UK Visa Applications

Do you want to come to the UK? Whatever the reason, start your visa application with UK Immigration Solicitor today!

We also operate a No Visa, No Fee service on some categories, call us now 020 7237 3388 to see if you’re eligible.

A UK Visa is needed if you want to come here for any length of time.

If you are not sure about how you should get your UK Visa, then why risk getting it wrong? Our experienced network of immigration experts can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful self- visa application.

Each UK visa application case is different. Our Immigration Experts will need to review all of your cases merits and agree the most suitable way forward. You can trust the representation of our UK Immigration Experts.

Recent changes to UK Immigration Law will see limitations on those who are granted a UK Visa.

Simply fill out the form below and our lawyers will arrange a free visa consultation at a time that suits you.

Hard facts – visa refusals have risen by some 18%. That’s one application in six! It is vital an application meets all the requirements needed by the Home Office or it will be refused. Do you know what they are?

If you are not sure about how you should complete your UK Visa Application, then why risk getting it wrong? Our experienced network of immigration experts can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful self-application.

Our network of lawyers offers expert help with your UK Visa Application. We help thousands of applicants like you, every year.

Our service is unique and totally tailored to you. Our lawyers will be your personal lawyers. From your first telephone call you will be given a clear and honest assessment of your case.

Call now on 020 7237 3388 , we are waiting to help you.

How we can help you:

  • A detailed review of your circumstances to establish if you qualify.
  • Answers to any questions you may have regarding your application.
  • Ensuring the information needed to support your application is correct.
  • Completion of your application form.
  • Submission of your application on your behalf.
  • Access to our online case management system.




Making visa applications – overseas

Applications for any of the visa categories must be made as entry clearance applications overseas if the applicant is not yet in the UK. Visa applications are mostly available online at the Home Office website. This is not a mandatory form, and has no time limit on its use. The fee is mandatory (HC 395, Paragraph 30), and must be paid in the local currency: an application is not valid without it, even though, in limited circumstances, Entry Clearance Officers have the discretion to waive the fee. Applications for entry clearance for settlement must be made to the designated post in the country in which the applicant ‘is living’ (HC 395, Paragraph 28).

If there is no British post in the applicant’s country, then the application should be made to the nearest British post (for example, Algerians apply in Tunisia). Many of the larger British consular posts have their own websites. Not all consular posts are able to deal with entry clearance applications, and some that do cover only certain categories of passenger. An ever-increasing number now ‘outsource’ their visa applications to courier companies, so that applicants only attend the consular post if they are called for interview. Since 2007 these companies have been paid directly by the UK government.

An application is not valid without payment of the appropriate fee. Under the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 Section 42 (heavily amended by Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006), the Secretary of State can set fees at what he/she considers to be a commercial rate.  Visa fees are increased regularly. 

Visitors seeking entry for the purpose of marriage or Civil Partnership

Changes to visitor Immigration Rules were made in March 2005, to allow a person to apply for visitor entry clearance for the purpose of having a wedding or civil partnership ceremony. The applicant has to show that:

  • s/he has evidence of a prospective marriage
  • s/he will leave the UK at the end of the six months.

Leave to Enter is granted for six months only, and there is no provision for extension of stay. Marriage visitors can have no recourse to public funds during the period of stay here. This is different from a fiancé(e) application, which is a settlement route.

Invalid visa applications for the UK

Unless all these steps (except the last) are completed, the application will be invalid. It will be checked at the Initial Consideration Unit, rejected and returned.

  • The Home Office has 28 days from the date it receives an application to decide whether to reject it.
  • If the form is rejected, the representative or applicant will have 28 days in which to complete and return the application (Paragraphs 34 to 34D of HC 395. See also IDIs Specified Application Forms and Procedures).

Provided the form is returned in time, the applicant will not become an overstayer, even if the time limit has expired between the date the application was first sent and when it was resubmitted. If an application is made after the time a person’s leave has expired, it is out of time, and the applicant will have become an overstayer from the day after expiry.

Overstaying is a criminal offence (IA 1971, Section 24(1)(b)), and makes the person liable to arrest without the need for a warrant, to detention under the Immigration Acts (IA 1971 Sch 2, Para 16(2)), and to summary removal (IAA 1999 s 10). If an application is made in time, the person’s right to stay is automatically extended for as long as it takes to be decided (IA 1971, Section 3C). All the conditions that were attached to the leave – a restriction or prohibition on employment, no recourse to public funds, or registration with the police – continue to apply, and only the time limit is varied.

