To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long it is taking the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to process (a) straightforward and (b) non-straightforward further leave to remain visa applications at the latest date for which figures are available. 
We normally aim to screen all postal applications within three weeks and decide those that are straightforward at that point. Because of the high number of applications in the latter part of 2002, this increased to 10 weeks on average at the end of last year and the earlier part of this one. As a result of measures to improve this situation, the processing time for straightforward applications has reduced to six weeks on average and continued progress is being made towards our three-week target. Some non-straightforward cases are currently taking up to 12 months to decide. Measures are also being taken to reduce the turnaround time for applications of this sort.