5 Steps to Get a Quicker Decision from the Home Office

One of the most common common questions I am asked by clients is how long the Home Office will take to make a decision on their application.

Unfortunately, apart from applications under the EEA Regulations, there is no set time limit for the Home Office to comply with.

The Home Office does have its own Service Standards (link below) for straightforward applications which varies from 8 weeks to 6 months.

Anything that does not fit squarely within the Immigration Rules and which relies on issues to do with family life, private life or human rights can take infinitely longer and no time frame is provided for such applications.

There are a number of things you can do to get a quicker decision from the Home Office and ensure your application is not delayed longer than necessary.

In each step, always

remember to detail the impact the delay is having on your life, e.g. preventing you from getting a job, accepting a university place, travelling, etc.

1. Write to the Home Office

The first port of call is to write directly to the Home Office to find out why there has been a delay and how long it is likely to take.

Send the letter Recorded Delivery so that you have evidence that the letter was received by them.

This will be important if the matter escalates into legal proceedings.

Do not expect too much from the Home Office in response to your letter, you may not even get a reply.

2. Make a Complaint

You can utilise the Home Office’s internal complaints mechanism.

Details of how to do so can be found via the link below .

The Home Office will aim to respond to your complaint within 20 working days.

Again, it is better not to have high expectations about the outcome as the Home Office clearly states on their complaints page:

Complaints do not affect our decision-making process and making a complaint doesn’t mean that your application will be dealt with more quickly or more slowly.

However consider it a necessary step if you wish to escalate things at a later stage.

3. Approach your Member of Parliament

Contact your MP and ask them to write to the MP Liaison Unit at the Home Office requesting an update about your case.

MPs normally receive a response within 28 days about where your case is at.

4. Complain to the Parliamentary Ombudsman

If you are not satisfied with the results of the Home Office internal complaint, you can ask your MP to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

The MP will have had to have also written himself to the Home Office prior to making such a referral.

The Ombudsman will thereafter investigate your complaint. This service is free.

It may take several months for the complaint to conclude.

If the complaint is upheld, you are likely to get your decision very soon after that and you may also be able to obtain some financial compensation.

A report (link below) published last year by the Ombudsman found that it upheld 7 out of 10 complaints referred to it against the Home Office, primarily over delays in decision-making.

5. Issue Judicial Review Proceedings

Issuing legal proceedings against the Home Office is possibly the most effective method of having a decision taken on your case quickly.

However it is an expensive procedure and you will require an experienced lawyer to deal with the matter.

There is also a risk that if you lose the case, you will have to pay the Home Office’s legal costs.

Of course if you are successful, it is likely that the Home Office will be ordered to pay your legal costs.

The Judge essentially decides whether the delay is an unreasonable one.

It is always helpful to demonstrate that you have done all you can to avoid legal proceedings.

Therefore, it is a good idea to try some of the other methods first and then if a decision still has not been made, you can show the court how unreasonable the Home Office are being by pointing to the various letters and complaints that you have written.

Delays are extremely frustrating and can leave people’s lives in complete limbo like happened with my client Aisha who was left living on the street with her daughter as a result of the Home Office delay on her case. You can read her story here.

If you feel the Home Office are unreasonably delaying making a decision on your case, do not sit back and wait but be proactive in chasing them.

Have you ever suffered as a result of Home Office delays in making a decision on your case? Please share your experiences in the comments box below.

Home Office Service Standards
Home Office internal complaints procedure
Ombudsman report on Home Office failings

Visadreams.com,  Diary of an Immigration Lawyer, is a blog run by Fahad Ansari, the director and principal solicitor of Riverway Law, a niche UK immigration and nationality law practice based in London.  If you would like any advice or assistance in relation to your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to email me at fahad@riverwaylaw.com or submit your details here.


  1. Hi

    I’m not sure whether you will be able to advise on the below but anything will be appreciated.

    My husband applied for indefinite leave to remain via Tier 1 General route in June 2016. It came to light when preparing his accounts a couple of months before, for TAX year 2010-2011 there had been an error made my his accountant. His accountant phoned us to tell us it was one digit out and we highlighted this to the home office within the application. My husband paid this and rectified this with HMRC. HMRC also believed this to be a genuine error made by his accountant so he didn’t incur any penalties. The home office didn’t make a decision until December 2017 . They refused the application under section 322(5) and basically said he’s not a character of good faith.

    We applied for administrative review in which they refused for the same reason. We had 14 days (they wouldn’t specify working or 14days) to seek legal advice and apply via a different route or he would be deported from the country. We were advised to apply via 10 year long residency route and write statements regarding the amendment. His working rights stopped once the administrative review decision had been made.

    I was pregnant throughout this process and our daughter was only 6 weeks old when the decision was made. I was forced to return back to work when our daughter was only 12 weeks old. I believe my right as a British national to maternity leave was taken away from me. I had to return to work or we would loose our home. I wouldn’t have enough income from maternity pay to be able to provide food for our family.

    I experienced difficulties during child birth which resulted in me having to have follow up scans. All of which I had to delay as I had to return to work so soon after. I have also had to receive counselling due to depression and anxiety as a result of the home office delays.

    We have taken this to our MP and to the ombudsman but it is difficult for them to take ownership because the home office have confirmed they have to re-review all applications that we’re refused under this section. To be honest I think even they are fed up of the responses they have received from the home office regarding my husbands appication. We have been informed it is on ‘hold’ until they conduct a review but can’t inform us when this review will take place.

    So we are still in the same position as we were when we first started the application 2 and half years ago. My husband has not seen his family for 3 years and our daughter cannot even meet her grandparents. I just can’t understand why it would take this long to make a decision or why they can’t reinstate his working rights. This has cost us thousands of pounds in legal advice and applications fees and approx £80000 loss of earnings.

    I find the actions of the home office inhuman and unlawful. Surely, they can’t treat people this way!

    Sorry to rant but I honestly don’t know what to do anymore!


    1. Dear Aimee

      I am sorry to hear about the problems you are facing. It really is shocking. What is the current position? Is your husband’s application for settlement based on long residency pending? If so, for how long has it been pending? It might be an idea to discuss this further over the telephone. You can email me your number on fahad@visadreams.com


  2. Hi we have applied for Flr fp on british child stateless base since April 2018…it’s nearly 10 months we haven’t received any decision on from home office. Every time we call them or send them email they reply it’s not completed yet.
    We are mentally so depressed waiting for the results for so long. And now a days people get descion in 24 hours with just extra little money than we paid. It’s so unfair without giving us reason they making us wait. Any help or suggestions is appreciated..


  3. Hi,I have claimed asylum in September 17 and from my story I was told I was a possible victim of modern slavery and had a positive reasonable decision in March 18.I have not heard anything from them since. I left my child when he was a baby back home thinking I would make it.i have taken advantage of by men because of my situation. From the age of 5 I took care of myself and sis.life has not been easy…I have done all sorts of jobs including the unaccepted ones,I have been rejected but I still survive. I miss my child I left.my solicitor request for update from the home office but they will not respond.please is there any advice for me.thanks


  4. I had my biometric taken on the 2nd of September and received an email/letter from the home office confirming that my biometric card showing no time limit will be delivered to myself within 7 working days and to report on their link if i don’t receive it in 10 working days.

    I reported it more than 10 times that I haven’t received my card and each time have been promised that someone from the management team will contact me. I have not heard from the home office at all. I need to travel soon and this is causing distress in my life.


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