Meghan Markle and the Immigration Rules on marriage

Hearty congratulations from all of us at Free Movement to the former army officer and UN charity worker who are due to marry next year. But given that Meghan Markle is an American citizen, what hoops will the happy couple need to jump through in order to complete their nuptials? You might think that because Ms Markle is marrying a British citizen – and a very British citizen at that – immigration law has no particular role to play. You would be wrong. As what the Home Office would call a “non-EEA national”, she must apply for a visa to enter the UK and marry Prince Harry. Essentially she has two options…

28th November 2017 By Nicholas Webb

Home Office cracking down on entry of amateur cricketers

The Home Office appears to be cracking down on the entry of foreign amateur cricketers and sportspeople. Emails released by the Home Office under a Freedom of Information request suggest that unpaid amateur cricketers who might in future wish to earn a living from their sport or even any under 17 player who has played at state, province, territory or national team level, paid or unpaid, should be barred from entry to play as an amateur in the UK “so as to protect opportunities for resident sportspeople who are seeking to make a current or future liivng in that sport” and “prevent the displacement of settled workers.” The same approach…

26th July 2017 By Free Movement

General grounds for refusal: alleged deception and innocent mistakes

Making a mistake on an immigration application form can be disastrous. If the mistake is interpreted by officials as an attempt to mislead or deceive, the application will inevitably be refused. If the application was for entry clearance, it will also lead to a 10 year ban on re-entry to the UK. There are a number of relevant court cases and Home Office policies that can help if such a situation does arise, although of course it is far, far preferable to avoid such a problem in the first place. What are the Immigration Rules on deception? Automatic refusals There are two key effects of a finding of deception by an…

28th March 2017 By Colin Yeo

What do immigration officers look for when assessing visit visa applications?

“Two visas had been rejected … I was wrenched by a heavy feeling of humiliation…trying to prove that I’m a “normal person” like any Englishman, that I’m not aspiring to swap my career in Egypt as a cartoonist [and] scriptwriter … for British social welfare, that I really want to see my wife’s grandmother who is really old, and that’s it.” – Andeel, Egypt (taken from an article featured in Mada Masr, an Egyptian online newspaper) In the year to September 2016, UK immigration authorities received almost 2 million applications for visit visas. Just over 15% of these applications were rejected. That is almost 300,000 decisions to refuse entry. We…

6th March 2017 By Colin Yeo

Home Office visit visa guidance updated

The Home Office and Entry Clearance Officer guidance on visit visa cases has been reissued and updated. Changes are as follows: Visit visa applications from persons with Right of Abode to be refused – Page 3 Clarified that evidence is required when refusing on mandatory grounds – Page 8 Example of when an applicant may be considered to have few or no ties to their home country – Page 12 Exception on study as a visitor for long-term visit visa holders – page 25 Clarified that escorting a private medical treatment is not a permitted visitor activity – pages 27 and 44 Deleted reference to 2 year China visit visa…

5th January 2017 By Colin Yeo

Visitor deceived authorities by failing to disclose relationship on entry

Another case here that serves as a warning against attempting to arrive on a visitor visa to marry an EU national while not telling the Immigration Officer that this is in fact your reason for entering the UK. Despite “some 500 pages” of evidence substantiating the genuineness of the relationship at the marriage interview, the Claimant’s withholding the true reason for his coming to the UK from the Immigration Officer at Luton Airport proved fatal to his case that he did not enter the country by deception. An interesting point is that apparently it can in some cases be proper for an Immigration Officer to enquire about the sex life of…

13th July 2016 By Paul Erdunast

Could Donald Trump be given a visa ban preventing him travelling to the UK?

Following his attention seeking call for all Muslims to be banned from entering the United States, there have been calls for Donald Trump to be given a “visa ban” preventing him from coming to the UK. Is this feasible in UK immigration law? The answer is probably “yes” although one recent court challenge by Jeremy Corbyn and others to a visa ban did succeed on free speech grounds. Whether banning a self publicist like Trump would be wise or would be counterproductive is another matter.

9th December 2015 By Colin Yeo

ICI Inspection on Amman Visa Section: improvements made but same old problems remain

Improvements have been made to the quality of decisions and to record-keeping in the Home Office’s Visa Section in Jordan. However, the decision makers regularly failed to take supporting evidence adequately into account, and, in a fifth of cases, based their decision on incorrect facts. The Amman Visa Section is a visa processing unit dealing with visa applications from the Middle East and Pakistan. It came under inspection in March by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders & Immigration. The inspection only covered “Other Visitors” – that is, mainly tourist, business visitor, and short-term student visas. The full report can be found here.

6th November 2015 By Paul Erdunast

New rules for Chinese visitors announced

Interesting No 10 press release announcing new rules for Chinese visitors to the UK from some time in 2016. We can expect a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules closer to that time. The key change seems to be a new standard minimum 2 year multiple entry visit visa exclusively for Chinese nationals: The standard 6 month UK visitor visa currently costs £85. The new 2 year visitor visa and the 10 year visitor visa, when it is introduced, will cost the same as the standard visitor visa no matter how visits are made. Today’s announcement is part of a wider migration dialogue between the UK and China, which will…

