UK Visas & Immigration may notify you by email that your pending visa application is ‘not straightforward’. Does this mean your application is more likely to be refused or just that there is one or more factors preventing a decision from being made sooner?
No matter which application you may have made, UKVI will likely have a standard processing time which you can use as an approximate guide for expecting an outcome. This will vary depending on the type of visa and whether the application was made inside or outside the UK. The waiting time for your application officially begins once you have either attended your biometric appointment at an appropriate visa application centre or when you have verified your identity using the official UK Immigration ID Check app. This is because your application will not be considered valid until either of these requirements has been met. For example, if you are inside the UK and you submitted an online application for Indefinite Leave to Remain on 1st March 2023 but did not attend your biometric appointment until 1st April 2023, the standard 6-month waiting time will end on 1st October, not 1st September.
If you have received a notification from UKVI stating that your application is not straightforward, you can expect it will be for one of the following reasons:
1. Your supporting documents need to be verified.
2. You need to attend an interview.
3. Your personal circumstances require more consideration.
4. Processing Delays
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Supporting Documents Need to Be Verified
It is likely that you have submitted a variety of documents with your applications, often including bank statements and other official documents from 3rd parties. If there is any difficulty with the verification of these documents, UKVI will require additional time to verify their legitimacy.
You Need to Attend an Interview
It is not always necessary for an interview to be conducted, even if your application is deemed more complicated. However, you should expect that UKVI may contact you again requesting your attendance for an interview to check certain aspects of your application. Particularly, aspects which do not have supporting documents or are difficult to verify.
Your Personal Circumstances Require More Consideration
If your circumstances are more complicated than that of most people who have applied for the same visa, UKVI will normally extend the time taken to consider your application. This could be, for example, because there are exceptional or extenuating circumstances which make your eligibility more difficult for the decision maker to assess. In some cases, you may also be asked to provide additional information to help UKVI make a decision.
It is important to note that any application may be subject to further checks, regardless of if it is a standard, priority, or super priority service application. If you have paid extra for a faster decision, you may seek a refund of that payment only if UKVI has not informed you that your application is not straightforward within the expected timeframe.
UKVI has seen considerable backlogs in recent times. The recent Covid-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine have significantly impacted most visa applications, particularly those with longer or no standard processing times. Your application may have fallen into these categories, in which case, there is little that can be done to speed things up.
Does this mean your application is more likely to be refused?
Receiving notification that your application is not straightforward or does not fall within the standard processing time is not an indication that it will be refused. It simply means, for the reasons stated above, it will take longer to decide.
What Can Be Done?
Delayed decisions can be frustrating, inconvenient, and even disruptive. Most people make visa applications around their already busy schedules, sometimes with detailed plans of what they want to do and how long for once a decision is made. Unfortunately, these plans may be impacted by longer processing times.
If you are unhappy with the length of time it has taken to process your application after you have been told your application is not straightforward, we can contact UKVI on your behalf to request an update and explain how the delay is impacting you.
If we do not receive a satisfactory answer after the first attempt, we can lodge a formal complaint to the relevant department, which will then conduct an investigation of your application and the reason for the delay.
If your complaint is not upheld and you live in the UK, we may then consider contacting your local MP for assistance on your behalf. MPs can intervene and request further information directly from UKVI. If your MP is unable to speed up the decision, or you live outside the UK (and therefore are unable to enlist the help of an MP), the final step would normally involve taking legal action against UKVI.
No matter what stage of the application process you are at, contact us for expert immigration advice to professionally and efficiently deal with your case.