UK SCHENGEN VISA RULES BIASED AGAINST WOMEN

UK- SCHENGEN VISA

A bride looking forward to her honeymoon in Europe has to produce a permit letter from her father, while her new hubby is spared the strange exercise forced on an adult.

Such a bizarre document is listed as ‘must’ for women obtaining visa for non-professional tours to the UK or the Schengen member countries of Europe. Those discriminated against are not just newly married women travellers, but also women travelling alone (married but without a spouse’s name on passport, or unmarried).

The document listed as mandatory is a “no objection certificate” (of NOC) with a signature of the woman’s parent along with convincing evidence that the signature of the undersigned is an authentic one.

This applies to honeymoon couples (the bride) or single women who do not have the name of their spouse on their passport.

This has come to light after the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) explained on its website the documents required to obtain visas while booking package tours to the UK and the 26 countries of the Schengen.

Incidentally, several travel agents too insist on such documentation which spare the male traveller of all that embarrassing procurements that “make us feel like kids”, feel several women travellers who have recently taken package tours to these European countries.

Interestingly, these documents are mandated by the embassies of the United Kingdom and the 26 Schengen countries of Europe, who however do not specify the reasons for mandating such awkward documentation that makes women feel like “taking a parent’s permission to go on a school picnic”.

A similar “permission” from parents is also mandated for under-18 travellers who are travelling alone – another reason for women to see red for treating them like minors!

The embassies, through their respective consulates and appropriate government channels, have conveyed the ‘requirements’ to the authorised travel agents – one of which is the IRCTC, an Indian Railways body which alongside other functions also organises package tours for private parties to European countries.

Although no explanations are given why the European embassies are insisting on letters of permission from parents of women travellers (the “bride’s” in the case of honeymoon couple), IRCTC officials speculate that it must be for security reasons with fears abounding over people illegally overstaying in those countries.

IRCTC supervisor (Tourism), Thiagarajan N, is however quick to point out that it is not the IRCTC that has mandated such documents, but the embassies themselves: “The embassies concerned have made it mandatory for every tourist wanting a visa to visit their country. Our department is just following their rules and regulations and has specified the same in the package tours on our website. If the specified documentation is not provided they would not provide the visas to the tourists to enter those countries.”

He said all the travel agents have been asked to follow the same procedures when they provide package tours to these countries.

Balaji VP, a travel agent, reported to Bangalore Mirror that several women had expressed their anger at him when he informed them that they would have to submit documents signed by a parent and duly proved that it is their parent who has signed.

Interestingly, although this “rule” from the embassies has been implemented for some time, there have been no questions raised on such discrimination.

But now that the bizarre issue is out, people – especially women – are irked. While expressing utter displeasure at the European consulates for demonstrating such gender bias, Bhavana N, a procurement HR with realty firm, said, “Why are such rules not applied to the citizens of those countries too while visiting our country? These conditions are way too complicated to travel to UK and Europe than the Asian countries. Our government should take note of these and put up regulations to others visiting our country.”

Chandana S, owner of a retail chain says, “If they want us to carry a ‘NOC’ to get our visas to travel to their country, it is difficult for newly married women. I would travel to these places only to explore new places and not to find a job.”

Source:http://www.bangaloremirror.com/

UK visa fees set for big hike

The British government is set to increase visa fees across most categories of applications from March 18, in a move that will affect thousands of Indians who were the largest group of skilled workers to be granted visas to live and work in Britain last year.
The changes, proposed in January this year, mean a 2 per cent rise for most fees including the short-term visitor visas and most work or study applications and a 25 per cent increase in fees for nationality and settlement visa applications.
The UK Home Office said the increases will reduce UK taxpayer contributions towards the border, immigration and citizenship system and ensure that by 2019-2020 the system is self-funded by those who use it.
“These changes ensure that the Home Office can achieve a self-funding system, whilst continuing to provide a competitive level of service, and a fees structure that remains attractive to businesses, migrants and visitors,” a Home Office statement said.
According to recently-released figures from the Office of National Statistics, Indians formed the largest group of skilled workers to be granted visas to live and work in the UK last year.
Indians bagged the majority of the 92,062 visas issued to skilled migrants in 2015.
“Indian nationals accounted for 57 per cent of total skilled work visas granted (52,360 of 92,062), with USA nationals the next largest nationality group (10,130 or 11 per cent),” the ONS report said. Most of these migrant

