UKVI visa, ATAS processing and RTW Check updates

In country applications:

UKVI are currently working to their usual standard of 8 weeks for visa application decision from the point that an in-time application is submitted, all fees and surcharges paid, and applicants biometrics provided.

There may be priority (£500 additional for 1 week decision), or super priority (£800 additional for 1-2 working day decision) options available, where required. These fees must be paid at time of visa application submission and cannot be added separately later.

  • For extension/switching applications - individuals are unable to leave the UK and common travel area until their new visa is granted and checked, and applicants/departments may decide to pay for priority processing.
  • For changes of employment from another sponsor, please consider the processing times when setting start dates. Candidates may wish to extend their current role/notice period to avoid the situation where they are unable to start employment with Imperial and have left their former employer/sponsor and are not eligible for UK public funds/benefits in the interim. Applicants/departments may decide to pay for priority processing.
  • Please be aware that applications for Indefinite leave to remain (settlement) have a 6-month standard processing service standard rather than the 8 weeks above. Applicants may decide to pay for priority processing.

Out-of-country applications:

UKVI (Home Office) guidance on how quickly you will receive a decision on your UK visa application if you are applying from outside the UK can be viewed via this link. Most overseas applications are expected to be a 3 week standard decision.

Overseas priority application options are subject to availability, and dependent on the country of application.

  • For standard visitor visa applications, there continues to be a reduction in the availability of the priority visa service. This is in relation to visiting academic/researcher associations which are processed via this link (not T5 GAE sponsored researchers which are requested and processed via Staff Compliance Team)

General issues:

In addition, we are experiencing the following delays in relation to both in-country and out-of-country applications:

  • ATAS application processing – we have noticed an improvement in processing times for many ATAS applications in 2023, and the majority should be processed within 6-8 weeks.

However, we do still see delays and some cases have taken from 3-6 months. Unfortunately, there is no way of expediting ATAS applications where they are delayed.

Please be aware that where a right to work check must be delayed, the start date is not permitted before the check is completed. The work start date would also need to be delayed until the individual is present in the UK and able to satisfactorily evidence their right to work.

Staff Compliance Team processing times:

Pre-employment right to work checks

Where the Staff Compliance Team is copied into conditional employment contracts to undertake a right to work check for individuals who already hold a suitable UK visa status, the team is currently able to meet our processing aim of our team contacting the new-hire prospective employee to complete these right to work checks within 5 working days of the date the contract is issued. Whether the check can be fully completed will depend on the new-hire prospective employee providing the necessary information/evidence promptly.

The Staff Compliance Team will send a ‘contract conditions met’ email to the new employee cc’ing departmental contact and line manager once the check is fully completed and individual is cleared to start work.

Providing advice to HR Hub teams and hiring departments

Where the Staff Compliance Team is requested by Recruitment Hub or HR Staff Hub to review the held UK visa documents / eligibility for UK work-route visa, the team is currently able to meet our processing aim of providing an initial response/advice* within 5 working days of the request from the Hub team, cc’ing the key departmental contact in our response.

*The initial response may ask for further information/evidence from the prospective employee and/or hiring department to make a full assessment of eligibility for our preferred employment visa routes.