Greg - Question 7: "What recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of processing times for visas applied for by people from countries other than Ukraine?"
Kevin Foster - Minister for Safe and Legal Migration: "UK Visas and Immigration is prioritising applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine, so applications for other visas are taking longer to process, particularly when combined with surging demand globally for visitor visas. We understand the impact of delays to customers, so resources are being returned visa routes impacted by these prioritisation decisions, with a focus on visit, work and study routes. We will also prioritise any compelling or compassionate cases."
Greg: "I recognise the extraordinary efforts that the Department has made to process tens of thousands of visas for Ukrainians, and I pay tribute to the staff who have based themselves in Portcullis House to provide updates to Members. My office is dealing with many applications from people from other countries, such as Afghanistan and India, and they are not getting the updates and information that applicants from Ukraine are getting. Will the Minister consider applying some of the positive lessons to make sure that other applicants at least know that they are not being forgotten, and so that they get updates on their cases?"
Minister: "I thank my right hon. Friend for his question, and I know the team in Portcullis House will appreciate his praise. We are looking at the learnings from the hub-style approach in Portcullis House, which I think has been useful. Feedback from across the House has been very positive about its ability to chase up casework for Members. As we modernise our immigration system, we are also looking at how to give people an experience like that on our modernised routes—for example, the skilled worker route and applications from European economic area nationals via AUK2—which provide a range of updates automatically without applicants having to ask for them, and we are considering how we can apply that when hon. Members or customers get in touch. We want to make the process much more automated, so that there is less need for people to request updates."