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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

 

 

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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Brexit Update

Brexit Update
On 23 March, the Home Office issued an update to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals on their status after Brexit on March 2019, when the United Kingdom (UK) formally leaves the European Union (EU).  This follows the Department for Exiting the European Union’s policy paper, which was published on 28 February 2018.

The Home Office maintains that EEA nationals’ rights to reside in the UK will continue to be honoured until 29 March 2019.

From 29 March 2019 until 30 June 2021, EEA nationals and their families, will be allowed to apply for a new status that will allow them to continue to work, study and reside in the UK.

It was announced, that the system for registering for the new settled status will be straightforward and streamlined, and compatible with EU Directive 2004/38 (Article 8).

At the present time, it is still unclear what immigration framework EEA nationals, and their families, will be subjected to post 30 June 2021 and so we await further details.

For the Home Office’s full update, read on…

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As Brexit negotiations continue, this is the latest information on the status of EU citizens in the UK and how you are affected.

You may have seen this week that the UK and the EU have now reached an agreement on what happens during the period immediately after Brexit, known as the implementation period. This is important as it will give citizens and businesses on both sides time to adjust before a new relationship with the EU is agreed.

So, what has been agreed so far and how will you be affected?

EU citizens currently in the UK

The agreement on citizens’ rights reached in December has now been formalised into a draft Treaty text, meaning it is in the right form to be written into law.

The agreement means that if you are an EU citizen living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 you will be able to continue to live and work in the UK. Your rights to healthcare, work arrangements and access to benefits will continue. Also, your existing close family members will be able to join you in future in the same way that they can now. You can read more here: Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know.

From this week, EU citizens in the UK have been seeing digital adverts encouraging you to ‘stay informed’. The activity is part of an ongoing effort by the Government to build awareness about the agreement to protect EU citizens’ rights ahead of the roll-out of the settlement scheme. As a member of this mailing list, you will continue to receive the latest information on how you are affected and what action you will need to take in future.

Settlement scheme

If you are an EU citizen or family member already living in the UK, a user-friendly scheme to enable you to secure your settled status here will open later this year. But there is no rush – you will have up until 30 June 2021 to make your application.

We will provide more information on the scheme and how to apply in the coming months. You do not need to do anything further at this point.

Implementation period

The agreement we reached with the EU this week extends the citizens’ rights protections above to include EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK during the implementation period (from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020). This ensures that those planning to come to the UK after March next year know what the arrangements will be. During this time, new arrivals will need to register through a new Home Office registration scheme after three months in the UK.

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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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https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/top-10-qa-on-british-citizenship/

 

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Contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about from our blogs

 

EU Citizens Brexit Update

EU Citizens Brexit Update
On 19 December 2017, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, issued an update to EU citizens on their status once the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019. So how does the UK Government intend to protect EU citizens, and their families, after Brexit?

In essence, the Home Secretary maintains that EU citizens’ Treaty rights will continue to be honoured until March 2019. Thereafter, EU citizens will be granted a new status that will allow them to continue to work, reside, study in the UK.

For the Home Secretary’s full update, read on…

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I’m proud that so many EU citizens like yourself have built your lives in the UK and made it your home. We value your contribution which is why the Government put safeguarding your rights as the first priority in the Brexit negotiations.

I am absolutely delighted that we have now reached an agreement with the EU that does this. I know that at times you’ve had an anxious wait while the fine details were ironed out, but we wanted to get it right and we have always had you at the forefront of our thoughts.

We have always said that we will continue to recognise the value you bring to our society, and that we will remain an open and diverse country. Hopefully this deal provides reassurance that we will do just that.

The agreement we have reached ensures the rights you and your family currently have remain[ed] broadly the same with access to healthcare, benefits and pensions protected. And your existing close family members living outside the UK retain the right to join you in future. These rights will be cemented in UK law meaning you can live your life as you do now with the security of knowing they won’t change. Irish citizens also have their existing rights, associated with the Common Travel Area arrangements, protected.