s go on to apply for settlement in the UK and will now pay around 25 per cent more for such applications as the fee for a settlement application or so-called ‘indefinite leave to remain’ application within the UK will increase from £1,500 to £1,875.
The main changes effective from March 18 are: visas linked most closely to economic growth, such as those offered to workers and students, will be increased by 2 per cent.
A 2 per cent increase will apply to all visit visas to help maintain the UK›s position as one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
An increase of up to 25 per cent will apply to settlement, residence and nationality fees, as these routes deliver the most benefits to successful applicants.
An increase of up to 33 per cent for optional premium services offered by the Home Office such as the super-premium service and priority visa services overseas.
Family and spouse visas will in future cost £1,195 and the fee for ‘adult dependant relatives’ is going up to £2,676.
The next step after ILR, leading to naturalisation as British citizens, will cost £1,236 instead of the current £1,005.
Companies applying for a Tier 2 sponsor licence to enable them to recruit foreign workers, including Indians, still need to pay a fee of £1,476, which has remained unchanged.
A new £25 fee for processing invalid applications is also to be introduced. At the moment, any fee paid for an invalid application is refunded.

UK visa fees set for big hike in all categories from March 18

The British government is set to increase visa fees across most categories of applications from March 18, in a move that will affect thousands of Indians who were the largest group of skilled workers to be granted visas to live and work in Britain last year.

The changes, proposed in January this year, mean a 2 per cent rise for most fees including the short-term visitor visas and most work or study applications and a 25 per cent increase in fees for nationality and settlement visa applications.

The UK Home Office said the increases will reduce UK taxpayer contributions towards the border, immigration and citizenship system and ensure that by 2019-2020 the system is self-funded by those who use it.

“These changes ensure that the Home Office can achieve a self-funding system, whilst continuing to provide a competitive level of service, and a fees structure that remains attractive to businesses, migrants and visitors,” a Home Office statement said.

According to recently-released figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Indians formed the largest group of skilled workers to be granted visas to live and work in the UK last year.

Indians bagged the majority of the 92,062 visas issued to skilled migrants in 2015.

“Indian nationals accounted for 57 per cent of total skilled work visas granted (52,360 of 92,062), with USA nationals the next largest nationality group (10,130 or 11 per cent),” the ONS report said.

Most of these migrants go on to apply for settlement in the UK and will now pay around 25 per cent more for such applications as the fee for a settlement application or so-called “Indefinite Leave to Remain” (ILR) application within the UK will increase from 1,500 pounds to 1,875 pounds.

The main changes effective from March 18 are: visas linked most closely to economic growth, such as those offered to workers and students, will be increased by 2 per cent.

A 2 per cent increase will apply to all visit visas to help maintain the UK’s position as one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
An increase of up to 25 per cent will apply to settlement, residence and nationality fees, as these routes deliver the most benefits to successful applicants.

An increase of up to 33 per cent for optional premium services offered by the Home Office such as the super-premium service and priority visa services overseas.

Family and spouse visas will in future cost 1,195 pounds and the fee for “Adult Dependant Relatives” is going up to 2,676 pounds.

The next step after ILR, leading to naturalisation as British citizens, will cost 1,236 pounds instead of the current 1,005 pounds.

Companies applying for a Tier 2 sponsor license to enable them to recruit foreign workers, including Indians, still need to pay a fee of 1,476 pounds, which has remained unchanged.

 

Source:http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/

UK Fiancé & Spouse Visas: Financial Requirements

Spouse visa Financial requirements

what exactly is the financial requirement? Well, that often depends on your specific circumstances. There are three routes to fulfilling this aspect of the visa, which we will break down as much as possible here.

