South Africans applying for visas to live and work in the United Kingdom (UK) are experiencing serious delays in their visa application processing times.
According to Ryan Rennison, managing director of travel consultants Move Up, changes in the UK Visas and Immigration’s (UKVI’s) administration mean that South African visas are no longer processed locally.
Instead, they are sent to the head office in Sheffield to be processed alongside applications from all around the globe, he said.
“There are global inconsistencies that applicants cannot be held liable for. However, this dynamic seems to be causing inconsistencies in their decision-making processes,” said Rennison.
According to Rennison, some English testing institutions in South Africa don’t supply UKVI reference numbers as other institutions abroad do. Many South African visa applications have been declined on these grounds alone, he said.
“From what I can tell, the Sheffield team has adopted a strict interpretation of settlement visa rules, whereas the Pretoria team was far more lenient.
“However, from the consistently delayed visa processing times, it seems that Sheffield’s newly implemented team of decision-makers are taking the strain,” said Rennison.
Rennison has warned South Africans applying for UK settlement visas to plan for delayed notifications regarding their settlement visa application status.
At present, Move Up’s clients have been advised to physically go into the visa centre to check on their application status or collect their visas – without having received any notification to do so – while also giving UKVI extra days’ leeway, he said.
“We have no doubt that the UKVI are aware of this delay and that their technicians are actively looking to resolve this. For now, the status remains disrupted.
“Visa applicants should be aware that there is no contact number to phone and track application status, as the UKVI system is designed to be automatically updated online.”