United Kingdom: Upcoming holiday season to affect visa services

What is the change? Applicants for U.K. visas should prepare for slower processing heading into the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

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What does the change mean? Visa applications centers and premium service centers will close or operate on limited hours or staffing from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, and applicants should plan for longer timelines when booking their visa appointments and planning business schedules over the Christmas period.

  • Implementation time frame: Now until early January.
  • Visas/permits affected: All U.K. visas.
  • Who is affected: U.K. employers and foreign nationals applying for U.K. visas.
  • Impact on processing times: Appointment availability will be reduced by three business days, which will, in turn, extend overall processing times.
  • Business impact: Businesses should anticipate slight delays and a possible backlog immediately following the holidays.

Background: Because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, official public (bank) holidays will be observed on Dec. 26 (Boxing Day) and Dec. 27 (in lieu of Christmas). Additionally, many visa application centers may be closed or observe half days on Dec. 23 and 24 or operate at reduced capacity during the period Dec. 28-30. Because New Year’s Day also falls on a weekend, this public holiday will be observed and visa centers closed on Jan. 2.

BAL Analysis: Applicants should plan to book their appointments as early as possible and recognize that they may not be able to get an appointment on their preferred date during the Christmas period. In addition, applicants should not book holiday travel without close consultation with their BAL representative.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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