Here’s my timeline for 2 straightforward child renewals
Applications received- 24/09/21
Documents received- 04/10/21 (posted on 26/09 to Bootle)
Application approved- 23/10/21 and 24/10/21 in the order of when the documents were logged (3 hours apart)
This seems to support the observation that straightforward applications placed in the digital queue tend to get checked and approved on the 20th day from when the documents are matched to the application.
Since I had no updates after the 4th and we are due to travel on the 29th, I’ve been ringing the contact centre pretty much daily over the past week. The trick to get through is to start ringing 2 mins before the lines open at 8 am so you join the queue early. By doing this you’ll roughly wait 15-30 mins to talk to someone unlike 60 mins+ (if at all) at other times.
Having spoken to several people, some more helpful than the others, I’m not sure to what extent this helped. The agent you first speak to would generally repeat the info you already know from online tracking so you should request to speak to the processing department (this entails a further 30-40 min wait). They did put several notes on my applications to flag that we had travel booked so the combined weight of half a dozen notes may well have caught the eye of the examiners. I was advised that they are processing applications at weekends now due to high demand and this is confirmed by the fact that both my applications were approved over the weekend.
I also filled out the online contact form and DMed their Twitter account- they do respond to all messages, if only to say there is nothing they could do.
I’m not counting my chickens yet as the passports haven’t been printed and sent but I’m more hopeful of getting away on the 29th than I’ve been over the past 2 weeks.
For those in a similar position, I’d say if your application is straightforward and has been placed in the digital queue (lack of a ‘processing’ stage under online tracking) in Liverpool, chances are they’ll be approved on the 20th day from the receipt of documents but do give them a ring to nag.