Partners of a British or settled person can currently submit their application for an extension of leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain by two methods: by posting the application or attending in person at one of the 7 Public Enquiry Offices (PEOs) in the UK.
Postal applications can be decided anywhere between a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the case or the workload of the consideration unit. The standard acknowledgement sent following the receipt of the application lacks precision over when a decision can be expected. This can often leave applicants anxious over whether a decision would be in their favour, or in some cases, prevents the family from planning holidays or proceeding with a career change.
Applications submitted at a PEO, which costs £500 in addition to the standard application fee, enables a decision the same day. In some cases, where further documents are allowed to be submitted late, the Home Office will provide a letter confirming what is lacking and giving the time scale to provide the documents (generally 7-10 working days). Save for unforeseen circumstances, a decision is then made very quickly once the requested items are provided to the decision maker.
Some applicants will opt for the postal service but due to change of circumstances may then wish for a quicker decision. There is now a way to do this.
Those applicants who are under the 5 year route to settlement now have the option of having their postal application expedited for an additional cost. Unfortunately this option is not available for those who can only seek settlement after 10 years.
It costs £400 in addition to the fee already paid and enables a decision within 5 working days (excluding Fridays). Only 5 applications are accepted per day. The procedure is to apply using the designated form and send it to an email address (https://www.gov.uk/faster-reply-visa-application). If accepted, the confirmation will be provided the same day before 5pm.
The caveat is that sometimes a decision can take in excess of the 5 days if:
• extra checks are needed
• you need to go to a premium service centre in person (and pay an extra £100 booking fee)
For applications where the documents required are submitted in full at the point of application, this service is a welcome change where a quicker turnaround is required. It is also worth looking into for cases where travel is required on an emergency basis. Currently a return of an applicant’s passport takes 10 days and normally has the effect of withdrawing an application.
This service can also be used for other applications such as: SET (AF), SET (F), SET (LR), SET (M), SET (O), and NTL.