Brexit & EU citizens in the UK

Thomas Chase Immigration - EU citizens

What is the UK government’s position on the future rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom (UK), as Brexit negotiations get underway?

Earlier today, Prime Minister Theresa May updated Parliament on the European Union (EU) summit and her proposals for EU citizens in the UK. Those with 5 years’ lawful residence at the point of cut-off, will be granted ‘settled status’, akin to indefinite leave to remain and current permanent residence provisions

The cut-off will be no later than the UK’s exit from the EU and will be agree with the member states.

After, the cut-off date, EU citizens will be able to bring their family members (dependants) to the UK in the same (very restrictive) way as British status.

For those EU nationals in the UK with less than 5 years’ residence, who arrive before the cut-off, it is proposed that they may remain in the UK until they are in a positon to apply for 5 years’ settled status.

The system of EU citizens’ registration is to be streamlined and will not require comprehensive medical insurance in future!

Contentious areas

Let’s not forget, the proposals were dismissed by the European Council President, Donald Tusk, as falling below expectations’.

Key contentious areas in the UK government’s proposals include jurisdictional issues and dependants.

The UK government’s proposal that EU nationals’ rights should be overseen by a UK body or the Home Office is unlikely to be accepted by the EU member states. They believe that jurisdiction of EU rights should fall to the European Court of Justice.

Another contentious area for the member states will be around settled EU citizens and their family members. The proposal by the UK that EU citizens may continue to enjoy freedom of movement for their family members but this should fall under UK immigration rules after the cut-off date, is unlikely to be supported by the member states. Instead, they will prefer to see such rights continue indefinitely.

Conclusion

The announcement to respect EU citizen’s right to permanent residence in the UK is welcome. Yet, the proposals leave many unanswered questions and is unlikely to be the government’s final position as Brexit negotiations continue. The UK will need to resolve the possible contentious issues, of jurisdiction and dependant rights, with the European Council, to not only to provide clarity to EU nationals, but so it may agree reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals residing in the EU and begin trade talks.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families looking for friendly, straightforward advice.

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If you would like further guidance on the rights of EU citizens or assistance with an application for a permanent residence document, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

 

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Apply for an EEA Family Permit

Immigration advice

Applying for an EEA Family Permit is supposed to be straightforward. So it can be a shock to come when an applicant receives a letter from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) informing them that their application for an EEA Family Permit has been refused. In Part 1 of this series on EEA permits and residence cards, we look at the basics of EEA Family Permits.

Introduction

EEA Family Permits are issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 and not the Immigration Rules. The permits allow overseas nationals from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) 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

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’ by working, looking for work, self-employed, studying or self-sufficient); or
  • Have a permanent right of residence in the UK

Without an EEA Family Permit, overseas nationals will find it very difficult to secure entry to the UK. The EEA Family Permit should also be used, rather than applying for a standard visit visa, where the overseas family member is seeking to visit the EEA Family member.

Family members

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

Extended Family Members

Extended family members are defined under Part 8 of the EEA Regulations and include siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces.

Non EEA, overseas family members must demonstrate they are dependent on the EEA national or are a member of their household, or have a serious health condition and rely on them for their care.

Unmarried partners fall within this category also and must show that they are in a lasting relationship with the EEA national.

Cost

EEA Family Permit applications are free. Regardless, time, effort and care should be taken when preparing the application to avoid delays or worse still, a refusal.

Documents

It is imperative that the required documents are provided in support of the application for an EEA Family Permit.

Whilst not an exhaustive list, documents to be submitted include:

  • Current and valid passport
  • Evidence of the overseas national’s relationship to the EEA family member. Such documents will depend on the nature of the relationship and may include, for example:
    • Marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
    • Birth certificate
    • Proof that you’ve lived together for 2 years if unmarried
  • Family member’s current and valid passport or national identity card (or a certified copy)
  • Proof of your dependency if you’re dependent on your EEA family member

It is important to demonstrate that the EEA national is lawfully in the UK and that they have either permanent residence or, where they have been in the UK for over 3 months, that they are exercising their Treaty rights.

Additional documents to be submitted, may include:

  • Evidence of employment such as an employment contract, wage slips or a letter from an employer
  • Evidence of self-employed, such as contracts, invoices or audited accounts with bank statements and confirmation of paying tax and National Insurance
  • Proof of studying by way of a letter from the school, college or university
  • Evidence of financially independent such as bank statements

Where the EEA family member is studying or financially self-sufficient, evidence of their comprehensive sickness insurance should also be provided.

Original or certified copies must be submitted and supported by certified translations, where appropriate.

Location

EEA family permits may be obtained from any overseas visa issuing post. As such, the overseas national does not need to be lawfully or normally resident in the country where they are applying form, unlike applications under the Immigration Rules. The overseas family member may be asked to attend an interview if the Entry Clearance Officer, considering the application, has strong grounds for doing so.

Length

The EEA Family Permit is valid for 6 months and is meant to facilitate their entry to the UK. On the expiry of the permit, and following the overseas family member’s arrival, the overseas family member may continue to reside in the UK, as long as they continue to meet the EEA Regulations. That said, many overseas family members of EEA nationals find it advantageous to apply for a Residence Card to prove their status in the UK, especially to potential employers.

The situation is different for extended family members of EEA nationals, who must obtain a Residence Card following the expiry of an EEA family permit or they will be considered an overstayer.

Conclusion

In our other blog, we look at the top reasons for a refusal of EEA Family Permits and how to avoid adverse decisions.

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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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New US Travel Restrictions

UK immigration

Travelling to the US on business or for personal reasons? Air passengers, traveling to the US, on overseas airlines from 10 listed airports in 8 Muslim-majority countries, will find themselves subject to new US travel restrictions issued today, and due to be enforced within days.

