In the grand scheme of life, the time it takes for a visa to process is relatively short. But, when you are waiting to make your dream move overseas (or you already have your flight booked!), it can feel like a lifetime.
Luckily for those wanting to relocate to the UK, priority processing is available. So, instead of potentially waiting 3 weeks, you can get your visa back in 3 to 5 days. This comes at a hefty price, and not just in the dollars and cents you see online.
Herein lies the story of what it truly cost me to try and rush my visa processing.
Initial Flight: $735.96
I booked a round-trip flight from September 5 to December 6 under the impression that I would simply be using a tourist visa. Two weeks later I found an internship, and the whirlwind of visa applications started as I tried to cram everything required into the span of about 4 weeks.
If everything went to plan, I would be set and able to leave the 5th. I spent hours each morning pouring over visa information and waiting for my certificate of sponsorship to come through. Constantly, I calculated what would have to happen for this to work out and so that I would not have to switch my flight.
In reality, everything does not go to plan when it comes to government processing and visas especially. There are many hoops, and I just did not have enough days to jump through them all.
Changed Flight: $1,208.10
If there is ever a time to curse airlines, it is when you have to change a flight. Since my initial timeline was a long shot to begin with, I did have to switch my flight to leave September 19 instead of September 5. It was a whopping $800 difference in fare plus a $300 change fee. I wrote about the hellish experience here.
Priority Processing: $204.00
Even with my new departure date, I still needed to rush my processing in order to have my visa and passport back in time to leave. The fee for priority processing ranged from this $180 + tax to around $1,000 for one-day processing. As I weighed my options, I knew that the extra $800 would be better spent somewhere else (ahem, see flight change cost above).
One-Day UPS Airbill: $53.00
The best decision I made throughout this process was to pre-order my overnight shipping labels from UPS using VSF Global. They automatically fill in the drop-off location (to avoid mislabeling the UK Visas and Immigration address) and come with tracking numbers so you can watch them along the way.
Plus, when you then go to UPS, they give you the shipping envelopes for free that come with the airbills.
*Additional (Possible) Cost: $150.00
I could’ve also paid to have my certificate of sponsorship rush processed for an extra $150. Since this only shortened the processing from 3 to 10 days down to 3 to 7, I decided not to waste the money on the small difference. My CoS was issued to me within 7 days without paying extra.
Total Rushed Cost: $2,201.06
(without Additional Possible Cost)
In my case, it was 100% my fault that I had to change a flight… Since I did not expect to secure an internship, I wanted to visit as soon as possible. When the internship was offered to me, I simply had too short a timeline for it to be realistic.
They (as in the visa gods) suggest that you don’t book travel until you have your visa back. Listen to them, they are right. Because besides money, my rushed processing also cost me the ability to sleep at night and loads of stressed out days.
For a full view of what it cost me to move overseas, read my post, The total cost (in dollars) of my dream move to England.
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