- A) Burden of Proof and Evidence;
- B) Documentary Evidence;
- C) Assessment of the Evidence and Reasons for Refusal.
UK Visit Visa Application: Burden of Proof, Documentary Evidence
An applicant’s credibility, as well as intentions, are examined by an Immigration Office for either visiting the United Kingdom or extending applicant’s stay. A visit visa initial or extension application is thoroughly checked to ascertain an applicant meets the requirements as stipulated in the Visitor Visa Rules. The visa is only granted if an Immigration Officer is satisfied that an applicant is a genuine visitor and the burden of proof is on the applicant to prove that he/she is a genuine visitor and will return to his/her home country after the journey.
Activities during Visiting the UK
Although a visitor can undertake a multitude of activities during his/her stay in the UK; however, the applicant needs to clearly inform in the visit visa application his/her the main reason for either visiting the UK in the initial application or extending his/her stay in the UK.
Applicant to Submit Conclusive Evidence for UK Visit Visa
Accordingly, an applicant is liable to give clear, concrete and conclusive evidence so as to satisfy the immigration officer that he/she meets the visit visa rules for either visiting the UK or extending his/her stay in the UK.
Once the requisite evidence is submitted with a visitor visa application, then all the information provided by the applicant is assessed by an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO), along with any other evidence that may be deemed appropriate and is relevant to the facts of the application.
Mandatory and Discretionary Suitability- UK Visit Visa
An application is assessed keeping in view all the relevant factors. Therefore, if an application fails to satisfy either one or more than one mandatory suitability grounds, then the application is prone to be refused without any assessment on suitability grounds, even if the applicant meets the visitor eligibility requirements.
If an applicant fulfils the requirements of mandatory suitability, then the ECO can decide an applicant’s eligibility i.e. either to grant a visitor visa or to refuse the application on discretionary suitability grounds.
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Documentary Evidence Required for UK Visit Visa Application
Four types of documentary evidence can be attached to a visitor visa application:
- Mandatory Documents – such as a valid passport or a valid travel document;
- Supporting Documents – such as bank statements, employment and business-related documents, etc. Since these do not fall under the category of mandatory documentary evidence, therefore, if an applicant does not furnish one or more recommended supporting documents then this failure to do so may not necessarily arise a sufficient ground for refusal. However, if an applicant neither provides the requisite supporting documents nor an ECO is satisfied that an applicant meets the requirements then the application is likely to be refused;
- Additional Documents – applicants applying for a Visitor Visa Application in the following categories need to submit the required additional documents:
- Academics visiting the UK for undertaking research (12-months visa);
- Family accompanying an Academic Visitor (12-months visa);
- Medical Treatment;
- Visiting for Organ Donation;
- Prospective Entrepreneur (Tier 1);
- Work-related training;
- Performer at a Permit Free Festival;
- Approved Destination Scheme (ADS);
- Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE);
- Visiting for Marriage/Civil Partnership;
- Documents Not Required – such as driving licence, notarial certificates, business cards, photocopies of bank cards, credit card statements, evidence of car ownership, travel insurance, sponsor’s utility bills and council tax are not required to be submitted with the application. These documents are usually not considered during the assessment process, even if an applicant submits these with the application.
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Application Assessment and UK Visa Refusal Reasons
The application along with the corroborative evidence is required to be assessed for making an appropriate decision i.e. either grant of a visa or a refusal decision. Here it is important to note that neither any written guarantee nor undertaking from an applicant is acceptable relating to the length of the stay. If there are doubts regarding the genuineness of the submitted evidence, then it could/would be verified at the source.
Provision of Insufficient Evidence with the Application
If the applicant is not able to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the evaluating officer that he/she meets the necessary requirements for the grant of a visitor visa, then the application will be refused.
