As per the Official Statistics, the UK Visit Visa Refusal Rate varies from country to country, which sprouts doubts in the mind of applicants from high visa refusal countries regarding the efficacy of the UK Visa Assessment Process. Therefore. this post explains the reasons for variation in the UK Visa Refusal Rate by Country.
To make a successful UK visitor visa application, an applicant is required to prove his/her credibility during the assessment process. An inability to do so would lead to a UK Visitor Visa Refusal either on mandatory or discretionary grounds. This post highlights the following details relating to UK Visitor Visa Application Assessment Process and Reasons for Refusal and covers the following topics:
- Genuineness of Intentions;
- Applicant’s Circumstances;
- Travel and Immigration History;
- Frequency of Visits;
- Grounds for Doubting Intentions;
- Borderline Applications;
Proving ‘Genuineness of Intentions’ during the Assessment Process
The applicant is required to satisfy all the requirements of V4.2 – V4.10 of Appendix V of the Immigration Rules for proving his/her genuineness of intentions. The failure to do is one of the primary reason for UK Visitor Visa Refusal i.e. if the ECO is not satisfied that an applicant may be able to fulfil all the requirements then the ECO will conclude a refusal decision by raising questions about the genuineness of intentions of an applicant.
Similarly, for Extension of Stay Applications, the applicant needs to meet the requirements of Paragraph V8.4 (Appendix V – Immigration Rules). If an applicant fails to satisfy the necessary requirements, then the application is likely to be refused.
‘Main Reason’ for Visiting the UK and Permitted Activities
Please note that a visitor can enter, or extend his/her visit, to do different permitted activities but his/her main reason(s) for travelling to the UK must be visiting. For instance, visiting the UK for meeting family, sight-seeing, attending a business conference, medical treatment, attending work-related training, etc.. Accordingly, the applicant must furnish the requisite details to justify his/her intentions. Therefore, if an applicant has not been able to make an ECO clear about the Main Reason for visiting the UK, then the application is likely to be refused.
‘Main Reason’ for Visiting the UK and Multiple Visa
Here it is important to note that when a visitor holds a long-term, multiple-entry visitor visas valid for 2, 5 or 10 years, it is quite natural and likely that the reason for visiting may differ over time. This is permissible, provided the applicant continue to intend to undertake one or more permitted visitor activity.
Failure to Clearly Establish ‘Personal Circumstances’
An applicant needs to provide clear and conclusive evidence to establish his/her personal circumstance. A failure to do so is one of the very common reasons for UK Visitor Visa Refusal. Following aspects of the individual circumstances could be scrutinised for assessing the genuineness of application:
- Immigration History – details of an applicant’s previous immigration history, especially that relates to visiting the UK.
- Duration of Visits – the duration of past trips to the UK and other countries and whether there is a substantive discrepancy between the formerly stated length of stay on the visa application and actual details of an applicant’s journey to the UK. If this discrepancy exists then this might not be necessary that a refusal decision would be made – i.e. this is not a sufficient condition to automatically presume that the visitor is not genuine, but may be quite reasonable to raise questions about an applicant’s overall credibility and genuine intentions.
- Financial Circumstances – of the applicant as well as that of his/her family, in tandem with applicant’s social and economic background.
- Ties to Country of Residence – personal, economic and social ties of an applicant to his/her country of residence.
- Period of Time Spend in the UK – many visitors have a habit of extending their visits in the UK beyond the originally planned duration due to many reasons such as their family in the UK request them to do so, they like the sights, sounds and weather of the UK and just simply delay their departure etc.. The applicants should be mindful of the cumulative time period of their UK visit, especially the time spent in the UK during the preceding twelve (12) months before making a new visitor visa application. Spending time beyond the stated time duration on the visitor visa application leads to doubt the intentions of an applicant in the assessment process i.e. whether an applicant has made the UK his/her ‘de-facto’ residence or not. Therefore, giving cogent grounds for a visitor visa refusal.
- Reason/Purpose for Visiting the UK – in the assessment, it is carefully scrutinised that whether the information provided, especially the reasons stated for either visiting or extending stay by an applicant are credible i.e. whether the reasons correspond to an applicant’s personal, family, economic and social background or not. If the ECO finds reasonable grounds to judge that the information provided by an applicant is incongruent with applicant’s background then it is quite a sufficient condition to make a refusal decision.
- Other Relevant Information – in addition to the above-stated reasons, following relevant information is also considered while assessing a visitor visa application:
- Country of Residence and Applicant’s Nationality – are important factors that are taken into account during the assessment process. An ECO has necessary information relating a country’s political, economic and security situation. Therefore, applicants applying from countries where there is social and political turmoil have to prove their credential in a much more precise and robust manner than nationals of those countries where there are relatively better and stable economic, political and social conditions.
- Non-Compliance to Immigration Rules – in the light of the empirical and statistical data, during the assessment process an applicant is evaluated against the overall noncompliance to the Immigration Rules committed by the nationals/citizens of a country for which an applicant is making an application. This means that applicants belonging to countries that have a higher rate of non-compliance with Immigration Rules are more likely to go through much rigorous and thorough assessment process.
Travel and Immigration History of the Applicant
An applicant’s Travel History is not the only consideration during the evaluation process to evaluate the genuineness and credibility of an applicant.
