If you are making a standard (non-priority) unmarried partner visa UK application from outside the UK, the average processing time in 2024 is 2-3 months (on average).
On the other hand, if you are making a standard (non-priority) unmarried partner visa UK application from inside the UK, the average processing time is 6-8 weeks.
Unmarried partner visa UK 2024 processing times
|Standard out-of-country applications
|Priority out-of-country applications
|30 working days
|Standard in-country applications
|Super-priority in-country applications
|1 working day
We will now answer frequently asked questions about the processing time & the priority/super-priority service for UK unmarried partner visa applications.
Is the application being made from inside or outside the UK?
“I am not sure if we will apply from outside or inside the UK?”
This is important to know because the following are different:
- The application process;
- The relevant Immigration Rules;
- The application fees; and
- The processing times.
The first thing to note is that if the applicant (the person applying) does not have a UK visa and is outside the UK, they must make an application from outside the UK.
To make an application from inside the UK, the applicant must be in the UK when the application is submitted on a visa which was issued for a period exceeding six months (unless they are in the UK on a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partnership visa).
Please also note that those in the UK on a visitor visa (or leave as a non-visa national) cannot make an application from inside the UK – they are expected to return to their country of nationality or country of residence and make the application there.
Whether the sponsor (the “UK partner”) assists by completing the application form and submitting the supporting documents does not change this.
Here are some examples of the kind of visas which typically allow an applicant to make an unmarried partner visa application from inside the UK:
- UK partner visas
- Skilled worker visas (previously Tier 2 visas)
- Student visas (previously Tier 4 visas)
- Temporary work visas (previously Tier 5 visas)
- Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visas
- UK fiance visas or proposed civil partnership visas
Out-Of-Country Unmarried partner Visa Processing Time FAQs
On average, the processing time for a standard unmarried partner visa for out-of-country applications is 2-3 months in 2024.
When does the processing time for out-of-country unmarried partner visa applications begin?
The processing time for an out-of-country unmarried partner visa application usually starts when the applicant attends the biometric appointment at the visa application centre.
There are, however, some exceptions. One exception is the United States, where the processing time usually begins when the applicant’s passport is received at the New York scanning hub.
When does the processing time for out-of-country unmarried partner visa applications end?
Once the Home Office decides the outcome of your application, the processing time will end.
Can we get a refund if we withdraw the out-of-country application?
If you want to get a refund of the Home Office fees, you should withdraw the application before the applicant attends the biometric appointment at the visa centre. If you cancel by this point, the Home Office fee of £1,846 per applicant and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will be refunded.
If you withdraw the application after attending the biometric appointment, the Home Office will normally retain the Home Office fee of £1,846 per applicant – although the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will be returned to you.
How do we withdraw the application if we no longer want to proceed with the unmarried partner visa application?
This option should be available at the bottom of the page when you log on to your online application:
Do sponsors keep their passports for out-of-country unmarried partner visa applications?
Yes – the sponsor only needs to submit a copy of their passport. The sponsor’s physical passport is never submitted.
We’ve been waiting longer than the stated service processing time. Does this suggest we have a higher chance of the application being refused?
No. This does not necessarily mean there is a higher chance of refusal.
I received an acknowledgement email from the Home Office several weeks/months after applying. Will the processing time start now? Did they not receive my supporting documents?
Typically, applicants are sent a standard email which says:
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 standard email then outlines how documents can be submitted.
The above email is sometimes sent immediately after an application is submitted; other times, it can be sent several weeks or even months after submission of the online application.
It should be noted that the date the email is sent does not affect how long it takes to process the application.
You should also note that the email says, “if you or your sponsor have not already submitted supporting documentation”. Therefore, if you have already submitted your documents, there is nothing further that you need to do.
The Home Office has requested further documentation. Does this mean that the application will take longer to be processed?
Generally, you can expect the application to be processed several days or weeks later due to the Home Office caseworker deciding to ask for the documentation which should have been initially submitted.
When will I know the decision on the unmarried partner visa application?
Unmarried partner visa applicants typically receive an email which states that a decision has been made.
Sometimes the email includes an approval or refusal letter, but often it does not.
Rather, the email may only state that a decision has been made (without confirming whether it is an approval or refusal), and this doesn’t mean a refusal is more likely. In this case, you will know the decision once the applicant’s passport is returned.
The standard processing time has been exceeded. How should I follow up on this?
First, you can contact the Home Office to press for a decision.
Secondly, if you don’t receive a helpful response from the Home Office, the next potential step is to contact the sponsor’s local MP and ask them to contact the Home Office on your behalf.