Such passengers will no longer be allowed to carry devices larger than a mobile phone in their hand luggage, for security reasons. This applies to items such as laptops, iPads and other tablets, cameras and gaming devices, unless it can be proven that the device is required for medical reasons.

The airports affected are: Queen Alia International in Amman, Jordan; Cairo International in Egypt; Ataturk in Istanbul, Turkey; King Abdulaziz International in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; King Khalid International in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait International; Mohammed V International in Casablanca, Morocco; Hamad International in Doha, Qatar; and the Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports in the United Arab Emirates.

The US travel restrictions will not apply to US carriers entering the US from the airports listed, although it appears that US carriers do not do so in any case. However, confusion may arise about overseas airlines traveling into the US from any Muslim majority country.

Airlines were given notification of the new US travel restrictions and are aware of their responsibilities for policing the measures. In fact, airlines have already been updating their websites and informing passengers of this. The consequences to airlines who fail to police the US travel restrictions properly is likely to be inability to operate in the US.

Sources in Germany have indicated that such restrictions will not be introduced, though the UK may implement additional airport security measures and an announcement is expected soon.

If you are due to travel to the US soon but have concerns, contact the airline responsible for your flight for advice.

Information can also be found on the Department of Homeland Security’  TSA’s website.

 

 

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

Thomas Chase Immigration provide immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture to get the right outcome.

Call to Action: Contact me for a consultation or assistance with an immigration matter. Or read more of our blogs.

You may also like: The US Travel and what we know so far.

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Football visa options: Travelling to the UK to play football

Football visa

Pursuing a footballing career in the United Kingdom (UK) is a dream for many.  And a difficult one. After all, football requires commitment, dedication and ability. There is the competition from peers. And yet, harder still is securing a football visa to travel to the UK to pursue a football career.

Football players from within the European Union (EU) are free to move between Member States to pursue their footballing career.

For those outside of the EU, it is imperative to find a football club willing to sponsor a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and sporting) visa or Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa.

Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visas are issued for the length of the applicant’s contract or up to three years, whichever is the shorter period. There is the possibility of extending the visa up to a total of 5 years. Whereas the Tier 5 visa is issued for the length of the applicant’s contract or up to 12 months, whichever is the shorter.

The sponsoring club will be responsible for securing a Governing Body Endorsement and issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Determining the correct visa option will depend on the applicant’s skills, experience and nature of their sporting career, as the immigration rules dictate that, a person wishing to play football in the UK must be internationally established at the highest level, and their employment must make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level.

This strict requirement was introduced in response to the Football Association’s concerns about the high percentage of overseas nationals, participating in the Premier League at the expense of homegrown talent. See: Dyke: Work permit changes will benefit English football.

Some feel that the threshold is now too onerous. There have been a high number of Tier 2 (sportsperson) visa refusals, leading some overseas footballers and coaches to look to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa or Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa categories. And yet, the Tier 1 visas specifically prevent applicants from working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. Same applies to the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa.

The best advice is speak with an immigration adviser who will be best placed to advise on the most appropriate football visa option

 

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

Call to Action: Contact Thomas Chase Immigration for a consultation or assistance with an immigration matter. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs

US Travel Ban: What we know so far

US Travel Ban

The United States (US) has introduced a US travel ban for people from a number of Muslim-majority countries. Here is a quick on what the ban means and its implications.

In summary, the executive order, signed by President Trump on Friday 27 January:

  • Halts travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for a period of 90 days. They are:
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Libya
    • Somalia
    • Sudan
    • Syria
    • Yemen
  • Prevents dual nationals from travelling to the US for 90 days if they hold nationality from one of the above countries
  • Grant priority to Individuals of religious minorities if they are from the countries listed
  • Allows for the executive order to be extended to other countries or beyond 90 days, if necessary

Implications

Nationals of any of the seven countries listed will be prevented from entering the US. This extends previous security restrictions which had excluded those nationals from entering the US without a valid visa.

The executive order applies to individuals with permanent residence status in the US and who may be seeking re-entry after a holiday abroad. It will include nationals that have legitimately and successfully secured a spouse or work visa overseas and are due to travel to the US.

The US administration confirmed that dual nationals are included so that a dual British Sudanese national seeking entry to the US for business, after the executive order was signed, may find themselves detained at the US airport and eventually returned to the UK.

Update: The UK Foreign Office later confirmed on 29 January, that nationals from the listed countries with dual British nationality, will be exempt from the travel ban. Instead, dual British nationals may be subject to further vetting and questioning. We hope this clarification has been disseminated to immigration officials at the US border.

Caps to the number of refugees admitted into the US under the US refugee programme for the 2017 fiscal year have also been implemented. The number has been capped from 110,000 to 50,000 with refugees from Syria being prevented from entering the US indefinitely.  However, the US administration confirmed that the travel ban will not apply to refugees or those seeking refugee status from the above countries.

For businesses, employees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will be barred from returning to their place of work in the US or from entering the US in order to represent their company.

As a result, individuals arriving into US airports individuals arriving into US airports, with valid visas, will be detained at the airport and removed, merely because of their nationality.

Concerns

The travel ban has elicited uproar and condemnation from political figures around the world, including, UK opposition leaders, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin TrudeauAnd it has of course, caused significant distress and anguish to individuals and families trying to come to terms with the direct and wider implications of the ban.

Of great concern is the speed and wide ranging nature of the US travel ban.  As a former civil servant in the Home Office of ten years, I myself have experience of numerous amendments and changes to immigration laws, rules and policies. In all cases, the Secretary of State at the time introduced transitional arrangements, allowing immigrations consultants and lawyers time to digest the legal and wider implications of the announcements. This has not been the case here, a point supported by UK immigration lawyer, Harjap Singh Bhangal on Sky News on 29 January. Bhangal stated that governments ‘…can’t just change immigration policy overnight and expect it to be implemented’ again highlighting the lack of transitional period or consideration.

