Over 100,000 UK spouse and unmarried partner visa applications are filed each year from around the world. The leading source countries for UK spouse visa applications are the United States of America, Canada, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. Almost 2,400 US citizens and 400 Canadian citizens receive a UK spouse visa each year.
However, the rise in the number of applications together with the UK government’s commitment to reduce immigration has resulted in a higher number of applications being refused. Many of these refusals are based on issues ranging from minor mistakes to more serious issues such as failure to provide documents in the specified format or failing to disclose information/misrepresenting certain facts. We will highlight below some common mistakes that applicants make when preparing and submitting their own spouse visa applications without the benefit of legal guidance.
Securing a UK Spouse Visa is Easy
The Home Office website can often make it appear easy to obtain a UK spouse visa. However, the information contained on the application page is a small fraction of the information required to complete an application correctly.
To secure a UK spouse visa you must be familiar with the UK Immigration Rules where the requirements are listed in detail for initial applications, extensions, indefinite leave to remain and switching. In addition to the Immigration Rules, the Home Office have various guidance notes and manual explaining in depth each item of evidence required in support of your application. Some of the guidance notes which accompany the UK spouse visa rules (Appendix FM) run into hundreds of pages and cover a multitude of scenarios.
Often, we hear applicants say that the process seems straightforward enough and that they will file an application themselves, only to contact us months later confirming that their application was refused for reasons which could have been avoided if they had hired experienced legal counsel. The consequences of a refusal include forfeiting expensive UK Spouse Visa processing fees and then having to go through an even more expensive appeal process which could take up to 12 months to resolve with the stress and uncertainty that will bring.
Leading Judge Brands UK Spouse Visa Rules a Disgrace
Lord Justice Irwin branded the Immigration Rules as “something of a disgrace” and “completely impenetrable” to a layperson in a speech to the Professional Negligence Bar Association on 17 April 2018. The Immigration Rules are widely criticized for being long, complex and difficult to understand. Lord Justice Irwin pointed to Appendix FM which covers UK spouse visas as a specific example of the complexity of UK immigration law.
Lord Justice Irwin is far from alone in his criticism. Senior judges have been expressing profound dissatisfaction with the state of the UK Immigration Rules for many years. Earlier this year Lord Justice Underhill stated in a judgment that “the web of Rules and Guidance has become so tangled that even the spider has difficulty controlling it”, (the spider in this analogy being the Home Office). Whilst earlier this month the Law Society warned of the “grave problems in our immigration and asylum system” and ultimately called for an “immigration and asylum process that is fit for purpose”.
“the frequent changes of the law in the immigration field… are almost impossible for lawyers to keep up with, let alone ordinary people.”
From the foregoing, one can see the difficulty in not having a completing understanding of Appendix FM of the immigration rules and underestimating the UK spouse visa process based on a cursory examination of the Home Office website.
Not Providing Specified Evidence
Following on from the above, the most common mistake that Applicants make is not providing the required documents in the format required by UK visas. The immigration rules and policy guidance regarding the combination of documents a Sponsor must provide according to his/her employment status. These detailed requirements vary according to whether the Sponsor is employed, self-employed, owns a business, claims dividends, draws a pension or holds significant cash savings. Failure to provide documents in the format required will lead to a refusal. Additionally, documents must be dated to within the month immediately preceding the date of application submission.
Relying on Home Office Discretion
Many applicants file an application believing that the Home Office will be understanding if they cannot provide a specific document or if they don’t meet the rules. For example, some sponsors think that if they earn close to the basic salary required of £18,600, the Home Office will be understanding and issue their visa. This is not the case. Even the very slightest error or shortfall in earnings will not be met with flexibility.
Often applicants who have had previous immigration refusals or legal problems, believe that they do not need to disclose those them if they occurred several years ago as they feel that they are spent or have lapsed through passage of time. This is incorrect. The Home Office scrutinize applications in detail and can make various background checks in an Applicant’s home country or in countries where an Applicant has resided. Failing to disclose material facts will not only result in a refusal but may also lead to a ban from entering the United Kingdom indefinitely.
Our UK Spouse Visa Services
The legal and evidential requirements for entering the UK as a spouse or partner are becoming much tougher. With spouse appeal waiting times increasing to over a year, it is imperative that your application is well-prepared at the outset to ensure a successful outcome. Sterling Immigration are committed to ensuring that you start an exciting new chapter in your family life quickly with minimal disruption and expense.
Sterling Immigration will guide you expertly through the copious requirements of the Immigration Rules and Policy Guidance with respect to the financial criteria.