For many, a key step in deciding to visit or move to the UK is to obtain a visa. Unfortunately, people frequently face a number of challenges in securing a visa.
Narinder Sandher, Head of Immigration at BR Partners, offers her top tips for securing a UK visa successfully.
- Remember that the legal process for applying for a UK visa changes frequently
Immigration is a fluid area of law; unlike other areas, it evolves and changes frequently. You need to be
aware of the changes and ensure that all the information you have on the visa application process that applies to you is up-to-date and correct. In the coming years, the process is likely to change again following Brexit.
- Understand that it’s a complex process
Many people wrongly assume that UK immigration law is straightforward enough to be undertaken themselves. On the contrary, visa applications can be complex and lengthy and it is therefore imperative for applicants ensure they do not underestimate the process by just searching for the relevant rules and procedures online. Although the Internet is certainly the place to find plenty of useful and correct information, there are also countless immigration “forums”, where much erroneous material is unfortunately passed around. This just adds more complexity to an applicant’s case and people can end up seriously confused.
- But don’t worry unnecessarily…
Just as there are people who seem to be too confident in their understanding of immigration law, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also those who become extremely paranoid and pessimistic about the application processes as a whole. Often this is because they may have heard visa failure stories from other people around them. A positive and informed attitude is better to ensure a successful application.
- Make sure you submit all the correct documentation
Similarly, where an applicant wants to manage their own cases, it is always advisable to seek professional advice to make sure that you indeed qualify for the route for which you are applying and have the correct documentation. So many applicants are under the misconception that the Home Office or Embassy will contact them for additional clarity and although to some extent the Home Office has improved in this regard; on the whole, the onus is on the applicant to provide a complete application.
- Answer all questions truthfully and fully
Applicants must be truthful and consistent in answering all the relevant visa questions. There are some who deliberately provide false and misleading answers, but more frequently, people make honest mistakes: an applicant who didn’t mention a failed visa application from five years ago, for example, assuming it would be irrelevant. Provisions of incorrect information – whether deliberate or mistaken – are very likely to result in a failed application and, more seriously, could also potentially have an adverse effect on future applications, including a potential ban of up to ten years.
An applicant’s visa application is merited on the documents that the applicant includes in support of their application. The Immigration rules can be strict: failure to provide the correct specified documentation could result in major administrative delays, or even refusal of an application. Points based applications and visitor’s visas, for example, no longer have a right to appeal, so it is therefore imperative to ensure that the documentation provided with the application is impermeable.
- Be aware of changes to fees
Many people do not realise that UKBA visa fees are subject to much change. Some unfortunately fail to either provide the right amount to cover the fees, particularly in cases involving additional dependents, or they fail to make the application on the right form of payment: more and more visa application centres, for example, no longer accept cash payments. Not knowing the correct fee and what means are acceptable to pay it with could potentially mean an applicant would lose their appointment, causing unnecessary stress and disappointment. Applicants should refer to the ap
propriate official sources for the correct fee information.
- Make sure you use the correct and most recent form
Applicants may have overcome the obstacles and have been granted a visa to enter the UK, however this is not the end of the journey. There are countless UK immigration application forms for the different categories of visa. An example of a common error is people using form FLR(M) instead of FLR(FP) when making an application as a spouse relying on Human Rights outside the rules. Additionally, UK immigration application forms are subject to frequent change, sometimes up to three or four times per year. You should apply using the most recent application form when making a visa application. If not, then your application will be returned and more often than not, the fee is not reimbursed. This is one of the many reasons people inadvertently overstay their leave, as by the time the authorities have returned the application, the applicant would have become an Illegal immigrant, having overstayed their time since their last leave expired.
- Always comply with the visa requirements
In addition, applicants have to make sure they comply with the visa requirements throughout the duration of their visa. For example, an investor ion an Investment Visa must invest their money into the UK. Failure to do so would prohibit them for qualifying for an extension of stay or settlement.
- Be mindful of and stay within the allocated timeframes
Some people are unfortunately not aware of the serious consequences of applying for a visa after their most recent leave has already expired, or where one is applying for their first visa. It is important that the supporting documentation is submitted within the time limits that the Embassy will accept. Or, where the applicant is applying for an extension, for example, under the points based system, applicants are specifically required to have had existing leave when applying for an extension of their visa application. Most significantly, making an out of time application could result in a loss of appeal rights altogether, should their application fail. This poses the risk of having to return to your home country to apply for new entry clearance, or even being banned from making any further applications, merely because you may have inadvertently outstayed your allocated time in the UK.
- Seek legal advice
These are some of the challenges that applicants will face when attempting to secure a visa to the UK, and extension of stay in the UK. If you are unsure about any aspect of the process, always seek independent legal advice, even if you do not intend to instruct the lawyer to handle the full case. Most lawyers will be happy to do this – and clearly there will be a consultation fee for the service – but at least it will avoid the potential long term stress or heartache that can be caused and will provide peace of mind.
If you are looking for expert advice on your UK visa application, contact our Experts so you can be introduced to our trusted legal partners, who can support you throughout the whole process.