Indeed, the immediacy of the travel ban, and inability of immigration professional to consider and properly advise individuals affected has already drawn one Federal Judge into the mix.

Judge Ann Donnelly of the US District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to partially stop the removals of individuals after determining that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision.

This was followed by US District Judge Leonie Brinkema who issued a temporary restraining order, valid for seven days, against the removal of any green-card holders being detained at Dulles International Airport. For more, see the Chicago Tribune.

Despite the Federal Court rulings, the Department of Homeland Security have confirmed that the travel ban remains in place.

As a result, a number of immigration advisers have made themselves available, for free, at several airports to provide advice and guidance to those affected.

Guidance

The application of the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries remains confused. Several Republicans party members have also expressed unease with the measures, despite the president’s proclamations to the contrary. And it is not clear if the ban will stay in place for 90 days, be extended to other countries or lengthened.

For the time being, the situation is uncertain. If you are travelling to the US and have concerns about the travel ban, you should:

  • Seek advice and clearance from the US embassy prior to travel, to avoid adverse consequences at the US border. Dual British nationals should be aware of the clarification issued by the UK Foreign Office
  • Ensure that you have prior authorisation to enter the US using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme and seek further clearance from the US embassy
  • Ensure that you are familiar with US entry requirements
  • Contact the airline responsible for your flight to ensure that you will be able to board
  • Seek immigration advice or guidance prior to your travel if you remain concerned. See also the UK Foreign Office website  for additional guidance. Upon travel, ensure that you have documents confirming your reasons for travel to the US. On arrival to the US, seek expert US immigration support if you concerned about your circumstances.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. We offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture to get the right solution.

Call to Action: Contact me for a consultation or assistance with an immigration matter. Or read more of our blogs.

You may also like: New U.S Travel Restrictions.

Brexit latest: Brexit, Trade, Sovereignty and Immigration

Thomas Chase Immigration - Birexit

The UK government looks set to trigger article 50, the formal notification of its intention to leave the European Union (EU). Once triggered, the leaders of the 27 countries within the EU, must unanimously agree how to extricate the UK from the myriad of shared EU regulations by way of transitional and new arrangements. Two years after article 50 is triggered, the United Kingdom (UK), according to the Lisbon Treaty, will no longer be a part of the EU. What are the implications of Brexit to UK trade, sovereignty and immigration? And how are they linked?

Background

Much has been made of the approach the UK government will take during the two years of negotiations once article 50 is enacted. Will the government take a ‘hard’ approach, a sort of clean break? Or will a ‘soft’ approach to leaving the EU be implemented, so that the UK gives up its power and voice within the EU while managing to claw onto some of the benefits of free trade.

Regardless, of the approach to negotiations, we know with certainty, as a result of the Supreme Court’s judgement of 24 January, that the UK parliament must have a say in the UK’s approach to negotiations. And given the members of parliament’s fear of defying the results of the advisory referendum to leave the EU for reasons of reducing EU immigration and magnifying UK sovereignty, article 50 looks set to be triggered within Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed timescale of March 2017. The timescales are supported by the government’s ‘Brexit Bill’ which comes before parliament in the week beginning 30 January.

The impact to Brexit on Trade and Sovereignty   

The UK’s overall economic growth is mainly dependent upon import and exports. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS):

‘UK exports have grown at an average rate of 8.7% in nominal terms over the last four decades (1974 -2014), however the level of UK exports as a proportion of world exports has been gradually declining’

The ONS added:

‘World Bank data shows that the UK’s share fell from 7.3% in 1970 to 3.6% in 2014, indicative of slower UK export growth relative to a number of other global economies such as China, Germany and the USA. This decline marks a halving in the UK’s share of world trade since the 1970s. In 1970, the UK held the 3rd highest export share among the G7 economies and China but has since alternated between 3rd, 4th and 5th positions’.

In relation to Brexit, in 2015 (figures for 2016 not yet being available), exports of goods and services to the EU accounted for 44% of the UK’s total exports of goods and service). See ONS’ bulletin

Therefore, leaving the EU, will significantly minimise the UK’s ability to export goods and services to the EU without restrictions. As a third country, the UK will experience an increase in its exporting costs.

To compensate for the impact of trade with the EU post-Brexit, the UK must look to other countries to close the gap.

In her speech of 17 January, Theresa May set out for plan for Brexit negotiations. May said, that she had been given a mandate by the British people to bring about change and outlined her vision for the UK:

‘I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before. I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country – a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead. I want us to be a truly Global Britain – the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike’.

For a full transcript of Theresa May’s speech, click here

Yet, trade deals, by their very nature, require compromise, external overarching controls, subjugation and therefore a limit on the sovereignty of the State. To what extent is the UK prepared to compromise its sovereignty in order to secure trade deals with world leaders? And who will it trade with?

Trading partners

One possible post-Brexit trading partners will be the United States (US) and Prime Minister May has taken steps ingratiate herself with the incoming US president, President Donald Trump with a State visit to the US scheduled for Thursday 26 and a meeting with the President set for Friday 27 January.

ONS data from 2015, indicates that the US is the UK’s largest export partner, after Germany. In 2015, the USA accounted for 19.7% and 11.1% of UK’s total exports and total imports, respectively.

In fact, between 2005 to 2015, the UK continually ran a trade surplus with the US with an average value of £28.1 billion, a figure that peaked in 2013 at £40.3 billion but has since fallen to £39.4 billion in 2015. See ONS’ bulletin for further details

Moving forward, the US has a president that has given voice to a sort of protectionist US environment, one where US businesses will reap the rewards of lower taxation, if they ensure that their businesses remain in the US and employ US workers. Countries have been openly criticised by the President for exporting goods to US citizens, created by overseas workers, ignoring the fact that some overseas companies sell goods to US citizens made in the US by US workers – companies such as Samsung Electronics America Inc. and BMW US Manufacturing Company.

