Applicants in Australia and New Zealand now have access to a new optional priority visa service. Those applying for a UK fiancee, spouse or partner visa can have their settlement application fast tracked by the regional British High Commission in Manila for an additional fee. The priority service does not guarantee approval; it merely puts the applicant to the front of the queue for processing. The fee for being allowed priority processing is AUS$390 per applicant. This fee is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the marriage visa application and must be paid online before submitting the application to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) hub. It is not possible to pay the fee after the UK marriage visa application has been made.
It is very important that Australian and New Zealand residents applying for a UK settlement visa as a fiancee, unmarried partner or spouse of a British citizen or UK permanent resident understand that the priority visa service does not give them any other advantage over any other applicant. Paying additional fees does not give any other leeway in the application except time. All applicants are required to include the correct paperwork when submitting an application to the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
Assuming that there are no underlying problems relating to the settlement visa application, the payment of the fee will generally mean that the application can be completed within ten working days of the arrival of the paperwork in the UKBA Manila office. This ten day period does not include any time in transit or non-working days such as weekends and public holidays. Inclusion of the receipt with the other paperwork is essential and it is also recommended to write ‘Priority’ on the front of the application bundle. Sending the receipt later will not give the applicant priority status.
The premium settlement application may take longer if the applicant has previously been refused a UK visa or denied entry into the UK. If the applicant has previously been deported, removed, or otherwise required to leave the UK or have overstayed a period of leave in the UK, they may encounter delays despite paying the priority service fee. Delays may also occur if the applicant has previously been refused a visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States of America or the Schengen countries or has been convicted of a criminal offence in any country. As always, the UK marriage, partner or fiancee visa application may be delayed or refused if all relevant supporting documentation is not submitted as part of the initial package.