other customers you will be contacted when a decision has been made and your passport is ready for collection at the Visa Application Centre.

This article will discuss frequently asked questions relating to the processing time for both out-of-country and in-country applications, as well as the options available to you if you want to pay for the priority/super priority service (which will reduce the spouse visa UK processing time in 2022).

FREE UK Partner Visa Video Series

CLICK HERE to watch our free video series.

In this free video series, we discuss:

  • The financial requirement
  • The online application form
  • Document translations
  • The adequate accommodation requirement
  • The English language requirement
  • Dependent children requirement
  • The unmarried partner visa requirement
  • Other partner visa requirements

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Are you applying from inside or outside the UK?

We are applying from OUTSIDE the UK

We are applying from INSIDE the UK

“Will we be making the application from outside the UK or inside the UK?”

This is important to know because:

  • The visa application process is different;
  • The relevant application fees are different; and
  • The relevant Immigration Rules are different.

A relevant Immigration Rule here is Paragraph E-LTRP.2.1. of Appendix FM which states:

The applicant must not be in the UK-
(a) as a visitor; or
(b) with valid leave granted for a period of 6 months or less, unless that leave is as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, or was granted pending the outcome of family court or divorce proceedings

Therefore, to make an application from inside the UK, the person applying for a visa (the “applicant”) must be in the UK when the online application is submitted not as a visitor. Furthermore, they must be in the UK on a visa which has been issued for a period exceeding 6 months (unless they are in the UK on a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partnership visa).

The following are some examples of visas which typically allow an applicant to make an application from inside the UK:

  • Tier 1 visas
  • Tier 2 visas
  • Skilled worker visas
  • Tier 4 visas
  • Tier 5 visas
  • UK fiancé or proposed civil partnership visas
  • UK partner visas


Out-Of-Country Spouse visa Processing Time FAQs

The standard spouse visa UK processing time for out-of-country applications in 2022 is 3-6 months (on average).


When does the processing time for out-of-country spouse visa applications start?

The out-of-country spouse visa application processing time will normally start when the applicant attends the biometric appointment at the visa centre.

Like many areas of partner visas, however, there are exceptions. For the United States (US), the processing time normally starts once the applicant’s passport is received in the New York scanning hub.


When does the processing time for out-of-country spouse visa applications end?

The processing time will end on the date that the Home Office decides the outcome of your application.


Do sponsors keep possession of their passports for out-of-country partner visa applications?

Yes – only a copy of the sponsor’s passport is submitted.


Can we get a refund if we withdraw an out-of-country spouse/partner visa application?

If the applicant has not attended the biometric appointment (the visa centre appointment), you can cancel the application and then get a refund on the Home Office fee (£1,538 per applicant), as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).

If the applicant has attended the biometric appointment, unfortunately, you will not be able to get a refund on the Home Office fee (£1,538 per applicant), but you will be able to get a refund on the IHS.


How do we get a refund if we no longer want to submit the online application?

The out-of-country spouse visa online application form will allow you to cancel your application to get a refund.

When you log onto the online application, you should find this option at the bottom of the login page:

withdraw spouse visa application

 


Is there a way to speed up the processing time for a spouse visa application without paying an additional fee?

Those who have a compelling or compassionate reason (e.g., serious illness or death of a family member) may be able to speed up the processing time for no additional fee.

You can try using this contact form to enquire about this with the Home Office.


We have been waiting beyond the stated service processing time. Does this mean an increased chance of refusal?

No. Those who have been waiting beyond the stated service processing time should not speculate that this suggests a higher chance of refusal.


I received an acknowledgement email from the Home Office several days/weeks/months after I submitted the online application. Does that mean that the processing time will start now or that they did not receive my documents?

Applicants are normally sent a standard email which states:

Dear [APPLICANT’S NAME]

Regarding Visa Application: [GWF NUMBER]

Thank you for your online application which has been received at the UK Decision Making Centre. Your application is currently being prepared for consideration by an Entry Clearance Officer.

PLEASE NOTE: This email is to acknowledge receipt of your Settlement application, if you or your sponsor have not already submitted supporting documentation please ensure you follow the process listed below: UKVI is unable to consider your application without these documents.

Please ensure that your supporting documents are submitted within 5 working days of this email.

The email then goes on to discuss how documents can be submitted.

