With Brexit on the horizon, concerns have been raised over the status of UK spousal visas and the ease with which one can bring over their partner to reside in the UK. It is likely that with the withdrawal from the EU, Britain’s immigration system will be more stringent and less open to foreign nationals, both from the EU and outside of it. This post hopes to shed light on the complexities of the application and what may change with Britain leaving the EU.
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.
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 will Brexit impact UK spouse visa applications?
After 2021, all European nations will need to seek a visa to enter the UK as freedom of movement between the EU and the UK will likely be brought to an end.
EU-UK couples will have the same status as non-EU nationals and be forced to meet the same UK spouse visa requirements and sit the same interview.
Some EU couples will need to hold the appropriate visa by 29 March 2022 but will need to show that their relationship existed before hand. Once they have gained a successful spousal visa, they will then need to seek an extension after 2 and a half years.
To find out more about the spousal visa application click here.
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.