We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries from individuals who have received a visit visa refusal decision. The reasons for refusal can vary widely and many people are left feeling that the decision is unfair.
With the only options after a visit visa refusal being to file an application for judicial review, which is costly and time-consuming, or to submit a new application, the process of visiting the UK can end up being very costly and frustrating for some. We see many individuals who have applied a number of times before deciding to seek professional advice.
The regulations governing the entry of visitors to the UK are set out in Appendix V of the Immigration Rules. A visitor is defined as “a person who is coming to the UK, usually for up to six months, for a temporary purpose, for example as a tourist, to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity”.
Whilst not everyone who visits the UK requires a visit visa, those who are not exempt from obtaining a visa, known as ‘visa nationals’, must satisfy the decision maker that they meet the eligibility requirements. As there is no set list of specific documents which an individual must include in their application, it is possible that any decision made is subjective and reflects the opinion of the decision maker, as opposed to the law.
As this is the case, we set out below some of the main reasons for a visit visa refusal along with some top tips for avoiding these.
1. Intention to return home
When making an application to visit the UK, an individual must satisfy the decision maker that they “will leave the UK at the end of their visit” or in other words, that they intend to return home. As the Home Office advise individuals not to book their flights until after a decision has been made on the application, showing intention to return home can be difficult. In order to demonstrate intention to return home, the Home Office caseworker will expect to see evidence:
- that you have work, education or family commitments to return to;
- that you own/rent property in your home country;
- that you have future commitments at home;
- that you have family ties to your home country; and/or
- any other evidence that demonstrates that you intend to return to your home country.
2. Insufficient funds for the trip
When deciding an application, the decision maker will require evidence to show that the applicant has “sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit”. The exact amount of funds which an applicant needs to demonstrate is not specified but the Home Office suggest that evidence such as payslips showing earnings or bank statements are provided. An applicant can receive support from a third party who is in the UK and in this case, similar evidence from the third party must be included in the application along with information regarding the relationship between the applicant and the third party.
3. Previous travel history
When making a decision on an application, the decision maker will not only look into an applicant’s previous immigration history but will also take their previous travel history into consideration. Whilst a poor immigration history may have a negative impact on an application, where an applicant has not previously traveled, either to the UK or any other country, this can also surprisingly have a negative effect on the application. Where an applicant has not traveled previously, the decision maker may assume that the individual does not intend to leave the UK because they have no previous travel history. Whilst there is no simple solution to this issue, in such instances, it is important that the issue is addressed as part of the application.
4. Purpose of the visit to the UK
Finally, information as to the purpose of the visit to the UK should be provided. For a business trip, for example, a letter from whoever you are visiting would be wise. If you are coming for a show or performance, copies of your tickets would be helpful. We’ve seen a refusal recently where a mother had wanted to visit her son in the UK but the application had been refused simply because she had not provided a birth certificate demonstrating the relationship, even though you’ll find no mention in the rules that a birth certificate is needed (and we’ve dealt with many cases where no certificate has been provided but the outcome has been positive). We always advise a belts and braces approach is taken to minimise the risk of refusal.
We have significant experience in ensuring that those who have had a refusal decision are subsequently granted a visa to enter the UK. If you have had a visit visa refusal decision for the UK and wish to make a new application or require advice on your first application, please contact us.