Avoiding EEA Family Permit Refusals

EEA family permit refusals

In Part 1, of our series on EEA applications we looked at the application process, and documents required to apply for an EEA family permitHere, in the second part of our series, we look at EEA family permit refusals, focusing on the top 3 reasons for refusals and how to avoid them.

Background

EEA family permits are issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 but has seen little change from Regulations 2006. The issue of the permits does not fall under UK Immigration Rules.

The purpose of the family permit is to allow overseas nationals, from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), (or non-EEA nationals) to enter the United Kingdom (UK) and join their family member, as long as they are the:

  • Family member of an EEA national, or
  • Extended family member of an EEA national

There is no application fee and the process is not as onerous as compared to, say, applying for a UK spouse visa under the Immigration Rules. So what could possibly go wrong? Let’s explore…

Context

According to the Home Office’s National Immigration Statistics as of the end of 2018,  the number of EEA family permits that were granted from 2015 to 2018 was as follows:

  • 2015 – 30,302
  • 2016 – 33,118
  • 2017 – 27,106
  • 2018 – 36,555

So, 30,302 EEA family permits were issued overseas in 2015. The number of EEA family permits issued rose by almost 10% in 2016 to 33,118. While there was a dip in the number of approvals in 2017, the numbers rose to their highest levels in 2018, a likely reflection of the high number of applications there were received in the run up to the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Extracting details of the number of successful applications and the rate of refusals is difficult and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the body responsible for processing applications, is often unwilling to provide such specific data. Much of the data tends to include other types of applications and categories.

Yet, from direct experience, UKVI was well known for inappropriately refusing EEA family permits and using an inconsistent approach when considering applications.

When presenting cases in the immigration Tribunal on behalf of the Secretary of State, it was, unfortunately, not usual for applicants to successfully lodge an appeal against an adverse decision of an Entry Clearance Officer or in a few instances, to withdraw a UKVI decision because it was poorly argued.

Nowadays, the decision making has improved but the European Commission noted that non-EEA family members are still being denied family permits by UKVI on invalid grounds, or without a justified reason.

In fact, the European Commission stated:

Only in the UK is it possible to state that the number of refusals of entry or residence, as well as expulsions of EU citizens, is steadily on the rise

It went on to say:

National authorities indicate that this is the result of concerted efforts to refuse entry or to expel EU citizens convicted of a criminal offence, as well as EU citizens who do not meet the conditions attached to extended residence rights under Article 7 of the Directive. This indicates the UK’s willingness to publicly demonstrate that it is addressing popular concerns such as criminality and immigration, including the immigration of EU citizens

It’s hard to disagree with this. There are times when, the way in which non-EEA family members visa applications are handled appear to support the Commission’s assertions that barriers are deliberately being placed.

For instance, it is not uncommon for non-EEA family members to be asked to produce excessive levels of documentation  so as to secure their permit and still experience delays of sometimes 12 weeks and beyond.

Similarly, it is difficult to assess the main reasons invoked by UKVI for refusing to grant non-EEA family members entry to the UK. Yet from past UKVI experience, research and information from clients looking for assistance after a refusal, the top 5 reasons for EEA family permits can be seen as follows…

Tops reasons for EEA family permit refusals

3. The applicant does not provide any (or adequate) evidence to support their claim to be the direct family member of an EEA national

Direct family members of EEA nationals are set out in Part 7 of the EEA Regulations as:

  • Spouses or civil partners
  • Direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner under 21
  • Dependent direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse/ civil partner 21 and over
  • Dependent direct relatives in the ascending line, for example parents and grandparents of the EEA national or their spouse / civil partner

The above members are viewed as the core of the EEA national’s family.

When assessing the application, it is important for documentary evidence is provided to UKVI to show the relationship between the non-EEA family member and the EEA national.

The type of documentary evidence needed will depend on the nature of the relationship. As a guide, such documents can include:

  • An original marriage certificate supported by a certified translation, if appropriate
  • An original civil partnership certificate supported by a certified translation, if appropriate
  • A divorce certificate or a death certificate where there the EEA national or non-EEA national was previously married
  • Original birth certificates naming the EEA national as one of the parents of the non-EEA child
  • Original birth certificates naming the EEA national as the child of the non-EEA parent

2. The EEA national is not a qualified person because there is no evidence of Treaty rights being exercised

The purpose of the EEA family permit is to join or travel with the EEA national to the UK. To clarify, the EEA national must either:

  • Be in the UK already
  • Plan on travelling with you to the UK within 6 months of the date of your application

If the EEA national has been in the UK for more than 3 months they must either:

  • Be a ‘qualified person’ who is exercising their ‘Treaty’ right by working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient); or
  • Have a permanent right of residence in the UK

Where UKVI is not satisfied of the above, you can expect to receive an EEA family permit refusal with the following wording:

You have failed to provide evidence that your EEA national family member is a qualified person in accordance with Regulation 6 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006. I am, therefore, not satisfied that your EEA national family member is residing in the UK in accordance with the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

To avoid this, it is important to evidence the EEA national’s permanent residence status, by way of an EEA permanent residence status, or show they are exercising their ‘Treaty rights’ by submitting original, stamped or certified documents appropriate to their circumstances – see our previous article for more details.

If the EEA national does not have a permanent residence status, some examples of recommended documents of exercising Treaty rights may include:

  • Employment – an employment contract, payslips or a letter from an employer
  • Self-employed – Service contracts, customer invoices or audited accounts with bank statements
  • Studying – A letter from the UK school, college or university
  • Financially self-sufficient – bank statements

EEA nationals that are financially self-sufficient or studying in the UK must have comprehensive medical insurance to be a ‘qualified person’ and it is recommended that evidence of insurance be submitted to UKVI.

