Radhika Roy (name changed), a senior citizen from Kolkata, is eagerly awaiting her passport with the standard visitor visa for the UK. Roy’s application, along with her husband’s, was made on May 13 through VFS Global, the outsourcing agency partner for UK visas. Roy is planning a trip to London to visit her daughter and grand-daughter but is concerned because she has no information about when she will get her passport back with the visa and can make her travel arrangements.
“We had been told that we would get our visas in 21 working days; but it’s now over two months and we have no information. I am tracking the visas every day and have to stay at home so that I don’t miss the courier service if the passports get delivered. Besides, I can’t book the airline tickets or make other pre-travel arrangements till I get the visa,” said Roy.
She was hoping to be in the UK for her grand-daughter’s summer break from school in July and also help her daughter, who has a hectic work schedule this month, with childcare. “But now I have no idea when I will be able to get there,” she said. Roy is among hundreds of people in India, who are planning trips to the UK to visit families, spend summer vacation or visit children who are students at universities in the UK, and facing long delays and uncertainty in getting visas.
Officially, the British high commission and UK Visas and Immigration have announced a six-week timeframe to get visitors visas. “We are currently experiencing unpredictable demand across all visa routes globally. Standard visitor visas are currently taking around six weeks to process. This is an average processing time and some applications might take longer. We are working hard to get back to the three week service standard,” a spokesperson of the British high commission in Delhi, told The Times Of India.
There is, however, a procedure in getting the visas on fast track for those with any emergency needs. “We are continuing to offer the priority and super priority visit visa service in India – despite it being suspended in many other locations. For individuals with impending travel plans, the priority visa service enables applicants the chance to get their visas approved within five days,” the British high commission spokesperson said. “Where there are extremely compassionate or compelling circumstances like medical emergencies, we may consider expediting specific cases. However, the bar for this is high and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
While officially, the UK student visa decision time is within three weeks, several applicants are facing delays in that category too. Sanjay Kumar (name changed), a parent in Mumbai, is concerned because his son, who is scheduled to join an MBA course at the Warwick Business School this year, hasn’t yet received his visa despite submitting his application and biometric data over six weeks back.
“I’m worried because there was an announcement regarding streamlining of the process by the British high commission and shorter processing time. In fact, a few of my son’s friends have received their study visa for the UK in three weeks. We now hope that he will receive his visa in time to travel in August as we have planned,” Kumar said.
The British high commission spokesperson recommends that students continue to apply for visas as soon as possible to avoid any delays. “The number of Indian applicants applying for UK study visas is already high; however the student visa applications are being processed within the service standard of three weeks.”