Prior to this point, you may never have needed to think about the legal, emotional and financial steps to bringing a foreign partner, fiancee or spouse to the UK on a settlement visa. But for the first time you probably realise that the decision you have made to marry your loved one will now mean that you are the person stepping into a new world altogether. The foundations of the relationship you have enjoyed with your partner over the last few months or years leading up to this point may face the greatest test of time and resilience. Now the decision on whether you can live your dreams with the love of your life and for how long, lies not in your hands, but in that of a UK Border Agency (UKBA) official.
There are very different legislative requirements involved when seeking to settle in the UK as a spouse, unmarried partner or fiancee of a British citizen or UK legal permanent resident. Many people consider the whole immigration process as an insurmountable barrier. It is not the knowledge that a visa application must be submitted to the government agency responsible for administering the immigration system in the UK that overwhelms you, but actually your lack of knowledge of the immigration process in general. After all, this is the process which takes you from your hope of being reunited with your loved one, to the actual fulfilment of being with them legally in the UK.
UK immigration law is a bureaucratic world with picky rules, rules which are often unstated, poorly stated, or without any apparent purpose. What initially looks like an easy task of completing routine application forms and paying visa fees rapidly turns into a difficult journey full of hostile immigration officials asking numerous questions to confirm that you meet the strict criteria for approval. The consequences of an unsuccessful application are, at a minimum, the loss of hundreds of pounds in UKBA fees and the loss of months of time. The application processing fee (currently £1,464) is non-refundable regardless of the outcome.
The outcome of your case will mainly depend on the ‘quality’ of your supporting documents. The majority of UK settlement applications are decided without reference to the applicant or their sponsor. There is no option to send in further documents or add to your application, when you wake up in the middle of the night with the awful thought that you have left something out, or said something that could be misconstrued. The UKBA officials will not accept any additional evidence, and will base their decision on everything you say, or fail to mention, in your initial submission. There will be no second chance if your initial application is turned down.
Applying for a fiancee, unmarried partner or spousal visa involves far more than simply filling out application forms. The questions are often complex and carefully designed to reflect UK immigration law. This means that questions which may seem straightforward are actually designed to glean information that may highlight potential discrepancies in the case. Many people try to complete a UK marriage visa application on their own and, through an understandable lack of knowledge of the complex UK immigration laws and regulations, give incorrect or inconsistent answers to seemingly inconsequential questions. Supporting documentation presented with the paper application can also raise questions and the applicant may only be made aware of issues with the case when the visa request is rejected weeks or months later. Furthermore, if your initial application is unsuccessful, your case will move into the appeal phase which can take the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) from six to eight months to conclude, with not necessarily a positive result for you and your loved one.
You can save a great deal of time and money by appointing experienced immigration consultants as your visa application representative in the first instance. We will ensure that your initial application package is deemed ‘clearly approvable‘, with the required supporting documentation. We can also prepare your loved one for the potential face-to-face or telephone interview with an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO). Our consultants use their experience and in-depth knowledge of UK immigration regulations to evaluate each case; interpreting laws, rules and policies to make sure your case is likely to succeed.