1. The applicant is a party to a marriage of convenience

UKVI defines a marriage of convenience as an ‘abuse of the right to reside’. Unsurprisingly, where UKVI suspect that the marriage or civil partnership between the EEA national and non-EEA national was entered into to circumvent the UK immigration rules, the UKVI will issue a refusal with the following wording:

The definition of ‘spouse’ in the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 does not include a party to a marriage of convenience. I am satisfied that you are party to a marriage of convenience and are therefore not the family member of an EEA national in accordance with Regulation 7 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

One of my previous clients, a US national, was absolutely devastated to receive a letter from UKVI informing her that her recent marriage to a French national was a sham.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Mr Polyakov, a Russian national, married to his German wife, Anna who had sought an EEA family permit to visit his daughter and newly arrived grandson in the UK. Mr Polyakov was surprised to find that the genuineness of his marriage was doubted by UKVI because he had submitted his marriage certificate, but has not provided photographs of his wedding. Mr Polyakov and Mrs Polyakov have been married since 1975!

In the case of our client, she had followed the online guidance and submitted her original marriage certificate.  UKVI’s guidance makes it clear that a valid marriage certificate is sufficient to prove a family relationship. In fact, where UKVI suspects that the marriage is one of inconvenience, the burden of proof falls on UKVI to support their assertion by testing their suspicions.  This is supported by case law.

Yet despite this guidance, UKVI did not ask the client to provide additional information about the relationship. Nor had the client or her spouse been invited to an interview. Unfortunately, the client’s time frame for lodging an appeal had lapsed and so the decision to refuse the application for this reason could not be challenged.

She contacted Thomas Chase Immigration for the first time to assist her with a new application for an EEA family permit.  By now, she had been married for 6 months.

To help the client increase her chances of success in securing an EEA family permit, she was advised to gather as many documents that she had that related to her relationship with her spouse. The purpose of this exercise was to show UKVI that despite the couple’s marriage of 6 months, the couple had been in a genuine relationship for over 2 years.

The following documents were submitted:

  • Records of past communications between the couple such as Skype and WhatsApp messages
  • Travel tickets of holidays taken together
  • Photographs

We provided a covering letter, setting out the client’s circumstances, how she met the requirements, and touched on her previous refusal and how this application differed. We helped the client to make a strong application. Needless to say, the client’s application was approved.

Conclusion

EEA family permits can be refused for a number of reasons, many of which come as a total surprise to the applicant. By being aware of the pitfalls and preparing a strong application, the application process for an EEA family permit will likely go as smoothly as possible.

Have you or someone you know received a recent refusal? What were the reasons given and what advice would you give to others?

Share this blog with someone who might benefit from it.

This post was first published on 31 May 2017 and was updated on 1 March 2019.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and HR professionals.

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Lost Life in the UK Test Letter

Lost Life in the UK Test Letter

Applying to naturalise as a British citizen? Or in the process of applying for indefinite leave to remain? Lost your Life in the UK test letter? Here’s a guide on what to do next.

When applying for indefinite leave to remain or to naturalise as a British citizenship, the applicant must demonstrate that they have knowledge of the English language and knowledge of life in the UK (also known as the KOLL requirement). The is demonstrated by sitting and passing the Life in the UK test.

The Life in the UK test is test taken over 45 minutes, containing 24 questions based on British traditions and customs. The test is meant to test the applicant’s understanding of British civic-political duties, such as voting requirements. The test carries a fee, which is payable each time the applicant sits the test.

On the successful completion of the test, the applicant will receive a Life in the UK Test Pass Notification Letter. This letter must be kept sake. Why? Because a duplicate will not be issued.

There are quite a few instances of clients reporting of their lost Life in the UK test letter. After all, the letter appears quite flimsy and plain and can easily be confused with other household documents.

So what can an applicant do, when they are about to apply for indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship, and realises that they have either misplaced or lost their Life in the UK test letter?

If the Life in the UK letter is lost or misplaced, it will not be possible to obtain another copy, as stated above. Instead, the Home Office advise [https://www.gov.uk/life-in-the-uk-test/what-happens-test] the applicant to write a letter addressed to them, explaining that the Life in the UK Pass Notification Letter has been lost.

The letter should provide details of:

  • The applicant’s full name, nationality and date of birth;
  • Date that they sat the Life in the UK test and location; and
  • The test pass number.

It is important to state the Life in the UK test pass number, if this is known.

Once the letter has been drafted, the applicant should include it with their application for citizenship or indefinite leave.

Once the letter and application has been received by the Home Office, the Home Office will use the information to confirm whether the applicant has indeed passed the Life in the UK test.

This process has proven successful for a recent client. That client was extremely organised. And yet, she was baffled as to how her Life in the UK test letter came to be misplaced. Things happen to the best of us.

Still, the overall advice is to keep the Life in the UK Pass Notification Letter extra safe, or at the very least, take a copy of the letter.

And don’t let a lost Life in the UK test letter prevent you from applying for indefinite leave or British citizenship within your planned timescales. There is normally a solution!


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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Brexit Deal or No Deal

Brexit no deal

As of today’s date, we do not yet know what Brexit means for the UK. The UK is due to leave the UK on 29 March 2019. Let that sink in for a moment. A once politically stable country has now become the victims of party politics as its denizens watch on, feeling more and more powerless over a referendum vote that was supposed to make them feel empowered and optimistic.

And yet, the UK is still a fantastic place to live. So what other positives can we take away from this situation for European Union (EU) nationals and their family members living in the UK? And what is the EU Settlement Scheme?

Brexit deal

On 14 November 2018, the UK government reaffirmed, by way of its draft Withdrawal Agreement that EU nationals, and their family members, will continue to have a right of residence in the UK from 30 March 2019.

To solidify their rights, and confirm their right to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021, EU nationals and their family members must apply for continued residence under a new scheme. That is the EU Settlement Scheme.

Under the EU Settlement Scheme, qualifying individuals will need to apply for pre-settled or settled status during a transitionary period that will end on 31 December 2020, though the deadline for such applications will end on 30 June 2021.

If a person applies for pre-settled status during the transitionary period, they may remain in the UK and apply for settled status after a period of continuous residence of 5 years.