The contact details of the sponsor’s local UK MP should be available on this link.
Approaching an MP for assistance can be helpful because MPs can contact the Home Office directly. MPs also generally get a response from the Home Office relatively quickly.
We submitted the out-of-country unmarried partner visa application and are awaiting a decision. Can the applicant leave the country where the application was submitted, or does the applicant need to stay in that country until a decision has been made?
The applicant is permitted to leave the country where the application was submitted whilst waiting for the application to be processed.
Usually, however, the applicant will need to return to the country where the application was submitted to collect the passport they submitted as part of the unmarried partner visa application.
How does the processing time affect the start date of the out-of-country UK unmarried partner visa?
The first thing to note is that the online application asks for the applicant’s intended date of travel to the UK.
If the intended date of travel is after the decision date, the start date of the visa will normally be the intended date of travel.
However, if the intended date of travel is before the decision date, the visa start date will normally be on or just after the decision date.
The word ‘normally’ is used here as the Home Office does not always follow this general rule.
Please also note that the Home Office are normally only able to post-date the start date of the visa for up to 3 months after the date of decision.
Is it possible to reduce the time it takes for the Home Office to decide without paying extra for an out-of-country unmarried partner visa application?
This may be possible if you have a compelling or compassionate reason (e.g., serious illness or death of a family member).
To enquire about this with the Home Office, visit this link.
Out-of-country Priority Service FAQs
How long will the processing time be for out-of-country priority service applications in 2024?
If you pay extra for the priority service, you will usually get a decision within six weeks (30 working days).
Is the priority service always available for out-of-country unmarried partner visa applications in 2024?
The priority service will not always be available for out-of-country unmarried partner visa applications.
The availability of this service will always be subject to supply and demand.
What is the out-of-country unmarried partner visa priority service cost in 2024?
On average, the fee for the priority service for an out-of-country application will be an additional £500.
In other words, you will need to pay this £500 fee in addition to the standard £1,846 fee.
Please note, as discussed in our article on unmarried partner visa UK fees and costs in 2024 article, the conversion rates used when the fee is paid means the final figure tends to range between 5% on either side of £500.
Does the £500 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 has to be paid for all child dependents applying for a visa, as well as the main applicant.
The same applies to the Home Office fee – you will also have to pay the Home Office fee for each application made on behalf of a dependent child.
John is applying for an out-of-country unmarried partner visa, and at the same time, he is applying with three of his dependent children.
John will need to pay a total of £7,384 – the unmarried partner visa Home Office fee of £1,846 x 4.
In addition, John would have to pay an additional £2,000 – the unmarried partner visa priority service fee of £500 x 4.
How do I determine whether the priority service is available for our application?
The priority settlement service can be subject to withdrawal and subsequent reinstatement at short notice.
This means that although the priority service may or may not be showing as available when you check early in the process, the situation could be different when it matters most – when you submit the online application.
Usually, there are two instances when an applicant finds out if the priority service is available to them:
i) Once they have been redirected to the TLS or VFS website after submitting the application by paying the Home Office fees. The priority service can normally be purchased here.
ii) In limited circumstances, the priority service can be purchased at the visa centre during the biometrics appointment.
“Can I check if the priority service is listed as available on the VFS or TLS website before we submit the unmarried partner visa application?”
Yes. You can check to see if it is available on the relevant local TLS or VFS webpage at any time.
1) First, click on this link.
State the country the application will be made from and then select United Kingdom.
If your country does not appear here, then instead it should be listed on the VFS website (see below).
2) Click on “Added Value Services”.
3) If the priority service is available, normally it would be shown on this page:
As you can see, two different types of priority services are shown as being available.
Please note that the priority visa service that states “(Settlement)” is the correct one.
You should not pay for the (Non-settlement) option as this does not apply to unmarried partner visa applications.
1) Click on this link, select the country the application will be made from and then select “United Kingdom”.
2) Go to the “Premium Services” section.
This is a screenshot of a relevant section on the local VFS webpage:
Please note that the relevant service is the “Priority Visa for settlement or migration service”.
You should not purchase the cheaper “Priority visa service” as this is only relevant to other types of visas.
“The priority service was not listed as available on the TLS/VFS website. Is the priority visa service still available?”
You can still enquire about the availability of the priority visa service when you attend the visa centre appointment.
It is sometimes the case that additional information about the availability of the priority service will be provided.
When is the out-of-country unmarried partner visa priority service paid?
As outlined previously, applicants can pay for the priority service either on the VFS/TLS website, or when the applicant attends the visa centre appointment.
When would the out-of-country unmarried partner visa priority service not be recommended?
