Spouse, Civil Partner, Unmarried, or Same-sex Partner Visa Requirements

This guidance relates to UK spouse visa requirements for 5-year partner route under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. Please note, as per paragraph EC-P.1.1. of Appendix FM, a spouse, civil, unmarried, or same-sex partner of a British citizen, a person present and settled, or a person with refugee leave or humanitarian protection can apply for UK partner visa entry clearance application if they:

  1. are outside the UK
  2. do not fall for refusal under suitability
  3. meet the eligibility requirements
  4. make a valid application as a partner

If you don’t intend to live in the UK but only travelling to get married or form a civil partnership, then may apply for marriage visitor visa or visitor visa extension.

1. Requirements 2. Suitability 3. Grant 4. Rejection 5. Right of Appeal 6. Statistics

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1. Requirements

UK Spouse Visa Requirements

In terms of paragraphs E-ECP.2.1-4.2 of Appendix FM, an applicant needs to meet the following UK spouse visa eligibility requirements:

  1. Status of UK Sponsor (i.e. applicant’s partner or spouse)
  2. Min Age
  3. Prohibited Degree of Relationship
  4. Couple to have Met in Person
  5. Genuine and Subsisting Relationship
  6. A Valid Marriage or Civil Partnership
  7. The Previous Relationship Has Broken Down Permanently
  8. Intentions to Live Together Permanently
  9. Financial Requirements
  10. Accommodation
  11. English Language

Please note the Paragraph E-ECP.2.8 for enabling marriage or civil partnership only relates to Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner.

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2. Min Age

In terms of E-ECP.2.2. and E-ECP.2.3. of Appendix FM, both the applicant and the UK sponsor needs to be 18 years or more at the time of application.

3. Prohibited Degree of Relationship

In terms of E-ECP.2.4. of Appendix FM, the applicant and UK partner must NOT be within the prohibited degree of relationship. Accordingly, as per Marriage Act 1949, a man cannot get married to his:

  1. Mother
  2. Sister
  3. Father’s mother
  4. Daughter
  5. Daughter’s daughter
  6. Mother’s mother
  7. Son’s daughter
  8. Mother’s sister
  9. Father’s sister
  10. Sister’s daughter and
  11. Brother’s daughter

Similarly, as per Marriage Act 1949, a woman cannot get married to her:

  1. Son
  2. Father
  3. Mother’s father
  4. Father’s father
  5. Daughter’s son
  6. Son’s son
  7. Father’s brother
  8. Brother
  9. Mother’s brother
  10. Sister’s son
  11. Brother’s son
Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986

In addition to the above, the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986 prohibits the following relationships, up until both parties are aged 21 and over, and provided that the younger party has not at any time, before attaining the age of eighteen, been a child of the family in relation to the other party:

  1. Son of former husband
  2. Former husband of mother
  3. Former wife of father
  4. Daughter of former wife
  5. Former husband of father’s mother
  6. Former wife of father’s father
  7. Son of son of former husband
  8. Former husband of mother’s mother
  9. Former wife of mother’s father
  10. Daughter of son of former wife
  11. Son of daughter of former husband
  12. Daughter of daughter of former wife.

Furthermore, the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986 also prohibits marriages until the death of other relations between the following:

  1. Father of the former husband, until the death of the former husband and his mother
  2. Mother of the former wife, until the death of former wife and her father
  3. Former husband of the daughter, until the death of the daughter and the father of the daughter
  4. The former wife of son, until the death of the son and the mother of the son

4. The Couple to have met in person

“To have met” has been interpreted by Tribunals as “to have made the acquaintance of”. Accordingly, this which means both parties have made an acquaintance of each other, that acquaintance need not be in the context of marriage or civil partnership. For instance, both parties have a friendship since childhood and after adulthood decided to get married is an acceptable acquaintance.

However, the mere meeting of two infants is not acceptable. Similarly, a mutual sighting or mere coming face-to-face followed by telephone or written contact also does not suffice an acquaintance. Nevertheless, in few cases, the Tribunal has decided that “met” implies a face-to-face meeting. Perhaps, resulting in a mutual acquaintance.

Accordingly, in terms of paragraph E-ECP.2.5 Appendix FM, the applicant and UK partner need to prove that they have met in person. If the applicant fails to satisfy that the couple has met in person, then the decision maker refuses the application. In fact, before reaching a decision, a caseworker usually considers all aspects of the case. However, not having met in person can be the sole ground for refusal of UK spouse visa application.

