Changes in UK Immigration Rules Affecting Settlement Visas

Published: 01/04/2008

Making an application for a UK settlement visa to bring a foreign fiancée,partner, or spouse to the UK has become more complicated. Applicants who previously violated UK immigration rules are now subject to very strict penalties. The changes in immigration Rules eliminate the discretion of individual entry clearance officers, presenting instead a hard-line, one size fits all, environment.Starting April 1, 2008 new changes to immigration laws took effect expose such applicants to the risk of general refusal of their applications. The changes appear in Immigration rules HC321 and deal with the UK’s “General grounds for refusal.” These new rules affect all persons making new applications for clearance of their request for immigration into the UK and also for those who request changes in their arrangements such as extensions.Specifically, the new rules mean that, without exception, applications will be refused from anyone who previously overstayed their allowed time in the UK or who previously entered the UK illegally. Also, applicants who, within the last 10 years, have provided any false information in their applications will also be subject to mandatory refusal.The UK Home Office is coming down hard on violators, particularly those who provided false information in order to gain access to the UK, regardless of whether the applicant knew of the deception or not. Applicants who deceived immigration officials at any time during their application process will be barred for 10 years. The Home Office expects to use new fingerprinting technology to catch people trying to deceive the UK immigration system.How long individuals will be banned from entering the UK should deception be discovered in their applications depends upon how the applicant left the UK after their violation was discovered. The ban is longest for those who were removed or deported at the expense of the British government, 10 years. In the middle are those who left of their own volition but at public expense. The shortest bans, one year, are for those who overstayed for not more than 28 days and left the UK voluntarily at their own expense. The new rules will have a serious impact upon employers by levying severe fines, up to £10,000 against businesses employing illegal immigrants. Employers and workers need to be extra attentive, making sure the new rules are strictly adhered to and planning well in advance for renewal of immigration visas and licenses for businesses.According to UK immigration officials the new regulations are an attempt to screen nefarious applicants from the tide of legitimate applicants who through their hard work and cultural interest enrich the lives of all people living in the UK. They explain the move as a call to greater accountability for those wanting to enter the country as well as for employers who wish to recruit workers from overseas.The one bit of leeway for those wishing to immigrate or for immigrants already residing in the UK, are provisions for individuals who leave the UK of their own accord at their own expense before October 1st 2008. They may apply for return clearance and not suffer mandatory exclusion as long as they can prove they followed the rules that apply to their specific situation.Applicants are advised to begin their immigration application process as soon as possible and secure experienced assistance to help them wade through the veritable mire of legal immigration complexity.

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