The TLS and VFS websites state that it is generally not advisable to pay for the priority service if one of the following applies:
- You (the “applicant”) have previously been refused a visa for the UK;
- You have overstayed a period of leave in the UK;
- You have been deported, removed, or otherwise required to leave the UK;
- You have previously been refused leave to remain in the UK by the Home Office;
- You have committed a criminal offence in any country;
- You have previously had a period of leave to remain in the UK curtailed by the Home Office;
- You have previously been refused leave to enter the UK;
- You have been interviewed, detained, or prosecuted by the police for any offence in the UK or elsewhere;
- You have been refused a visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States of America, or the Schengen countries; and/or
- You have an unspent criminal conviction in any country.
This is because, in the circumstances listed above, there is an increase chance of the Home Office not being able to process the application within six weeks (30 working days).
In-Country Unmarried Partner Visa Processing Time FAQs
The average standard unmarried partner visa UK processing time for in-country applications in 2024 is between 6 and 8 weeks.
As we will discuss below, the unmarried partner visa UK processing time in 2024 can be shortened to one working day if you are willing to pay for the super-priority service (which is subject to availability).
The stated processing time has been exceeded. How should we follow up on this?
Initially, you can try phoning the Home office on the number found on this page.
If you can’t get assistance on the above phone line, you can contact your local UK MP (their contact details should be available on this link).
Your MP may be able to contact the Home Office to help expedite the application.
If neither of the above measures succeeds, you can consider submitting a complaint via this link.
Will be able to get a refund if we no longer want to submit the in-country unmarried partner visa application?
Yes – but only if the applicant has not attended the biometrics appointment at the visa centre. If you withdraw an application before this point, you can obtain a refund of the Home Office fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
It should be noted that once the applicant has attended the biometrics appointment at the visa centre, you will normally only be able to obtain a refund of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). A refund of the Home Office fee will unfortunately normally not be possible.
Please be aware it is crucial to bear in mind the applicant’s expiry date of their current visa (or leave) if you are considering withdrawing an in-country unmarried partner visa application.
Fiona is already in the UK on a UK unmarried partner visa and now wants to apply for an extension.
Fiona’s current UK unmarried partner visa expires on 2 August 2024, and she submitted a non-priority extension application on 19 July 2024.
On 4 August 2024, Fiona was invited to join her friends on a spontaneous trip to Italy and is considering withdrawing and resubmitting the application and paying for super-priority service instead.
Fiona would strongly be advised not to do this. If she withdraws her application after 2 August 2024, she will not be able to resubmit the application from inside the UK as she will not technically hold a valid visa.
How can we request a refund if we no longer want to go ahead with the in-country application?
Applicants for in-country unmarried partner visas can obtain a refund by withdrawing the application – as long as they withdraw before attending the visa centre appointment.
You can withdraw an in-country unmarried partner visa application by clicking on this “Request for return of documents” link.
The process for withdrawing an in-country unmarried partner visa application can initially seem somewhat confusing because withdrawals are made using the above “Request for Return of Documents” link.
Although the above link makes little reference to the withdrawal of applications, this is the correct route to take when withdrawing an in-country unmarried partner visa application.
Will the sponsor keep their passport when the in-country partner visa application is being processed?
Yes. Only a copy of the sponsor’s passport is required to be submitted.
Does it matter if the applicant’s UK visa expires when the in-country unmarried partner visa application is processing?
No. It does not matter if the applicant’s UK visa expires while their application is being considered.
This is because of what is known as “Section 3C leave” (a section of the Immigration Act 1971) which automatically extends the leave on their visa until a decision is made on the application or it is withdrawn – as long as the application was submitted when the visa was valid.
Vijay submitted his in-country unmarried partner visa application on 7 April 2024.
Vijay’s current Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa has an expiry date of 8 April 2024.
Section 3C leave automatically extends the leave on Vijay’s current Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa until a decision has been made on his in-country unmarried partner visa application or until it is withdrawn.
Please be aware that Section 3C does not apply where an in-country application is made after the leave on an applicant’s current visa has expired.
Can the applicant work in the UK whilst the in-country unmarried partner visa application is being decided?
The effect of Section 3C leave is that it will automatically extend the current visa until a decision has been made on the new application (or until it’s withdrawn).
Therefore, as long as the current visa permits the applicant to work in the UK, the applicant will still be permitted to work in the UK whilst the application is being decided.
Ayesha submitted an in-country UK unmarried partner visa application on 3 April 2024.
Ayesha’s Skilled Worker (Tier 2) visa expires on 4 April 2024.
