A number of changes to the UK settlement visa application process came into effect on 9th July 2012. It is important to be aware of what these changes are as this may affect your application to enter the UK. If you are not sure whether any changes apply to you it is important to seek more information from the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
The changes to visa application rules apply to people who wish to enter the country from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). This includes people from outside the EEA applying for a UK marriage visa, fiancee visa, unmarried partner visa or civil partnership visa under settlement category. If you have been previously granted leave to enter or remain in the UK or applied for a UK settlement visa in one of the above mentioned categories before 9th July 2012, then the rule changes do not apply.
The rule changes have mainly had an effect on UK marriage visa applications. The immigration Rules have been changed so that British sponsors bringing non-EEA nationals into the country can adequately prove that their partners will be supported without recourse to public funds. Effective 9th July 2012, to bring in a partner with no children the new minimum threshold is £18,600. This rises to £22,400 if a child needs to be looked after, £24,800 for two children, £27,200 for three, as well plus an additional £2,400 for each additional child involved in any settlement application. Sponsors need to be able to supply evidence that they can meet this threshold amount. Preferably this will be their own source of income and/or savings although one off gifts from third parties such as family members may be permitted. Please note that applicant’s employability and earning potential in the UK will no longer be taken into account by the UKBA examiners when making a final determination of eligibility.
Another change brought in by the UKBA is new strict guidelines helping the examining Entry Clearance Officers (ECO) to determine if partners have a genuine relationship. This has been brought into force to prevent marriages of convenience and also to reduce the risk of forced marriages and human trafficking. The minimum probationary period for partners wanting to apply for settlement in the UK (indefinite leave to remain or ILR) has also been extended from two years to five years in order to prove that a relationship is genuine and continuing.
There has also been a further update to the Life in the UK test and English language requirements. From October 2013 in addition to passing the test those applying for settlement in the UK will also be required to pass an English language speaking and listening exam. This new policy has been put in place to help people entering into the country communicate better and in order to encourage integration.
Full details of changes to the UK settlement visa application process are available from our website. There are also contact details should you have any comments or concerns regarding your own UK settlement visa application.