1. Salaried Employment

The first, and easiest, route to fulfilling the financial requirement of the UK fiancé and spouse visas are through salaried employment. If you are opting to take this route, then your sponsor must prove that they earn over £18,600 before tax per year. If you are moving to the UK with dependants (i.e. children under the age of 18) then this minimum threshold will rise accordingly.

  • Applicant + one dependant = £22,400
  • Applicant + two dependants = £24,800
  • Applicant + three dependants = £27,200
  • Applicant + more than three dependants = £27,200 + £2,400 for each additional dependant

To do this, your sponsor must provide three documents that are to be included in the visa application – 6 months worth of bank statements, 6 months worth of payslips, and a letter from their employer on headed paper stating that the payslips are genuine and correct. These payslips can be from multiple employers, if you have had more than one job in the six month’s prior to applying, so long as they total more than the required minimum.

It is worth noting that you only need to provide six months worth of evidence, not a full year’s worth. Therefore, over the six month period, your sponsor’s salaried income must total 50% of the yearly requirement. For example, £9,300 or more (assuming you are applying without any dependants). However, if your sponsor is self employed, then they must provide 12 months worth of bank statements and payslips. Further, the threshold must be met by their personal income from self employment, not the income of the business.

2. Personal Savings

If you are not in salaried employment, and cannot meet the financial requirement through this method, another available option is to have substantial personal savings that you are able to rely on.

While cases that rely on personal savings vary on an individual basis, the basic concept is that your sponsor must have £16,000 + 2.5x the difference between your salaried income and the £18,600 minimum threshold in savings. Thus, your personal savings (if you were to rely on this alone) would have to total £62,500.

However, if your sponsor earned £10,000 in salaried income, you would need £16,000+ 2.5x(£18,600-£10,000)=£33,200 in savings to apply.

In addition to this, the source of all personal savings must be declared. Cash savings must have been in possession of the sponsor for at least six months prior to the date of the application. The following sources of non-salaried income may contribute towards the savings total:

  • Rental income
  • Dividends or investments
  • Interest from personal savings
  • Trust funds, bonds, stocks and shares
  • Maintenance payments from a former partner
  • Maternity allowance or maintenance grants
  • Bereavement payouts

Of course, other sources of personal savings are also permitted, such as ‘gifted’ money from family members – provided it has been in the possession of the applicant and/or sponsor for the six months preceding the date of the application. The UK government currently does not count personal loans or promises from third parties as cash savings. There is also no current legislation that would allow for a third party to waive the financial requirement. This means that the savings must be in the possession of the applicant and/or sponsor, and cannot be held by a family member, business or such.

3. Employment & Savings

Another way of meeting the financial threshold for the fiancé or spouse visa is by combining income from employment, and personal savings. This is the perfect option for couples who may miss the salaried employment threshold, but still want to pursue the visa. To calculate how much you need in savings is done by a simple equation:

£18,600 – Employment income p.a. = Deficit

£16,000 + (2.5 x Deficit) = Required savings

If we break this down, it is easy to see that essentially the amount you require in savings is £16,000 + 2.5 x the difference between your earnings and the £18,600 threshold. For example, if you earn £17,000 per year, then in savings you would need to hold £16,00 + (2.5 x £1,600) = £20,000 in savings. The same rules apply to the savings as in part two of this guide.

4. Exemptions

There are a few rare exceptions to the financial requirement of the visa. You will not need to meet these requirements if you receive any of the following during the time the application is submitted.

  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment

If you receive any of these benefits, then rather than prove you earn the required threshold, you are instead required to prove your partner will be able to live adequately in the UK without access to public funds. The procedure for this is significantly more difficult, and we would highly recommend seeking advice from a legal expert on how best to advance with your application.

So, those are the four options for the UK fiancé or spouse visa financial requirement. Remember to submit sufficient proof of every method you use to fulfil this requirement, including bank statements (of all accounts in your name), payslips, P45/P60 forms if available, and anything else you think may be appropriate. This must all be recorded in Appendix 2 of Form VAF4A (the visa application).