This raises a number of questions. How much will UK companies have the accede to Trump’s vision of protectionist US? Will UK companies be welcomed, as early indications show, to enter into trade deals as long as they are heavily weighted in the US’ favour? Will UK businesses be expected to open more branches and sites in the US in order to better access the US market, to the detriment of UK workers? And is it a price worth paying when figures show that even if the US doubles its exports from the UK, this will still fall short of the numbers needs to meet the EU trade shortfall.

Can the UK even expect an equitable trade deal with the US in two years’ time once it has officially left the EU? After all, the UK can only negotiate and agree terms with the US government while it remains part of the EU, with the deal being solidified post-Brexit. However unlikely it may be, it is possible for the US to renegotiate terms once the UK’s economic position becomes clearer post-Brexit which is possible if the UK (and US) find themselves in economically and politically weakened positions in 2020.

For this reason, the UK will have to look for trade deals with not only the US but other countries further afield.

Immigration

In line with her vision of Global Britain, Theresa May has expressed a desire to negotiate trade deals with India and Australia. Both India and Australia share this view, at a price. Favourable immigration controls for their citizens, something which Theresa May has refused to do.

Under current immigration laws, anyone entering the UK from outside of the European Economic Area, is subject to a very strict Points Based System, unlike EU nationals who have freedom of movement. (For the avoidance of any doubt, yes, we do indeed have a Points Based System in place).

During Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s address to the second Raisina Dialogue event in New Delhi, India in January, Johnson insisted that by leaving the EU, the UK would be free to enter into trade partnership with India, the world’s fastest growing economy. In response, Dr S Irudaya Rajan, an adviser to the Indian government on migration issues reaffirmed the importance of mobility stating that that free movement of its citizens and the free flow of goods and services and investments were inseparable.

Dr Rajan went on the say:

‘India is an important country for the UK and curbing the flow of good minds, whether they are students or skilled workers, cannot be good for the UK’.

This view was supported by Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, the recently appointed Indian High Commissioner to the UK who commented that the issue of visas is not going to go away, and expressed concerns on the UK’s restrictions on Indian students and IT professionals under the Points Based System.

Such proclamations were echoed by Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the UK and former Foreign Minister of Australia. Alexander Downer told BBC Radio 4  listeners during an interviewer, that:

‘We want to see greater access for Australian business people working in the UK and that’s often been a part of the free-trade negotiations-it hasn’t always been that way, but it’s often been a part of our free trade negotiations’.

Adding:

‘For example, an Australian company that invests in the UK might want to bring some of its executives to the UK. That can be done now with what are called tier two visas, but could be made a little bit easier’.

Given the views openly expressed by Indian and Australian government representatives, can Theresa May maintain tight immigration controls in keeping with her reign as Home Secretary? Or will India and Australia bide their time until they secure beneficial terms on the lifting of visa restrictions? If visa restrictions are relaxed for some overseas nationals, this may be seen to compromise to the UK’s ability to determine its own immigration policy in the way that ‘Brexiters’ did not envisage. In fact, some Brexiters may feel betrayed if immigration increases rather than falls. EU nationals living in the UK may also feel betrayed if, having paid the price of Brexit, they too were to see an increase in immigration.

Conclusion

Brexit has proven to be a complex outcome based of the premise of greater self-determination and immigration controls for EU nationals. And though there is an element of crystal ball gazing, there is a strong reason to believe that, post-Brexit, the UK may have less sovereignty and greater immigration as a direct result of trade deals with countries outside of the EU. Immigration has many benefits for the UK, but without proper debate and understanding about the possible consequences of Brexit on trade, sovereignty and immigration, we may unwittingly see continued resentment towards those who travel to the UK from overseas.

 

Written by:

Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

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Top 10 Q&A on British Citizenship

Latest position on Brexit

Over time, I have received many questions from individuals seeking guidance on how to apply to become a British citizen. With that in mind, I have collated the top 10 questions and answers on all aspects of British citizenship.

  1. What is British Citizenship?

A British citizen has a right of abode in the United Kingdom (UK). In practice, if you have British citizenship, you have the right to permanently live and work in the UK without any immigration restrictions. And you will not need permission from an Immigration Officer to enter the UK

  1. Who can apply for British citizen?

Unlike some countries, you do not automatically become a British citizen because you were born in the UK. Under the British Nationality Act 1981, much will depend on your date of birth.

For instance, you will be a British citizen if you were born on or after 1 January 1983, and your mother or father was either:

  • a British citizen when you were born
  • ‘settled’ in the UK when you were born

It is typical for you to be a British citizen if one of your parents was born in the UK or had become a British citizen at the time of your birth.

Different provisions apply if you were born outside the UK or were born in the UK before July 2006. Where you fall within the latter, your father’s British nationality will normally only pass to you if he was married to your mother at the time of your birth.

Likewise, if you are an overseas national, Commonwealth citizen or national of the European Economic Area (EEA), you will not automatically acquire British citizenship merely because you have lived in the UK for a lengthy period of time.

However, there are a number of ways to become a British citizen. One of the main ways is to naturalise as a British citizen.

To apply to naturalise as a British citizen, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Meet the residence requirements
  • Have passed the Life in the UK test
  • Have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) grade of at least B1, or an equivalent level qualification, such as a degree taught or researched in English or be a national of a majority English speaking country
  • Be of good character
  • Intend to make the UK your permanent home

The residence requirement is very important and you must show that you:

  • Have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the date of submission of the application
  • Have settlement (indefinite leave to remain) or permanent residence for at least an additional 12 months preceding the date of the application
  • To have spent less than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
  • To have spent less than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • Not have been in breach of the immigration laws during your time in the UK

Applications on the basis of marriage or civil partnership to a British citizen is a frequently used route also. The key differences are:

  • You must evidence that you have lived in the UK for at least the 3 years before your application is submitted
  • You must have pent no more than 270 days outside the UK in those 3 years
  • You must have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • You must not have broken any immigration laws while in the UK

It is also possible to register to become a British citizen if:

  • You have another form of British nationality
  • You were born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother
  • You were born to a British father, even if he was not married to your mother
  • You were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983
  • You are under 18 and do not fit into the other categories
  • You have a connection with Gibraltar or Hong Kong
  • You are stateless
  1. Are British citizens allowed dual citizenship?

