The application process for a Tier 2 Visa is rigorous, and requires that applicants submit detailed and accurate information to support their visa application. This ensures that immigration officials have the information they need to properly assess whether an applicant meets the requirements for the visa or not. Working through the many documents that applicants supply and conducting any checks which must be carried out takes time and effort, though, and as a result most Tier 2 Visa applications take 8 weeks to process.
However, for some applicants 8 weeks is too long to wait. There are many circumstances under which an applicant might need to expedite their entry into the UK; a business’s vital role might suddenly become vacant and need to be filled by an overseas employee, or an athlete might need to compete at a competition only a few weeks away. In these cases a premium “priority” service is available, which allows applicants to minimise the time spent waiting for a decision. This service brings the processing time down from 8 weeks to 10 days, but comes at a cost; a fee of £500 is payable for each premium application, and only a limited number of these will be accepted each day.
The UK Government’s premium service can be a powerful tool for visa applicants, especially those who need a decision quickly on whether they can enter the country on a specific visa. However, there is no guarantee that the application will be accepted, and with premium service applications costing in excess of £1,000 this service should not be used frivolously. This article will describe the features of the premium service along with some of its restrictions, but applicants must be sure to consult the Government’s own website for more in-depth information.
Priority Service Process
Before deciding whether to submit an application to the premium priority service, it’s important to understand what the limitations and requirements are.
Request a Priority Application
The first step which candidates must take is to submit a “request for inclusion” form, detailing the type of visa being applied for and personal information. If successful, a link to the online priority application service will be sent to the applicant’s contact email address. However, there are a limited number of places available on this service, and only the first 60 applications received after 8:30am each working day will be approved.
Supplying Supporting Documents
Once the online application has been completed, candidates must send their supporting documents to the specified address. This should be done through registered post or by a courier, to ensure that the information is supplied in a timely and reliable manner. If an application for dependants is being made at the same time, their documents should be supplied in the same envelopes as the main applicant’s.
Applicants must also provide a photograph and their fingerprints. This must be done at a Post Office within two days of receiving the “Biometric Information” letter in the post, which will detail the specific process applicants will need to undertake. A charge of £19.20 is payable for this service, which can be paid when supplying the information.
Fees and Charges for a Priority Service Application
The added workload of processing applications in a short timeframe leads to an increased cost for this service, but the total amount payable varies depending on the specific visa which has been applied for.
Tier 2 - General
A general application can be for a short term visa (under 3 years) or a long term visa (over 3 years). Short term visas cost £1,039 to process with the priority service, while a long term application will cost £1,703. However, applicants who will be working in “shortage occupations” (fields where skills are desperately needed) will receive a discounted rate of £812/£1,248 respectively.
Tier 2 - Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)
ICT visas come in three distinct types, depending on the length of the stay they grant. Applications for under 12 months (such as the graduate trainee and skills transfer visa) cost £829 on the priority service, while visas which grant a long-term stay of up to 3 years cost £1,039. Staff who intend to remain for more than 3 years will need to pay £1,703 to process their applications through the priority service.
Tier 2 - Minister of Religion + Sportsperson
Applicants for both of these types of visa must pay a fee of £1,039 for the premium application process, since their visas only grant a stay of up to 3 years.
As with any visa application, candidates will need to make a contribution to the health care the could potentially require whilst in the country. This usually cost £200 per person per year, so a 5 year stay would require a fee of £1,000 per applicant. This helps to cover the cost of NHS treatment if it should be necessary while in the UK.
When is it Possible to Use the Priority Service?
Because of the difficulties in coordinating overseas organisations with UK ones, the 10-day turnaround service is only available for applicants who are already in the UK. This means that applicants must either be extending or switching a current application, and not making a new visa application (otherwise they can’t be in the country in the first place).
Premium Priority Service for Tier 2 Visas
The ability to be flexible with applications is a very valuable tool, and the priority service facility is an extremely useful option for many applicants. Though it may be an expensive way to extend a visa, it provides individuals who may be short on time the ability to submit an application in a short timeframe, reducing the possibility that they will be ejected from the country. It’s important that such a pathway exists, though it isn’t one that should necessarily be used by every applicant.