United Kingdom, United States: UK’s Super Priority visa service expanded to additional U.S. locations
What is the change? The United Kingdom is expanding its 24-hour Super Priority visa service to applicants in key business locations in the United States.
What does the change mean? Visa applicants traveling on urgent and short notice may now apply at premium application centers in any of seven U.S. cities—Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco or Washington, D.C.—and obtain a visa determination within 24 hours.
- Implementation time frame: Immediate.
- Visas/permits: Points Based System visas, including Tier 2 skilled workers and Tier 4 students, and visitor visas. The service is not available for settlement visas, e.g., British citizen spousal visas.
- Who is affected: Assignees and other Tier 2 skilled workers, business travelers requiring a visitor visa.
- Impact on processing times: Super Priority visa applications are processed within 24 hours.
- Business impact: The Super Priority visa program can be a good option for urgent applications, particularly where the migrant is already based in or traveling to the relevant city. The service adds an extra £750 to the standard visa fee, so convenience must be weighed against cost.
Background: U.K. visas may be submitted under three different services, at different price points, depending on how quickly the visa is needed and how much time the applicant can afford to be without his or her passport. Standard processing in the U.S. tends to take 10 to 15 business days plus shipping time. Priority processing, available for an additional fee, takes five business days plus shipping time. The Super Priority service takes just 24 hours but costs an additional £750 on top of standard visa fees.
The Super Priority visa service is now available in seven cities in the U.S. as well as a number of other locations around the world, including locations in China, Colombia, India, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. U.K. officials said recently that in the coming year UK Visas and Immigration would handle more of its casework digitally from Sheffield in the U.K. This change could allow for more premium application centers to open around the world in key business locations.
BAL Analysis: The expansion of Super Priority visa services in the U.S. is welcome news for employers and assignees looking for business flexibility or in urgent need of a U.K. visa. The planned transformation of UKVI services in 2017 suggests that employers can anticipate greater access to premium application centers in business centers globally. Whether the Super Priority service is the best option will depend on several factors, in particular whether the migrant is already based in, or planning on traveling to, a Super Premium service center location, and whether the cost is justified by the business need for travel. BAL frequently recommends priority processing, but the expansion of the Super Priority service is a welcome development.
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