Prime Minister Theresa May has recently stated in her Brexit Statement, before the House of Commons, that no fee would be payable for pre-settled and settled status applications. In other words, the proposed fee of £65 have been scrapped.

However, if applications are free, it begs the question, how will the Home Office finance the large numbers of caseworkers needed to process the millions of applications in a timely and costly manner?

And will the current systems be able be able to cope with the demand for those seeking to provide their biometric data? After all, collecting the biometric data of EU nationals has to be a key reason for practically forcing individuals to switch their current residence certificates and certified permanent residence cards to pre-settled and settled status documents.

‘No deal’

Should the UK leave the EU in a ‘no-deal’ situation, EU nationals and their family members will, according to the Government, continue to have a right of residence under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Unfortunately, the transitional period will no longer apply. Yet, EEA nationals and their family members will have until 31 December 2020, to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, to protect their status. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/policy-paper-on-citizens-rights-in-the-event-of-a-no-deal-brexit.

What is not clear is how a new system will apply to European nationals and their family members who wish to enter the UK during the period between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2020.

If there is a no deal exit, it is likely that some sort of interim arrangement will be put in place, with EU nationals and their family members being subject to the UK’s strict immigration laws after 31 December 2020.

Indeed, the Government has said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and as such, the end of freedom of movement:

“EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK will be admitted under UK immigration rules and will require permission (leave to enter or remain). Unlike EU free movement, this will not be a rights-based system so those who do not hold valid immigration permission to be in the UK will be here unlawfully and may be liable to enforcement action”.

The Government went on to say:

The details of the UK’s future skills-based immigration system are set out in a white paper published on 19 December 2018. It will take some time to implement this new system, and for EU citizens already resident in the UK to obtain their status under the EU Settlement Scheme. It is important that we allow sufficient time for granting status to resident EU citizens before we start to implement the new skills-based immigration system because until the resident population have been granted status, it will not be possible for employers, universities, landlords and others to distinguish between pre-exit residents who are eligible to remain in the UK on broadly the same terms as now, and later arrivals”.

Hence, the need for an interim arrangement until 31 December 2020. Though whether the Government and Home Office will be ready to implement the new system and processes by that time remains to be seen.

How will this affect you?

For those EU nationals, and their family members, that are already in the UK, it is highly advisable to apply for pre-settled status or settled status during the transitionary period, and certainly before any published deadlines. This will ensure that their UK rights of residency are protected.

For EU nationals already in the UK, who are separated from their family members, now may be a good time to consider whether their non-European family members apply for an EEA family permit to join them in the UK.

What individuals should avoid doing is panicking! Easier said than done! But leaving the UK for more than six months to assess matters from afar, and then returning after Brexit, could have serious implications for EU nationals and their families.

Similarly, leaving the UK and applying for entry clearance under a work visa or other category under the UK immigration rules may prove harmful to European nationals who have already invested a great deal to the UK, as it could re-set the individual’s continuous residence clock and status.

Conclusion

Brexit has led to uncertainty. Uncertainty about what Brexit is and what it means for the UK. There are also question marks as to whether there will be an agreed Brexit deal or not. Nevertheless, amongst the haze, some clarity has been provided. EU nationals and their family members will have a continued right of residence under the EU Settlement Scheme. What individuals must avoid, is doing anything that may negatively impact their long term hopes.

UPDATED 28 February 2019.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and organisations.

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EU Settlement Scheme Guide

EU settlement scheme guide

The UK Government has provided a EU Settlement Scheme guide for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members. Below, is the Government’s latest position about the Scheme, and a guide on the testing phase and process.

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The Home Office has been testing the EU Settlement Scheme application process through a series of pilots before it launches fully by 30 March 2019. Feedback from applicants on the application process has been positive and the exercise has helpfully identified areas for improvement and clarification. By 14 January 2019, 27,211 decisions had been made and issued as part of the second test phase, with no applications refused. You can read more about how the testing has gone so far on GOV.UK.

A new phase of testing began on 21 January, so we can continue to improve the scheme ahead of the full go-live in March.

The latest testing applies to EU citizens living in the UK who have a valid passport and to their non-EU citizen family members who have a valid biometric residence card. Making an application at this time is entirely voluntary so there is no need to do anything yet.

There are some differences with the current test phase compared to when the scheme is fully launched. In this phase, we are testing the app which checks an individual’s identity document. However, when the scheme is fully live at the end of March, use of the app will be optional and people will be able to send their identity document in the post or get their passport checked in over 50 locations.

The scheme will be fully live by 30 March 2019, and under the draft Withdrawal Agreement applicants will have until 30 June 2021 to apply. You will be able to use any laptop or mobile device to make an application.

On 21 January 2019 the Prime Minister announced that there will be no fee when the scheme opens fully on 30 March 2019. Anyone who has applied already, or who applies and pays a fee during the test phases, will have their fee refunded. Applicants should make payment using the card they want to be refunded on. Further details of the refunds process will be published shortly.
 

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and businesses.

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Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ

Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ

The UK Government is increasing the immigration Health Surcharge to be paid by overseas nationals looking to enter and stay in the United Kingdom (UK). In our Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ blog, we outline the nature of the changes and the reasons given for the increase and answer other frequently asked questions,

What are the Immigration Health Surcharge changes?

On 8 January 2019, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will increase by £200 to £400 per year for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals seeking to enter the UK for over 6 months.

The surcharge will also double for non-EEA students and Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa applicants from £150 to £300 per year.

How is the Immigration Heath Surcharge calculated?

If the applicant applies for a Tier 2 work for visa for a term of 3 years, the applicant will incur a surcharge of £1,200. Students on the other hand can expect to pay £300 per year.

When was the Immigration Health Surcharge introduced?

On 6 April 2015, the UK Coalition Government introduced the IHS for EEA nationals seeking to live, work and study in the UK for over 6 months. The purpose of the surcharge was to raise funds for the National Health Service (NHS) from overseas nationals in the UK,

In addition to visa application fees, non-EEA nationals were required to pay a surcharge of £200 per year, before the increase, for each year of the length of their visa, payable at the time of the submission of the application.

