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As you are aware, Move Up’s role in UK travel industry serves to provide UK visa solutions for South African passport holders. Move Up therefore specialises in helping South Africans gain entry clearance, which can be seen as permission to pass through the UK’s border.
Move Up therefore specialize in cases submitted in South Africa that request permission to enter the United Kingdom.
Taking the above into consideration, Move Up deals daily with Pretoria’s team of Entry Clearance Officials (ECO’s). Entry Clearance Officials work for the UK’s Department of Visas and Immigration.
ECO’s are the appointed decision makers in UK visa applications. Their role is to assess visa applications and to decide whether to award permission to enter the UK or not.
Yesterday, Ryan Rennison, Director of Move Up, had a rare discussion with one of Pretoria’s ECO’s. For now we will refer to her as Tanya.
This discussion revealed further insight in terms of the UK visa process in South Africa.
Two important aspects were raised:
- The first is that the UK’s Department of Visas and Immigration are experiencing a global increase in visa submissions. This increase of visa submissions is therefore not unique to South Africa but is being experienced globally.
The weakening Pound is a strong contributor to foreigners finding travel to the UK being less costly.
- The second aspect is that the ECO’s budgeted allowance of workforce was based on the previous years performance. This allocation is being exceeded which means that ECO’s are now in a position where their work load has dramatically increased, however their work force has not (yet).
“We have noticed that there has been an increase in appointment availability in the last week. Prior to this, there was a delay in appointment availability of at least 1 week. We assumed that the increase of availability meant that the seasonal increase of work load was now managed?” Asked Ryan.
To which Tanya concluded that the increase of appointment availability does not mean that the work load has decreased on their end. The increase in appointment availability is due to an online system function to cater for the higher demand.
This means that ECO’s are now making provision for higher amount of applications to be received.
Given that Tanya did not specifically address Pretoria’s workload, we assume that the Department of Visas and Immigration are making plans to increase the number of visa officials involved in the decision making.
It would not make sense for them to increase the amount of applications allowed to be received without increasing the amount of decision makers.
The conclusion we are left to draw is that Pretoria’s ECO’s are faced with a high demand of visa applications.
Recent changes to the Settlement visas legislation is also putting strain on their decision making process.
Move Up has experienced delays in processing times to all visa categories.
- Non-expedited visitor visas are experiencing an average 4 week processing time (19 working days), as opposed to 2016’s average of 3 weeks (15 working days).
- Expedited visitor visas are experiencing an average of 8 working days processing time, 2016’s average processing time was 3 working days.
- Non-expedited Ancestry visas are experiencing 4 week processing time (20 working days), the average processing time in 2016 was 3 weeks (12 working days).
- Non-expedited Settlement visas are experiencing the largest delay. A lot of current cases are being put on hold until the new legislation is up. At this stage, 4 month processing time is expected opposed to 2016’s average of 3 months.
- Expedited Settlement visas are experiencing 6 week processing time (double that of 2016’s average).
This insight therefore serves to help create awareness of any future applicants, looking to apply for UK visas in the remainder of 2016, that the process is delayed.
Further to this, we encourage all South African travelers (leisure or immigration cases) not to make any paid for travel arrangements. Paid for flights for example, is not a visa requirement.
Applicants should first prioritize their visas before they consider making any concrete travel plans.
If you would like to find out more about how Move Up can help in your visa application, please contact us.