British citizens are allowed to hold dual nationality. Nevertheless, some countries may treat the acquisition of another citizenship as a renouncement of their original nationality.

To avoid this happening to you, it is crucial to verify, with your country of origin, the potential implications of applying for British citizenship before an application is prepared and submitted.

  1. What is the British citizenship test and where can I sit the test?

Details of the British citizenship test, or Life in the UK test, can be found in my previous blog.

  1. What does British citizenship cost?

The application fee payable to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will depend on how you qualify to become a British citizen. For instance, as of 18 March 2016, fee for British citizenship based on:

  • Naturalisation as an adult: £1,236
  • Registration as an adult: £1121
  • Registration as a child: £939
  1. Who can sign British citizenship application form?

As part of your application process, you must nominate two referees, one of which may be of any nationality and has professional standing in the UK.

The other referee must be a British citizen and hold a valid British passport. That person must be either a professional person or over the age of 25.

In addition, your referees cannot be:

  • Related to you
  • Related to each other
  • Your solicitor or agent
  • Someone who has been convicted for an imprisonable offence during the last 10 years

UKVI will make contact with your referees to verify your identity so it is important that your referees are able to respond in a timely manner to UKVI’ queries. Doing so will avoid delays to the application and at worse, a refusal.

  1. Can I apply for British citizenship if I have a driving conviction or criminal record?

UKVI had introduced a revised ‘good character’ requirements for all decisions made on or after 11 December 2014. As a result, UKVI will look at your previous conduct to assess whether you are likely, in future, to show ‘respect for the rights and freedoms of the United Kingdom’, observe national laws and fulfil your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK.Thomas Chase Immigration - British Citizenship

In doing so, UKVI will carry out criminal and civil record checks. All criminal offences, regardless of how minor the offence or when and where the offence was committed, will be considered by UKVI. This is because UKVI is not bound by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Therefore, previous offences such as theft, drink driving, using a mobile phone while driving or driving while disqualified may likely prevent you from becoming a British citizen until there is a sufficient gap between the date of the offence and the date of the application.

Your immigration history will also be taken into account by UKVI when considering your application. For instance, if you entered the UK illegally, assisted in illegal migration or evaded immigration control, you will be prevented from making a British citizenship application until at least 10 years has passed from the date of entry to the UK. This will have a significant impact if you are a refugee who had used one of the above methods to gain entry to the UK. Similarly, if you overstay your visa for a relatively small period, your application for British citizenship may be refused.

And the tentacles of the good character requirements stretch even further so that financial issues such as bankruptcy or failure to pay your council tax can also have an adverse impact upon your application.

In light of the good character requirements, it is crucial to seek expert immigration advice if any of the above applies to you.

  1. Where should I send my British Citizenship application form?

Completed application forms should be sent to:

UKVI 
Department 1 
The Capital 
New Hall Place 
Liverpool 
L3 9PP 

The application must be accompanied by the correct application fee and supporting documents.

  1. How long does a British citizenship application take to be processed?

Applications are acknowledged within 2 weeks of receipt. UKVI aims to consider the application within 6 months. UKVI will retain all documents during that time including your passports. That said, it is possible to request the return of your passport although UKVI can request that it is resubmitted for further scrutiny.

10.Where are British citizenship ceremonies held?

Once your application has been approved by UKVI, you will be invited to attend at a Citizenship Ceremony. At the ceremony you will be asked to affirm or swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and to pledge your loyalty to the UK.

Ceremonies take place at your local authority, and your UKVI Approval Letter will provide details of what you must do next and who to contact in order to make the necessary arrangements.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for British citizenship, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like:

Top 10 Questions on the Life on the UK Test

 

Thomas Chase Q&A: Spouse visas and Disability Living Allowance

UK Immigration

Today, I received a query from an applicant who wished to apply for a spouse visa to join her husband (her sponsor) in the UK. Her husband was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and she had reservations as to whether they could even meet the financial requirements.

The good news is, where a person is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, they will be exempt from meeting the strict income provisions under the financial requirements.

This applies also to:

  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme

The applicant and sponsor must provide the following documentary evidence in support of the application:

  • Official documentation from the Department for Work and Pensions or Veterans Agency confirming the current entitlement and the amount currently received
  • At least one personal bank statement in the 12-month period prior to the date of application. The bank statement should show payment of the benefit or allowance into their account.

The relevant guidance is set out in IDI Chapter 8 section 1.7a.

However, the applicant and sponsor must go on to provide evidence that they can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves without recourse to public funds or additional benefits.

Should the visa be extended from within the UK, the applicant will be exempt from meeting the minimum income requirements unless her sponsor ceases to be entitled to or is no longer in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.

The applicant was pleased to receive the above guidance and is now in the process of gathering further evidence to support the application.

If you would like us to assist you with your UK spouse visa application, get in touch via email at [email protected]

We look forward to working with you!

Update:

New claimants of Disability Living Allowance must now apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) unless the claimant is a child under the age of 16. For details about PIP, contact the PIP Helpline on 0800 917 2222.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for a UK spouse visa, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like: What are the requirements for a UK spouse visa?

Statement of Changes: 28-day grace period

Statement of Changes: 28-day grace period

The government recently announced changes to the Immigration Rules for immigration applications made on or after 24 November. Here, we take an in depth look at one of the announced changes – the 28-day  grace period.

