Frustration mounts over UK student visa delays

uk visa delays
UK visa delays are causing frustration among students who are forced to forfeit their travel tickets, delay their studies, and more. Source: Andy Buchanan / AFP

The saga of UK visa delays continues and shows no signs of stopping. 

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) office is currently facing a high volume of applications for visas, resulting in month-long delays in processing documents for students, professionals, and more. At the moment, such delays seem to be a global issue, with immigration offices worldwide putting out notices informing students of the news.

“Student visas are taking 3 weeks to process and Priority and Super Priority Student visas are currently unavailable globally,” the UK Embassy in Nigeria wrote on its Instagram. “We anticipate very high demand so you should apply before August if you can.”

Students are being encouraged to apply up to six months before their travel date to avoid disappointment. However, this may not always be possible for those with conditional offers from their first-choice universities, many of whom must wait for their A-Level, IB or other exam results to be able to apply. 

This year’s A-Level results day falls on August 18, 2022. Most universities are set to begin their first terms in mid-September. 


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UK visa delays: Priority and Super Priority visas suspended

Many students are due to begin university in September. Source: Damien Meyer / AFP

Adding to the strain on international students is the indefinite suspension of Priority and Super Priority visas. Typically, these services would be reserved for those who urgently need to travel, providing a decision within one to five working days. 

British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing previously explained that the UK visa delays are a result of “enormous pressure” on the visa processing system as well as a priority to process visas for Ukrainian citizens. 

A number of schemes are currently open to Ukrainian citizens seeking to flee the country amidst the ongoing conflict. These include schemes for family members, sponsorship, and other available visas. 

UKVI first announced this initiative in March, highlighting that visa processing times outside the UK would be delayed by up to three weeks

To expedite the process, applicants are being encouraged to ready other necessary documents. For students, these include: 

  • Proof of financial records to prove you can support yourself; 
  • A valid ATAS certificate if required;
  • Proof of parental or other legal guardian consent for students under 18; 
  • Proof of your relationship to a parent or guardian for students under 18; 
  • Tuberculosis test results;
  • Written consent from your financial sponsor if you’ve received a scholarship for your course. 

“So, please help us to help you, to make sure you get to the UK in September for your studies which is going to be fabulous,” added Laing. “We want you to have a wonderful time studying in the UK.”

Students take to Twitter, Instagram to highlight concerns

Many students have missed their flights because they haven’t received their visas on time. Source: Mario Tama/AFP

Students and other applicants have expressed their frustration about the UK visa delays on a number of social platforms, attempting to reach out to officials for help through the #UKVISADELAY hashtag. 

“#UKVISADELAY yet again cancelling all tickets for tomorrow!” one user tweeted. “This was our second reschedule. So heartbroken and exhausted. I’ve left all my work and just pursued this relentless hopeless visa situation [for] 25 days. No one cares guys! Not @VFSGlobal not @ukhomeoffice.”

Others have highlighted issues with a lack of appointment dates for the collection of biometric data, which is essential to process a UK student visa. 

“There are no appointment dates available for biometrics collection in all the TLS centres across Nigeria,” one Nigerian student commented on UK in Nigeria’s Instagram post. “This is not talking about days but weeks ongoing with no dates available. Let students be aware of the timeline of when dates will be available.”

While the UKVI office has warned of five-week delays, students, professionals and family members have pointed out that applications made in April have yet to be processed. Others have reported waiting 13 weeks for their visas. 

Meanwhile, the UK visa delays have reportedly affected individuals across other sectors as well, including Nigerian singer-songwriter Ruger, who was set to perform at Wireless Festival in July.