This is a standard email that is sent out sporadically to applicants.

This email is sometimes sent straight after the application submission, whilst it is sometimes sent out weeks or even months after the online application is submitted.

Please note that the date at which this email is sent does not have an impact on the expected processing time of the application.

Please also note that it says “if you or your sponsor have not already submitted supporting documentation”.

Therefore, if documents have already been submitted, there is nothing further that you need to do.


How should I follow up on an out-of-country spouse/partner visa application if the standard processing time has been exceeded?

i) If you have not done so already, you can contact the Home Office here and ask them to expedite the process.

It is normally the case that the Home Office will inform you of a time frame in which you should expect a response.

ii) If you do not hear a response within the time frame mentioned in i) (or within a reasonable period), you may wish to contact your MP and ask them to become involved.

You can find the contact details of your local UK MP on this link.

The benefit of this approach is that MPs have special direct access to the Home Office and the Home Office will generally respond to MP’s representations fairly quickly.

It should be noted that the Home Office does not guarantee application turnaround times.

Rather, they have ‘service standards’ that they aim to meet) and will likely refer to that in any response to you.

Please note that the Home Office has said that they will only expedite the application if there are “extremely compassionate or compelling circumstances (for example, a medical emergency)”.


When will I find out the outcome of the spouse visa application?

Once the spouse visa application has been processed, applicants normally receive an email which states that a decision has been made on the UK spouse visa application.

This email sometimes will contain the grant or refusal letter but it is often the case that it will not.

If you only receive an email stating that a decision has been made (without it stating whether the application has been granted or refused), please do not speculate that the application is more likely to have been refused.

Where a grant or refusal letter is not attached in the email, you will find out the outcome of the UK spouse visa application once the passport has been returned.


Can the applicant leave the country where the application was submitted whilst the out-of-country spouse visa application is being processed?

Yes. Applicants can leave the country where the application was submitted whilst the out-of-country spouse visa application is being processed.

Please note, however, that the applicant will ordinarily need to return to that country to collect the visa.


Can the applicant enter the UK as a visitor whilst an out-of-country UK spouse visa application is being processed?

Yes. Applicants can enter the UK as a visitor whilst an out-of-country UK spouse visa application is being processed – as long as they meet the UK visitor visa requirements.

Example

Jane is a US national and submitted an out-of-country spouse visa application.

Jane would like to visit the UK as a visitor whilst she waits for the UK spouse visa application to be granted.

She can choose to do so.

She will, however:

i) Be advised that, if questioned at the border, she should make it clear that she intends to leave the UK before the expiration of the visa and that there is an outstanding UK spouse visa application that is being processed; and

ii) Need to return to the US to collect the visa and to re-enter the UK to activate the UK spouse visa.


How does the processing time affect the start date of the out-of-country UK spouse visa?

The online application form will ask you for the applicant’s intended date of travel to the UK.

If the date of decision is before the intended date of travel to the UK then the start date of the visa will normally be the intended date of travel to the UK.

If the date of decision is after the intended date of travel to the UK, the start date of the visa will normally be on or just after the date of the decision.

Please note that I used the words ‘normally’ as the Home Office worker does not always follow this general rule.


“The Home Office has requested further documentation. Will this increase the spouse visa processing time?”

Where Home Office caseworkers request additional documentation (rather than refusing the application), this will inevitably increase the processing time to a certain extent.

Whilst we have seen the processing time far exceed the processing time where the required documentation has not been submitted, you can expect that in such a case, the application will be processed several days or weeks after then it would have if the required documentation was submitted in the first instance.


Out-of-country Priority service FAQs

How long will the processing time be for out-of-country priority service applications in 2022?

Most partners who choose the priority service for their out-of-country partner visa in 2022 will get a decision within 6 weeks (30 working days).

As of June 2022, the priority service has been suspended due to the Home Office’s Ukraine response. 

How much will the out-of-country priority service cost in 2022?

The priority service for out-of-country applications will cost an additional £573 (on average).

As we discuss in our spouse visa UK fees and costs in 2022 article, the conversion rates used often mean that partners will pay in the range of 10% above and below this figure.


Does the £573 priority service fee also include child dependents who are also applying for a visa at the same time as the main applicant?

The priority service fee for out-of-country applications will have to be paid for the main applicant as well as for any child dependents who are also applying for a visa.