The Statement of Changes

On 3 November, the government announced the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 667). There is also an Explanatory note.

The changes mainly sought to implement the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendations into the Tier 2 immigration categories. Having studied the report by MAC, it is fair to say that many of the contents of the Statement of Changes were as expected. See my earlier blog on the recent immigration changes.

Yet, there was one change to the Immigration Rules that was not anticipated. That is, the 28-day grace period.

Background to the 28 days’ grace period

Where a person remains in the United Kingdom (UK) beyond the expiry of their visa, they will be deemed to have ‘overstayed’ their leave and could be subject to removal directions.

What happens if the individual submits an in-time application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to extend or vary their leave, but fails to receive an immigration outcome prior to the end of the visa?

Due to an amendment to the Immigration Act 1971 referred to as ‘section 3C leave’ that individual will be prevented from becoming an overstayer whilst they are awaiting a decision on an in-time application.

Therefore, a person will have section 3C leave if:

  • They have limited leave to enter or remain in the UK
  • They apply to UKVI for variation of that leave
  • The application for variation of leave is made before the leave expires
  • The leave expires without the application for variation having been decided
  • The application for variation is neither decided nor withdrawn

(This applies to appeals also but subsequent changes to the law has complicated this area and is a matter for another blog).

In October 2012, a ’28-day grace period’ for all visa applicants was introduced. Whilst not a concession, it was a tool that allowed UKVI to disregard a very limited period of overstaying by the applicant where the application was submitted 28 days from the expiry of the visa.

In those circumstances, the UKVI caseworker would be allowed to go on and consider the application under the immigration rules.

Where an application to extend or vary leave is made out-of-time, section 3c leave will not apply. The 28-day grace period has therefore been helpful in preventing out-of-time applications from being completely disregarded due to innocent mistake or exceptional occurrence; an approach that was confirmed by the Upper tribunal in December 2015 in the case of R (on the application of Bhudia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department.

What has changed?

As of 23 November, the 28-day grace period will no longer apply as the government believes it to be inconsistent with their overall message of strict compliance with the UK’s immigration laws.

In a  Written Ministerial Statement to announce the Statement of Changes, the Minister for Immigration, Robert Goodwill, summarised the amendments and added:

‘We are also abolishing the ‘28-day grace period’, during which we currently accept out of time applications for a range of routes including work and study, to encourage greater compliance with the Immigration Rules. This will make clear that people must comply with the Rules and make any application for further leave before their current leave expires’.

What does this mean?

Immigration applications to extend or vary leave should always be submitted in advance of the expiry of the visa – that has not changed.

For individuals making an out-of-time application because of exceptional circumstances, the lack of a grace period would be extremely harsh.

Perhaps, for this reason, the government did not abolish the grace period altogether but instead reduced the 28-day period to within 14 days of the expiry of the visa.

As such, UKVI can disregard this limited period of overstaying if the Secretary of State considers that there is a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative.

In addition, where an individual who has had their leave extended by section 3C leave, the 28-day period is to be reduced to 14 days from the expiry of any leave extended by section 3C.

Conclusion

The recent Statement of Changes introduced a number of changes to the Immigration Rules that will apply from 24 November. One such change includes the 28 days’ grace period being reduced to14 days, a measure introduced by the government to encourage compliance with immigrant laws. Regardless, of the grace period, individuals should adhere to the number one immigration rule: do not overstay your visa! Submitting an application to UKVI to extend or vary leave within the validity of the visa can prevent adverse consequences and help to protect an individual’s immigration status. Nevertheless, where there are exceptional reasons for submitting an out-of-time application on or after 24 November 2016, it is recommended that the application is submitted within 14 days from the expiry of the visa as the 28-day grace period will no longer apply.

For immigration advice or assistance, please feel free to contact us.

 

Top 10 Questions on the Life in the UK Test

Top 10 Questions on the Life in the UK Test

Passing the Life in the UK test, or as some people call it, the British citizenship test, is a key requirement for settlement and British citizenship applications. Yet it is one of those areas that seem to raise the most questions (and resentment) from applicants. Here, we answer the top 10 client questions about the Life in the UK test.

  1. What is the Life in the UK Test?

The Life in the UK test requires applicants seeking to reside in the UK permanently or to naturalise as British citizens to demonstrate a certain level of understanding of British life and society.

To truly understand the purpose of the Life in the UK test, it is necessary to briefly capture the political landscape at the time.

In 1997, the Labour government had been voted into government ending 18 years of Conservative government.

However, in 1998, the Labour government saw net migration jump from 48,000 to 140,000.  Migration Watch stated that the rise ‘was largely due to factors outside the government’s control’, but the Labour government faced criticism for its handling of immigration nevertheless.

As the Home Office grew under Labour (and from I was able to join the Home Office) so too did the rhetoric and legislative measures to control immigration or to make individuals ‘earn’ their status, including those already in the UK and were now seeking to make the UK their permanent home or naturalise.

  1. When was the Life in the UK Test introduced?

Some clients will often ask this question to mentally calculate if they could have avoided the test had they submitted an application sooner.

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Test 2002 (the Act), a huge piece of legislation that received royal assent on 7 November 2002, provided for knowledge of British society to be tested by way of a Life in the UK Test for settlement and naturalisation applicants.

The format and content of the test took some time for the specially formed Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Committee to agree upon and only became effective for settlement applicants from 1 November 2005 and naturalisation applicants from 2 April 2007.

  1. Do I have to sit the Life in the UK test?

Clients that have made the UK their home for a number of years can find the need to demonstrate an appreciation of British life and society, by way of a test, to be quite onerous and unreasonable.

At present all applicants applying for settlement or naturalisation as a British Citizenship must sit the Life in the UK test.

Applicants do not need to sit the Life in the UK test if they are:

  • Under 18 years; or
  • Over 65 years.
  1. How much does the Life in the UK cost?