22nd October 2015 By Colin Yeo

Inspection of family visit visa system: serious problems remain

The family visit visa system underwent an inspection by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration last month. The posts inspected were Abu Dhabi, Accra, Amman, Dhaka, Kingston, Manila, Nairobi, New Delhi, Croydon and Sheffield. The Inspector confidently declares that there is “no evidence that the removal of the full right of appeal from Family Visitor visa applicants had led to a higher refusal rate or to an overall reduction in decision quality.” There is also no evidence in the public domain which might either confirm or refute this claim. However, the assertion appears to conflict with the figures on family visit visa refusal rates which this blog uncovered just…

24th August 2015 By Colin Yeo

Ai Weiwei refused full UK visa because of alleged previous “conviction”

In an interesting example of the self defeating nature of the UK’s immigration rules, failure to follow Home Office policy and failure of basic common sense, the renowned Chinese artist Mr Ai Wei Wei has been refused a visit visa by a senior British immigration official. He has been granted entry outside the rules, but entry has been restricted to just 20 days compared to the normal 6 months that is granted to most visitors. The Guardian is reporting the story and has a full copy of the letter received by Mr Weiwei.

30th July 2015 By Colin Yeo

Home Office wins appeal against award of £125,000 damages

The Court of Appeal has overturned the fruity findings of Anthony Thornton QC in the case of R (on the application of Patel) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWCA Civ 645. The case was widely reported at the time, including on this blog (Family visitor receives £125,000 damages for mistreatment by immigration officials. The findings of fact and the award of £125,000 in damages are overturned and a new trial ordered: Despite the glaring shortcomings in the way in which the Secretary of State chose to advance her case, therefore, I do not think that the judge was entitled on the limited evidence before him to…

24th June 2015 By Colin Yeo

Family visit appeal fails on human rights grounds

In the case of Adjei (visit visas – Article 8) [2015] UKUT 261 (IAC) the Upper Tribunal dismisses an appeal against refusal of a family visit visa. This is despite the First-tier Tribunal finding that the application in question in truth met the requirements of the Immigration Rules and that the visit was between parent and child, albeit that both were adults.

2nd June 2015 By Colin Yeo

Visit visa refusals: appeal or judicial review?

The removal of full rights of appeal for family visit visas has led to a legal dilemma to those considering a challenge to a refusal: should they give up, re-apply, attempt a human rights appeal or should they launch an application for judicial review? The problem seems all the more acute with many reports of refusals to spouses or relatives who cannot meet the harsh family settlement rules or who would rather live abroad but still want to be able to visit their spouse’s friends and family in the UK. This is an old but perennially popular blog post on Free Movement so I thought I would update and republish…

12th May 2015 By Colin Yeo

New immigration rules for visitors to the United Kingdom

A new set of rules for visitors to the United Kingdom has been introduced taking effect on all applications made on or after 24 April 2015. The changes are brought about by Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC 1025. The new rules are set out in a new Appendix V to the Immigration Rules. V is for Visitor, not Vendetta, nor is it a reference to a trashy 1980s scifi show. Appendix V does not represent any major change in what a visitor needs to show in order to be granted a visa but the rules are now presented very differently to the past and new guidance is…

6th May 2015 By Colin Yeo

Visitor appeal succeeds on human rights grounds

In a very welcome determination that comes a mere two years after the abolition of full rights of appeal for visitors but in the middle of the scything of full rights of appeal for everyone else, President McCloskey has turned his attention to the question of the relevance of compliance with the Immigration Rules to a human rights appeal. The answer is that where a person meets the terms of the Immigration Rules, their appeal will normally fall to be allowed on human rights grounds, assuming that human rights are engaged in some way in the first place.

10th March 2015 By Colin Yeo

Major changes to visit visa regime coming soon

Major changes are coming soon to the visit visa system. The Home Office has been consulting with selected partners for what seems like ages and it looks like implementation is set for April 2015. The ridiculous number of separate visit visa forms and categories is to be seriously simplified – back to nearly what it was a few years ago…

10th February 2015 By Colin Yeo

Rejection of visit visa to attend funeral: analysis

In the news today we can see that an Entry Clearance Officer has rejected an application for a visit visa for two grandparents who wish to travel to the UK to attend the funeral of their 5 year old grandchild, tragically killed in a car accident before Christmas. The family is devastated, obviously. The issue was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions by the local MP and a review was promised. The Immigration Minister, James Broken-shire, has very swiftly conducted the review and the refusal has been maintained. He says his decision has been taken “on the full facts of the case”. The reasons for excluding these grandparents must be very…

20th January 2015 By Colin Yeo

Family visit appeals abolished and bonds introduced

As of today the full right of appeal against refusal of a visit visa sponsored by a family member in the UK has been abolished. Combined with the recently announced pilot of £3,000 ‘bonds’ payable for visitors to the UK, it is clear the Government is making it increasingly difficult for visitors from certain countries, principally in south east Asia and Africa, to visit relatives here in the UK. Family visit appeals The Government’s view of family visit appeals is that they are needless and that a simple re-application with the right documents will be sufficient where there is a genuine case. Anyone who thinks this clearly has not spent…

25th June 2013 By Colin Yeo

Yet more Tribunal decisions

After what felt like something of a hiatus early in the year, the tribunal has been churning out new reported cases in recent months as if there was no tomorrow. As far as I know no-one has suggested scrapping the Immigration and Asylum Chamber YET, although it is surely only a matter of time! September’s batch follows below, with the official headnotes inset and in italics and any commentary by Free Movement in normal text before the headnote. With some of these, one wonders what cases aren’t reported these days. However, highlights include two from El Presidente, one in which Treasury hotshot James Eadie QC, normally reserved for serious terrorism…

4th October 2011 By Free Movement