News & Insights

The Immigration Priority Services Explained

There are priority services available both for sponsor licence applications and visa applications, and a post-licence service for administration of a sponsor licence. However, there is currently a high demand for these services, which may cause delays to your applications.

The Pre-Licence Priority Service:

Employers considering hiring migrant workers will usually need a sponsor licence. More information about sponsor licences can be found here. The standard processing time for a sponsor licence application is up to eight weeks, but this can take longer in more complex cases.

The Home Office’s sponsor licence priority service offers employers the option to pay for faster consideration of their licence application, by submitting a priority application via email. However, there is no guarantee that priority requests will be approved.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for this service:

  • You must have submitted an application for a sponsor licence by completing the UKVI ‘Online Sponsor Application Registration’.
  • The request must not be in progress/allocated to a caseworker.
  • You must submit a complete application to the pre-licence priority service.

Three of the Global Business Mobility routes (UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier and Secondment Worker) and Scale-up Worker applications are not currently eligible for this service.

How to apply?

Once your sponsor licence application is received, you will be sent an email offering the opportunity to apply for the priority service.

To apply, you must email the pre-licence priority service, attaching your completed request form, together with the signed submission sheet and the supporting documents that were submitted with your licence application.

If your application is successful, you will receive confirmation and a second email containing a Worldpay link. Payment must be made within 72 hours.

What is the fee?

The cost of the pre-licence priority service is £500. This is in addition to your application fee for a sponsor licence (which varies depending on the size or status of your organisation, ranging from £536 for small or charitable sponsors to £1476 for medium and large sponsors). The licence application fee and the pre-licence priority service fee will not be refunded if your licence application is unsuccessful.

What are the processing times?

Eligible priority requests that have successfully made payment will be considered within 10 working days. The 10 working days begins from the date that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) receives your submission sheet and all required documentation.


There is limited availability for the priority service – it is only open for applications from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and a maximum of 30 requests will be accepted each day. For this reason, it is vital that you submit your request promptly – we strongly suggest applicants submit their request at 9am, as slots are often filled within the first 5 minutes.

Priority Change of Circumstances Services:

The Home Office offers a priority change of circumstances service, allowing sponsors to fast-track administrative changes on their sponsor licence. The priority service can be used for a variety of changes, including:

  • requesting an additional or annual certificate of sponsorship allocation;
  • adding or changing a level 1 user;
  • replacing or amending the details of the authorising officer or key contact; and
  • amending organisation details.

How to apply?

You must first submit your requested change via the Sponsor Management System. Once you have done this, you should email the post-licence priority service, attaching a completed priority request form.

If your request is successful, you will receive a confirmation email from the post-licence priority service team, and a second email with a link to make payment. As with the pre-licence service, you have 72 hours to make payment.

If you do not receive this email, you should assume that your priority requested has not been accepted – you will need to apply again the next morning.

What is the fee?

The cost of the post-licence priority service is £200 per request.

What are the processing times?

Under standard processing times, changes can take as long as 18 weeks to process. The priority service speeds this up to as little as 5 working days.


As with the pre-licence service, the post-licence service is only available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. A maximum of 60 requests will be accepted each day. The service is currently experiencing very high demand, and the Home Office have reported the 60-slot allocation being filled as early as 9:03am. For this reason, we would recommend submitting your priority request at 9am, as with the pre-licence service.

Priority Visa/Settlement Application Services:

UK Visas & Immigration offer a ‘priority service’ and a ‘super priority service’ for individuals looking to receive a decision on their visa or settlement application sooner. Unlike the pre-licence priority service, there are no limits on the amount of accepted priority applications.

Who is eligible?

You can only pay for a faster decision on certain applications. The list of applicable visas can be found here.

How to apply?

To get a decision within 5 working days:

  • If you are eligible, choose the ‘priority service’ when you apply.
  • You must pay £500 in addition to the application fee.

To get a decision by the end of the next working day:

  • If you are eligible, choose the ‘super priority service’ when you apply.
  • You must pay £800 in addition to the application fee.

If you are applying with family members, you will need to pay the priority service fees for each family member applying with you.

Applications from overseas

Please note that, where you are applying for a visa from overseas, the priority service fee may be charged in your local currency. Because of exchange rates and associated currency conversion fees, the real cost of priority services may differ from the listed £500 and £800 fees.

Due to their limited availability, many sponsors struggle to obtain these pre-licence and post-licence priority services, which can unnecessarily slow the process of applying for, or managing, a sponsor licence. We have an excellent record of obtaining priority services on behalf of our clients, enabling them to acquire sponsor licences and begin hiring migrant workers more quickly and be more flexible in the administration of their licences. We can also advise you on all aspects of immigration and assist you in making both sponsor licence and visa applications.

If you would like our assistance with an immigration matter, please get in touch at [email protected]