As of today’s date, the Life in the UK test costs £50.

Life in the UK test refund can be obtained, if requested at least 3 days prior to the date of the test. A refund will not be given where the test is cancelled within 3 days of the test date.

  1. How long is the Life in the UK test?

The test lasts 45 minutes. There are 24 multiple choice questions and to pass, individuals must obtain 75% or more.

  1. What questions are in the Life in the UK test?

There is a great deal of information online. I suggest that individuals use the official handbook as it is their knowledge of this handbook that will be tested.  The official book covers a range of topics including:

  • The process of becoming a citizen or permanent resident
  • The values and principles of the UK
  • Traditions and culture from around the UK
  • The events and people that have shaped the UK’s history
  • The government and the law
  • Getting involved in your community

The book can be purchased in hard copy or in a number of formats from the TSO website.

As an aside, previous editions of the official Life in the UK book has been said to contain a few errors. Yet, there is no right of appeal or ability to challenge the accuracy of the information contained in the handbook.

There is also an official online practice test which gives a sense of what the test will be like and  official study guide book.

  1. When should I book the Life in the UK test?

My view, only book the test once they fee sufficiently prepared to sit and pass the test. Thereafter, the Life in the UK test can be booked least 3 days in advance.

The Life in the UK pass notification letter will be issued at the end of the test and will need to be submitted in the application bundle to the Home Office.

  1. How do I book the Life in the UK test?

Book the Life in the UK test online.

When booking the test, the following information must be provided:

  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) reference or passport number
  • Residential address details
  • Debit or credit card
  • Email address
  • Details of any special requests

Further guidance on the identity documents required to book the Life in the UK test, can be found in the Home Office’s identification guidance.

At the test centre, identity documents and address details will be cross referenced with the information provided when booking the test.

If there is a mismatch between the documents used when booking the test and those presented on the date of the test, the test cannot be taken and no refund will be given.

Should a mistake be made when booking the Life in the UK test online, this can easily be rectified up to one day before the test date. The details will need to be edited and saved within the Life in the UK test account.

There is a Home Office helpline for individuals requiring further help to book the test:

Life in the UK Test Helpline
Telephone: 0800 015 4245
Monday to Friday open 8am to 4pm

The test is taken at a Life in the UK test centre

  1. How long is the Life in the UK test valid for?

Currently, the Life in the UK pass notification letter does not have an end date and the test only needs to be taken once. This allows an applicant to use the same Life in the UK test certificate as part of their settlement application and again as part of their naturalisation application.

One of my clients is applying for British citizenship. She settled in the UK in 2003 and had sat her Life in the UK test in 2006 but, for a number of reasons, decided against pursuing the naturalisation application at that time. Fortunately, her Life in the UK test certificate from 2006 is still and can form part of her naturalisation application. She will need to sit an English Language test however.

  1. What if I fail the Life in the UK test?

The test can be retaken 7 days after the unsuccessful test result. The test will need to be booked online using the process highlighted above.

And another thing….

The Life in the UK pass notification letter is presented in a form of a simple letter. It is very important that the pass notification letter is kept safe as duplicate copies will not be issued by the test centre or Home Office.

Should the Life in the UK pass notification letter be misplaced or lost, the Home Office can be contacted for guidance on 03001 232 253. There is a charge for calling this number.

Conclusion

Passing the Life in the UK Test is a key requirement for settlement and British citizenship applications. It can cause anxiety, panic and sometimes resentment by individuals who have immersed themselves in British life and society and find the test a pointless administrative exercise. In this blog, I have attempted to answer the top 10 questions raised by clients over the years. Hopefully, the answers have provided some clarity about test and I would welcome any tips, experiences that you may have.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for settlement or British citizenship, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like: Top 10 Q&A on British citizenship and Permanent Residence to British citizenship: Is it worth it?

Spouse visa – what are the requirements for a spouse visa

Thomas Chase Immigration - UK Spouse Visa

‘How do I apply for a spouse visa?’ ‘What are the requirements for a spouse visa? Common questions. You may be a British national living in the UK and would like your overseas spouse to join you. It should be a simple enough process. It is not. In an attempt to demystify the spouse visa applications, I have put together an outline of the process for applying for a spouse visa, the documents required and some general guidance to bear in mind.

Background

A spouse visa is appropriate when you are already in the UK and you would like your overseas spouse or civil partner to join you in the UK for over 6 months. Overseas national refers to your partner being a national of a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and who is living abroad.

As part of the immigration process, you will need to sponsor your partner’s application to join you as a dependant and you will need to fall within one of the following:

  • Be a British citizen
  • Have settlement or indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • Have asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK

Much of this information may apply to unmarried partners also though for the purposes of this article, the focus will be on spouses and married partners.

Application

As the sponsor you are supporting the application. Your partner will need to complete and submit the application online in their country of nationality or residence. The only exception to the online process is where your partner resides in or is from North Korea in which case, they will need to download and complete a paper application form.

The application form can be saved and returned to, allowing you to assist with the preparation of the application form or to review the application to ensure that all the information provided is correct.

The application type normally causes confusion. As you are a British citizen or settled and living in the UK, your partner will need to apply for a ‘Family of a Settled Person’ visa.

If you have children, your partner should their details within their application form and also complete separate online applications for each child.

Key requirements:

Genuine Relationship

Your partner must be over 18 and your relationship must be genuine and that you intend to live together as a family in the UK. When submitting the application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), they will wish to see evidence that the marriage or civil partnership is legal and that the relationship is one that exists and has not an ‘arranged marriage’ or has been entered into to circumvent immigration laws.

Earnings

One of the most onerous requirements is the need for you to meet the financial requirements for your partner to successfully apply to join you in the UK. This means that you need to show that you earn above a certain threshold.

