A friend of mine recently applied for a UK "Tier 2 (General) visa", paying €220 for a "priority service" in order to have the application processed within five working days (this in addition to the £1,174 for a standard application). She submitted her passport along with biometric data (fingerprints, photos etc) in Paris, to be forwarded to the UK Visa Decision Making Centre in Sheffield. (She has signed a contract with the employer, and has been issued a certificate of sponsorship.)
As promised, the passport arrived back in Paris five working days later -- except it was blank; that is, there was no visa sticker or stamp inside. But nor was there any refusal letter sent. Just the passport. I thought that either the visa is granted and printed in the passport, or is denied and a letter giving the reason for denial is sent along with the passport. But neither of those happened in this case.
She called the UKVI Contact centre, who were less than helpful (putting it mildly on this family-friendly forum), and succeeded only in keeping her on the phone for as long as they could (they charge £1.37 a minute). She wrote an email to them (they charge £5.48 per email enquiry), and received a poorly written reply saying that her case has been "escalated to the relevant department", who will contact her within 20 working days.
The problem is that, in 20 working days, her French visa would have expired, making everything, including the visa application, far more complicated -- she would in particular have to return to Vietnam, her country of citizenship. So my question is, what can be done to expedite UKVI resolving this limbo status?