Accommodation, Recourse to Public funds, and Maintenace

The changes to the Immigration Rules on 9 July 2012 did not affect the pre-existing accommodation requirements.
To be suitable for settlement applications, housing must be:

  • ‘adequate’
  • ‘without recourse to public funds’ – this means any additional requirement for publicly funded housing or larger accommodation due to an increase in the size of the family unit caused by the arrival of the applicant
  • ‘owned or occupied exclusively’ by the family although this can mean just one bedroom if it is for a couple’s sole use.

Adequate accommodation

The tests for whether the accommodation is ‘adequate’ are taken from the Housing Act 1996. Two tests apply, concerning:

Fitness for habitation

For example, is the dwelling weatherproof? Does it meet basic safety standards? Does it have all the required amenities connected?

Overcrowding

The room standard and the space standard determine overcrowding.
There are certain minimum requirements for the size of the rooms, and rules about who can be expected to share a bedroom: basically, these mean that up to the age of 1 year a baby can sleep in the parents’ room, but beyond 1 year requires a separate room to sleep in; children of both sexes can share a room up to the age of 10, but beyond that brothers can share a room, or sisters. But, boys and girls are required to have rooms separate from one another.
See the Housing Acts 1985 and 1996 for more details, but bear in mind that ‘adequacy’ under the Immigration Rules is not the same as statutory overcrowding. Having open-plan space may not mean that it is suitable for family accommodation, and where accommodation puts children at risk of abuse, it is not suitable per se, even if spacious.

The evidence needed to satisfy the rule will depend on the type of accommodation available. An Entry Clearance Officer will generally want to see proof of the right to occupy, in the form of copies of mortgage documents or a current tenancy agreement, and a clear statement from the occupier/sponsor indicating who lives at the address. This applies even if the accommodation is being provided by a third party. (AB v ECO [2008] UKAIT 00018). The ECO may also be looking for evidence that the mortgage or rent is up-to-date so that there is security of occupation. Again, it would be unusual to refuse for the lack of this evidence if the ECO is generally satisfied, but it is used where there is concern about other issues.

‘Owned and occupied exclusively’ by the family. A third party can provide accommodation (unlike maintenance) but there must be clear evidence of its availability and that it is secure in the sense of being owned by the third party or rented with the rent paid up-to-date.  The adequacy requirement remains the same. ‘Exclusive occupation’ only means that applicants must have at least a bedroom of their own. The longstanding test will be met if a couple have their own room in a shared house, so if the sponsor is a newly-wed person , and lives with his/her parents, that will usually be enough, as a married couple will only require one bedroom.

Recourse to Public Funds

Until the changes to the Immigration Rules on 9 July 2012 “no recourse to public funds” was an essential part of considering adequacy of maintenance.  It still remains valid for the small number of residual entry clearance/leave to remain cases in Appendix FM which use the test of adequacy of maintenance and accommodation , and for extensions of leave for a family member where the initial leave was granted before 9 July 2012. The official definition is in para 6 of the Immigration Rules on Interpretation, but a clearer explanation is on the Home Office website under that title. There is also a Home Office leaflet called “No recourse to Public Funds What does it Mean?” Benefits based on a sponsor’s National Insurance contributions such as incapacity benefit or retirement pension are not counted as public funds.

The real meaning of ‘no recourse’ is that there should be no additional recourse caused by the arrival of the person settling with the sponsor. Where the latter is entitled to public funds in his/her own right, and the arrival of a relative will not increase that, there is no problem. For example, if someone is entitled to child benefit for children already in the UK, the arrival of an adult partner will not affect that.

Maintenance

Before 9 July 2012 the maintenance Rules required an applicant to show that the family would be able to

  • maintain ‘themselves’
  • ‘adequately’
  • without recourse to public funds.

Although this is not relevant to a number of categories in Appendix FM, this test will still be used where a partner or child is going to be maintained by a sponsor in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and similar benefits; where a parent is exercising access rights to a British child living with the other parent; and where an adult dependent relative is being admitted or granted ILR subject to conditions.