If you want more information on the financial requirement and all supporting documents, then we recommend reading the UK Border Agency’s guide to the supporting documents. A more detailed breakdown of exactly how to fill out Appendix 2, and what constitutes sufficient evidence is provided in Appendix FM-SE of the UK government immigration documents.

If you have any questions on the fiancé or spouse visa process contact us

Immigration Lawyers | Immigration & Visa Specialists | Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm | info@icslegal.com | 020 7237 3388

UK Fiancé & Spouse Visas: A Guide for Your Sponsor

 

UK Spouse Visa Evidence ListPreparing your application for the UK fiancé or Spouse visa is without a doubt a daunting process. It seems, however, that what is required can be split into two parts: documents from your UK partner (the sponsor) and details from yourself (the applicant). In this article we will try to break down some of the documents that your sponsor will need to provide. Be on the look out for part two of this guide, which will include the documents required by the applicant.

 

Before we start, it is worth noting that this is only our interpretation of the provided documentation. It is always worth reading the supporting documents yourself to come to your own conclusions, and getting professional legal advice where possible. You can find the UK government guide on applying for the fiancé or spousevisa here. We would also recommend reading our guide to the deciding whether the fiancé visa is for you, and why to choose the visa over other available options before getting started on this guide. If you have already decided that you are going to make the application, we wish you the best of luck, and hope that this guide helps. Without further ado, here are the documents that your sponsor will need to provide:

1. Sponsor’s proof of income

One of the most controversial requirements that must be fulfilled for your application to be successful is for your UK based sponsor to earn over £18,000 per year. To prove your sponsor’s income, you must provide the most recent 6 months worth of pay slips, so make sure you keep these!

Pay slips are sent to any UK employee by their employer, as a record of their pay for the previous month. Obviously, as you only have to provide 6 months worth of these, the total earned by your sponsor in this period only needs to equal half of the per annum financial requirement, totalling £9,000 over a 6 month period.

  • 6 months payslips
  • 6 months bank statements

 

2. Proof of appropriate accommodation for applicant

The exact documents that are required for this section are not set in stone. But, as a general rule, it is worth providing a copy of your tenancy agreement or mortgage and a letter from your landlord (if applicable) acknowledging the fact that they are aware that the applicant will be living there. If you own your own home, you will need to provide land registry documents that prove ownership rather than a letter from the landlord. Please bear in mind that these documents must be for the house in which the applicant will be staying. Therefore, if your partner will be staying with your friends or family, this must be clear and the documents must be provided for that accommodation and not your own.

Further, you will need to provide proof that the house will not be overcrowded. A house is considered overcrowded if two or more unmarried people are forced to sleep in the same room. Yep, that means if your partner is staying with you then there must be two rooms within the house or apartment that are suitable for sleeping in. In our understanding of the law, both bedrooms and living rooms are suitable rooms for sleeping in. Therefore if you and your partner are sharing an apartment, it must have a minimum of one bedroom and one living room, or two bedrooms. In addition, only rooms of 50 square feet or more will be counted. To prove that the house will not be overcrowded, we would recommend including proof of the number of rooms and the floor size of each within your accommodation.

  • Letter from landlord
  • Tenancy agreement
  • Copy of land registry agreement
  • Photographs of house
  • Council tax bill or receipt

3. Proof of sponsor’s right to live in the UK

This is one of the easier aspects of the application, as very little is actually required to fulfil this requirement. You must include within here a copy of your bio data page from your passport. While these do not need to be originals, they should be notarised by a solicitor if possible. You should also include a letter of introduction or support, written from your family stating that they are supportive of your marriage. Some sources also recommend including a copy of your degree certificate (if applicable) to prove your level of education.