Students on the other hand were expected to pay £150 per year, prior to the increase.

Why was the Immigration Health Surcharge introduced?

At the time of the introduction, the Government said:

‘Currently non-European nationals coming to work, study or join family members receive free medical treatment under the UK’s NHS in the same way as a permanent resident.’

The Government also quoted Charles Hay, UK Ambassador to South Korea, who said:

‘We, of course, recognise the very valuable contribution that Koreans who come the UK to study and work make to the wider economy and so have deliberately kept the surcharge at a competitive level – lower than most private health insurance policies.’

Unfortunately, the Government neglected to recognise that, not only do non-EEA nationals pay high visa application fees which go towards the State, rather than directly to the Home Office, but that many overseas nationals contribute to the State and NHS by way of income tax.

What are the Immigration Health Surcharge benefits?

In exchange for payment of the IHS, visa nationals will be allowed to access NHS services. The UK Government argues that the surcharge represents good value for money to non-EEA nationals, carrying a lesser fee than some private medical insurance policies.

Why is the Immigration Health Surcharge being increased?

In October 2018, the UK Government asserted that the National Health Service (NHS) received £600 million from the IHS since April 2015. It is projected that IHS increase could rise an extra £220 million for the NHS.

Home Office Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:

‘Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but the NHS is a national, not international health service and we believe it is right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability.’

The Minister added,

‘It is only fair that people who come to the UK make a contribution to the running of the NHS, and even with the increase we still continue to offer a good deal on healthcare for those seeking to live in the UK temporarily.’

Overseas nationals working in the UK will still be expected to make National Insurance contributions from their UK salary and pay income tax.

Yet, perhaps the Government also wishes to minimise any shortfall in tax receipts resulting from the UK’s departure from the European Union from April 2019.

How is the Immigration Health Surcharge payment made?

Payment is made online at the time of submission of the visa application, and prior to the visa biometric appointment.

When submitting the visa application, the overseas national will be directed to a separate portal where the IHS will need to be paid. Once completed, the applicant will be issued with an IHS reference.

It will not be possible to submit the application unless the IHS has been paid in full.

Will the Home Office send an Immigration Health Surcharge email?

In some limited circumstances, such as an Ancestry dependant visa applications, payment of the IHS may be requested by the Home Office at a later.

If so, the Home Office will communicate this to the applicant, via email. If so, the applicant must make payment of ant outstanding surcharges within 7 working days if applying from outside of the UK, and 10 working days if applying from within the UK.

Will the Home Office issue an Immigration Health Surcharge refund?

If the visa application is refused, applicants will receive a refund of the IHS. This does not mean that the applicant will receive a refund of the visa application fees in the event of a refusal.

Refunds are also automatically paid if the applicant mistakenly incurred the surcharge twice.

The Home Office states that refunds are normally paid within 6 weeks of the application outcome, though from experience refunds are processed much sooner.

If the refund is not received within the 6 weeks’ timeframe, contact should be made with the Home Office.

What is an Immigration Health Surcharge partial refund?

An overseas national applicant will automatically get a partial refund where the surcharge was paid for a longer period that they were granted leave for.

Are visitors required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The surcharge will not apply to overseas travellers entering the UK for less than 6 months or those seeking indefinite leave to remain.

Conclusion

The UK Government has doubled the Immigration Health Surcharge payable by non-EEA nationals in order to raise additional funds for the National Health Service.

In exchange, overseas nationals travelling to the UK for over 6 months will have access to national health services. Nevertheless, as set out this Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ blog, overseas nationals will need to factor in this cost, in addition to any visa application fees and relocation costs.

Further, there are number of practical considerations, set out in the Immigration Health Surcharge FAQ blog that non-EEA nationals may wish to bear in mind when taking forward their visa applications.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and organisations.

Liked this blog?

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Ancestry visa refusal

ancestry visa refusal

A UK ancestry visa can be a fantastic tool for a Commonwealth citizen to secure long term entry to the UK. Yet there are some pitfalls that need to be avoided to prevent an ancestry visa refusal.

Advantages

The ancestry visa allows a Commonwealth citizen, with ancestral links to the United Kingdom (UK), to live and work in the UK for 5 years. The visa may be extended for a further 5 years, to a total of 10 years and provides a route to citizenship.

Crucially, family members may travel to the UK also, and unlike a Tier 2 highly skilled work visa for instance, the ancestry visa offers flexible employment. As such, the holder is not attached to a particular sponsoring company or to a particular role.

In order to understand how to avoid an ancestry visa refusal, let’s first look at the requirements to be met by an applicant, what they each mean, and note the pitfalls to be avoided.

Requirements

To secure an ancestry visa under paragraphs 186 -193 of the Immigration Rules, the applicant must demonstrate that they are:

  • A Commonwealth citizen
  • Aged 17 or over
  • In possession of proof that one of their grandparents was born in the UK and islands (Guernsey, Jersey or Isle of Man), Republic of Ireland before 31 March 1922, or on a British-registered ship or aircraft
  • Able to work and intends to take or seek employment in the UK
  • Able to maintain and accommodate themselves and any family members while in the UK without the need to claim or seek public funds

Ancestry visa refusal

There is an added need to prepare a strong application at the outset, not only to save time and costs, but also because UK ancestry visa applications no longer carry a right of appeal. Instead an applicant must ask for the Home Office to review their decision to refuse the application, if the applicant believes that the initial decision was incorrect.

To avoid an ancestry visa refusal, it may help to look at each of the visa requirements in detail.

A Commonwealth citizen

The applicant must be a Commonwealth citizen at the date of the application. Therefore, if the applicant held another nationality at the time of their birth and later acquired Commonwealth citizenship, this will not lead to an ancestry visa refusal.

