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UK, Canada, Australia Visa Delays: What Is the Reason? How To Plan Your Travel?

Standard UK visitor visa applications are currently taking 9 to 10 weeks to process.

Updated
India
4 min read
UK, Canada, Australia Visa Delays: What Is the Reason? How To Plan Your Travel?
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(This story was originally published on 27 July 2022 and is being republished from The Quint's archives after the British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, released a statement with guidelines, addressing the delay in the issuance of United Kingdom visas.)

International travel may have resumed after a gap of two years, but travelling abroad is harder at present. The reason? Long delays in the issuance of visas across countries.

Due to a high volume of applications, several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are delaying visas – majorly affecting students and tourists.

What is the reason? And what can you do to plan your trip better? Here's all you need to know.

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Which countries are taking longer than usual to process visas?

Countries such as Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the US are taking longer to process visas currently. The issue was taken up by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which has called on the ambassadors of embassies of these countries, seeking to “streamline” and “fast-track” the process, which will ensure students reach their study destination on time.

Other than these:

  • Visa appointments are currently unavailable for Italy or Iceland

  • The processing time for Greece and Spain could be anywhere between six to eight weeks

The US Embassy stated that all available time slots for in-person appointments are booked completely till April 2023.

What is the reason for these delays?

The major reasons for the delays include understaffed embassies, high demand from outgoing Indian travellers, the backlog of student visas, and stricter visa policies, experts tell The Quint.

“The reason for the delays is that there are too many applications and not enough people to manage them. Post-COVID a big backlog got created and is taking time to be streamlined."
Avinder Kaur Chhabra, Director Academics of Shiksha Overseas and a student immigration expert

British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, says that there is a long trail of "complex cases which are taking much longer."

Commenting on the reasons for the delay, he noted, "Firstly, because of the unprecedented surge in demand for UK visas post COVID. Secondly, because of global events, particularly the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

Ellis added that the UK government was "training more people" and keeping the priority visa service open.

He also advised, "Don’t commit to your air tickets until you’ve got your visa, to be on the safe side."

Meanwhile, Abbhinish Annand, director of Delhi-based Kamal Tours and Travels, told The Quint, "Anybody could anticipate that travel will be reopening post COVID. It is very surprising to see that these countries are not prepared. There is no clear communication on how long this delay will last."

The current influx of refugees in various countries is also a reason for the delay in visas, Ajay Sharma, Founder of Abhinav Immigration Services told the Free Press Journal.

“Canada has a backlog of 2.7 million due to the pandemic and the introduction of the temporary pathway for the war-hit Ukraine refugees and asylum seekers. Australia, also hit by the two-year border closure, is currently dealing with a rapid influx of visa applications"
Ajay Sharma, Founder of Abhinav Immigration Services to the Free Press Journal

As per a statement by UK Visas and Immigration(UKVI) , they are "prioritising applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine."

When will the situation get better?

Annand explained that the situation may not improve till embassies put in place better system, and more staff to handle the volume. The situation may get worse since more people will apply in the coming months, leading to a bigger backlog, he added.

But Shiksha Overseas' Chhabra is optimistic about student visas – which she says will be processed on priority.

“Initially, the staff was also limited due to COVID, but as they are coming back and resuming duties, things are looking better and the embassies are working towards finishing backlogs and expediting visas," Chhabra said.
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What should visa applicants be mindful of?

  • Experts advise applicants to plan their travel 90 days in advance, giving enough window to process visas.

  • If that is not possible, applicants may book tickets once they get the visa – to save high ticket change costs.

Applicants for the UK visa have the option of applying for 'priority service' and 'super-priority service.'

The ‘priority service’ will lead to a decision being made within five days of the interview, and the ‘super priority service’ will lead to a decision within one working day. This can be availed for an additional 500 pounds (Rs 48,000 approximately) and 800 pounds (Rs 77,000 approximately), respectively.

At present, standard UK visitor visa applications are currently taking between 9-10 weeks to process, according to UKVI.

What are the foreign countries doing to solve the issue?

Andrew Giles, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs in the newly formed Australian government, said in a press release that the government is taking steps to expedite visa applications.

He said that it was an urgent priority, with more than 140 fresh staff added to visa processing since May 2022.

A British High Commission spokesperson added, “We are working urgently to reduce the current processing time as quickly as possible."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on 25 June that a new task force is being established to address delays in immigration applications and passports, reported The Indian Express.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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