Away from the negotiations, my team at the Home Office has been working hard to build the digital system that you’ll use to get your new status. It’s being designed from scratch to be quick and simple to use. There won’t be bureaucratic hurdles – those processing applications will work in your favour.

What’s more, it will cost no more than the fee a British person pays for a passport and if you already have valid permanent residence documentation it will be 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.

You do not need to do anything just yet. You will see more detail about the settled status scheme from us in the new year and we expect applications will open during the second half of 2018. In the meantime, please do share this message with your friends and family so that they too can stay up to date through our mailing list.

I hope that the agreement we have reached provides certainty to you and your family ahead of Christmas. EU citizens, like yourself, who have made the UK their home are our family, our neighbours and our colleagues and we want you to stay.

Have a very happy Christmas.

Yours sincerely,

Amber Rudd
Home Secretary

 

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

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

Liked this blog?

You might also like:

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/eu-settled-status-latest/

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/brexit-latest-settled-status-eu-nationals/

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/eea-family-permit/

https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/top-10-qa-on-british-citizenship/

 

Call to action

Need straightforward immigration advice or guidance on EU free movement?

Contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about from our blogs

EEA PR applications: Assessing your options

EEA PR applications
There is still a lack of clarity about the position of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals in the United Kingdom (UK) post Brexit and this is having an impact on EEA PR applications.

As highlighted in past blogs (and newsletters to our subscribers), EEA nationals will be expected to ‘upgrade’ their current status to the new ‘settled’ status from March 2019, when the UK formally leaves to the European Union (EU).

While nothing has changed for the time being, many clients are instructing us to assist them with their applications to certify their permanent residence (PR).

But before launching into the applications, it helps to understand our clients’ reasoning and assess whether the legal requirements are met. After all, we want to make sure that our clients’ immediate and long terms needs are fulfilled and that the applications are in their best interests.

For example:

Case study 1: Sarah

Sarah is a French national who has lived and worked in the UK for over 10 years.

She owned her own home, had a stable and well paid job, had not used the National Health Service (NHS), apart from the odd check-up at her local doctor’s surgery) and until recently, felt very settled in the UK.

Sarah wished to apply for British citizenship to give her peace of mind in light of the lack of clear Government assurance for EEA nationals.

During our consultation, it became clear that Sarah had automatically acquired permanent residence (PR) in the UK once she had exercised her Treaty rights and continually resided in the UK for 5 years.

Nonetheless, that status had not been certified by the Home Office, a prerequisite for applications to naturalise as a British citizen.

Sarah was advised to submit an application to the Home Office to request that they certify her PR status. Once Sarah had held certified PR status for 12 months, she was advised to apply to naturalise as a British citizenship.

This was additional time that Sarah had not foreseen. Yet we reduced this timeframe by advising Sarah to gather specific documents, as advised by us, to cover a period of 6 years, rather than the required 5-year period.

By doing so, Sarah’s EEA PR application, similar to other EEA PR applications we have submitted, was recognised by the Home Office for a 6-year period, allowing her to immediately apply for British citizenship, an application that is now being considered by the Home Office.

 

Case study 2: John-Pierre

JP had lived the UK for 10 years after having travelled to the UK, from France, to study.
Three years ago, and at the end of his degree and postgraduate degree studies, JP became self-employed.

JP wished to apply for PR status also.

We reviewed JP’s immigration history. During his studies, JP never held Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) or been issued a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The requirement to hold CSI was not highlighted by the Home Office and when JP once sought treatment on the NHS, it was ever raised as an issue. In fact, JP’s university had not told him about the requirement at the time.

Yet the impact of not having CSI as an EU student in the UK is serious, as JP would find it difficult to demonstrate, to the Home Office, that he was exercising his Treaty rights during his time as a student, as supported by case law.

So what were JP’s options?

JP was advised against submitting an application to certify his PR status at this time.

Could JP instead apply for settlement in the UK on the basis of 10 years continuous and lawful residence in the UK under the UK ? immigration laws?

Well yes and no.

Under the long residence requirements EEA nationals exercising who have exercised Treaty rights in the UK, but not yet certified their permanent residence status, are excluded from the provisions.

