What to do if your visa was refused and passport held by UKVI – inspired by recent Mail article

A recent Daily Mail article here told how a South African husband was refused Spouse visa extension (after initial 2.5 years). The reason was quite common: English language requirement which has to be at a higher A2 level. The South African gentleman had no idea the rules were changed in 2017.

So, if your visa has been refused, what’s next?

#1 Don’t panic, you won’t be “deported”.

A term ‘deportation’ is overused by the media completely out of context. Deportation is a legal term for a process used to remove foreign criminals. It is not used to split the law-abiding hard-working families because of a technical mistake in the visa application.

#2 Don’t be scared of the letter telling you to leave the UK.

It is a standard letter that comes with all refusals that sounds scary “You now must make arrangements to leave the country”.It is computer-generated. Keep reading and you’ll see it also offering to make a new application, in the same or even different visa category.

#3 Most common remedy – make a new application. 

Examine the rejection reasons and submit a new application addressing them. If the reason was absence of A2 English test – take one. The unavoidable downside is you would have to pay the Government fees again. The only refundable fee is health surcharge.

#4 Can I re-apply if my old visa has expired (expired by the time they refused a new application)? 

Yes, you can do so within 14  days after the refusal.

In the example of this article, the old visa was still valid on the date of refusal. So, despite the panic, the South African husband can re-submit a new application (correcting A2 level problem) and still be “on time”. Can even do same-day service if Ge manages to get an appointment at such a short notice

#5 What if I can’t address the refusal reason within 14 days? 

In our example a Spouse extension was refused because of A2 English test: what is the Spouse can’t take a new test that soon? You can still submit a new application “on time”, pay a new fee and explain that you are taking the new test (when), and ask the UKVI to hold your application until then. They are usually co-operative as long as your reasons and timing are reasonable.

If not English, it could be Financial Requirement that is causing the delay. For example, we had a Spouse switching case where the British spouse earned £18,600 just days before the visa application (through his limited company)but didn’t have time to prepare company’s accounts and submit a tax return. We submitted on time and sent the missing documents a month later. We have also had many cases like this with Life in the UK Test.

#6 What if my passport was retained by the UKVI? 

They indeed keep the original passport if they refuse an application and if your old visa expired. It is, however, not as bad as it sounds. The logic is they return your passport to you at the airport – if you decide to leave the country. If you, however, decide to make a new application (instead of leaving the UK) then the UKVI will simply consider your case as usual and, if they approve it, they return your passport with the approval letter.

The article wrongly claimed that the South African spouse couldn’t re-apply because the Home Office kept his passport. This isn’t the case, the passport is held by the same authority who will be looking at your new application and they have a procedure for requesting the passport from the “holding “ department to caseworkers.

#7 What if I need to travel? 

This was another issue in the article. If you re-apply but need to travel abroad in the next 3 months, it’s possible that your new visa won’t be decided on time and you won’t have a passport. In this case, you could try same-day service which works if your case is straightforward (NOT 10-year route) AND you have your passport AND can get an appointment.

If this doesn’t work, you’d have to make an application from outside the UK. The downside would be waiting for a new visa for 2-3 months. It may also “break” your continuous residence and you may have to start “your” 5 years again to qualify for permanent residency (but this depends on the situation so each case has to be examined individually at a consultation appointment).

#8 What if I need my passport before the visa decision? 

If your application is still pending and you need to travel, you could ask the UKVI to return your passport BUT! How it affects you will depend on the reason for your travels.

In case of a holiday or non-emergency family visit, your application will be treated as “withdrawn”. Yes, you would have your passport back but no decision, no visa and no refund (health surcharge will be refunded but the main fee won’t be). The only alternative would be to wait for a decision and re-arrange your travels.

#9 What about emergency travel? 

In case of emergency travel, you could request your passport without losing the application, ie without have it as “withdrawn”. You’d need to explain why and provide credible evidence such as a fax from hospital.

If you are a visa national and normally require a “visa stamp” to come to the UK you would need to wait for your visa to come back. If you are a non-visa national and normally don’t require a visa to come to the UK then you could come back and wait for the decision here.

Examples of non-visa nationals: American, Canadian, Brazilian, Malaysian and others who don’t need a visitor visa prior to travel.

Examples of visa nationals: Indian, Chinese, Russian, South African and nationals of other African countries and others who require a visitor visa.

#10 Examine your appeal chances. 

Family applications carry a right of appeal, especially if the decision has been made after your previous visa exited and this refusal left you without a visa in the UK. n this particular case, the chances of winning an appeal aren’t good because refusal was correct – the rule is indeed A2 test for a Spouse extension.  Most refusals are correct because the applicant did not meet the Rules, usually unknowingly, such as having miscalculated the Financial Requirement £18,600 or provided the wrong English test.  In some cases, however, it’s worth appealing, such as when the anime Office makes a mistake (happens quite a lot).

For individual advice or to make your application as successful please contact us: info@1st4immigration.com or visit our website, UK Spouse page: http://ukspousevisa.1st4immigration.com/

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.