  • Copy of biodata page passport
  • Letter from family
  • Degree certificate (optional)

4. Evidence of intent to marry

While this is a joint responsibility between the sponsor and applicant, it is most likely that the majority of the documentation will come from the sponsor, as the sponsor will have more access to venues, suppliers and officials within the UK. And while there are no hard and fast rules of what to include in this section, some examples of what you could provide are: a booking of your appointment to register to get married (you must give at least 15 days notice), confirmation of your ceremony from the venue and receipts from anything you have purchased, including rings, venues, caterers etc.

  • Booking of notice to marry at the registrar office
  • Confirmation of the date
  • Receipts from all relevant purchases

These are all the documents that the sponsor is responsible for providing. Remember that in the UK, only your fiancé or spouse is able to sponsor you for this visa. There are not too many, and most are easy to acquire, but it is always worth including a little bit more than a little bit less.

If you have any questions on the fiancé or spouse visa process contact us

Immigration Lawyers | Immigration & Visa Specialists | Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm | info@icslegal.com | 020 7237 3388

UK Fiance Spouse Visa – A Guide for the Applicant

UK fiance visa application form

The process for applying for the UK fiancé or Spouse visa is a very complicated one. Both applicant and sponsor will have to provide a significant amount of documentation to prove to immigration officials that your marriage is not fraudulent.

However, the requirements for the applicant are significantly higher. We would recommend starting to plan out what you intend to provide at least six months ahead of your application.

1.One Passport Photo

Perhaps the easiest item on the list, your application will need you to provide one passport sized photograph. This should clearly show your face, and conform to UK passport photo regulations. The exact requirements state that these photograph should be:

  • 45mm high x 35mm wide
  • In colour on plain white photographic paper
  • In focus, without tears or creases
  • Unmarked & unedited
  • Taken within the last month

For exact guidelines on the photograph, you can find more information on the UK Government website here. This page even provides examples of what is accepted and what is not. Despite all of the small details, passport photo regulations are relatively similar between countries, and you are able to have these taken either by a photographer, or automated booth for a very reasonable price.

2. Application Form

The most important aspect of the application is most definitely the application form. This is a document provided on the UK Government website (which you can find here), and is split into two parts: VAF4A and Appendix 2 of VAF4A. It is important to remember that both of these forms are for use outside of the UK, so you will not be able to submit your application while in the country. Fortunately, both of these forms are relatively straight forward; VAF4A will ask for basic personal details such as:

  • Passport Details
  • Contact Information
  • Family History
  • Past Travel/ Applied History
  • English Language Requirement
  • Sponsor Contact Information

Appendix 2 of VAF4A is a little more detailed, and this is where you will provide the basic information that will be evidenced in both yours and your partners supporting documents. It is important to be completely truthful when filling out this form to avoid any complications and delays with the process. There may also be some parts that you are unable to fill out straight away, but it is worth filling out as much as possible and coming back to the other parts at a later date. The form will ask you for:

  • Your Relationship to Your Sponsor
  • Accommodation Details
  • Financial Situation & Requirements
  • Financial Exemption

All UK visa applications are now made online via the visas4uk website. Once you have registered and created an account, you will be able to start your application. To apply for the fiancé visa, select: Settlement (Type) -> Marriage (Subtype). To apply for the spouse visa, select: Settlement (Type) -> Husband/Wife. From here, you will be guided through the forms listed above. At the end you must print them out and take them with you to your appointment at a visa application centre. If you are applying from North Korea, you cannot use the visas4uk website, as all applications must be made in person.

3. Passport

It is important that you provide two copies of your passport. The first of these must be your original passport (which means you will be unable to travel outside of the country while your application is being processed). The second must be a certified copy of the passport. To certify a copy, take both the photocopy and original document to an authorised person who must then write ‘Certified to be a true copy of the original seen by me’ on the copy, sign, date and print their name on the document. They must also provide their occupation, address and telephone number on the document.

