A number of new Immigration Rules are due to come into force in early November, as we covered here. The Home Office’s decision to accept copy documents in immigration applications, instead of requiring originals, is welcome news. Carter Thomas associate Jessica Walker considers what this may mean for applicants.
Anyone who has submitted an immigration application to the Home Office in recent years will be well aware of the requirement to submit original documents and the difficulties this can present.
The Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules (HC 1534) contains numerous clauses which remove or substitute the word ‘original’ in reference to the mandatory documents required for an immigration application.
Where the word ‘original’ has been substituted, this has primarily been amended to ‘may be originals or copies’. This therefore means that an individual is no longer required to obtain or submit original documents in support of an application for leave to remain or enter the UK.
The option to submit copy documents in immigration applications filed from 5 November 2018 in place of originals is good news to applicants who are likely to experience difficulties in obtaining original documents. For example, it can be difficult to obtain a document with original wet signatures if those who need to sign it are in different countries. It is also often time-consuming to obtain original bank statements now that many people bank online. These difficulties can lead to a delay in filing the application or, in certain cases, a refusal of an application where an original document was not filed. This will also remove the risk of a precious original document being lost or misplaced during the application process.
Applicants do still need to be aware that in cases where a Home Office caseworker has any concerns regarding the genuineness of a document, verification checks will be made.
In the past, we are aware of applications being refused if, for example, an employer did not answer the phone when called. If verification checks are now to be used more frequently, this raises the question of how thorough such verification checks will be. The Home Office’s Modernised Guidance to its caseworkers, regarding verification checks was most recently updated on 12 December 2016 and is available here. This sets out the types of questions that a caseworker should ask when attempting to verify a document but lacks guidance regarding the process of carrying out a verification check. We are urging the Home Office to review this process so as to create fairer checks.
Where copy documents are to be submitted with an immigration application in place of original documents, we recommend that applicants alert their employer, bank or anyone else who may be contacted to confirm that information filed in an application is accurate and genuine.
It remains to be seen whether this change to the Immigration Rules will make for a smoother application process or if in reality, it will result in an increase in verification checks and a greater number of refusals due to these checks. We are however hopeful that such a change is a step in the right direction towards a more simplified application process.
If you are in the process of preparing an application and require advice on how these changes may affect you, or you require assistance with an application, please do contact us or you can make a quick enquiry here.