This also applies to the Home Office fee – if you are applying with dependent children, you will also have to pay the Home Office fee for each child who is applying.

Example

Peter is applying for an out-of-country married partner visa application.

Peter is applying with three of his dependent children.

Peter will need to pay £1,538 (the spouse visa Home Office fee in 2022) x 4 – a total of £6,152.

He will also need to pay £573 (the spouse visa priority service fee) x 4 – a total of £2,292.


Is the priority service always available for out-of-country spouse visa applications in 2022?

The priority service is not always available for out-of-country spouse visa applications in 2022.


How do I find out if the priority service is available to us?

It should first be noted that the priority settlement service is subject to short notice withdrawal and reinstatement.

In other words, just because the settlement priority service is or is not available if you check early in the process, it does not mean that it will be available when it matters – once you submit the online application.

There are two instances when partners will normally find out if the priority service is available to them.

i) When you pay the Home Office fee as part of the spouse visa UK online application form in 2022, the online application form may provide you with the option of paying for priority alongside the option of going with a standard non-priority application.

ii) If, when you submit the online application, only the standard option is listed, you may then be able to purchase it on the TLS or VFS website when you pay for the biometric appointment (if it is listed as being available).

“Can I look if the priority service is listed as available on the TLS or VFS website before we submit the online application?”

Yes. You can look at the relevant local TLS or VFS webpage at any time.

TLS

1) First, click on this link.

State the country that the applicant will be applying from and then select the United Kingdom.

If your country is not listed here, then in all likelihood, it will be listed on the VFS website (see below).

2) Select “Added Value Services”.

3) If the priority service is available, it is normally visible on this page:

TLS spouse visa priority service

Here you can see that there are two different types of priority services available.

Only the priority visa service that states “Settlement” will be relevant.

Please do not purchase the non-settlement option.

VFS

1) Click on this link, select the country where the applicant will be making their application and answer “United Kingdom”.

2) Navigate to the “Premium Services” section.

The following is a screenshot of a section on the local VFS webpage:

VFS spouse visa priority service

Only the “Priority Visa for settlement or migration service” is relevant.

Please do not purchase the cheaper “Priority visa service” as partner visa applicants will not benefit from that.

“We just submitted the online application and the priority service is also not listed as being available on the TLS/VFS website. Can we still get the priority visa service?”

If the priority visa service is not available when you have submitted the application, the applicant can enquire about this when they attend the visa centre appointment.

It is sometimes the case that they will be able to provide additional information about the availability of the priority service.


When do we pay for the out-of-country spouse visa priority service?

As we discussed above, depending on availability, partners can pay either on the online application website or on the VFS/TLS website.

Therefore, the out-of-country spouse visa priority service is normally:

i) Paid at the same time that the online application is submitted (if you pay for the priority service as part of the gov.uk online application form); or

ii) Paid on the VFS/TLS website (if you do not pay for the priority service as part of the gov.uk online application form) after the online application has been submitted.


Does paying priority result in a higher chance of success?

No. Paying for priority service will not result in a higher chance of success.


When is the out-of-country spouse visa priority service not recommended?

For out-of-country applications, it is advised to not pay for the priority settlement visa service if one of the following applies:

  • The applicant has been refused a visa for the UK;
  • The applicant has overstayed a period of leave in the UK;
  • The applicant has been deported, removed, or otherwise required to leave the UK;
  • The applicant has been refused leave to remain in the UK by the Home Office;
  • The applicant has committed a criminal offence in any country;
  • The applicant has had leave to remain in the UK curtailed by the Home Office;
  • The applicant has been refused leave to enter the UK;
  • The applicant has been interviewed, detained, or prosecuted by the police for any offence in the UK or elsewhere;
  • The applicant has been refused a visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States of America, or the Schengen countries; and/or
  • The applicant has an unspent criminal conviction in any country.

In the above cases, there will be no guarantee that the Home Office will be able to process the application within 6 weeks (30 working days).

 

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In-Country Spouse visa Processing Time FAQs

The standard spouse visa UK processing time for in-country applications in 2022 is 6-8 weeks (on average).

As we discuss later on in this article, the spouse visa UK processing time in 2022 can be expedited if you are willing to pay for the super-priority service (subject to availability).