Aged 17 or over

This is self-explanatory. The applicant may apply for an ancestry visa when they reach the age of 17 years.

Proof of ancestral links

The applicant must evidence that they have a grandparent born in one of the following circumstances:

  • In the UK, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
  • Before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland
  • On a British-registered ship or aircraft

Our last client to secure an ancestry visa was a New Zealand national, whose paternal grandfather was a British citizen born in the UK. To evidence his grandfather’s circumstances, the client was advised to submit his grandfather’s original birth certificate, his father’s and his own original birth certificates.

Prior to submitting the application, we carefully cross-referenced the documents to ensure that the documents evidenced a clear link between the client, his parent and his paternal grandfather. Failure to make sure that the documents clearly shows an ancestral link will likely lead to an ancestry visa refusal.

It is not strictly necessary for the applicant to submit their parents’ or grandparents’ marriage certificates as the requirement applies whether the applicant or applicant’s parents, were born within or outside of marriage in the UK. That said, a marriage certificate will prove beneficial where a grandparent or parent had changed their name through marriage, or for another reason, to clearly evidence the familial links.

The document does not need to be in pristine condition, but they must be originals, legible and in English or translated into English.

Adoption

Where the applicant or their parent is adopted, the applicant will need to adequately prove:

  • They have been adopted by someone who has a parent born in the UK; or
  • That one of their parents was adopted by someone born in the UK; or
  • Their grandparents by birth (blood grandparents) were born in the UK

As part of the application, the applicant must provide their legal adoption paper to demonstrate that the adoption process was properly completed and valid.

Step-parents

Conversely, we had a client who wished to apply for a UK ancestry visa because their grandfather, on his step-father’s side, was born in the UK. In that case, we advised the client that he would likely receive an ancestry visa refusal. Unfortunately, UK ancestry cannot be claimed through step-parents. Instead, we advised the client about alternative visa options.

Able to work and intends to take or seek employment

Under paragraph 186(iv) of the Immigration Rules, the applicant says an applicant must be able to work and intend to take up or seek employment in the UK. This seems to cause some confusion amongst clients, which is justified given that a number of applications are refused for failure to meet this requirement.

For an applicant to meet this requirement, they must evidence that:

  • They have a job in the UK; or
  • They genuinely intend to look for a job and are realistically able to do this; or
  • They genuinely intend to become self-employed and are realistically able to do this.

Therefore, in order to secure an ancestry, visa the applicant only needs to demonstrate that they are able to work and genuinely intend to seek employment. If the applicant has an offer of employment from a UK company this will likely strengthen the application. The application will also be strengthened by a well-produced and genuine business plan, where the person intends to become self-employed in the UK.

If there are any medical conditions preventing the applicant from working, or there are other factors likely to prevent them from working, then the application will fail. That said, a person cannot be refused an ancestry visa due to their disability alone.

Maintain and accommodate themselves and family members

Under paragraph 186(v) of the Immigration Rules, the applicant must evidence that they can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves, and any dependant family members, in the UK without the need to seek State funds.

The applicant will be expected to submit bank statements and proof of accommodation in the UK. No specified minimum funds have been listed in the guidance.

Each application is looked at on a case-by-cases basis. Funds must be sufficient, certainly until the applicant generates an income, and if there are dependant family members, there must be enough funds to look after the family unit.

What next?

Once the applicant has properly completed the online ancestry visa application form and gathered the requisite documentation, the application may be submitted and any Immigration Health Surcharges paid. The applicant is then ready to book their biometric appointment at the overseas visa application centre.

There are different processes depending on the visa application centre location and the third party in charge of that centre, but in essence, the applicant will need to provide their biometric data and documents at the centre.

The applicant’s documents will be forwarded to the Home Office’s Decision Making Unit for processing and a decision will normally be communicated within approximately 3 weeks.

The Home Office will decide each case on its own merits so it is critical for an applicant to evidence how they meet the requirements as it applies to their circumstances.

Conclusion

UK ancestry visas hold many benefits for Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestral links. However, those links must be properly evidenced and the wider immigration requirements must be met. By understanding the requirements, and possible pitfalls, an applicant can avoid receiving an ancestry visa refusal.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and organisations.

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Avoiding a marriage visitor visa refusal

marriage visitor visa refusal

A marriage visitor visa refusal can be devastating. In this article we can clarify what a marriage visitor visa is, when to apply for one, and how to avoid a marriage visitor visa refusal.

What is a marriage visitor visa?

The marriage visitor visa  is suitable for nationals from outside of the United Kingdom (UK) and Europe Economic Area (EEA) who wish to:

  • Marry or register a civil partnership in the UK; or
  • Give notice of a marriage or civil partnership in UK; and
  • Leave the UK after their marriage or civil partnership and do not plan to stay or settle in the UK

When making an application, the applicant must demonstrate that they (and their partner) are:

  • 18 years of age or over
  • Free to give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of their arrival
  • In a genuine relationship
  • Visiting the UK for less than 6 months
  • Intending to leave the UK at the end of their visit
  • Able to support themselves without working in the UK or State support, or that they will be financially supported and accommodated by relatives or friends
  • Able to meet the cost of their return or onward journey

Our previous clients, John, a British national living in the United States (US), and his partner Celia, a US citizen,sought advice about how best to marry in the UK. It was important to John for his large family and elderly grandparents to be present at his wedding. He did not want his grandparents to suffer the undue stresses of international travel.For Celia, she loved the idea of having the wedding ceremony at a particular historic venue in Cambridgeshire and fortunately for her, her family were more than willing to travel to the UK.

John and Celia were both over 18, free to marry, had substantial savings, and neither had any intentions of remaining in the UK beyond a few weeks after the ceremony.

For John and Celia, a marriage visitor visa was the correct option. They were able to successfully demonstrate how they met each of the requirements under the immigration rules and Celia secured her marriage visitor visa.

When should you apply for a marriage visitor visa?

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) states that ‘the earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel’. This means that if an applicant wishes to travel to the UK on 1 August to give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership, they may submit their onlineapplication on 1 May at the earliest.