People from the following professions (so long as they are not living at the same address as you, in a relationship with you, or related to you) are able to certify a document:

  • Bank/ Building Society Official
  • Councillor
  • Dentist
  • Police Officer
  • Solicitor
  • Teacher/ Lecturer

 

4. Financial Evidence

Although it is not as important as your sponsor’s financial evidence, it is worth providing your previous six month’s worth of bank statements to prove that you are also in a stable financial situation. It is important to remember that this will not count towards the £18,600 threshold that must be met for your application to be successful. This must be met by your sponsor alone. However, providing evidence of significant savings can be beneficial for your application, as it shows commitment to the relationship and marriage. Therefore, while not directly beneficial, it can reflect favourably on your application.

6. Evidence of Ongoing Relationship

This is really a joint responsibility for couples to provide, but we have included it within the applicant’s documents, as it significantly affects the applicant more than the sponsor. This is probably the most vague aspect of the application, and the one that couples often worry about the most. And, unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about what counts as evidence of a substantive and ongoing relationship. So, it can be tempting to include as much information as possible, but we would recommend steering clear of this approach.

Instead, be selective of what you include, and focus on the items that you believe are most convincing in regards to your relationship. Below, we have listed some of the best forms of evidence that you can provide. Remember, not to use this as a checklist, but as a guide to help you decide on the evidence you have available to you, and that you believe is worth including.

  • Flight Tickets/ Itineraries of Applicant & Sponsor Travel
  • Hotel Bookings/ Other Transport Bookings
  • Photographs of You & Your Partner Together
  • Selective Excerpts of Skype Logs
  • Selection of Emails To & From Your Partner
  • Letter of Introduction from Family

It may seem a lot, but that concludes our list of documents that any UK fiancé visa applicant is responsible for providing as a part of the process. These should be provided in conjunction with your partner’s (sponsor’s) documents, as a single application. When you put the two parts together, it can seem like an overwhelming amount of paperwork. That is why we recommend starting to collect these documents early, and getting as much information on the process as possible before you apply. But, hopefully, with some of the tips we have given you in these guides you should be in a great position to get started with your application!

If you have any questions on the fiancé or spouse visa process contact us

Immigration Lawyers | Immigration & Visa Specialists | Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm | info@icslegal.com | 020 7237 3388

Minor Muslim girls in UK forced into forced marriage

Forced marriage abuse

Minor Muslim girls in the UK as young as 11 are being forced to marry men living abroad via the internet notwithstanding a ban on forced marriage in the country.
Imams in the UK and abroad have been conducting ceremonies using Skype — so girls can be married remotely before “being put on a plane and consummating the marriage at the earliest opportunity”, according to Freedom, a charity.

The marriage is often conducted with the promise of a visa to the UK for their new husband, it said.”The reason is to curb the behaviour of their children when they become ‘too western’,” charity founder Aneeta Prem was quoted as saying by ‘The Sunday Times’.

“Once married, there is enormous pressure to get a spouse visa. The hope is the girl will visit (country of husband’s origin) and fall pregnant to make the union seem more legitimate before bringing the partner back,” she said.

In one case, an 11-year-old home-educated girl from London was married on Skype to a 25-year-old man in Bangladesh.She contacted Freedom in November after reading a book about forced marriage that her older brother was given at school.

“She hadn’t understood at the time but later realised the Skype call was a marriage ceremony. The plan was for her to meet her ‘husband’ at a later date and hopefully fall pregnant.In the meantime, she was at home learning to cook and clean,” said Prem, the author of ‘But It’s Not Fair’ – an account of forced marriage.

“We see cases from many communities  including those from Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, and Mormon backgrounds. No religion accepts forced marriage but some parents are using it as a method of control,” she added.Forced marriage was made illegal in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014 but there has been only one conviction and it did not involve a child.

Karma Nirvana, a charity that runs free workshops to raise awareness of forced marriage, said in a two-month period at the end of last year it had received 38 referrals from 14 schools, including 11 from one school in Birmingham made the day after it gave a presentation.
The UK Department of Education said: “We trust teachers to know what their pupils will benefit from most, rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach”.