The processing times for in-country partner visa applications does not appear to have affected as much as out-of-country partner visa applications. Many of our clients are getting visas granted within the standard time frame.

We will first discuss some general in-country spouse visa processing time frequently asked questions.


Does it matter if our financial situation changes whilst we are waiting for the in-country spouse visa application to be processed?

The only relevant date that the financial requirement needs to be satisfied is the date that you submit the in-country spouse visa application by paying the Home Office fees.

Therefore, there it technically does not matter if your financial situation changes whilst you are waiting for the in-country spouse visa application to be processed (e.g., ceasing employment or spending cash savings which you relied on to satisfy the financial requirement).

Furthermore, there is no requirement to continually satisfy the financial requirement throughout the visa which will be granted.

With the above being said, it would be preferable if you continue to satisfy the financial requirement until the visa has been granted.

The reason for this is that it is sometimes the case that, for whatever reason, an application will have to be re-submitted.


What if we no longer want to submit the in-country spouse visa application? Can we get a refund?

If the applicant has not attended the biometrics appointment at the visa centre, they can withdraw the application and receive a refund of the Home Office and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fees.

If, however, the applicant has attended the biometrics appointment at the visa centre, they will only be able to get a refund on the Immigration Health Surcharge – they will not be able to get a refund on the Home Office fees.

Note: Withdrawing an in-country spouse visa application should be done carefully in light of the applicant’s current UK visa’s expiry date.

Example

Harry is in the UK on a UK spouse visa. He is wanting to apply for a UK spouse visa extension.

Harry’s UK spouse visa expires on 1 October 2022.

Harry submitted a partner visa application on 20 September 2022.

On 3 October, Harry was asked to join his friends on a spontaneous trip to Greece and is considering withdrawing and resubmitting the application to pay for super-priority service.

Harry would strongly be advised against this. If he withdraws his application after 1 October 2022, he will not be able to resubmit the application from inside the UK as he will not have a valid visa.


How do we get a refund if we no longer want to submit an in-country spouse visa application?

In-country spouse visa applicants can get a refund by withdrawing the application (as long as they have not attended the visa centre appointment).

You can withdraw an in-country spouse visa application by clicking this link.

Unfortunately, since withdrawals are made using the above “Request for Return of Documents” link, the withdrawal of an in-country spouse visa application is rather long winded and is something which partners tend to find confusing.

Despite the above link hardly referring to the withdrawal of applications, this is indeed the correct way to withdraw an in-country spouse visa application.


Do sponsors keep possession of their passports for in-country partner visa applications?

Yes – sponsors keep possession of their passport for in-country partner visa applications as only a copy of the sponsor’s passport is submitted.


Will it matter if my UK visa expires when the in-country spouse visa application is processing?

If an in-country spouse visa application is submitted before the applicant’s current visa expires, then it will not matter if the application is not decided before the current visa’s expiry date.

The reason for this is because of what is known as “Section 3C leave”.

The effect of Section 3C leave is that the visa will automatically be extended until the application is decided (or withdrawn).

Example

Leah submitted her in-country spouse visa application on 8 October 2022.

Leah’s current Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa has an expiry date of 9 October 2022.

Section 3C leave will automatically extend Leah’s current Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa until a decision has been made on the in-country spouse visa application (or until the spouse visa application is withdrawn).

Please note that Section 3C does not take effect where an in-country spouse visa application is made after the applicant’s current leave has expired.


Can I work in the UK whilst the in-country spouse visa application is processing?

If the applicant’s current visa allows work in the UK and the in-country spouse visa was submitted before its expiry date, then yes.

Example

Beatrice submitted an in-country UK spouse visa application on 4 March 2022.

Beatrice’s Tier 2 visa’s expiry date (as seen on the BRP) is 5 March 2022.

Since Beatrice’s Tier 2 visa will automatically be extended until a decision has been made on the in-country UK spouse visa application, she can continue to work whilst the spouse visa is processing.

“My employer is telling me that I must pay for the super-priority service or that I must stop working since my current visa is expiring despite what you have said about Section 3C leave”

You should forward this section 3C leave guidance to your employer.


How should I follow up if the processing time has been exceeded?

If the average processing time has been exceeded, you can first try contacting the Home Office via phoning them– the phone number of which can be found on this page.

