Earlier this week we received an exciting update from the Home Office informing us that our client (“the Applicant”) had been granted Pre-Settled Status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme as the non-EEA family member of an EEA national. The Applicant is now free to live in the UK with his spouse for the next 5 years before being able to qualify for Settled Status if he can demonstrate 5 years continuous residence in the UK. Our specialist EEA Immigration Team has a huge amount of experience in dealing with Settlement Scheme applications and are extremely knowledgeable of all of the relevant requirements under Appendix EU to the Immigration Rules. For assistance with an EU Settled or Pre-Settled Status application, please contact us today to arrange an initial consultation with our experts.
What was the case for Pre-settled Status as a Family Member of an EU National under the EU Settlement Scheme?
The Applicant was a US national who was in the UK on a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (“ICT”) Visa. He had met his now-wife (“the Sponsor”), a British and Italian dual national, whilst they were both studying in the USA. The Sponsor came to the UK for a job opportunity after finishing her studies and the Applicant was soon offered a position at his US employer’s London based office so came to the UK in 2017 on the Tier 2 ICT visa and the Applicant and Sponsor were soon reunited. The Applicant and Sponsor got married last year and the Applicant decided to switch his visa category on the basis of his relationship. The main issues he found with the Tier 2 (ICT) visa were that he was restricted to only working for that specific employer and most importantly it did not lead to settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK.
The Applicant and Sponsor initially came to us asking for advice about the Spouse Visa under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules. However, once we discovered that the Sponsor was an Italian national at birth and she had retained her Italian nationality after she had naturalised as a British citizen (meaning she is a dual national), our solicitor informed the couple that they may be able to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme as the non-EEA national family member of an EU citizen. The Applicant and Sponsor weighed up their options and decided to instruct us to prepare an application under the EU Settlement Scheme. Since the Applicant had been in the UK less than 5 years, he was only eligible to apply for Pre-Settled Status; however, in 5 years’ time, he may be eligible to apply for Settled Status (indefinite leave to remain).
After the application for Pre-Settled Status was submitted to the Home Office and the Applicant had provided his biometrics, the Applicant received a positive decision on his application within 4 months. Whilst the Home Office estimates that applications made under the EU Settlement Scheme take between 5 working days to a month to process, applications can take longer if the Applicant is a non-EEA or non-Swiss citizen applying based on a relationship with an EU national which they haven’t relied on in a previous UK visa application (as was the case with the Applicant) among other reasons.
What are the main requirements for Settled and Pre-Settled Status?
There are two types of visas available under the EU Settlement Scheme; Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status. Both EU nationals and their non-EU family members can apply under the Scheme. The requirements for Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status are almost the same except the length of time continuously spent in the UK will determine whether a person is granted Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status. For Settled Status, Applicants need to be in the UK for 5 years (the same as Permanent Residence under the existing route of the EEA Regulations and also equivalent to indefinite leave to remain) whereas Pre-Settled Status is the equivalent to an EEA Residence Card or Registration Certificate which is for those who have been in the UK for less than 5 years.
It is free to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme and successful Applicants for Pre-Settled Status are granted a straight 5-year visa, there is no need to apply for an extension, just the application for Settled Status after being in the UK for 5 years. The majority of applications are made online or through the mobile app, however, certain groups of people will need to apply using the paper form. Settled Status Scheme Applicants do not need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and are also not eligible for priority visa services.
What are the main requirements for a Spouse Visa under Appendix FM?
The Spouse Visa is a popular visa option for non-EEA nationals to enter or remain in the UK if they are married to a British citizen or person with indefinite leave to remain or refugee status. Since the UK’s immigration system was overhauled in 2012, the requirements for a Spouse Visa have become far more stringent and many applicants can struggle to meet all of the requirements (in particular the financial requirement). We briefly outline the current Spouse Visa requirements below:
- Relationship requirement – The Applicant must be married to a British citizen or person with indefinite leave to remain or refugee leave in the UK and they must prove that their relationship is “genuine and subsisting”;
- Maintenance requirement – The Applicant must be able to demonstrate that they or the Sponsor (depending on whether the application is made entry clearance or from within the UK) has enough money to support the Applicant in the UK without the need to claim benefits and public funds. There is a minimum income requirement that needs to be met and this can be done a number of ways; such as through employment, self-employment, cash savings and pensions. Some of these categories can be combined in order to satisfy this requirement;
- Accommodation requirement – The Applicant must have somewhere to stay in the UK with the Sponsor, without recourse to public funds or benefits, and the property must not be overcrowded as defined by the Housing Act 1988;
- English language requirement – The Applicant must be able to demonstrate they have a certain level of understanding of the English language. This can be met by passing an English language course by a Home Office approved test provider, having a degree taught in English or by being from a majority English speaking country.
Once the Spouse Visa has been granted, the visa is valid for 2 and a half years and the Applicant will then have to apply for an extension in order to extend their leave in the UK under that category. For most Spouse Visa applicants, they can then apply for settlement once they have been in the UK on the Spouse Visa for 5 years. Applicants should be aware of the Home Office application fees (which usually rise annually) and the IHS fee that are applicable when applying for a Spouse Visa. Booking an appointment at a visa application support centre and priority service fees can also come at an additional cost, making the Spouse Visa process quite costly.
Using Legal Representation to prepare an EU Settlement Scheme application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit an EU Settlement Scheme application before the deadline
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application under the EU Regulations or Settlement Scheme succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK’s Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the relevant rules.
Successful EU Settlement Scheme applications
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of your application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful applications under the EU Regulations and Immigration Rules. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss your application.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.