Family members covered by Part 8 of the Immigration Rules i.e. non PBS who are seeking to extend leave granted before 9 July 2012 are also subject to the “adequacy” test instead of Appendix FM.  Adequacy is still defined as the relevant Income Support level and housing costs including any increase in Council Tax caused by the arrival of the applicant. The yardstick for adequate maintenance is of course whether it meets at least the Income Support level for a family of equivalent size plus the family’s actual housing costs, as on IS most accommodation costs are paid by Housing Benefit and it acts as a gateway to other benefits, such as free school meals and prescriptions. This was established in AM (Ethiopia) v ECO [2008] EWCA Civ 1082. That case also confirmed that the claim that a family could live more frugally than on IS cannot be taken into account as is considered to be the minimum standard for a family in the UK with no other means of support. The definition is now in para 6 of the Immigration Rules

Appendix FM and financial test

Subject to the exceptions referred to earlier in this chapter, from 9 July 2012 this complex and detailed Appendix applies to family members who were previously covered simply by the Rules in Part 8.
Ensure that you look at Chapter 8 of the IDIs on FM in general, and Annex FM 1.7 and 1.7a in Chapter 8 on financial requirements. Briefly, there are demanding financial requirements for partners of British citizens; settled persons; and refugees and those with humanitarian protection where the relationship was formed after the refugee fled their country.

There can be no reliance on the applicant’s employment prospects in the UK or a job-offer, or third party financial support (unlike accommodation).  The applicant and sponsor must have a gross income of £18,600 pa (which can include the applicant’s lawful employment in the UK if already here) and if the applicant is bringing to the UK a non-British child £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each successive child. Thus the sponsor and applicant with two non-British children must show an income of  £24,800 pa in this case.  There is a more complicated formula where savings are relied on, not just income.  The minimum amount is £16,000 plus an amount no smaller than 2.5 times the difference between the required income and the actual gross annual income of the couple. As noted earlier Appendix FM did not change the pre-existing accommodation requirements but they are referred to therein.

What is the position regarding listed benefits – such as housing benefit and council tax benefit (HC 295, Paragraph 6)?

The social security Regulations governing a number of the listed benefits contain provisions prohibiting access to a person subject to immigration control, whether the claim is made directly by the person concerned or by a relative to include the applicant as a dependent. This can cause difficulties, because of the way that housing benefit and council tax benefit are paid. Claims are made through a Local Authority, not the Benefits Agency, and may be automatically adjusted if additional members join the household, without having to make a formal claim. So, for instance, a single adult householder will be entitled to a reduction in the level of council tax, but this exemption will end as soon as another adult joins.

Spouses, Civil Partners and Exclusions

The requirements for entry or stay under the Rules are set out in Appendix FM and cover spouses, civil partners, fiancé(e)s and proposed civil partners, and a person who has been living with the applicant in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years prior to the date of application.

  • the sponsor is present and settled in UK, or is being admitted for settlement with the applicant, or as a British citizen who is coming to the UK with the applicant
  • the couple have met in person (so not simply on the internet)
  • they intend to live together permanently, and the relationship is genuine and subsisting
  • any previous relationship of the applicant or partner must have broken down permanently
  • there will be adequate accommodation without recourse to public funds in accommodation they own or occupy exclusively
  • they are able to maintain themselves without recourse to public funds subject to the financial requirements Appendix FM
  • if seeking entry for this purpose, the applicant holds valid entry clearance for this category
  • the applicant meets the English language requirements (A1 of the CEFR) unless exempt.

In contrast to Part 8 of the Immigration Rules which applied to family members before 9 July 2012, Appendix FM imposes “suitability requirements” in relation to good character, and these must be studied in detail in relation to each category of applicant.  These requirements act as a “gateway” through which all applicants must pass , even if, for example, the financial criteria are met.

For a marriage to ‘subsist’ is a question of substance as well as form, and this means assessing the intentions of the parties, and the history of the relationship in ‘the cultural context and the wide differences that exist between individual lifestyles, whether by choice, or by circumstances, or by economic necessity’ ( GA (“subsisting” marriage) Ghana * [2006] UKAIT ). The Tribunal has ruled that the requirement to show that a marriage is subsisting means more than that the couple have not divorced.

From 29 November 2010 a non-EEA citizen who wishes to enter or remain in the UK as the spouse, civil partner, fiancé, proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same sex partner of a British citizen or of a person settled here needs to show that they can speak and understand English. For those non-EEA citizens who do not come from a list of 16 English-speaking countries or who do not have a degree taught in English, it will be necessary to obtain a pass at A1 CEFR in Speaking and Listening in an acceptable test provided by an approved provider. There is a list of these on the Home Office website. The only exceptions are people aged 65 or over at the time of application, those with a physical or mental condition preventing them from meeting the requirement, or if there are exceptional compassionate circumstances.

