Effective 24 June 2015, the settlement priority visa service has been expanded by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with Teleperformance in Russia, to include fiancee, partner and spouse visa applications from Russian nationals wishing to settle in the UK permanently. The vast majority of priority applications can normally be processed within fifteen working days – in practice three weeks, excluding weekends and public holidays. The fee for this service is an extra £360 per applicant in addition to any base UKVI application fees payable at the time of application using the UKVI online payment gateway. The new premium service is now available for all applicants using any UK Visa Application Centre in Russia.
The payment of the additional fee means that the settlement application will be placed at the head of the queue once it is received by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Decision Making Centre and for the processing to begin immediately. This service is also open to dependents of principal applicants, but everyone using it will have to pay a separate fee – there are no family discounts available. The payment of the fee should not be taken as a guarantee that the application will succeed – all other requirements must be met before a UK partner, spousal or fiancee visa can be granted. Therefore, anyone who is doubtful as to whether they meet the UKVI criteria for approval should refrain from using the settlement priority service in Russia as the UKVI application fee is non-refundable regardless of the outcome.
Although a UK settlement partner or marriage visa application using the priority service will still be processed at the front of the UKVI queue, if any of the following conditions apply to an applicant, the visa may be delayed or even refused. If an applicant has been previously deported from the UK or refused a visa or leave to enter or remain in the UK, delays or refusal are likely. This is also the case for anyone who has overstayed a period of leave to remain or who has any unspent criminal convictions in any country.
Prime Time appointments
From the beginning of July 2015, it will also be possible to request prime time appointments in Russia. A Prime Time appointment allows customers to submit their UK visa application outside of normal working hours and will result in a considerable speeding up of the visit, as these appointments will avoid the queues. For an extra fee of £50 applicants may submit settlement partner, fiancee and spousal visa applications at the UK Visa Application Centres in Moscow and St Petersburg between 8 and 9 am and 5 and 7.30 pm Monday to Friday and between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon on Saturdays. Again, the purchase of a prime time appointment does not guarantee a successful outcome.