Timing is going to be a key consideration when applying for this type of visa. This is because in order to marry or enter into a civil partnership, the couple must have physically lived in the UK, in the registration locality, for at least 7 full days.

On Day 9, the couple must then give the registry office at least 28 days’ notice of their intention to marry or enter into a civil partnership. If 28 days’ notice cannot be given for exceptional reasons, the Registrar General may authorise for the ceremony to take place.

A question that we are often asked, is whether the non-EEA applicant must remain in the UK for the entire 28 days’ notice period. The answer is no. The applicant can enter the UK, give notice to marry, or enter into a civil partnership. Following their departure, they may return to the UK under the same marriage visitor visa (and providing the visa is still valid) to attend the ceremony. The applicant will need to be mindful however,to carry further documentation with them when returning to the UK, just in case it is requested by the Immigration official at the border.

Another frequent question, is whether the person can forgo the marriage visitor visa application process and marry or enter into a civil partnership under a standard visitor visa or visitor status.The simple answer is, no!

How to avoid a marriage visitor visa refusal?

The marriage visitor visa requirements can seem pretty straightforward, so many people are surprised when they receive a marriage visitor visa refusal. Three of the main reasons, from our experience,for marriage visitor visa refusals are:

  1. Not providing evidence of notice to marriage or civil partnership, or of an intention to marry or enter into a civil partnership
  2. Not evidencing an intention to leave the UK at the end of the marriage or civil partnership, or applying with the intention to stay in the UK permanently
  3. Lack of sufficient finances or financial support for the duration of the visit

Reason 1: Not providing evidence of notice to marriage or civil partnership, or intention to marry or enter into a civil partnership

To assess whether the applicant has an intention to marry or enter into a civil partnership, or that they even intend to actually marry or form a civil partnership, the decision maker will consider the documentary evidence provided. Decision makers are wary of ‘sham marriages’ or sham civil partnership’ used for the purposes of thwarting immigration laws.

In one case, Michela, a Botswana national who had previously (albeit briefly) studied in the UK, had received a marriage visitor visa refusal. Michela had submitted proof of contact with theRegister and of her provisional booking of the wedding venue. Yet, Michela had taken it for granted that the decision maker would accept this as proof of her relationship to Edison. Having provided no further evidence of her relationship with Edison, Michela’s application was refused.

Michela arranged a consultation, perhaps, to get her frustrations out in the open more than anything else. Understandably, Michela was tempted to marry elsewhere, but we were able to persuade her that a marriage visitor visa was still achievable. Michela was advised to submit a selection of photographs of her and Edison together, screenshots of communications between them, and proof of their time together and travels during her studies in the UK from 2014 to 2015 and beyond, to demonstrate that their relationship was indeed genuine and subsisting.

Michela was still required to evidence how she met the remaining immigration requirements. We emphasised the fact that Michela had observed the terms of her previous student visa and set out the reasons why she was keen to marry in the UK, rather than in her home country. Needless to say, her application proved successful.

Reason 2: Not evidencing an intention to leave the UK at the end of the marriage or civil partnership or applying with the intention to stay in the UK permanently

The marriage visitor visa is a short term visa. The applicant is largely expected to enter the UK, marry or enter into a civil partnership, and leave. They do not need to immediately return to their home country and can instead leave the UK and travel, say, to a honeymoon destination elsewhere. Yet, it is advisable to evidence this by way of on onward travel ticket.

Even then, the decision maker may still expect to see documentary evidence that the applicant has a reason to return to their home country or country of residence.

In the case of John and Celia above, we were able to clearly show that they both had family and employment roles to return to in the US. We had provided their contracts of employment, recent payslips and return tickets.

In another case, we had advised a non-EEA partner, Stu, who wished to enter into a civil partnership with his British partner, Graham, to instead consider applying for a fiancé visa. We are in the process of assisting Stu with that visa application. Yet had Stu applied for a marriage visitor visa, that application would have certainly failed because Stu clearly intends to relocate to the UK and reside with Graham, in Bristol, on a permanent basis. As such, Stu has no intention of leaving the UK after his civil partnership.

Reason 3: Lack of sufficient finances or financial support for the duration of the visit

We are aware of instances, where bank statements and payslips have been provided, and yet, the decision maker was not convinced that the applicant had sufficient funds to cover their reasonable costs in the UK, without a need to claim public funds or enter into UK employment,

With this in mind, applicants are advised to demonstrate that they have enough funds to pay for their wedding or civil partnership expenses, and travel and accommodation costs for the duration of their visit. If a family member or friend is covering some or part of the applicant’s costs, this must be documented.

Conclusion

A marriage visitor visa is intended to be a short term visa for a specific purpose, and it may not always be a suitable option for individuals seeking to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK. Once identified as the best option, applicant should demonstrate how they meet each of the immigration requirements to give themselves the best chance of securing a marriage visitor visa. By following the above tips, we hope that you will avoid receiving a marriage visitor visa refusal.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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UK elderly dependent visa

UK elderly dependent visa
A UK elderly dependent visa, adult dependent visa can be a useful tool for helping an elderly family member travel to the United Kingdom (UK) and reside long term. The problem? Such visas are very difficult to obtain.

Muneer contacted us about securing a UK elderly dependant visa for his mother. Muneer, a high-earning British business account manager, had lost his father to illness, in Dubai, almost 18 months ago. As a result, he had grown increasingly concerned about his 67 year olds mother’s well-being as she would sometimes suffer panic attacks and loneliness.

Muneer tried to visit is mother whenever his job allowed or his business travel took him to the Middle East.

Fortunately, Muneer’s mother had a very good immigration history of adhering to UK immigration laws following her visit to the UK last year. Unfortunately, the circumstances outlined by Muneer were unlikely to persuade the Home Office to grant his mother a UK elderly dependent visa.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a UK elderly dependent visa, an applicant must apply from outside of the UK and evidence that they are in need of long-term care from a parent, grandchild, brother, sister, son or daughter, who is permanently living in the UK.