Why? Because EEA nationals are not subject to UK immigration rules and therefore cannot rely on those rules for redress.

Nevertheless, JP could submit a discretionary long residence application to the Home Office, outside of the UK immigration rules.

The issue?

JP would need to evidence that he had lawfully and legally exercised his Treaty rights in the UK for the entirety of his time in the UK, a hurdle that would be difficult for JP to overcome as he was not exercising Treaty rights as a student (remember the CSI requirements during his studies?).

Even if that discretionary application were to be approved by the Home Office, it would likely not have been in JP’s interests to make at this time, due to cost factors.

Of most concern to JP, was his wish to sponsor his non-EU girlfriend to join him in the UK, after their wedding early next year (and prior to the UK’s formal exit from the EU). JP did not wish to spend significant amounts of money on an application to the Home Office, unless it was absolutely necessary.

Previously, securing his status under UK immigration laws would have meant that JP would no longer have been recognised as an EU national exercising his Treaty rights in the UK.

Instead, JP would have been treated as a British citizen, and would therefore have been expected to sponsor his wife’s application under harsher and stricter UK immigration rules, rather than EU regulations.

We were pleased to inform JP that any application for British citizenship would not prevent him from exercising his Treaty rights and sponsoring his wife’s application for an EEA family permit due to recent case law.

And, it should be pointed out that UK immigration laws permit British citizens to sponsor their fiancées, a category of persons not strictly recognised as EEA family members.

That said, based on JP’s circumstances and longer term plans, JP was advised to take a wait- and-see approach to his status and arrange for his wife (once married) to apply for an EEA family permit to join him, soon afterwards, in 2018.

Under the Government’s proposals, EU nationals would be granted new settled status once they had completed 5 years’ lawful continuous residence in the UK. More importantly, that status would be granted, according to the Government, whether or not the EU national held CSI as a student (or self-sufficient person) or not.

Of course, the Government’s intentions are not set in stone.

Still, it is an option that would allow JP the opportunity to secure permanence in the UK after March 2019 and to sponsor his wife’s application, once married, under present EU regulations.

 

Have you experienced any of the above when making an application for PR status? What considerations or issues have you faced?

Would you like help with your EEA PR applications?

Contact us at [email protected] for a quick reply.

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

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families secure visas to travel to and remain in the UK.

 

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If you would like straightforward immigration guidance or assistance, or simply have a question, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration.

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Carla Thomas

Thomas Chase Immigration

Refusal of British citizenship

Immigration

Tips to Avoid the 3 Main Reasons for a Refusal of British citizenship

When Jodi contacted us, the Home Office had refused her application to naturalise as a British citizen. She was understandably upset because she had indefinite leave to remain and, based on her understanding of the law, she appeared to be a good candidate for British citizenship. No criminal behaviour, no court action, continuous employment since her arrival to the United Kingdom (UK) as a Tier 2 (General) highly skilled worker, involvement in community activities and yet, three months later and at great financial cost, Jodi’s application was refused. We reviewed Jodi’s application and found that she had made one of 3 common errors. Below we set out our 3 tips to avoid a refusal of British citizenship applications.

 

The basics

A person may naturalise as a British citizen, under:

  • Section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981), as a person applying in their own right who is not married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
  • Section 6(2) BNA 1981, as a person married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen.

The requirements to be met depend on whether you are applying to naturalise under section 6(1) BNA 1981 or section 6(2).

The requirements

Section 6(1) BNA 1981

The key requirements to be met:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Meet the 5-year residence requirements
  • Have indefinite leave to remain (settlement) or permanent residence status for at least 12 months
  • Have passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Meet the ‘good character’ requirements
  • Intend to make the UK your home

 

Section 6(2) BNA 1981

The key requirements include:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Be married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
  • Meet the 3-year residence requirements
  • Have passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Meet the ‘good character’ requirements
  • Intend to make the UK your home

 

Children and those under the age of 18 years cannot apply to naturalise as British citizens. Instead, they may apply to register as British citizens.