Source: thehansindia.com

New case law on meaning of genuine and subsisting marriage

Several important new cases have just emerged on the subject of marriage and the immigration rules for spouses. They all deal with the evidence and burden of proof in such cases. The President of the Upper Tribunal’s Immigration and Asylum Chamber, Mr Justice Blake, has had a hand in all three.

EU sham marriage allegations

The first of these is Papajorgji (EEA spouse – marriage of convenience) Greece [2012] UKUT 00038 (IAC), in which the tribunal notes that there is no burden on the applicant to prove that a marriage to an EEA is not a marriage of convenience.

Meaning of and proving a “subsisting marriage”

The second case is Goudey (subsisting marriage – evidence) Sudan [2012] UKUT 00041 (IAC). The President observes (as he does in Papajoraji) that all 115 questions in the visa application form were properly completed and goes on to find that the immigration judge erred in law by imposing his own expectations of how a couple might conduct their relationship and by failing to appreciate that the evidence that was presented was properly corroborative of the relationship. Thankfully for Luddites everywhere, the President is particularly critical of the bizarre finding that the absence of texting somehow suggested the relationship was less than genuine. He then goes on:

It may be that the ECO and the judge considered that the requirement to show a “subsisting marriage” imposes some significant burden to produce evidence other than that showing that there was a genuine intention to live together as man and wife in a married relationship.  If so, we conclude that that is an error of law. The authority of GA (“Subsisting” marriage) Ghana * [2006] UKAIT 00046; [2006] Imm AR 543 only requires that there is a real relationship as opposed to the merely formal one of a marriage which has not been terminated. Where there is a legally recognised marriage and the parties who are living apart, both want to be together and live together as husband and wife, we cannot see that more is required to demonstrate that the marriage is subsisting and thus qualifies under the Immigration Rules.

Standard of proof and post decision evidence

The third case, Naz (subsisting marriage – standard of proof) Pakistan [2012] UKUT 00040 (IAC), was an appeal by the Entry Clearance Officer to the Upper Tribunal against an appeal that had been allowed. The President reiterates that post-decision evidence is admissible if it goes to show what the situation really was at the date of decision — the Hoque and Singh [1988] Imm AR 216 argument, for the case law historians amongst you — and upholds the judges’s assessment of the sponsor being a confused but honest witness.

All three are welcome cases, restoring some common sense and propriety to the judicial evaluation of other people’s relationships. Perhaps most importantly, the theme that underpins all three cases is that it should not be assumed as a starting point that all immigrants are liars who must somehow prove otherwise. The standard of proof is, after all, simply ‘more probable than not’.

 

Source:https://www.freemovement.org.uk/

spousal visas – Supreme Court could knock down Tory anti-love rule

The fate of thousands of children forced to live apart from their parents is about to be decided by the Supreme Court. It will hear today from couples separated by an income benchmark on spousal visas. If it decides in their favour, tens of thousands of Brits on low incomes could win the right to live in their home country with their loved ones.

This is how the system works: with little warning the Coalition government brought in an £18,600 income benchmark for spousal visas. If a Brit married someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), they needed to show six months of that level of income to be able to bring them over to live with them. The benchmark was £22,400 if they had a child and an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.

The supposed purpose of the rule is to stop these spouses claiming benefits or generally demanding cash from the Hard Working British TaxpayerTM. But people on spousal visas have no recourse to public funds anyway. And the system is despairingly arbitrary. You can’t, for instance, include the spouses’ income. So if a millionaire marries a junior English nurse, he won’t be allowed in, despite the fact his presence would contribute considerable sums to the economy. Only the junior nurse’s salary counts.

You also can’t include third-party support, such a promise from parents or other family that they’ll offer help if the visa-holder runs into financial trouble. You can’t include property either, so retired people are forced to sell their property to satisfy these bizarre Home Office demands.

Anytime people complain about the policy, the Home Office replies that “family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense”, but the restrictions go well beyond that. What the law means is that 43% of the British population is banned from living in their own country with the person they love, if they happen to be from outside Europe. As with many Tory policies, it’s people in the north, the young, ethnic minorities and women who are particularly badly affected.

