Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Following an article on Huffington Post from a JCWI CEO, we ask the unthinkable: What if Meghan Markle’s visa application is rejected by the Home Office?

You think it’s not possible? Yet it is. All it takes is a Home Office official making a mistake when applying their own complex UK Immigration Rules. Does it happen? Yes, and fairly often. Is it easy to put right even though it’s the mistake of the authorities’? It can be put right but it won’t be easy and quick.

We came across this interesting, very emotional article on Huffington Post: As Meghan Markle Chooses To Become A British Citizen I Just Wait For My Wife To Be Able To Come Home. Written by a Chief Executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), a most prominent organisation that campaigns for the foreign citizens - who come here legally and abide by the UK law - to be treated fairly. His own wife’s entry clearance application was refused by the Home Office, only for the officials to admit later they had made a mistake.

Mr Singh, the author, doesn't go into technical details why it was refused but the point is the Home Office later admitted they had made a mistake. He also adds that “42% of working British people cannot meet the financial requirements that qualify your right to marry a foreign national”.

We wish Mr Singh all the best and now moving on to Meghan Markle.

Jokes aside, with Prince Harry not having a full-time steady employment, he may not be able to meet the Financial Requirement “on paper”.  The couple would have to use other means, such as non-employment income and/or savings, but these other options often confuse the visa offices when applying their own rules. Particularly when it comes to using savings or investments held abroad, such as in American funds. (American customers are one of our most common category of clientele in the Spouse visa casework, so we know well there are many banks and many types of investments over there ).

Let’s imagine Meghan applies for a UK Spouse visa but her application is refused. What’s next?

Option 1: appeal. Appealing to the court, ie to an independent judge to keep the Home Office on the straight and narrow, may sound like a good idea. In fact, if the refusal is indeed clearly wrong, appealing is the only option without applying again (and paying fees again). The downside is such an appeal may take a year. In our practice, such appeals of ours rarely go beyond the first stage, resulting in the Home Office admitting quickly (within 2-3 months ) that they had made a mistake.

Option 2: fresh application. This means applying all over again, addressing the mistakes made in the refused application (if applicable). The upside - faster than appeal, can be just a matter of weeks or even days. The downside - you have to pay the government fees again. And if the first application was refused wrongly, you won’t get “justice” because the visa officers will only be examining the new application.

Examples from our practice of clearly wrong refusals (they echo reasons given in Mr Singh’s article): Home Office claiming not seeing the dividend vouchers which were clearly submitted and mentioned in the application. This is just an example, it can be any other documents.  Another example we had was a miscalculation of employment income of the British Spouse under Category B, income from variable earnings. Yet another example was confusing a self-employed person (sole trader) with a director of a limited company. Self-employment income, in general, is one of our best area of expertise at 1st 4Immigration and a subject we take great pleasure working with and - if needed- “arguing” about with the Home Office.

As a general rule, we advise to re-apply if the refusal was correct, which, unfortunately, is the case with most refusals (as painful as it sounds). But to appeal if the refusal was clearly wrong, such as in calculation of the Financial Requirement.

Option 3: changing your circumstances and then re-applying, usually after 6 months. A simple example would be for Harry securing a job with a salary £18600 pa, putting up with it for 6 months and then quitting it when Meghan gets her visa. He can be employed by the family “Firm”, as long as the organisation in question registers as an employer with HMRC. (Harry, you’ve heard this advice here first!)

Again jokes aside, this is often the only viable option for couples returning together to the UK after living abroad.


To read more about Spouse Visa please visit our website: http://www.1st4immigration.com/spouse-partner-visas-5-year-route.php

We also launched a new original series 10 Common Mistakes - Financial Requirement for UK Spouse Visa.

For individual advice or to make a real Spouse visa application (and to be treated like a Royal!) please contact us: info@1st4immigration.com.  We respond emails on the same working day!

1st 4Immigration Ltd, authorised by the OISC, ref 200800152. We operate at the highest Level 3 of expertise. Office address: 68 King William Street, City of London, London, EC4M 7DZ.