Post-Brexit immigration rules are now in effect in the UK, causing some concern over the status of UK Spousal Visas. Britain’s new point-based immigration system has created more stringent rules for foreign nationals hoping to move to the UK, whether they are from inside or outside of the EU. In this post, we will explore the issue, looking into detail at:
- The complexities of the Spouse Visa application process.
- Changes to the EU Spouse Visa after Brexit.
- Bringing your partner to the UK under the new immigration system.
How will Brexit impact UK spouse visa applications?
As of 2021, newly introduced immigration rules mean that freedom of movement between the EU and UK has come to an end, and all European nations must seek a visa to enter the UK.
The changes to the immigration rules mean that future applicants from EU countries must now follow the same visa process as non-EU citizens. This includes:
- Proving that your relationship is genuine through the presentation of documents such as marriage certificates, photographs and call logs.
- Showing that you meet the financial requirements of the Spouse Visa through bank statements or payslips.
- Applying online with copies of the relevant documentation.
Individuals already living in the UK who are eligible for the Spouse Visa can apply online from within the UK. EU-UK couples will be required to hold the appropriate visa by 29 March 2022, and the process is similar to that of outside of the UK, however visa fees and waiting times are lower.
For those who are currently in the UK on a different visa can switch to the Spouse Visa at anytime before their current visa expires. After gaining a successful Spousal Visa, individuals must seek an extension after 2 and a half years. The visa extension process for the Spouse Visa remains largely the same, with individuals able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after holding the visa for 5 years.
Spousal Visa within UK immigration
Spousal Visas, as the name suggests, permit foreign nationals to come to the UK to live with their spouse. They are a part of a broader category known as “family visas” under which families are permitted to reside together in accordance with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In recent years the Home Office has placed family visas under intense scrutiny which has, according to the Children’s Commissioner for England, separated at least 15,000 children from their parents.
The Home Office has come down particularly harshly on spousal visas, in 2018 the Guardian uncovered marriage registrations which were identified as a “potential” shame. This was an increase of 40 % compared to the number of cases identified in 2014.
The Home Office has defended its harsh line by stating that this scrutiny is necessary to end forced marriages. Last year, there was over 1,000 forced marriage cases reported, many of which included British women and underage girls effectively being sold and married abroad against their will. They would then return to the UK with their abuser who could reside in the UK through a spousal visa.
The Home Office has not released statistics on the official number of forced marriages however there have been reports of investigators disrupting wedding ceremonies and interrogating couples with harsh questions about their intimate lives.
What is the UK Spouse Visa Process After Brexit?
The Spouse Visa allows individuals with a British partner to live with them in the UK. The application process requires that the couple can prove their relationship is genuine. Visa application will need to be supported by relevant documentation to prove that the relationship is genuine, such as a marriage certificate or call logs. This part of the process requires individuals to collate a substantial amount of information to support their application.
Before Brexit put new immigration rules into effect for EU nationals, joining a partner to live with them in the UK was a much more straightforward process. Now, EU nationals are not exempt from the Spouse Visa application process.
Gaining a Spousal Visa can be a truly gruelling process as it invites excessive scrutiny of almost all aspects of your personal life. Applicants who fail to produce the proper documentation required may be refused a visa and denied a right to a family life but those who have submitted too much may face a similar fate.
According to an official statement of change in March of this year, the Secretary of State reserves the right to refuse an application if the applicant misses just one interview. If immigration officials suspect that this marriage is done for immigration purposes, they may also deny the visa as this would be termed a “marriage of convenience”.
Spousal Visas hold one of the highest refusal rates across all visa categories.
How can Westkin Associates help?
With over three decades of combined experience in immigration law, our lawyers have developed a specialist knowledge of this process and the intricacies behind these applications.
Our solicitors have a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of immigration law and have successfully applied for Spousal Visas and Fiance Visas as well as appealed Home Office decisions.
We understand how important it is to keep families and loved ones close and will work tirelessly with you to make this a reality.
Please contact our team by phone: 02071184546 or via email for assistance with your Spouse Visa application.