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Immigration Solicitors

Implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on Spouse/Partner and Fiancé Visas (15 April 2020)

Date: 15/04/2020
Duncan Lewis, Immigration Solicitors, Implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on Spouse/Partner and Fiancé Visas

The Covid-19 pandemic is an uncertain time for all. However, those individuals who are separated from close family members or are worried about being separated from loved ones are particularly stressed and distraught.

Extending your leave to remain in the UK

Before your leave expires, an application for further leave to remain in the UK as a spouse or partner must be submitted. This will prevent you from becoming an overstayer. In addition, when extending your leave to remain as a spouse or partner in the UK, it is important to get the timing of your application right.

In order to meet the financial requirement it might be a good idea to move back or bring forward the intended application date for further leave to remain to a time when the financial requirements can be met. Examples of possible situations where the Covid-19 pandemic may have resulted in adverse implications on the financial requirements include:

  • those furloughed who would have seen a reduction in salary;

  • employees who have experienced a reduction in salary;

  • self-employed who might be able to meet the requirements based on income for the last financial year, but would struggle or fail to meet the financial requirements this financial year;

  • those relying on the sale of assets during the massive economic downturn.

In situations where you previously met the financial requirements, but are no longer able to do so you would need to wait until the financial requirements can be satisfied, or make an application showing evidence of ‘exceptional circumstances’ demonstrating ‘unjustifiably harsh consequences’ for the family. In such a situation, the Home Office would consider other sources of income outside the usual specified list to ascertain if the family can support themselves. Other sources of income could include:

  • a credible guarantee of sustainable financial support to the applicant or their partner from a third party;

  • credible prospective earnings from the sustainable employment or self-employment of the applicant or their partner; or

  • any other credible and reliable source of income or funds for the applicant or their partner, which is available to them at the date of application or which will become available to them during the period of limited leave applied for.

It is important to note that just having someone willing to offer financial assistance is not enough. It is important to demonstrate ‘unjustifiably harsh consequences’ for the family. The source of income shown needs to be genuine and effective where it is crucial to submit strong documentary evidence.

Another ‘exceptional circumstance’ application for leave to remain in the UK could be in a scenario where you have a ‘genuine and subsisting parental relationship’ with a child who is under 18 who has lived in the UK continuously for the seven years before the date of the application, or is British. With such an application it is necessary to demonstrate that it would not be reasonable to require the child to leave the UK. With cases involving children the Home Office is compelled to take the child’s best interests into account.

You may also rely on exceptional circumstances if you have a genuine and subsisting relationship with a partner who is in the UK and is British, settled, with refugee status, or humanitarian protection where there would be ‘insurmountable obstacles’ to family life continuing outside the UK. The threshold is higher than not being reasonable to relocate as you would need to show very significant difficulties with relocating outside the UK which could not be overcome or would entail very serious hardship.

Where exceptional circumstances are relied upon as stated above, leave can be granted even in circumstances where the financial requirements can’t be met. The leave would however be granted on a ten year route to settlement rather than the five year route.

Fiancé(e) applications

If you are in the UK as a fiancé(e), unable to get married due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it might be necessary to extend your leave for a further period in order for the marriage to take place. This would involve making a further application from the UK. In order to avoid paying for a further application you might want to take advantage of the Home Office’s extension policy for those with leave expiring before the 31st May 2020.

Covid-19 policy

It is now possible for those with leave expiring before the 31 May 2020 who are visiting the UK to make their application under the Spouse or Partner category without having to leave the UK. The switching from Visiting Visa to Spouse or Partner category would not have been previously allowed and is now allowed under the governments Covid-19 policy.

The situation and timing of an application to extend leave to remain in the UK as a spouse or partner will differ depending on the specific circumstances of an individual. For bespoke advice and assistance, contact author and business immigration director Ayan Yalchin.

Ayan has more than 19 years’ post-qualification experience acting on behalf of individuals and businesses in a variety of immigration related proceedings. He specialises in Tier 1, Tier 2, and sponsorship licences for companies including renewals and advising on processes and compliance, Tier 4 (students) and Tier 5 (temporary workers), as well as all types of entry clearance, FLR, settlement, EEA and ECAA/ Ankara agreement applications.

Contact Ayan on 020 7275 2011 or at ayany@duncanlewis.com

Duncan Lewis Business Immigration Solicitors

Our Immigration department is ranked as a top-tier practice in Immigration: human rights, appeals and overstay matters in The Legal 500 2020. As leading immigration specialists we advise on business immigration, right to work in the UK, Tier 2 visa applications, student/graduate visas, spousal visas and visa overstays.

Our broad practice provides a full service to SME business clients across the UK in relation to the Points Based System (PBS); Sponsorship license applications and immigration strategy/compliance advice. Our specialist solicitors are also able to advise businesses and individuals on any changes to UK immigration law as a result of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

For expert legal advice call Duncan Lewis Immigration solicitors on 020 7275 2011

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