Landmark ruling allows third party support in UK settlement visa applications

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Important Announcement: Effective 9 July 2012, third party financial support is no longer permitted in fiancee, partner and marriage visa cases being made under the settlement category. For more information about the new threshold requirements, please contact our UK Visa Department.

The ever-present issue of the required financial position of those wishing to sponsor a non-EEA national for a UK settlement fiancee, partner or marriage visa has taken an interesting turn with the overturning of a previous High Court ruling that meant that third party support was not allowed in settlement visa cases.

The personal nature of the case in question features Ahmed Mahed and others, and overturns the previous ruling that the financial support of the dependant can not come from a third party or outside of the UK. The new ruling means that, as it stands, third party financial support is allowed for applicants and their dependants, for UK marriage visa, UK spousal visa and UK fiancee visa cases. As such, third party financial support is now permissible for fiancees, proposed civil partners, spouses, civil partners and adult children of British citizens and lawful permanent residents.

This decision has far-reaching implications for those applying for a UK settlement visa, as the strict requirements in place prior to this ruling can perhaps be seen as being a little more malleable than before. Although the requirement of not having recourse to public funds certainly still stands, the acceptance that a third party can support the applicant and their dependant, as long as the ‘sponsor’ is settled in the UK, seems to be the key difference and, so as long as the funds are available and provable, there may be a greater flexibility in this particular area of the UK family visa requirement.

The ruling did, however, make it very clear that this decision, while in many ways a landmark judgement, still means that future decisions will be made on their own merits, with the financial situation of all applicants being subject to scrutiny. Resting on the important phrase ‘with no recourse to public funds’, UK marriage visa and/or dependant visa applicants and their sponsors need to provide all manner of paperwork, including bank statements, payslips and other proof of financial status.

It is important to clarify that those public funds that the sponsor is legally entitled to will remain, and although proposed budgetary cuts may see changes in this area, there has been no announcement or even hint that this is the case here. In some exceptional cases, those applying for UK marriage visas or UK spouse visas may be allowed to join their family in the UK, but it is clear that any sponsor that leans heavily on the state will not be in a position to support another person, so these cases will likely remain as prior to this judgement.

When the initial judgement was made by the Asylum and Immigrations Tribunal, ruling that third party was not allowed, it was seen as a situation that was ripe for overturning, so while this decision is not a surprise, it is certainly an extremely important change in the UK settlement visa application process.

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