One of the most challenging sides of UK immigration law is to understand that no matter how strongly you feel, how much you love, or how hard you work…in the end, a decision is made by someone who will judge your application solely on the basis of the information you provide. When it comes to spouses wanting to live and settle together in the UK, a Spouse Visa Refusal can feel like an exceptionally personal attack.
But it isn’t. It is just “business.” And it is a business the UK Home Office is making a lot of money out of.
Spouse Visa Refusals – why do they happen?
As with a great many visa refusals, Spouse Visa Refusals general occur when the Home Office have found any slight detail on your application that they can claim fails to meet requirements. Often these details are buried deep in your application and refer to an obscure paragraph in a set of laws that are extremely complex. It’s quite normal for people to look up the basic criteria provided on the Gov.UK website and use that as a kind of checklist. But that is a big mistake.
A “Spouse Visa” is needed when a married couple – or Civil Partners, legally it is the same thing – wish to both settle together in the UK. It requires that one of them, the “Sponsor” is already a Brit, has British Citizenship, has Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or is otherwise settled in the UK. It can also be used if a couple lived in another country and they wish to come back to the UK: the British Citizen would be the sponsor, and their partner would be the applicant.
It is at this point that people wrongly assume the spouse visa process is very simple. It is made to seem that way on TV and in films – the whole romantic idea or swooping your loved one away from their home and landing back in the UK, untouchable because, “by golly, she’s my wife!” But the truth is so much more sour and cold than that.
The Home Office will go through a spouse application just like any other: with a extra-fine tooth comb. All spouse visa refusal decisions will come with an explanation, but it will refer to very specific paragraphs, sub paragraphs, and even comments deep inside the chasm of immigration law, that unless you have inordinate time, patience, or a law degree, you have no chance of knowing about. Of course the Home Office agents are there to do just that task, and if you’ve missed any tiny detail, they will find it.
Although there are many reasons why a spouse visa refusal may happen, I’ve outlined three of the most common examples that we come across and deal with at UK Immigration Solicitors.
The financial requirements for a Spouse Visa lie with the sponsor, and not the applicant. The sponsor partner needs to show that they are financially able to support their partner. It doesn’t matter how much money the applicant earns (unless they have a very substantial amount in savings) – it all depends on the sponsor. However, that is not quite the whole story. It won’t be enough to just say the sponsor earns, for example £Lots per year, you will have to provide evidence for this. That might include bank statements, P60, Tax Returns documents, and so on. The Home Office have no intention of letting anyone off lightly, and if there is any error they will find it.
The applicant will need to show that they have a sufficient command of English language and provide documentation to prove this. It isn’t enough to assume that the fact the applicant speaks English, even if they speak it very well, will be enough to satisfy the specified details for the Home Office. Everything comes down to evidence to meet the specified requirements in minute detail. Often a Spouse visa refusal decision is made because of this relatively straight forward step.
Evidence of Relationship
Often the most contentious of issues, if the application does not show that the relationship is a genuine, long-term relationship, the visa will be refused. It comes down to not making the mistake of taking the decision personally. The Home Office does not know applicants personally and it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide the evidence in support of their claim. For example, if the application said that the couple are married but other evidence obtained by the Home Office shows that the couple actually have two separate addresses – information they can easily obtain from tax records, Electoral Roll, and so on – then a spouse visa refusal may occur.
Spouse Visa Refusal: Appeals
Not every refusal will be given the right to appeal, and a lot of the time it is more sensible for the applicant to lodge an entirely new application ways.`A common misconception with appeals is that they give you a chance to be “heard” for a second time and put your case to the Home Office again. This might be true to extent, but an appeal does not give you a chance to add new information, it is merely a chance to state that you believe there was an error made. As such, the same evidence you presented first time will be viewed again.
The same could be said for a decision made by a football referee who makes an unpopular decision. An appeal would be like setting up the same situation and looking at it only through the same referee’s eyes at the same pace. It’s not like using replay and countless different cameras and angles. It’s also not like using Hawkeye in Tennis or Cricket to replay and examine the incident in more detail. It is the same referee looking at the same evidence.
And it can take a very long time – perhaps twelve months, or even more.
That is why it is often far wiser to submit a brand new application rather that submitting an appeal against a spouse visa refusal. However, it is essential that the reasons for the refusal are addressed directly and clearly in the second application or it will simply be refused again. Yes, that might sound obvious, but there are people who keep applying over and over and failing to address the specific areas.
Get Professional Support
I have blogged before about the importance of hiring professional solicitors for UK immigration purposes: “The Devil is in the Detail:why you need the professionals.” Of course Solicitors charge a fee, but in the long run it works out far cheaper knowing that your application will be right on the first attempt than to be paying out hundreds, even thousands on each failed attempt.