HC Deb 20 January 2000 vol 342 cc577-8W
Mr. Cox

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the average waiting time for interview at British High Commission offices in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka for a person seeking(a) permanent settlement in the United Kingdom, (b) to attend further and higher education courses and (c) visits to members of their family living in the UK in the last 12 months. [105510]

Mr. Vaz

Waiting times for settlement and non-settlement interviews fluctuate over the year in response to seasonal pressures. The following figures were the waiting times for settlement interviews at the end of December 1999 in the countries concerned:

Post Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Bombay 0 5 5 5
New Delhi 0 7 20 25
Islamabad 9 39 44 50

See explanation of Q1-Q4 system below

The visa sections at Calcutta, Colombo, Karachi and Madras have a standard single queue for all settlement applications. Their current waiting times are:

  • Calcutta: currently no queue
  • Colombo: 8 weeks
  • Karachi: 14 weeks
  • Madras: 5 weeks
Queue 1–4 system:
  • Queue 1—Right of Abode cases and Dependant Relatives over 65;
  • Queue 2—Spouses and Children under 18;
  • Queue 3—Fiance(e)s and other First Time Applicants; and
  • Queue 4—Re-applicants.

The statistics held centrally on applicants visiting the United Kingdom, either as family visitors or as students, are not held in such a way as to provide figures for parts (b) and (c) of my hon. Friend's question. A comprehensive reply could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Most visit visa applications are straightforward and are normally processed within 24 hours. Many student applications are also processed without delay. However, where a more detailed examination of the application is required, the applicant (student or visitor) will be asked to return at a later date for interview. The waiting times for such interviews (known as Tier 3 interviews) in the countries in question at the end of December 1999 were as follows:


  • Bombay: No queue
  • Calcutta: No queue
  • Madras: 2 days
  • New Delhi: No queue


  • Islamabad: 5 days
  • Karachi: 22 days

Sri Lanka Colombo: 22 days.

I shall be visiting the Sub-Continent shortly to view these arrangements. I have asked the Entry Clearance Manager in Islamabad to see me within the next two weeks.

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