 

When preparing applications to naturalise, some applicants often fail to submit documents to demonstrate how they meet the requirements, which can lead to a refusal of the applications.

In fact, from experience, regardless of whether the application falls under section 6(1) or section 6(2) BNA 1981, there are 3 common errors which stand out. They are:

  • Not meeting the residence requirements
  • Not meeting the ‘good character’ requirements
  • Not meeting the English Language requirements

 

Let’s look at each one in turn, so that you too, can avoid a refusal of a British citizenship application:

  1. Not meeting the residence requirements

As highlighted above, the residence requirements differ depending on whether you are applying to naturalise on the basis of a marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen or not.

If you are applying on the basis of your marriage or civil partnership, you must meet the 3-years residence requirement. Apply in your own right and you must instead meet the 5-years residence requirements.

 

How does this work in practice?

Under section 6(1) BNA 1981, you must show that you have been resident in the UK for 5 years preceding the date of the application. This is also known as the Qualifying Period.

During that time, you must not have been absent from the UK for:

  • 450 days in total: and
  • 90 days in the 12 months’ period immediately preceding the date of the application

 

Conversely, under section 6(2) BNA 1981, you must evidence that you have been resident in the UK for 3 years preceding the date of the application.

 

During that 3 year’ qualifying period, you must not have been absent from the UK for:

  • 270 days in total: and
  • 90 days in the 12 months’ period immediately preceding the date of the application

 

Not only that, but in both instances, you must have been physically present in the UK at the start of the qualifying period, whether it is 3 years or 5 years ago. There are exceptions for those who may have been in the armed forces at the start of the qualifying period.

 

Some applicants fall foul of the absence requirements. Yet, it is important to note that if all the other requirements are met, the Home Office can exercise its discretion in favour of the applicant.

 

Our client, Jodi, found herself in exactly that position. Even though Jodi’s total absences were recalculated when we prepared the application, she still had absences of 502 days during the 5 years qualifying period.

 

To overcome this, we made representations to the Home Office, to request that it exercises its discretion in Jodi’s favour. We also submitted documentary evidence to demonstrate that much of Jodi’s travel was due to her employment commitments because of the seniority and nature of her role.

 

In another past case, where the client had exceeded his permitted absences by 35 days, we submitted medical documentary evidence to illustrate that his travel was necessary. We also provided the Home Office with evidence of his strong ties to the UK by way of mortgage statements for his residential home and family ties.

 

It is of course up to the Home Office to exercise its discretion and each case will be assessed and decided on their individual merits.

 

Nonetheless, the above examples highlight that it is possible to avoid a refusal of British citizenship applications where the absences requirements are exceeded, provided strong evidence is submitted to persuade the Home Office to exercise its discretion favourably.

 

  1. Not meeting the ‘good character’ requirements

The Home Office will assess if you are of sufficient ‘good character’ to be granted British citizenship or whether your previous conduct should adversely affect your application.

 

To be considered as having good character you must have “shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the United Kingdom, observed its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK.”

 

This is quite a broad test, but essentially the Home Office will carry out criminal and civil record checks in every application. As the Home Office is not bound to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, this means that every criminal offence will be considered as part of your application to naturalise, no matter how minor or when the act was committed.

 

Any criminal offence committed, both in the UK and abroad, such as theft, drink driving, use of a mobile phone while driving and driving while disqualified may prevent you from naturalising until a certain period of time has lapsed from the date of conviction.

You may also be prevented from applying successfully if you have any financial issues such as bankruptcy or not having failed to pay your council tax.

It should also be noted that failure to declare any of the above, could also be viewed negatively.

 

Examples

A previous client, who successfully applied to naturalise as a British citizen, had 5 fixed penalty notices for speeding and 2 others for parking related offences. In light of the number of penalty notices, we were wary that such behaviour could show a pattern of non-compliance with UK laws.

 

We therefore took the precaution of highlighting broader aspects of that client’s good character. We also submitted information from DVLA to prove that the client’s overall driving record was positive and that all penalty notices had been resolved.