Requirements

In order to sponsor an applicant’s application, the sponsor must be:

  • A British citizen, or be settled, or have ‘settlement’ status in the UK or proof of permanent residence or have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
  • Over 18 years of age

The applicant and sponsor must also prove all of the following:

  • That the applicant is in need of long-term care to do every-day personal and household tasks because of either illness, disability or age
  • The required care is not available or affordable in the country where the applicant lives
  • That the sponsoring relative in the UK is in a position to support, accommodate and care for them without claiming public funds for at least 5 years

Length of the visa

An applicant in receipt of a UK elderly dependent visa may enter the UK and stay for an unlimited period of time. For that reason, the visa holder will not be required to extend their visa or apply for settlement status, unless the sponsoring family member has refugee status or humanitarian protection.

Concerns

Muneer had presented a sympathetic case for a UK elderly dependent visa on behalf of his mother. He found it physically challenging to travel to Dubai with such regularity. Plus, his mother appeared in need of support due to her panic attacks. Although Muneer’s mother had savings of her own, Muneer provided for her financially, and helped manage the maintenance of her home.

Muneer felt that the Home Office would agree with his assessment and grant the visa. In fact, his reason or contacting us was to gather information about documents to be submitted and timescale. Yet, it was important that Muneer had an accurate understanding of how the Home Office would likely view his mother’s application.

We discussed the facts of the recent Court of Appeal case of Ribeli v Entry Clearance Officer, Pretoria [2018] EWCA Civ 611 (27 March 2018).

In that case, the applicant was a 65-year-old South African national. She suffered from a variety of medical conditions, including a degenerative back disease, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. With the help of her British daughter, her sponsor, she had applied for a UK elderly dependent visa to enter the UK and permanently reside with her daughter – an application that was refused.

The Court of Appeal considered the matter but dismissed the appeal against the decision to refuse the UK elderly dependent visa on the basis that the requirements, as set out by the Home Office, had not been met.

The Court of Appeal noted that the Home Office’s requirements were ‘extremely rigorous’ and onerous, but also (helpfully) outlined some of the documentary evidence that would be needed to support an application for a UK elderly dependent visa – such as:

  • Evidence that, as a result of age, illness or disability, the applicant requires long-term personal care in the form of:
    • Independent medical evidence that the applicant’s physical or mental condition means that they cannot perform everyday tasks; and
    • This must be from a doctor or another health professional.
  • Independent evidence that the applicant is unable, even with the practical and financial help of the sponsor in the UK, to obtain the required level of care in the country where they are living, in the form of:
    • a central or local health authority;
    • a local authority; or
    • a doctor or another health professional.
  • If the applicant’s required care has previously been provided through a private arrangement, the applicant must provide details of that arrangement and why it is no longer available.

In light of the findings of the Court of Appeal in the case of Ribeli, Muneer was advised that his mother’s application would likely have a low chance of success, if any. Indeed, there was a strong chance that the application would fail.

Alternatives

Before concluding our discussions, we explored the options open to Muneer’s mother. Though not as advantageous to the permanent nature of the UK elderly dependant visa, Muneer decided to help his mother apply for 10-year standard visit visa, which would allow Muneer’s mother to enter the UK for up to 6 months at a time, for the duration of the visa.

Rather crucially, Muneer’s mother must make sure that she does not enter the UK for than 6 months in any 12 months’ period, or she would fall foul of UK immigration laws.

Should the need arise, Muneer could revisit the UK elderly dependant visa application in future.

Conclusion

The UK elderly dependant visa is an extremely difficult visa to secure because of the high threshold and evidential bar to be reached by applicants and their sponsors. Therefore, it is understandable that in March 2016, 39,560 people signed a petition to request a parliamentary debate about potentially loosening the strict Home Office requirements.  The petition fell short of its target, probably because this area does not gain attention until a person is directly impacted.

Nevertheless, before preparing an application, it may be helpful to seek expert advice to assess the chances of successful and determine how best to strengthen the application.

And if you would like advice, we can arrange a telephone consultation to discuss your immediate and longer term options or assist you with the application process.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

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Settled Status Scheme

Settled Status Scheme
The UK Government has set out their latest position on the settled status scheme, as it will apply to EEA nationals and their family members.

The statement rehashes much of the information provided by Prime Minister Theresa May on 26 June 2017, about the new ‘settled status’ and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid on 22 June 2018.

The statement reads as follows:


The Home Office has been working to develop a new scheme which allows resident EU citizens and their family members to obtain the UK immigration status they will need in order to remain here permanently.

The EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open by 30 March next year. EU citizens and their family members will have until 30 June 2021 to apply, in line with the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Testing is already underway. Since August, EU citizens working for a small number of NHS trusts and universities in the north west of England, and students at those universities, have been able to apply for status under the scheme.

A new phase of testing will begin next month. It will involve many more organisations across the UK, including higher education institutions and organisations in the wider health and social care sector. Testing the system with real applicants helps the Home Office ensure the new system operates effectively when it opens fully.

You do not need to do anything for now. EU citizens eligible to apply in the latest test phase will receive information from their employer.

Further information about the scheme can be found on GOV.UK.

 


What next?

At the risk of being repetitive, it must be stressed that if you are an EEA national, or family member, residing in the UK, nothing has changed. After all, the UK is still a Member State of the EU.

 

It can be beneficial to wait until the new settled status scheme has been fully rolled out and apply for recognition under that scheme.

 

Nevertheless, we are aware of many EEA nationals, and their family members, who have already resided in the UK for a significant amount of time, and who have submitted an application for certification of their permanent residence status in order to better meet the requirements to naturalise as British citizens.

 

Of course, time will be a major factor as applications will need to be submitted soon.

 

The key is to and seek advice and plan the best way forward for you and your family. We can arrange a telephone consultation should you wish to discuss your immediate and longer term options.


Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

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British passport renewals

UK immigration
British passport holders may renew their passport well before the end date of the passport. The time remaining on the existing passport, of up to 9 months, was merely added to the new passport.

Fair enough – the time left on the existing passport has been paid for after all.

But now, the Home Office and HM Passport Office has now admitted a  change to this policy, so that new passports will be issued without the remaining time being added. Thank you Callum Mason, reporter, and Martin Lewis, founder, of Moneysavingexpert.com for putting this before the mainstream media!

It is no coincidence that the announcement comes at a time of much Home Office Brexit contingency planning and Home Office announcements in the case of a ‘no deal’ departure from the European Union.

Here’s the concern – British passport holders may start holding onto their passports as close to the end date as possible, before submitting an application for a new passport.

Yet, for immigration purposes, many countries will not allow a person to enter or cross the border unless they have 6 months’ validity to run on their passport. Indeed, the United Kingdom, requires non-EEA visitors to present a passport with 6 months’ validity.

Alternatively, British passport holders may wait until the passport has 6 months to run and then submit new passport application, so that in effect, as Martin Lewis put it, ‘passports will now only last nine and a half years’.

Watch this space.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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Latest Position on Brexit

Latest position on Brexit
Here, is the latest position on Brexit, as it applies to EEA nationals and their family members, following the Home Office’s latest statement.

Settled Status
On 26 June 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May, announced plans to grant nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA), a new ‘settled status’ following the United Kingdom’s (UK) formal departure from the European Union in March 2019.

The new settled status will replace the current ‘permanent residence’ status and allow EEA nationals and their family members, the right to live, work and study in the UK.

On 22 June 2018, almost one year later, the new Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid, has released the Home Office’s latest position on Brexit, as it relates to the rights of EEA nationals, as follows:

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As Home Secretary, I take immense pride that so many EU citizens like you have made your home here.

Safeguarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK has always been our first priority and the agreement we reached with the EU earlier this year did just that. The rights that you and your family currently have been protected which include access to healthcare, benefits and pensions.

Away from the negotiations, my team in the Home Office have been working hard to develop the service that you’ll use to get your settled status. This work will continue as we make sure that the system and processes are rigorously tested and meet every requirement ahead of the launch.

Today I am able to announce in more detail what this system will look like.

Most importantly, the application process is designed to be simple. Most people will only need to complete three sections to prove their identity, show that they live here and declare that they have no serious criminal convictions. We will also check employment and benefits records we already hold in government which for many people will mean that their proof of living here is automatic.  We hope therefore most people will not need to do anything beyond typing in personal details.

What’s more, settled status will cost less than the fee for a British passport – £65 and £32.50 for children under 16. For those who already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, they will be able to exchange it for free.

There will be support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer, and we’re working with EU citizens’ representatives and embassies to ensure the system works for everyone.

I should stress that you do not need to do anything just yet. The scheme will open later this year and we are on track to open the scheme fully by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications to the scheme will be 30 June 2021 so there will be plenty of time for you to apply and there are absolutely no quotas for applications.

I hope you will agree with me that this is an important step towards the commitment we made to you and your families so that you can continue your lives here.

Yours sincerely,

Sajid Javid
Home Secretary

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What next?

If you are an EEA national residing in the UK, it must be stressed again, that nothing has changed. The latest position on Brexit refers to the UK governments plans post-Brexit and in any case, the UK is still a Member State of the EU.

Thinking ahead, it may prove beneficial to wait until the introduction of the new settled status and submit, what promises to be, a streamlined application to register and recognise your UK status. EEA nationals will have the option of doing from March 2019 until 30 June 2021.

However, for many EEA nationals, and their family members, who have already resided in the UK for a significant amount of time, it may be advantageous to apply to certify your permanent residence, so as to facilitate an application for British citizenship. Of course, time will be a major factor as applications will need to be submitted before the end of March 2019.

The key is to plan ahead, and seek advice if you are unclear or wish to discuss your, and your family members’, immediate and longer term options.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

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Cross Bones Graveyard

Cross Bones Graveyard
You have probably heard it all before. London is vibrant, cosmopolitan, historical, yet modern, lively and diverse. And we agree. So we are starting a series that explores a small part of London. Today, we look at the Cross Bones Graveyard and the Cross Bones Memorial Gates.

Long before The Shard towered over Southwark, a nearby area, known then as The Mint, was infamous for being a violent slum for the poorest Londoners.

By the time of the 19th century, ‘25% of the population was living at or below subsistence level’ in the United Kingdom (UK) according to LocalHistories.org.

LocalHistories.org goes on to say that;

‘Surveys indicated that around 10% were very poor and could not afford even basic necessities such as enough nourishing food. Between 15% and 20% had just enough money to live on (provided they did not lose their job or have to take time off work through illness)’.

For those who had lost their jobs or had no jobs at all, the dreaded and often feared workhouses awaited. Workhouses were designed to be austere, harsh and very unpleasant so as to discourage only but the extremely poor from seeking State support.

Rather than turn to the workhouses, those facing poverty often took their chances on the streets. To counter this, in 1834, Parliament passed the Poor Law Amendment Act, designed to move beggars and ‘paupers’ off the streets and force them into workhouses. The Act also sought to reduce the financial cost, to the State, of looking after the poor.

In London, those facing extreme poverty were deemed outcasts and buried within Cross Bones Graveyard on Redcross Road, SE1.

Redcross Way SE1

When the Cross Bones Graveyard closed in 1853, it was said to have held the remains of 15,000 paupers, including the bodies of The Winchester Geese, licensed sex workers during medieval times, who were then taxed severely by the Bishop of Winchester.

Many of the bodies of the paupers were removed following the Jubilee Line extension.

The Cross Bones Memorial Gates now holds colourful ribbons, seen here, dedicated to the forgotten outcasts, the forgotten paupers, the forgotten Londoners.

Check out crossbones.org.uk for more information about their campaign to preserve the site and gardens.

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

 

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