If you are not able to expedite the application via the above phone line, you can then consider contacting your local UK MP (their contact details can be found on this link). The MP may be able to contact the Home Office on your behalf to expedite the application.

If you have exhausted the above to no avail, you can then consider submitting a complaint via this link.


Can the applicant leave the UK when an in-country spouse visa is processing?

If an applicant leaves the UK whilst an in-country spouse visa is processing, the application will be considered withdrawn.

In light of the above, if you foresee that the applicant would want to leave the UK shortly after submitting the online application, you may want to consider the super-priority service.

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In-country Priority service FAQs

Is the priority service available for in-country spouse visa applications in 2022?

The priority service for in-country spouse visa applications in 2022 is unfortunately rarely available.

In light of this, this article will focus its discussion on the super-priority service.


In-country Super Priority service FAQs

How long will the processing time be for in-country super priority service applications?

The processing time for super priority service in-country partner visa applications is normally 1 working day.


How much will the in-country super priority service cost?

The total Home Office fee for one applicant who opts for the super priority service is £1,848.

This is because the in-country super priority service involves an additional £800 cost which will need to be paid in addition to the standard Home Office fee of £1,048.


Does the super priority service fee include child dependents who are also applying for a visa at the same time as the main applicant?

The super priority service fee for in-country applications will have to be paid for the main applicant as well as for any child dependents who are also applying for a visa as part of the application.

Example

Sarah is applying to extend her UK spouse visa. She therefore will need to submit an FLR(M) application.

She would like to opt for the super priority service.

Sarah is applying with two of her dependent children and will therefore need to pay the standard Home Office fee and the super priority fee three times (one time for herself and twice for her two children).

Sarah will need to pay £1,048 (the spouse visa extension fee in 2022) x 3 – a total of £3,144.

She will also need to pay £800 (the spouse visa priority service fee) x 3 – a total of £2,400.

The total cost of the standard Home Office and the super priority fee for Sarah and her two children will therefore be £5,544.


Is the super priority service normally available for in-country spouse visa applications in 2022?

Yes. The super priority service is normally available for in-country spouse visa applications in 2022.


How do I purchase the super priority service for in-country spouse visa applications in 2022?

The super priority service for in-country spouse visa applications is purchased once you have answered the questions in the online application form.

The payment page has been incorporated into one of the final stages of the online application.

It should be noted that the paying of this fee is the date that the online application is submitted and is referred to as the ‘date of application’.


Does paying super priority result in a higher chance of success for in-country spouse visa applications?

No. There should be no reason why paying for the super priority service will result in a higher chance of success for in-country spouse visa extensions.


Will I get a refund if I pay for the super priority service and the application is not decided within 1 working day?

This depends on the reason why it was not decided within 1 working day.

If the Home Office far exceeded 1 working day due to no fault of your own (e.g., you did not provide legible documents which satisfy the Immigration Rules), you can consider contacting the Home Office directly and asking for a refund via this link.


Other frequently asked questions

When does the spouse visa processing time start?

For standard (non-priority) applications, the time will start when the Home Office receive your application. For priority services, this generally starts when you attend the visa centre and provide the supporting evidence.

How Do the Home Office Contact You To Give You Progress Updates?

They generally don’t. In the majority of cases, you will hear back from the Home Office when they have decided on your application. In some cases, where they would like more information or documents, they would get in touch. You would then have a certain amount of days to provide this information or documentation.

My visa will expire if the Home Office take long to reach a decision. Is this a problem?

This is something that is commonly worried about but, in the vast majority of cases, it should not be. This is because of a piece of law called Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1941.

“Where can I find out more information relating to the visa that I am going to submit?”

We have created several detailed and comprehensive guides covering a range of visas.

If you are submitting a spouse visa application from outside the UK, check out our spouse visa UK 2022 guidance.

If you are submitting a spouse visa application from inside the UK, check out our FLR(M) visa 2022 guidance.

If you are submitting an unmarried partner visa application from inside or outside the UK, check out our unmarried partner UK visa 2022 guidance.

If you are submitting a fiancé(e) visa, check out our fiance visa UK 2022 guidance.


Want help?

If you want professional immigration help for £385, we can provide you with a tailored document checklist and letter templates so you can make the best application possible.

Otherwise, if you would like for us to deal with your application from start to finish, you may be interested in our full legal representation service.

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