 

In another instance, Jimmy had recently been declared bankrupt and sought a telephone consultation to discuss his chances of securing British citizenship.

 

Jimmy was advised against making an application to naturalise, at this time, as it was highly likely, in our opinion, and based on his wider financial dealings and lack of strong UK ties, that the application would fail.

 

Jimmy appeared to have sought assistance elsewhere and submitted an application to the Home Office. He contacted us by email to say that he had been invited by the Home Office to provide his biometric data. We informed Jimmy that the receipt of a biometric letter did not equate to approval of his application. Hopefully a decision will go in his favour!

 

Not meeting the good character requirements could lead to a refusal of British citizenship applications and it may be sensible to allow time to lapse before making an application. Nevertheless, there are times when a refusal can be avoided, provided strong evidence is submitted to persuade the Home Office of your good character.

 

  1. Not meeting the English Language requirements

Nationals of majority English speaking countries are not required to demonstrate English language proficiency. Majority English speaking nationals are those from:

  • 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
  • United States of America

If you are from a country not listed above, you must pass an English language test (SELT), at B1 CEFR or higher.

 

It is not uncommon for applicants to provide an English language test certificate below the required level, leading to a possible refusal of the application.

 

Alternatively, if you hold an equivalent level qualification, such as a degree taught in English, such evidence may be submitted with the application instead.

 

The issue often occurs where the applicant received a degree qualification taught to them in English, from an approved university or educational establishment from outside of the UK.

 

Where this occurs, extra steps are required to illustrate how the applicant meets the requirements. For instance, Jodi, had previously submitted evidence of meeting the English language requirements, during her initial application for a Tier 2 (General) visa application and again in her application for indefinite leave to remain. At that time, Jodi had submitted a print out of the  Points Based Calculator detailing how her degree certificate met the requirements.

 

To Jodi’s surprise, the fact that she had met the requirements previously, did not preclude her providing such evidence again. And unfortunately, since 6 April 2016, the Home Office no longer accepts the Points Based Calculator as evidence of meeting the English language requirements.

 

Therefore, we approached UK NARIC for an Academic Qualification Level Statement from UK NARIC confirming that Jodi’s degree qualification was comparable to a UK degree. We submitted this statement, together with on official letter from Jodi’s overseas university stating that the degree was taught in English and also submitted her original degree certificate as part of the application.

 

As a result, we were clearly able to verify that Jodi met the English language requirements.

 

Conclusion

We hope that the 3 tips to avoid a refusal of a British citizenship application have been helpful.

 

As for Jodi, her application for British citizenship was approved and she had since attended the Citizenship Ceremony. As for Jimmy, if you are reading this, not your real name but you know who you are, please feel free to update us on your application and share your experience.

 

Over to you. Have you been refused an application to naturalise as a British citizen? Was it for any of the reasons outlined above or for another reason? And what did you do next?

 

Would you like help you with your application to become a British citizen?

 

Contact us at [email protected] for a quick reply.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families secure visas to travel to and remain in the UK.

 

Call to action

If you would like straightforward immigration guidance or assistance, or simply have a question, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Or learn more about from our blogs

 

 

Fiancée visa or Spouse visa? That is the Question

Fiancee visa
Of all the visa types, assisting clients with fiancée visa or spouse visa applications are some of my favorites. Perhaps I’m an old fashioned romantic but I simply enjoy helping couples secure visas to reunite and carry on their lives together.

And so it was with Raj, a dual British national living and working in the United Kingdom (UK), and Louisa, an American citizen from California.

Raj and Louisa met during their university studies in the UK over 3 years. At the end of their undergraduate studies and Louisa’s Tier 4 student visa, Louisa returned to the United States (US) and took up a lucrative position in New York.

Raj remained in the UK and went on to study for his Masters’ degree before starting and running his own business.

The one constant was Louisa and Raj’s relationship to each other, something that they maintained via Skype, Facetime, email and regular trips abroad whenever their schedules (and finances) allowed it. As Raj’s business grew, he had less freedom to visit Louisa as before, though the funds to do so. For Louisa, taking more time off to visit the UK and spend time Raj was proving increasingly difficult as her employers were not always understanding of her inability to change her travel at short notice.