‘Change of Circumstances’ Previously Refused Applicants
Importantly, in case of a repeat visit visa application (i.e. applicants having travelled to the UK in the past on either one or more than one occasions), the ECO will look for changes in the circumstances of an applicant since his/her previous travel to the UK. The ECO will consider and evaluate all the relevant information before reaching an appropriate decision. It is quite common that an application for a repeat visitor visa gets refused if the applicant is not able to prove his/her circumstances that may necessitate a grant of a visit visa. If that may not be the case – i.e. scrutiny of personal, family, economic and social conditions of an applicant – then it would be quite difficult to grant a visa to an applicant:
- who are applying for UK Visitor Visa for the very first time; and
- who has been refused in the past on either one or more than one occasion.
Travel History, Balance of Probabilities
Nevertheless, an applicant’s travel history provides useful information that might either increases or decreases the balance of probabilities for granting a UK Visitor Visa i.e.
- Compliance with the UK Immigration Rules – A pattern of previous visits to the UK may indicate that an applicant has complied with the UK Immigration Rules, which may increase the balances of probabilities that an applicant is credible and has genuine intentions of visiting the UK.
- Travels to Other Countries – such as the USA, Schengen Countries, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, etc. increases the balance of probabilities that an applicant is a genuine visitor.
- Failure to Comply with the Immigration Law/Rules – depending on the circumstances, in case an applicant has failed to comply with any other country’s immigration Rules/Law in the past then the applicant may be evaluated as a non-genuine visitor. For instance, if an applicant has been either removed from another country or refused entry to another country, this may lead to doubt an applicant’s intentions. However, it is not an automatic and sufficient condition for UK visa refusal, but something which may reduce the balance of probabilities of granting a UK Visitor Visa.
‘Frequency of Visits’ and UK Visit Visa Assessment
For repeat visitors, an assessment is made of their past trips to the UK i.e.
- how long an applicant is staying in the UK; and
- how frequently he/she is returning?
‘Duration of Visits’ and UK Visit Visa Refusal
Although, a visitor can remain inside the UK up to 180 days at a stretch; however, the maximum period that an individual may spend inside the UK on a visitor visa is not specified for instance ‘6 months in 12 months’. Therefore, a review of the travel history of an individual gives a fair idea that whether that individual is making the UK his/her main home by trying to exploit the Immigration Rules to his/her advantage.
Is the UK becoming the Main Home of a Visitor?
The frequency and duration of visits are scrutinised to evaluate: whether a repeat visitor is making the UK his/her main home or not. An opinion is made regarding those described above by looking at the following aspects of a visitor visa application:
- the purpose of visiting the UK;
- the intended duration of stay stated in the application form and the actual duration of stay during the previous visits;
- the number and length of visits made during the preceding twelve (12) months;
- the time period elapsed since the last visit;
- Is an applicant spending more time in the UK than in his/her home country?;
- What is the purpose of return journey that an applicant is making to his/her home country? Is this nothing more than just to seek a re-entry to the UK?;
- the ties of an applicant to his country such as:
- is an applicant is registered with the tax authorities of his/her home country;
- are his/her children attending UK schools;
- the information on previous applications, for instance, if the previous application to settle in the UK through the family route has been refused, and an applicant merely intends to enter as a visitor so as to join his/her British or settled family inside the UK.
Grounds for Doubting An Applicant’s Intentions
Although, there can be many grounds for questioning the intentions of an applicant; however, some of the more common reasons for doubting an applicant’s intentions are:
- Ties to the Country of Residence – the applicant has only a limited number of family, economic, social, professional and business ties to his/her country of residence, and quite a few family members of the applicant are living in the United Kingdom. For instance, an applicant with most of his/her near and dear family members in the UK with no full-time employment/study status in his/her country of residence may be deemed to have few ties with the home country.
- The Situation of an Applicant’s Country of Residence – the overall political, economic and security conditions of an applicant’s country of residence i.e. is the applicant’s home country politically unstable, a conflict zone or there is an imminent risk that the country will become politically unstable in the near future. These macro signals could lead to doubt the intentions of an applicant i.e. the applicant will not leave the UK at the end of his/her journey to the UK.
- Previous History of Deception – either an applicant or his/her sponsor (in case an applicant is visiting a relative or a friend) or sponsor’s/applicant’s immediate family members have, or have attempted to, use deception in the any of the previous visa applications – for entry clearance, leave to remain or leave to enter – submitted to HM’s Home Office.
- Discrepancies of Statements – between the declarations of an applicant and that of his/her sponsor, especially about such information that a sponsor is expected to know reasonably well.
- Information Not Verifiable – after several attempts, which has been provided by an applicant.
- Information/Reasons Not Credible – either the information provided or the reason(s) stated in an application/interview are prima facia, not logical and reliable.
- Baggage Search – in case if an applicant’s baggage is searched at the border and it reveals possession of items, which demonstrates that the visitor has plans/intentions to either work or live in the UK.
Borderline Decisions- UK Visit Visa Assessment, Refusal Reasons
In the case of long-term visitor visa application, if some aspects raise concerns then instead of granting a long-term visitor visa i.e. 2, 5 and ten years visitor visa, it is quite likely that a short-term visitor visa may be granted i.e. for six months or even less. For instance, if an applicant was previously granted a six months visitor visa to visit the UK as a Business/Tourist visitor and the individual described above proceeded to the scheduled journey accordingly. However, after the expiry of the six (6) months visitor visa, the individual applies for two (2) years visit visa, without clarifying in his/her application: why there be any need of recurring visits to the UK for the same purpose during the next two (2) years. Therefore, instead of either granting a two (2) years visitor visa or refusing the application, the applicant might be granted a visitor visa for a shorter duration.
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Related: UK Standard Visit Visa Application Processing and Representation, Standard Visit Visa UK- Family, Business, Tourist Applications and UK Visit Visa Applications, Documentary Evidence, Refusal Reasons.