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Time frame for visa processing

Published:Tuesday | July 3, 2012 | 12:00 AM
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am considering applying for a visa and I would like to know what is the processing times that can be expected.

Any advice would be appreciated.

- FW

Dear FW,

You have not told me what type of visa you are considering applying for, however, I will proceed and try to assist.

The processing times for visas will vary from country to country depending from where the application originates. Each visa application is assessed individually, consequently, there are no guarantees for the time for processing a visa application.

However, the United Kingdom Border Agency does have service standards pertaining to the processing of United Kingdom visa applications. The standards that are set state that they intend to process at least 90 per cent of non-settlement applications within a three week period, 98 per cent within six weeks and 100 per cent within 12 weeks of the application date.

The United Kingdom service standards also state that 95 per cent of settlement applications will be processed within 12 weeks of the application date and 100 per cent within 24 weeks of the application date.

What is meant by a week?

The applicant should also be aware that the authorities define one week as five working days and that the visa processing times mentioned above do not apply to visas for Commonwealth countries, British Overseas Territories, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

It is advisable that an applicant apply for a visa within three months of his/her intended date of travel but the applicant must bear in mind that the United Kingdom authorities are only able to post-date visas by a maximum of three months from the date of the decision on your visa application. You should note that an applicant can enter the United Kingdom anytime after his/her visa's issue date but not before.

The United Kingdom Border Agency strongly advises applicants that they should not confirm travel arrangements to go to the United Kingdom until he or she has received the visa.

Ticket purchase

In addition, it is strongly recommended that an applicant does not buy a non-refundable, non-flexible ticket to the United Kingdom until his or her visa application has been approved and the applicant has received the visa. The United Kingdom Border Agency will not accept responsibility for any financial loss and they will not fast-track applications just because of a planned date of travel.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the processing time begins when the United Kingdom Border Agency or one of their commercial partners, VFS Global and WorldBridge, has received an applicant's completed application form, with his or her passport and supporting documents, their biometrics registration and the relevant application fee and it ends after a decision has been taken on the application and the applicant's passport is available for collection.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a supreme court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com