If the ECO or Home Office is satisfied that the application meets the requirements of the Rule, a probationary period of 33 months Leave to Enter or Remain will be given. A further application should be made when in the UK and a further 30 months leave will be granted, so the probationary period is now 5 years not 2 years. The previous concession applying to a couple who had already lived together abroad for 4 years, allowing them Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain is now abolished as from 9 July 2012. For those applying in-country for an extension of stay as the spouse or civil partner of someone settled in the UK, the Rules only apply to someone who is in the UK lawfully – for example, as a student seeking to switch. A student can only switch into a marriage category if they have previously been granted more than six months leave.

What if the application came from someone who is in the UK unlawfully (such as an overstayer or illegal entrant)? An application from someone who is in the UK unlawfully is unlikely to succeed under the provisions of S-LTR of Appendix FM on suitability which cover a number of factors including the commission of immigration offences.

Civil Partnerships and the Immigration Rules

Since the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into effect on 5th December 2005, civil partnerships have been incorporated into the Immigration Rules and civil partnerships are treated the same way as marriages.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004. This Act provides legal recognition for relationships of same-sex couples.

Section 1 of the Civil Partnership Act

Section 1 of the Act creates the new legal relationship of ‘civil partnership’, defined as a ‘relationship between two people of the same sex’. Once entered into, a civil partnership continues like a marriage until either dissolution, annulment or the death of one of the ‘civil partners’.

Section 3(1) of the Civil Partnership Act

Section 3(1) states that a couple may enter into a civil partnership provided:

  • they are of the same sex
  • neither of them is already in a civil relationship
  • neither of them is lawfully married
  • neither of them is under the age of 16 (see Exclusions, below, for the additional age requirement in the Immigration Rules)
  • they are not within the ‘prohibited degrees of relationship’ (Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Act sets out a full list of prohibited degrees of relationship)
  • if one or both of them are under the age of 18, they have obtained the consent of an ‘appropriate person’ (Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Act has a table of individuals deemed to be such a person).

Where someone is not “subject to immigration control” and wanting to enter a civil partnership while in the UK, registration will normally occur through what the Act defines as the ‘standard procedure’.

The standard registration procedure consists of a two-stage process set out in Sections 8 to 17.

  1. The couple must give notice of their proposed civil partnership to a ‘registration authority’ (often a Register Office in the area of the local authority in which the relevant individual lives)
  2. They must register the civil partnership.

Section 8 – the requirement to give notice

Both partners are required to give notice to their respective registration authority of their intention to enter into a civil partnership. The notice sets out the name, address, age, nationality, marital or civil partnership status, occupation and intended venue for the civil partnership.

Section 8 – the declaration

Section 8 also requires a notice of proposed civil partnership to include a ‘declaration’ by the person giving the notice confirming that there is no lawful hindrance or impediment to the proposed civil partnership. Once notice is given, the information (excluding the address of the individual) is displayed at the relevant Register Office for 15 days to provide an opportunity for objections to be made by the general public.

Exclusions

Not all spouses can qualify: special rules apply to exclude additional wives in polygamous marriages. Polygamous marriages: The law concerning recognition of marriage  means that many polygamous marriages would be considered as valid. This would usually have the consequence that each wife of a man who had more than one marriage would be eligible to enter for settlement with him.

To counter this, the Rules say that a wife (or a husband, if a woman is able to take more than one husband) may not enter or stay in the UK, so long as there is another wife still alive who has at any time been in the UK or been issued with entry clearance (HC 394, Paragraph 278). This means that once one woman has been given permission to enter as a spouse (whether she was the first wife or married the husband later), no other wife can qualify for settlement so long as that marriage lasts.

The prohibition ends if that marriage ends, and this means that if the first wife to enter the UK dies another wife could qualify. It also means, as the IDIs recognise (Chapter 8, Section 1, Annex E), that a wife must be allowed in if her husband has divorced the first wife who entered, even if the authorities believe it to be a ‘divorce of convenience’ (this phrase does not occur in the Rules), and they remain living together.

There are exceptions to the general prohibition on entry for a polygamous wife. The Rules will still allow a wife to be admitted if she can prove that:

  • she had already been allowed to stay as a wife before 1st August 1988
  • the other wife had only been in the UK as a visitor, or was here illegally, or had never been given Leave to Enter
  • she herself had previously been in the UK at any time, but while her husband was not polygamous married.