And so, Raj and Louisa approached me for advice. Raj and Louisa wanted to take their relationship to the next stage and live together. They did their research, readily admitting to me that much of the information they had read elsewhere was either complicated or contradictory.

Based on their research, they both agreed to try and secure a fiancée visa for Louisa to come to the UK to marry Raj. Yep! They were going to tie the knot!!! I warned you I was a bit of a romantic!

Once in the UK, Louisa planned to apply for a spouse visa to remain in the UK with Raj.

And that’s when they contacted me to assist them with applying for a fiancée visa.

However, rather than launch into preparing the fiancée visa, I wanted to make sure Raj and Louisa understood the immigration requirements and were aware of their options.

Fiancée visa

Fiancée visas allow overseas nationals, from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) to enter the UK and marry their British or ‘settled’ partner.

The marriage must take place within 6 months of entry.

This visa type was attractive to Louisa because she could stay in the UK and apply for a UK spouse visa.

I also explained to Raj and Louisa that fiancée visas were very different from marriage visas, the latter being a short term visa to enter the UK to marry only. At the end of the 6 months’ visa, the marriage visa holder must leave the UK.

Clearly, Louisa’s wish was to remain in the UK so a marriage visa was immediately discounted.

Fiancée visa requirements

Though not an exhaustive list, to qualify for a fiancée visa, Louisa would have to demonstrate that:

  • Raj is over 18 years of age
  • That she and Raj had met each other and are in a genuine relationship together
  • That they both intend to live together on a permanent basis once married
  • That they are both free to enter into a relationship with each other
  • They intend to marry in the UK within 6 months
  • They have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • That Raj, as the sponsor, earns a minimum salary of £18,600 per annum or equivalent in savings
  • They have suitable accommodation in the UK

Of importance was helping Raj and Louisa understand  UK Visas and Immigration’s (UKVI’s) application fees and when they would be incurred.

Raj was somewhat shocked to hear of the level of fees involved. For instance, a fiancée visa would cost Louisa and Raj around $2,050 USD at the point of submission on the online application. And they would have to incur similar fees, within 6 months, for a spouse visa as well as incur the Immigration Health Surcharge.

In fact, although they both had well paid jobs, their various overseas trips to see each other and wedding plans had depleted both of their savings.

Spouse visa

We discussed their options further and Louisa revealed that her preference was to marry in California. She had a large family and it would prove logically easier and cost effective to have the wedding in the US.

Raj appeared easy going about the location of the wedding. His family was much smaller and he just wanted to move matters forward.

Another area of concern for Louisa was employment. Louisa considered a 6 months’ career gap to be a long one and was not aware that she could not work while holding a fiancée visa.

Why not get married in California?

Raj and Louisa hadn’t really considered this as an option. Quite rightly they were focused on securing Louisa’s immediate long term stay in the UK, but I wanted to highlight that they had wider options.

Spouse visa requirements

Though not an exhaustive list, to qualify for a spouse visa, Louisa would have to demonstrate that:

  • Raj is over 18 years of age
  • That she and Raj had entered into a genuine marriage
  • That they both intend to live together on a permanent basis once married
  • That they are both free to enter into a relationship with each other
  • They intend to marry in the UK within 6 months
  • They have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • That Raj, as the sponsor, earns a minimum salary of £18,600 per annum or equivalent in savings
  • They have suitable accommodation in the UK

Applying for a spouse visa from New York or California would negate the need for Louisa and Raj to incur fiancée visa fees and for Louisa’s family members to travel to London.

Also, Louisa would be granted entry to the UK for 30 months, and could immediately take up employment. The fact that their marriage would be a recent one, and could be subjected to further scrutiny by UKVI, was something that could be overcome with proper preparation of the application.

Conclusion

Six months later, Louisa secured a spouse visa UK and is currently in the UK.