It didn’t have to be this way. The Home Office, as it was advised by experts, could have set the income benchmark at the level of a 40-hour working week on the minimum wage – thereby allowing anyone to bring over their spouse if they were prepared to work. It could have allowed savings to make up for a shortfall in earnings, and included the spouses’ income or support from third parties. And that’s what the appellants are demanding: recognition that the system is so demanding, so inflexible and so arbitrary that it contravenes the right to family life.

The high court accepted this argument, saying the rules presented “a disproportionate interference with a genuine spousal relationship”. The court of appeal didn’t, although it said the rules constituted “a total ban on the entry of non-EEA partners where the UK partner cannot reach the required minimum” and acknowledged “this ban could be life-long”. Now the Supreme Court has an opportunity to strike it down.

The Children’s Commissioner and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) estimated that “at least 15,000 children have been negatively affected”. These children often call their parents ‘Skype-mummy’ or ‘Skype daddy’. Researchers reported “stress, anxiety and difficulties for the children and their families.” It’s high time this cold-hearted policy was discarded, before it can do any more damage to children or their parents.

Source:http://www.politics.co.uk

‘Absurd’ visa rules on income force UK citizens into exile, court told

UK citizens are being forced into exile by the Home Office’s “irrational and absurd” minimum-income visa requirements, with some couples having no hope of ever being able to live together in Britain, the supreme court has heard.

UK nationals must earn more than £18,600 to bring over a non-EU spouse, rising to £22,400 if they have a child who does not have British citizenship, and by an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.

Seven supreme court justices including the court’s deputy president, Lady Hale, will decide after a three-day hearing whether the rules contravene article 8 of the European convention on human rights, covering respect for private and family life.

Opening the case on Monday in a courtroom packed with dozens of families affected by the rule, including babies in prams, the appellant counsel, Manjit Singh Gill QC, said the law barred up to 47% of the working British population from living with a non-EU spouse in their home country.

“It has been said that death and taxes are certain; for some it is also certain they will never meet the threshold,” he said. “For many, £18,600 is completely unachievable. It is not like the case of the English language test where you can put in so many hours. This is effective for life, for half the British population. Parliament cannot have intended the law to be used in that way.”

The supreme court challenge, brought after the case was dismissed by the court of appeal last year, has multiple appellants. Two of them, Abdul Majid and Shabana Javed, are British and married to Pakistani nationals; a third, known as MM, is a Lebanese refugee. A nephew of MM, known as AF, is also an appellant, as well as SS, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gill described the lengthy application process for a spousal visa, including costly appeals, as “torture” and impossibly complex for many families. The threshold is the highest in the world bar Norway, a country that has a far higher minimum wage that Britain, Gill said.

The aim of the minimum-income rule, as stated by the government, is for families to be self-sufficient, but Gill said the evidence was extremely uncertain that foreign spouses, who have no recourse to public funds, would be any additional drain on the taxpayer.

“An applicant earning £250,000 with a £3m property, where the partner is a British woman who is a full-time mother to children, would not be allowed,” he pointed out.

Referring to the so-called Surinder Singh route – whereby couples and families can move to an EU country for several months and re-apply to return under EU free movement laws, circumventing minimum-income requirements – Gill said the current law forced British citizens into temporary or permanent exile.

“The absurdity is quite staggering,” he said. “People being forced to leave the country and then come back. What on earth is the point of doing that? People are being forced into that situation and we are talking about British citizens – half the working population would face that absurd scenario. The gravity of the interference here [by the state] is particularly high.”

Gill questioned why the support of third parties, such as British relatives of the divided couples, could not be taken into account. “The other side say it is difficult to predict the continued support of third parties. One could say that the support of third parties may be more dependable than income from a job where a business may not tell its employers if it is struggling. It is completely irrational and without logic.”

The hearing continues for two more days with lawyers for the Home Office as well as those representing the children’s commissioner and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants will also submit evidence. A decision is expected within six months.

Source:http://www.theguardian.com