LEXVISA Weekly Immigration Update 18 August 2017

The Home Office has recently announced a £91 million tender for the proposed digitisation of services for UK Immigration Visa Applications and Appeals which could potentially improve the efficiency of how documents are sent to the Home Office. This week we have also highlighted the similarities and differences between an Academic Visitor Visa and a Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) Visitor Visa and guidance on making a Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa application. Further, this month the Home Office has introduced unjustifiably harsh consequences test for UK Spouse Visa and Family Member Visa applications in regards to Applicants who do not meet the Minimum Financial Requirement.   

1.The Digital Age in the Handling of Immigration Visa Applications and Appeals

From October 2017, the Home Office plans to implement the digitisation of Immigration Visa Applications which will include identity checks, the capture of biometrics and the digitisation of supporting evidence. The proposed tender is for an initial 3 year period, with the option for a 2 year extension. The purpose of this proposed digitisation is to ensure the secure submission of all data and documents to the Home Office which is a positive improvement as currently often mishandles hard copies of Applicants’ documents; therefore the digitisation of document transmission for Immigration Visa Applications will improve efficiency and transparency with the Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and reduce Home Office Delays.

In addition, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) have proposed to introduce the concept of a ‘virtual court room’ for Immigration Tribunals. Such services are already available and used during Civil and Criminal proceedings, and the expectation is that it will provide greater access and flexibility to individuals who are appealing and Immigration Visa decision.

2.Academic Visitor Visa and Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor Visa

The purpose of an Academic Visitor Visa is to allow non-EEA nationals who are highly qualified in their field of expertise to visit the UK for a period of up to 12 months in order undertake certain activities. Similarly, a PPE Visitor Visa allows non-EEA nationals who are experts in their field to visit the UK to undertake certain activities, however the maximum period of stay is 30 days, and Applicants must have received an invitation to visit the UK.

The general requirements for an Academic Visitor Visa and a PPE Visitor Visa are the same that apply to all Standard Visitor Visa applications which are:

  • Not receiving pay from a UK business or institution for any work carried out whilst in the UK;
  • Must demonstrate the intention to leave the UK at the end of the duration of the Visitor Visa;
  • Must be able to maintain themselves and any dependents whilst in the UK, with no recourse to public funds; and
  • Meet the costs of the return or onward journey from the UK.

Not only are PPE Visitor Visas available to academics, but also to qualified lawyers, artists, entertainers, musicians and sports persons.

3.Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa

A Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa enables individuals to visit the UK for a period of either 6 or 11 months, with the purpose of receiving private medical treatment. The requirements for Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa Applicant include:

  • Satisfying the Home Office that they are a genuine visitor to the UK and that they will leave at the end of the Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa;
  • Prove they are visiting the purpose of receiving private medical treatment and will not undertake any permitted activities whilst in the UK;
  • Demonstrate they have sufficient funds to cover the cost of their trip;
  • The private medical treatment must be arranged before the Applicants travel to the UK;
  • A letter from the doctor or consultant must be provided which includes details of the medical condition the requires the private medical treatment, the estimated cost of the private medical treatment, the expected duration of the private medical treatment and where the private medical treatment will take place; and
  • If the Applicant is suffering from a communicable condition, they must have satisfied a medical inspector that they pose no threat or danger to public health.

Those who are granted a Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa may re-enter the UK multiple times within the duration of their visa, unless it specifically states that it is a single-entry Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa or a dual-entry Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa.

4.New Home Office Unjustifiably Harsh Consequences Test for UK Spouse and Family Member Visa Applications

The Home Office finally revealed the changes to its’ Policy Guidance on 10 August 2017 concerning Applicants who do not meet the Minimum Income Requirement under Appendix FM Immigration Rules for Spouse Visa and Family Member Visa applications. If the Home Office accepts that the refusal could lead to unjustifiably harsh consequences; Applicants will be permitted to rely on other alternative sources of income, financial support or other funds to make up the deficit in meeting the Minimum Income Requirement.

The Home Office has inserted a new paragraph 21A under Appendix FM-SE Immigration Rules, which sets out where the Minimum Income Requirement is not met, a decision maker must take into account the sources of income, financial support or funds by way of:

  • A credible guarantee of sustainable financial support to the Applicant or their partner from a third party;
  • Credible prospective earnings from the sustainable employment or self-employment of the Applicant and their partner; or
  • Any other credible and reliable source of income or funds for the Applicant or their partner, which is available to them at the date of their application or which will become available to them during the period of limited leave applied for.

This may then give Applicants more time to provide the required evidence.

Using Legal Representation to Submit a UK Visa Application

Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on the law and your immigration matter. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully assist you with a UK Visa application. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the UK Immigration Rules.

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 Immigration & Visa application succeeds, our solicitors and barristers will ensure all specified documents must be provided.

The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.

Successfully Submit a UK Visa Application

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 prospects of submitting a UK Immigration & Visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of a UK Immigration & Visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

Our offices 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.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. 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 a UK Immigration & Visa application.

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.

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