Recent data from the Home Office show that the amount of applications being processed has dropped, but the waiting time for a decision to be made has increased.
It is stressful and frustrating for an applicant who may have spent a significant amount of money on applying, and the Home Office does not give a definite answer why there is a delay or when a decision will be made.
What are the common reasons the Home Office use to justify the delay?
Each case is unique and different factors arise as for why the case has been delayed. The most common reasons are:
- You did not enrol for your biometrics within the timescale, or there was a problem with the biometrics enrolment.
- You failed to provide all the evidence required in support of your application.
- Failed to respond to the Home Office request for further information or evidence.
- Documents you have provided in support of the application need to be verified with another government agency, often referred to as ‘external checks’.
- The Home Office need to interview you in connection with your application.
- You have an adverse immigration history, have criminal convictions, or have an outstanding criminal matter.
- There is a similar case to yours which is being considered by the courts that may affect the outcome of your application.
- There are complicated issues in your case, which the Home Office require further consideration.
- Seasonal factors such an increase of visit visa applications or overseas spouse/partner applications.
Within what timeframe should the Home Office consider your case?
The Home Office has a customer service standard timeframe as to when they aim to make a decision, which can be found on the Home Office website at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration/about-our-services
You can also check the processing time via https://www.gov.uk/visa-processing-times
What if the Home Office has not decided your case within the timeframe?
You have six potential ways to seek expedition to your case. Below are the steps you can take, and it is not necessary to follow the same order.
- Contact the Home Office, preferably in writing. You should include the following information in your letter/email:
- Your full name, date of birth, nationality.
- Your current address.
- The Home Office reference number.
- Type of application you submitted.
- The date the application was submitted.
- When you expected the decision to have been made by in accordance to the Home Office timeframe.
- Give dates of any previous chase up letters sent to the Home Office.
- Most importantly, the effect of the delay in considering your application is having on you and/or your family.
If you applied within the UK, then you should write to the Home Office department where you initially sent your application to.
If you submitted your application out of the country, you should direct your email to https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk. You can call the UK Visas and Immigration, but it is advisable to have something written to them and have a written response, which you can use for the steps below.
2: Make a formal complaint via https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration/about/complaints-procedure, If you have not received a reply to your chase up letter or if the response is not what you expected. You should provide all the information as mentioned in step 1 and enclose any chase up letters and responses you have received from the Home Office. The complaints department will investigate and should respond to you within 20 working days.
3: Contact your local MP. You can find your local MP via https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/. It is essential that you provide all the information related to your case so that your MP can make the appropriate enquiry.
4: Complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if the Home Office internal complaint process did not resolve your issue, or the MP was unable to assist you further. You must ask your MP to refer the matter to the Ombudsman, who will make a final decision.
5: Consider legal action by submitting a pre-action protocol letter. You can use the following proforma: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pre-action-protocol-for-judicial-review. The pre-action protocol is a mechanism used to resolve the issues between two parties before considering lodging court proceedings. The Home Office aims to respond within 21 days.
6: Lodge a Judicial Review application as a last resort, if all above steps do not resolve your issues. As a case has been lodged against the Home Office, this usually resolves the matter quickly. Judicial Review is complex, costly and should only be used if there is a significant delay which renders the Home Office action as unlawful.
WH Solicitors have the expertise to speed up the process of your application and have successfully challenged the Home Office for severe delays. If you have been affected by the Home Office delays, contact WH Solicitors to see how we may be able to help you.