The salary threshold currently stands at:

  • £18,600 per annum – partner only
  • £22,400 per annum – partner and first child
  • £24,800 per annum – partner and 2 children
  • £27,200 per annum – partner and 3 children
  • £2,400 for each additional child

So as an example, if you are sponsoring your wife and 3 children to join you in the UK as your dependants, you will need to show the following savings or earnings:

  • £27,200 per annum – partner and 3 children

Total = £27,200

The financial requirement is usually evidenced via your income but can be a combination of:

  • Income from employment or self-employment – if you’re in the UK with permission to work
  • A pension
  • Maternity, paternity, adoption or sick pay
  • Other income such as from rent or shares
  • Cash savings – you’ll need at least £16,000, and the savings must have been in your name for 6 months or more

You will not need to meet the financial requirement if you have one or more of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme
  • bereavement benefits

The above requirements do not apply if you have either humanitarian protection or refugee status and are subject to change.

You will also need to complete a Financial Requirement Form or Appendix 2 to further evidence that you meet the financial requirements.

The evidential flexibility for meeting the financial requirements is set out in paragraph D of Appendix FM-SE.

Accommodation

As part of the application process, you must show that you and your partner (and any children) will have adequate accommodation in the UK. This is to prevent individuals later seeking public assistance.

English language

Your partner will need to show that they have a knowledge of the English Language when they apply to join you in the UK.

If your partner is from a national of a majority English language, their language skills will be implied. Those countries are:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • US

Otherwise, English language can be evidenced by way of:

  • An academic qualification that both:
    • was taught or researched in English
    • is recognised by the body, UK NARIC, as being equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD

A partner may be exempted from evidencing a knowledge of the English language where:

  • They are 65 years of age and older
  • Unable to do so due to a long term physical or mental condition
  • There are exceptional circumstances preventing them from meeting the requirements

UKVI will expect to see evidence if any of the above applies.

Tuberculosis Testing

As part of the immigration process, your partner may need to provide evidence of Tuberculosis (TB) screening if they are a resident of a particular country. Further information on TB screening can be found here.

It is advisable for your partner to book a test well in advance of the UKVI appointment as TB screening appointments in some countries can be subject to long waiting times.

Once your partner has been screened and found to be clear of infectious TB, they will be given a certificate which must be submitted as part of their application.

If you have children traveling as part of the application, they will need to be seen by the clinician who will decide if they need a chest x-ray. For any children under 11, a chest x-ray is rare. Once cleared, their certificates will also need to be included in their applications.

Children under 11 will not normally have a chest x-ray.

The TB certificate is normally valid for 6 months so this needs to be factored into your overall applications timescales.

Sponsorship Form

You will need to confirm your sponsorship of your partner’s (and child or children’s) application by way of an undertaking. This is done by completing a Sponsorship Form

By signing the Sponsorship Form, you are confirming that you will be responsible for your partner’s (and child’s or children’s) maintenance, accommodation and care, without relying on public funds:

  • For at least 5 years, if they are applying to settle
  • Throughout their stay in the UK

Documents

The key documents to be submitted with the application will depend on your and your partner’s circumstances. Each person’s circumstances are different and there have been instances when I have advised clients to submit additional documents or made detailed representations to UKVI in order to make the application process as smooth as possible.

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, some of the key documents to be submitted are:

  • Printed application form
  • Your current passport or valid travel identification document
  • Any previous or expired passports
  • Your partner’s passport sized photographs
  • Evidence of your identity and status in the UK
  • Evidence of marital status
  • Evidence that you and your partner intend on living together in the UK and of your relationship
  • Proof of adequate accommodation in the UK
  • Proof that you can meet the financial requirement/ maintenance requirements
  • Financial Requirements Form
  • Your partners proof of their knowledge of the English language
  • Your partner’s valid TB test certificate – see above
  • Sponsorship Form

If your child or children are applying to travel to the UK with your partner, the following should also be included, though this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Your child’s current passport or valid travel identification document
  • Your child’s previous or expired passports
  • Your child’s passport sized photographs
  • Your child’s valid TB test certificate

How long are processing times?

Processing times are at the mercy of UKVI and depends on a number of factors. For that reason, it is advisable to leave nothing to chance so as to prevent delay to your application.

On average, however, spouse applications can take up to 12 weeks to be decided. The latest  UKVI processing timescales can be found here.

Application fees

As of 2016/2017, application fees for your dependant to join you in the UK stand at £1,195. Fee increases apply as of 6 April 2017.

In addition, your partner will need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge towards the National Health Service of £200 per year.

How long will the visa be issued for?

Spouse visas are issued for 33 months. Before the end of the visa, your partner will need to apply to extend their visa for a further 2 years and 6 months. The application will be made UKVI from within the UK so there is no need for your partner to leave the UK and make the application from abroad.

Can my partner work in the work?

Once the visa has been issued, your partner may work, take up employment and study in the UK.

Can my partner apply for settlement?

Your spouse may apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK or settlement once they have resided in the UK for 5 years continuously.

My suggestion is that as soon as your spouse enters the UK as your dependant, they you both take a long term view to your situation and collate documents over the next 5 years to with a view to submitting an application to first extend their leave in the UK and later to seek settlement.

Conclusion

Spouse visas allow an overseas partner living abroad to join their British or settled spouse or civil partner in the UK. Once obtained, the overseas partner may travel to the UK, live beyond 5 years, work and study. Yet, the fact that the sponsoring spouse of civil partner might be British or settled in the UK does not necessarily mean that the immigration process will be a straightforward one. There are a number of strict requirements that could lead to a delay or a refusal of a spouse visa application if those requirements are not met.  With this in mind, this article has sought to explain the spouse visa immigration process and clarify the requirements to be met by UK sponsors and their overseas partners.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for a UK spouse visa, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

You may also like: Q&A: UK spouse visas and Disability Living Allowance.