My Experience in Applying for a Work Visa at the UK Home Office

This is more a rant out of frustration than anything else, and I hope this will help others get a sense of what a nightmare it can be to deal with the UK Home Office when something goes wrong.

Over 2 months ago on the 9th of May, 2017 I submitted an application for a Tier 2 Work visa with my employer’s backing to the UK Home Office. With the fee that we paid for this application (GBP 1,354.00), a processing time of 8 weeks or less was guaranteed to us on the Home Office website. However, it has been nearly 10 weeks now and we have not received a decision or a status update on my visa application. I called them up around 2 weeks ago when the 8-week period had passed (5th of July, 2017) and after a near 30 minute wait, the lady who answered my call casually told me that there were delays, that I would hear from them in “a couple of weeks”, and not to panic. I explained to her how the fact that the Home Office is in possession of my passport and current residence permit is causing me a lot of inconvenience and she recommended that I request my documents back from them through their website. I tried this, but I was not allowed to do so without withdrawing my application altogether as my employer is not a “Premium Sponsor” – they’re only a young start-up so I was kind of expecting this to be the case.

A few days after this, I came to know through the Citizen’s Advice website that I might be able to get more information about the progress of my application or possibly have it expedited by contacting my local MP (Ms. Marsha de Cordova who is the Labour MP for Battersea) and I did that as well. I’m now waiting for her office to respond. In the meantime, I checked the status of my application on the Home Office website on Saturday (15th July, 2017) and was surprised to see that a decision on my application had been made on the 4th of June, 2017 and so I should have received my documents back by the 14th of June. Neither of those have happened and we’re still in the dark as to the status of my application and the whereabouts of my passport and current residence permit.

I, once again, called the Home office earlier today (17th of July, 2017) to inquire about my application in light of the aforementioned new information that a decision had been made about it. After nearly an hour long wait, I got through to a representative. All the service he said that he could offer me at that point was to forward the details of my application to one of his colleagues who I would hear back from in 3-5 working days. I was also struck by his lack of any empathy whatsoever when I expressed my concern and anxiety on being kept in the dark about the state of my application and important documents way beyond the service standard that was communicated to me. This is besides the point anyway – I can’t expect some random representative of the Home Office to act as my crying shoulder. I hung up feeling a bit worthless, but whatever.

I’m very unhappy about this entire experience. And it seems to defeat the purpose of making a formal complaint about the Home Office processes to a department in the Home Office itself but I’ll do it anyway. My passport being in possession of the Home Office beyond the deadline for processing my application is inconvenient, to say the least. I have had to refrain from any travel outside the UK, and hold off making financial transactions between the UK and India through my bank as my passport is required for these purposes. I could prepare myself to put up with it for the two months that I was told it would take to process my application, however, now I have absolutely no idea when my documents would be returned to me, where they are, and when a decision on my visa application will be made. I found the response from the Home Office representatives very unsatisfactory, and I feel that I am being taken for granted by being kept in the dark with no sense of urgency in returning my documents.

I’ll wait for the 3-5 days as I’ve been told. If anyone who reads this has any other advice for me that might help me, please do post your advice in the comments below. I would appreciate it.

Edit (25th of July, 2017): Got my passport back with the approval and the new residence permit as well. As it turns out, these were mailed to an address that I moved out of in mid-May after making the application when I was still living there. To their credit, the Home Office did indeed do the job well within time (and I really appreciate the caseworker’s effort when in comes to that). I do still maintain that their helpdesk is by far the worst that I have ever come across with unsympathetic representatives, incredibly long waiting time, and their inability to give me simple answers regarding my application. Also, having had access to both my email address and telephone number, it would’ve helped if they had communicated the fact that my application had been processed through at least one of these channels instead of relying solely on Royal Mail.

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