The Home Office announced that as of Monday 20 February, priority services had been resumed for new marriage and family visa applications made from outside the UK. This reduces the expected processing time for an application from six months to three weeks.
This is very good news for those intending to apply to join their British family members in the UK. Priority services were suspended indefinitely early last year due to the war in Ukraine.
While priority services for work categories resumed in August, there was no such respite for those applying to join their family in the UK.
A growing backlog due to the refocusing of Home Office resources to the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme also meant that the typical non-priority timeframe of six months extended well beyond this, leaving some family members separated for almost 12 months waiting decisions on their applications.
The Home Office has now seemingly caught up with its backlog and is able to reintroduce priority services for family entry clearance applications, with an expected time frame of three weeks (an improvement on the previous six-week turnaround).
Priority options are not yet appearing on the third-party appointment websites, however we would expect these to be available shortly. Those who have been delaying making an application due to the extended timeframe and requirement to surrender their passport should consider applying now.
When making an application complexities can arise, particularly in meeting the financial requirement. We recommend seeking our advice to avoid unnecessary delays and complications. A refusal can prevent the applicant from using the priority service in future applications, and therefore getting it right the first time is as important as ever.