And I am pleased with the part that I played in helping Louisa to secure her spouse visa from New York, drafting the application form on Louisa’s behalf, advising on the documents to be provided and inspecting them, preparing the application bundle of documents and booking the biometric appointment for her. Like I said at the start, I enjoy seeing couples reunited.

Here’s wishing Louisa and Raj all the best!

And by the way, the main picture is not a photo of Raj and Louisa, but I have seen the wedding photos and they are gorgeous!

 

Over to you. Have you applied for a spouse visa or fiancée visa and how did you find the experience?

 

If not, do you need straightforward immigration advice or guidance? Contact us at [email protected] for a quick reply.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families secure visas to travel to and remain in the UK.

 

Call to action

If you would like straightforward immigration guidance or assistance, or simply have a question, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration.  Or learn more about from our blogs

Brexit Update & EEA Nationals

Thomas Chase Immigration - EEA nationals
It is important to stress that for the time being, EEA nationals, and their family members, continue to have free rights of movement.

Nothing has changed!

What happens after Brexit continues to cause concern, especially following Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May’s much anticipated speech to European (EU) Leaders in Florence, Italy, on 22 September.

During her speech, PM May wanted to make clear to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals: ‘We want you. We want you to stay’.

May broadly outlined that a ‘new regime’ would apply to EEA nationals in future. However, there was more details in a leaked Home Office document, exposed by The Guardian newspaper, which found that the Government intends to take away the right of EEA nationals to travel to the UK to look for work, take up employment, study, set up a business, or live self-sufficiently.

And there is more. The end of freedom of movement will not just apply to new EEA nationals travelling to the UK, but will also apply to EEA nationals already exercising Treaty rights in the UK.

Transitional period

Within the leaked paper, the Government proposed that there should be a transitional period from March 2019, of ‘at least 2 years’. Indeed, during her speech, the Prime Minister was equally unclear about the expected length of the transitional period.

During that period, EEA nationals travelling to the UK for the first time will be expected to do so under new rules requiring them to evidence their status by way of a valid European passport. So national ID cards!

Once in the UK, EEA nationals will need to request permission to reside in the UK by registering with the Home Office. At part of the registration process, the Government would like EU nationals to provide their biometric data. That is, fingerprints and digital facial photographs.

For EEA nationals already in the UK, they may apply to ‘upgrade’ their status to a new ‘settled status’.

Theresa May was keen to highlight that businesses would also need this time to adjust and no doubt, to adapt to the new status of EU nationals and new right to work requirements.

After the Transitional period

According to the leaked document, following the end of the transitional period, all freedom of movement rights will cease and the UK immigration rules will apply.

Under those rules, skilled EEA nationals who are ‘considered highly valuable’ to the UK, may apply to work in the UK for up to 5 years, providing certain conditions are met.

What are those conditions? Well, the document mentions that a minimum income threshold may be introduced. Non-EEA nationals working in the UK under a Tier 2 work visa will be well aware of the minimum income threshold!

Indeed, a minimum income threshold may also be introduced for EEA nationals coming to the UK to live self-sufficiently.

The plans seem extremely restrictive. And as you can imagine, the Government’s plans, as revealed in the leaked document, seeks to place great limitations on the freedom of movement of the family members of EEA nationals.

Government plans to restrict the actual family members that may travel with, or join the EEA national in the UK, to partners of the EEA nationals, children under 18 years of age, and adult dependant relatives. Again, this will bring the ability to bring family members into the UK in line with current immigration rules.

Watch this space for further developments.

What can you do?

If you are an EEA national already in the UK, it needs to be stressed again, that nothing has changed for the time being, and that EU negotiations are still underway.

Yet, planning ahead, you may wish to consider applying to certify your permanent residence so that you may apply for British citizenship.

However, the key is to plan and get advice if necessary. If you have family members that you would like to join you in the UK, it may prove more straightforward to do so under the current, more viable, EU regulations. After all, applying for family members to join you in the UK as a British citizen, or even under the new ‘settled status’ could mean greater Home Office application fees and having to meet the strict requirements.

 

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

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