The reasons for refusal mentioned in the Refusal Letter are usually specific and relevant as in a great majority of the applications, the applicants are not able to furnish an application in the light of the relevant immigration rules. Therefore, rather than blaming anybody else, the applicants are advised to read and understand the applicable immigration rules, along with the corresponding implications of not fulfilling the requirement of submitting a well documented and meaningful application for the consideration of BHC/ECO.
Lack of Understanding of the Immigration Rules
Perhaps the first and foremost reason of refusals is the lack of understanding of an applicant to submit a well-documented application as the burden of proof is on the applicant and the decision is always made on the balance of probability.
Therefore, if an applicant has not been able to submit an application with sufficient, relevant, clear and substantive evidence, then there is a little scope that an ECO will be able to grant a visitor visa. The aforesaid is applicable for not only those applicants with a limited travel history and means but also holds true for more affluent applicants i.e. applicants having had a rich travel history, frequent visits to the UK, above average income, strong social ties, etc. Visitor Visa is not a right but a privilege and the sole discretion of HM’s Government for which elaborate rules, procedures, practices, and precedents are quite well established, which has fine-tuned and improved over time. Accordingly, an ECO cannot grant a visa solely under the discretionary powers entrusted to him/her by HM’s Government, but the applicant needs to provide sufficient evidence as the burden of proof is on the applicant.
Error in Assessment by the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO)
It is quite human to make mistakes, and an ECO is also prone to making mistakes and an error of judgement. If an applicant thinks that an ECO has made a glaring mistake in his/her judgement then an applicant may either reapply by addressing the mistake(s) made by an ECO in the assessment of the previous application or preferably file an appeal against an appealable refusal, otherwise go for a judicial review, even for refusals with a ‘no right of appeal‘ and ‘limited right of appeal‘.
Here is it important to point out that most of the applications are not refused due to the error of judgement and mistakes on the part of an ECO, but due to an unsubstantive application. If an application does not satisfy the requirements of the immigration rules, then an ECO cannot grant a visa. So, there is no point of submitting a poorly documented application again and again as it is unlikely to procure a visa successfully rather it will reduce the chances of getting a visa over time.
Commonly Stated Reasons in the UK Visa Refusal Letter
Since the root cause, and the major reason of refusal in most of the cases is the lack of understanding of the immigration rules; therefore, reasons stated in the Refusal Letter are consequences of a poorly documented visit visa application. Nevertheless, the reasons stated in the refusal letter, which are mere consequences or symptoms rather than the actual cause/reasons could be:
- Recourse to Public Funds – An applicant in the past has accessed public funds in the UK. Such applicants need to provide the factual details of utilisation of the public funds, along with the relevant evidence establishing the reasons as to why there will be no need of resorting to public funds if they are granted a visitor visa;
- Limited Travel History – Applicants having limited immigration history, can provide other types of evidence such as availability of funds, business details and family ties so as to substantiate their application. It is not necessary to be a frequent traveller to get a UK Visitor Visa;
- Documents Not Verified – At times the submitted evidence cannot be verified properly, therefore, an application is refused due to Fake/False Documents and Statements. Therefore, an applicant should have some degree of confidence on the verifiability of the documents before submitting them with the visit visa application;
- Income not reflecting in the bank statement;
- Weak Ties in the home country;
- No clear agenda for visiting the UK;
- Frequent visits and long stays in the UK;
- Not ample savings – annual savings are not sufficient to justify a trip/luxury of visiting the UK;
The list of these reasons/consequences can be quite long; however, since the application is decided on a balance of probabilities, therefore, the applicant should be focused on increasing the balance of probabilities by properly substantiating his/her visit visa application by adopting a realist, fact of the matter, approach.
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Related: UK Standard Visit Visa Application Processing and Representation, Standard Visit Visa UK- Family, Business, Tourist Applications, UK Visitor Visa Applications Assessments and Reasons for Refusal, UK Visit Visa Application Supporting Documents Generally Required, UK Visitor Visa Applications- Additional Supporting Documents, Documents Checklist for UK Visit Visa Applications and Standard Visitor Visa.