In the immigration team we help people who are applying for many different kinds of visa – from students to skilled workers, visitors to spouses. But what do all visa applications have in common? The requirement to provide evidence that you meet the conditions for the specific visa. Unfortunately, failure to produce just one required document can have serious consequences.
Take, for example, someone who is married to a British citizen and who wants to apply for a family of a settled person visa. There is a whole appendix to the Immigration Rules (Appendix FM-SE, for those who are interested) which sets out the evidence applicants need to provide in order to show that they meet the visa requirements. I’ll be honest, it’s not an easy or an enjoyable read and the sections listing the various ways in which applicants can evidence that they meet the financial requirements are particularly tricky to navigate. It’s no surprise that even the most diligent person can inadvertently omit something.
This is precisely what happened in a case that came before the Upper Immigration Tribunal (Razia Sultana & others). Mr Sultana was living in the UK as a settled person and his wife and children applied to come from India to live with him. Mr Sultana was self-employed and his income came from several sources. His annual self-assessment tax return to HMRC showed that he had earned £29,321, which was sufficient to meet the financial requirements in his family’s particular case. However, they did not submit some of the required supporting documents with their application so it was refused by the Entry Clearance Officer in Islamabad.
The Sultana family appealed to the First-tier Immigration Tribunal and, with their appeal, they produced a number of additional documents to evidence that Mr Sultana did meet the financial requirements. The Judge accepted the evidence and the appeal succeeded. However, the Entry Clearance Officer then appealed to the Upper Tribunal and the First-Tier Tribunal’s decision was overturned. Giving the judgment in the Upper Tribunal, the President Mr Justice McCloskey said:- “Issues of this kind belong firmly to the domain of the primary decision maker and should not be belatedly ventilated at the stage of either first instance or second instance appeal”. The original decision of the Entry Clearance Officer was reinstated and the family’s application to come to the UK stood as refused.
The Sultana case is a cautionary lesson for anyone making a visa application. If you forget to include just one key document, your application may be refused. Even if you are able to provide the missing document after the refusal, it is unlikely that you would be able to rectify the situation by appealing to the Immigration Tribunal. Instead, you would have to apply and pay the visa fees all over again.
We always recommend that, wherever possible, applicants send us their completed application form and all supporting documents to check over before submission. Taking precautionary steps at the start of the application process can save a lot of time, money and distress in the long-term.