Under Section 3C, Ayesha’s visa will automatically extend until a decision has been made on the in-country UK unmarried partner visa application. She can therefore carry on working while her application is being considered.
“Despite what you’ve said about Section 3C leave, my employer says I have to pay for the super-priority service or stop working because my current visa is about to expire.”
If this happens, you should send this section 3C leave guidance to the employer.
The in-country unmarried partner visa has been submitted but has yet to be decided. Can the applicant leave the UK?
No. An application will be considered withdrawn if an applicant leaves the UK while an in-country unmarried partner visa is being processed.
If you foresee you might want or need to travel outside the UK shortly after submitting the online application, you may decide to consider the super-priority service.
Will it matter if our financial situation changes whilst we are waiting for the in-country unmarried partner visa application to be processed?
Technically speaking, no.
The financial requirement must be satisfied when you submit the in-country application by paying the Home Office fees. Any later changes to your financial situation are technically not relevant.
Therefore, changes to employment, such as a job ending or spending cash savings relied on to meet the financial requirement do not matter while the in-country unmarried partner visa application is being processed.
Additionally, you don’t have to continually satisfy the financial requirement during the period of leave granted on your visa.
However, it should be noted it is advisable to continue to meet the financial requirement until the visa has been granted in case, for any reason, an application has to be re-submitted.
In-country Priority Service FAQs
Is the priority service available for in-country unmarried partner visa applications in 2024?
The priority service for in-country unmarried partner visa applications in 2024 is not currently available, so this article discuss the super-priority service.
In-country Super-Priority service FAQs
What is the processing time for in-country super-priority service applications?
The super-priority service in-country unmarried partner visa processing time is usually one working day.
How much will the in-country super-priority service cost?
In total, the fee for one applicant using the super-priority service is £1,848.
This comprises of the standard Home Office application fee of £1,048 and the additional £1,000 cost of the in-country super-priority service.
How do I purchase the super-priority service for in-country unmarried partner visa applications in 2024?
The super-priority service for in-country unmarried partner visa applications is available for purchase once you reach the end of the questions on the online application form.
The online application incorporates the fee payment page into the final stages of the application.
The date the submission fee is paid (including the super-priority fee) is the date the online application is considered to have been submitted. This date is referred to as the ‘date of application’.
Does the super-priority service fee include child dependents who are also applying for a visa at the same time as the main applicant?
Each dependant child’s application will require payment for the super-priority service fee if the main applicant (their parent) is also opting for the super-priority service.
Josephine is applying to extend her UK unmarried partner visa and is therefore submitting an FLR(M) application.
Josephine wants to proceed with the super-priority service.
Two dependent children are applying with Josephine.
Therefore she will have to pay the standard Home Office fee three times and the super-priority fee three times (once for herself and twice for her two children).
Josephine will need to pay a total of £6,144 in fees. This is made up of a total of £3,144 in visa extension fees (the individual standard Home Office application fee of £1,048 x 3) and an additional £3,000 in super-priority service fees (the individual fee of £1,000 x 3).
Is the super-priority service normally available for in-country unmarried partner visa applications in 2024?
The super-priority service is usually available for in-country unmarried partner visa applications in 2024.
Will we get the super-priority fee refunded if the application is not decided within one working day?
Possibly. Whether you can obtain a refund depends on why the application was not decided within one working day.
If the delay was due to no fault of your own, you can consider contacting the Home Office directly and asking for a refund via this link.
If the delay was down to an applicant not providing required documents or documents not being legible, for example, you will not be able to obtain a refund.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Do the Home Office contact you to give you progress updates?
The Home Office normally do not normally contact applicants during the processing period. In the majority of cases, the first you will hear from the Home Office is when a decision about your application has been made.
Would paying for a priority service result in a higher chance of our unmarried partner being granted?
No. The likelihood of your application being approved does not increase if you pay for the priority service.
Do we have to make a card payment to pay for the Home Office fee?
Yes. Card payments must be made to pay the Home Office fee. Bank transfers are not permitted.
Is there a way to see the processing times for the country that I am applying from?
No. For applications made outside the UK, the standard processing times do not vary from country to country.
Our DIY Application Pack service is for partners who want to save money by submitting the application themselves but would like to receive professional tailored written guidance (including a detailed document checklist and set of letter templates) so that they can ensure that they put forward the best application possible.
Alternatively, we offer a full legal representation service if you would like us to deal with your application from start to finish.
Our full legal representation service is our most comprehensive service and is offered by Ed Lowe, Matthew French & Wendy Foy – all of whom worked for the Home Office (the UK government department that will process your UK unmarried partner visa application).