Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Spouse Visa Application
The UK Spouse Visa application is notoriously difficult to navigate, partly due to the hefty and lengthy Spouse Visa requirements and the portfolio aspect of the application itself.
The application is well known for its complexity. It can be a huge burden for anyone attempting to navigate through the application process alone, and those who do try without professional support are more likely to fall victim to tedious mistakes.
Furthermore, UKVI and the immigration officers in charge of assessing each Spouse Visa application exert little leeway when it comes to errors. These decision-makers are tasked with scrutinising each Spouse Visa application it receives. As such, even the most minor errors can result in an outright visa refusal. From there, applicants can either appeal, seek an administrative review or start the process all over again – not to mention that the Home Office does not issue refunds for failed applications.
Our immigration lawyers here at 1 Absolute Advisor have compiled the Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Spouse Visa Application. Read on to learn more about how you can protect yourself – and your wallet – from a costly visa refusal.
- Satisfying the ‘genuine relationship’ test
Arguably the highest hurdle of the Spouse Visa application is passing the ‘genuine relationship’ test. This test is largely subjective as an immigration official will assess not only your application, but the legitimacy and sincerity of your relationship. You must prove to the caseworker that your relationship is ‘genuine and subsisting’.
UKVI takes this aspect of the application very seriously. The UK Government is cracking down on so-called ‘sham marriages’ and ‘marriages of convenience’ where fraudsters marry for visa privileges.
Yet there is no set guidance on how to pass the ‘genuine relationship’ test. Your immigration lawyer might advise you to gather evidence of your relationship from the day you met to the current day and map out a timeline. Photographs together, travel tickets, your marriage certificate, holidays taken together and any gifts bought for one another could all be included in your application as proof of your sincerity. Letters from family and friends may also be considered.
- The financial requirement
A second common mistake applicants make is proving that they meet the Spouse Visa financial requirements.
The sponsor of the visa (the partner who is settled in the UK) must earn at least £18,600 per annum, which is known as the ‘Minimum Income Threshold’. This can be met through a combination of ways, including:
- Income from employment
- Non-employment income (like rental income)
- Self-employment income
- Some benefits
- Maternity pay
But applicants can fall short of submitting all the necessary documents.
It is also common for applicants to miscalculate their finances, particularly if he/she earns below the minimum income threshold.
- Unoriginal and unofficial copies
Visa applicants more generally tend to make the mistake of sending unoriginal or unofficial copies of documents. And while the Home Office changed its position in 2018 to permit photocopies, there are still some instances where applicants need to submit the original document.
For Spouse Visa applicants, the original passports belonging to the couple will need to be shown as proof of their identity, but most other documents can be scanned.
However, bank statements and payslips that are submitted to satisfy the financial requirement need to be official with headed stationary and the bank or company logo on every page. These statements must also be recent – no more than 28 days old from the day it is received.
- Incorrect or incomplete statements
Since the Spouse Visa application has such high criteria, there is little room for error. The application must be concrete and coherent for the caseworker to make a fair verdict.
Any documents or statements that are incorrect or incomplete will be rejected by UKVI. The decision-maker will spot any signs of inconsistency or gaps in your application. If you lie or provide misleading information, the Home Office may even flag your application as deceptive, so it’s always best to be honest and full with your answers.
If evidence becomes outdated or invalid by the time it reaches the Home Office, UKVI does grant applicants the opportunity to rectify the error. However, applicants have only 10 days to supply the correct information.
Either way, submitting incorrect or incomplete forms is bound to delay the Spouse Visa processing time, so double check your application. You can even hire an immigration lawyer for a thorough document-check.
- Insufficient evidence – or too much
Failing to prove that you meet the Spouse Visa criteria with sufficient evidence is another area where applicants tend to go wrong.
The Spouse Visa requirements are long, and you must prove that you can meet every single one with confidence. Your visa may be delayed or refused if you provide insufficient evidence.
On the other hand, while most of this guidance suggests the Married Partner Visa demands a plethora of evidence, there is also a risk of submitting too much information. Unnecessary additional information may cast a doubt over the sincerity of your application – and the caseworker will take even longer to read through it.
To mitigate against a delay or visa refusal, make sure to create a portfolio of evidence that answers all the questions, requirements and criteria succinctly and in few documents.
- Sitting the wrong English language test or letting it expire
A key component of the UK Married Partner Visa application is the English language test, referred to as the ‘Secure English Language Test’ (SELT). The SELT is necessary for overseas applicants to prove that they can communicate and understand English to a certain degree. Yet applicants either sit the wrong test or their certificate expires before they apply for a visa.
While there are many centres offering English language courses and examinations, only few SELT providers are approved by UKVI. This means the applicant may need to travel to the appropriate test centre, as well as pass at least level A1.
The Home Office states applicants can only take a SELT test with one of the following providers:
- IELTS Selt Consortium
- Trinity College London
- PSI Services (UK) LTD
It is also important to note that the SELT certificate can be no older than two years old when applying for a Spouse Visa. If your certificate has expired, you will need to re-sit the test and submit your new certificate in your visa application.
All official documentation in the Spouse Visa application has to translated into English or Welsh (depending on where you plan on living). This may mean you need to pay a translation fee, too.
Applicants often slip up here by failing to get their documents translated in full by a verified translator.
- Applying as a visitor
The Visitor Visa is one of a handful of UK visas where applicants are unable to switch or amend their immigration status. Visitors are permitted entry into the country for visiting, family or tourism purposes only.
For marriage, applicants can either apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa or a Fiancé Visa. The former permits overseas nationals to enter the UK for 6 months to give notice of marriage, after which they must leave the country, while the Fiancée Visa allows holders to switch onto a Spouse Visa to remain in Britain after tying the knot.
Therefore, visitors are unable to switch onto a Spouse Visa as a key condition of the visit permit is that they leave the UK once the visa expires.
Letters and written statements are encouraged by UKVI as it gives the caseworker some context to the documents that you have supplied.
You may already need your manager to provide an ‘employee’s letter’ as proof of your employment and salary – but you should also consider writing your own declaration. Your statement could assist in meeting the ‘genuine relationship’ requirement as you could outline your plans for the future when living with your married spouse in the UK.
Although letters aren’t compulsory, it may be the final piece of the puzzle that UKVI considers when making its decision.
- Attempting the application alone
Now that you know the Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Spouse Visa Application.Finally, the most common mistake that failed Spouse Visa applicants make is attempting the application alone.
Most visas on the UK’s points-based immigration system and its tiered system are complicated to navigate, and the Spouse Visa has gained notoriety for being the most complex of them all.
The best way to mitigate against the vast majority of these mistakes is to hire an OISC-certified immigration lawyer. Having a professional pair of eyes examine your visa application can make all the difference between a stamp of approval – or a stamp of rejection.
If you need help meeting the Spouse Visa requirements, speak to our immigration lawyers in London today. Our Spouse Visa specialists can help you to tackle the application, or simply provide a document-check. Call us today to find out how our team can help you on 0207 993 6762.