If you have applied or are planning to apply for a UK visa on the basis of family or private life, this COVID-19 update is relevant to you.
What are UK visas on the basis of family or private life?
UK visas on the basis of family life include UK visas for spouses, partners, children or parents of a British citizen, a settled person (someone with Indefinite Leave to Remain), or a person with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.
Furthermore, UK visas based on private life cover individuals who have lived in the UK for at least 20 years or who would have very significant problems living in their country of origin.
The UK government has published COVID-19 updates in relation to these UK visas, and Barar & Associates have summarised those changes for you below.
If you are stuck outside the UK
If you have a UK visa on the basis of family or private life and you are unable to travel back to the UK due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and your visa has expired, a short break in your continuous residence will be ignored by the Home Office. However, you are expected to make your extension application as soon as possible. It is important to note that the Home Office has not specified what would be considered as a ‘short break’.
If you are in the UK
If you are in the UK on a different visa, which expires after 31 August 2020, you can make an application on the basis of family or private life from inside the UK, even if you would normally need to apply for this visa from your home country, if:
- Your application is urgent, for example, if you need to start a job shortly and cannot apply from outside the UK; or
- You cannot apply from outside the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions.
If you have a 6 months’ visa as a fiancé, fiancée, or proposed civil partner
If you have a 6 months’ visa as a fiancé, fiancée, or proposed civil partner and your wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to COVID-19, you can request additional time to stay under ‘exceptional assurance’. You will need to complete a form and provide evidence of when your wedding or civil ceremony will take place. Otherwise, you can apply to extend your stay for a further 6 months to have more time for the ceremony to take place.
Minimum financial/income requirement
With UK visas based on family life, you should normally meet the minimum financial requirement, which varies depending on the number of dependants you have. Kindly note that some exceptions could apply.
The Home Office has extended their COVID-19 concession as per below.
If you are employed in the UK and have experienced a loss of income due to the COVID-19 up to 1 January 2021, the Home Office will consider your employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income. However, the minimum income requirement must have been met for at least 6 months immediately before the date the income was lost.
Moreover, if your salary has been reduced because you are furloughed, the Home Office should take account of your income as if you were earning 100% of your salary to meet the financial requirement.
Furthermore, if you are a self-employed person in the UK, a loss of annual income due to the COVID-19 between 1 March 2020 and 1 January 2021 will normally be ignored by the Home Office, even for future applications.
English language test
Some applicants need to pass an approved English language test and provide a certificate with their application to meet the English language requirement.
However, due to the COVID-19, a lot of test centres have been closed. The Home Office has confirmed that an applicant can apply for their UK visa and rely on an exemption if the test centre was closed or if they could not travel to the test centre due to COVID-19.
UK visas on the basis of family life require specified documents that the applicant must provide. Applications are quickly refused if the applicant fails to provide a specified document or if the specified document is not in the prescribed form or some information is missing.
The Home Office has decided to apply flexibility when, in some cases, the applicant cannot get certain specified documents due to COVID-19. In those cases, the Home Office could decide the application without seeing the missing specified documents. However, the applicant may be required to submit the specified documents after the date of the application.
If you would like more information or advice on your UK immigration matters, please contact our expert team of London immigration lawyers at email@example.com or call us on 020 7487 8370. You can access more information about us via https://bararassociates.com/.