Leave to enter for spouses – clarification

Published: 17/07/2008

Some recent announcements relating to the leave to enter for spouses of British citizens and lawful permanent residents may have caused some confusion amongst holders of two-year spousal and partner visas. Entry clearance, which also serves as a leave to enter, has seen some amendments in terms of timing of travel to the UK and the expiration of such permissions. The exact timing of such permissions has seen a tightening in relation to the two year period allowed, with occasional requirement of applying for an extension, and paying for its associated charge.

This situation had been occurring when a two-year settlement visa that was issued to spouses, civil partners and unmarried partners of people living and settled in the UK fell out of validity at the exact point that the holder travelled to the UK after the issue of the entry clearance. This is because the entry clearance is also the leave to enter and, as this is usually valid for two years starting from the date of issue, the two-year probationary period in the UK was unable to be completed. Thus, if the visa holder was unable to enter the UK immediately upon receipt of the settlement visa (typically, within 28 days), he or she would have spent less than two years in the UK by the time his or her visa was to expire. The consequence of the above was that the holder was thus unable to be eligible for indefinite leave to remain to be granted, hence the need for the costly extension.

Clarification comes in the form of validity of the settlement visa up to 27 months, allowing the full two years to be completed and, as required, indefinite leave to remain to be applied for and granted, depending on circumstances, without requesting the extension. All marriage and partner visas issued abroad after 22 July 2008 are valid for 27 months, with those issued prior unaffected.

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