5. Genuine Relationship

Paragraph E-ECP.2.6. relates to the genuine and subsisting relationship between the applicant and their UK sponsor/partner. To prove that the relationship is genuine and subsisting, an applicant may provide some reasonable evidence of communication with the UK partner. For instance, chat details on social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat etc. However, a genuine and subsisting relationship usually associates with a combination of the following factors:

  1. Long-term relationship
  2. Evidence of cohabitation
  3. Joint responsibility of children
  4. Joint financial responsibilities
  5. Travelling to each other’s home country and family
  6. Arranged marriages and plans of living together
Long-term relationship

Certainly, an applicant needs to establish that they are in a current and long-term relationship with the UK sponsor. Moreover, can provide all the available evidence to this end.

Evidence of cohabitation

If an applicant is cohabiting with the UK partner/spouse, then may provide a piece of satisfactory documentary evidence to prove the genuine and subsisting relationship for UK spouse visa entry clearance from outside the UK.

Joint responsibility of children

If an applicant has biological children together with the UK partner/spouse and shared responsibility for them then this can be a piece of good evidence. And also, for any adopted or stepchildren.

Joint financial responsibilities

If an applicant shares financial responsibilities with the UK partner/spouse, then may furnish evidence with the application. For instance, evidence of:

  • joint mortgages payments
  • utility bills
  • joint tenancy
  • operating a joint bank account
Travelling to each other’s home country and family

If an applicant or their spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner has travelled to each other’s home country. And also, have met with their partner/spouse’s family members. Then can furnish a piece of evidence of this end.

If an applicant has never visited the United Kingdom, then it is not regarded as a negative factor, but as stated above, it is a requirement of the Immigration Rules that the couple has met in person.

Arranged marriages and plans of living together

In case of an arranged marriage, the families or close friends of the applicant and UK sponsor act on couple’s behalf and usually make definite plans concerning the practicalities of the couple living together in the United Kingdom. Therefore, in the case of an arranged marriage, an applicant may provide any evidence to this end. And also, that relating to the couple’s consent to the marriage and plans.

Proving Relationship: Religious and Cultural Differences

However, if due to the religious and cultural elements the evidence of relationship is not meaningful then it is not an impending problem. Caseworkers have the requisite knowledge to take specific cultural and religious values into account. Moreover, an applicant may include an undertaking of a Third Party such as a close family member or friend. An applicant may include a copy of the passport of the person giving the declaration of facts.

A partnership akin to a marriage or civil partnership

If an applicant is applying as an unmarried partner or same-sex partner, then must be living together with their partner in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of application. And needs to provide documentary evidence to prove a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership.

If the applicant is applying as an unmarried partner, they will need to provide evidence that the applicant & unmarried UK partner have been living together for 2 years prior to the application. Such evidence can include documents showing joint commitments, such as joint bank accountants, joint investments, joint tenancy agreement, joint mortgage account etc.

Letter of correspondence

An application should include the Letters of correspondence in the application. However, a letter of correspondence must contain the address that the applicant and UK partner have lived together. For instance, household bills, doctors, or dentist records.

If an application is lacking in letters of correspondences, applicants can obtain statements from a third party (letters from friends & family, doctors, dentists etc) specifically saying that they have been living together with their partner for more than 2 years.

6. A valid marriage or civil partnership

In terms of paragraph E-ECP.2.7, an applicant needs to establish the validity of a marriage or civil partnership with appropriate specified evidence such as registration certificate. Moreover, paragraphs 22 to 26 of Appendix FM-SE provide the details of the specified evidence:

  1. A valid marriage certificate recognised under the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland as evidence of marriage in the UK
  2. A decree absolute from a civil court as evidence of a divorce in the UK
  3. Civil Partnership Certificate as evidence of civil partnership in the UK
  4. A final order of civil partnership dissolution from a civil court as evidence of dissolution of a civil partnership in the UK.
  5. For marriages, civil partnerships or evidence of divorce or dissolution from outside the UK: reasonable equivalent evidence in terms of paragraphs 22 to 25 of Appendix FM-SE, valid under the law in force in the relevant country

8. Intentions to Live Together Permanently

In terms of E-ECP.2.10. Appendix FM, both applicant and their spouse or partner must prove that they intend to live together permanently in the UK.

Under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules “intention to live together permanently with the other” or “intend to live together permanently” means an intention to live together, evidenced by a clear commitment from both parties that they will live together permanently in the UK immediately following the outcome of a UK partner or spouse visa entry clearance application or as soon as circumstances permit thereafter.

9. UK Spouse Visa Financial Requirements

Indeed, to qualify as a UK spouse or partner visa under the 5-year route to settlement an applicant needs to meet the financial requirements as per paragraphs E-ECP.3.1. to E-ECP.3.3 and specified evidence as per Appendix FM-SE.

Does min income increase with the dependants for UK spouse visa?

For UK spouse or partner visa entry clearance application from outside the UK, in terms of E-ECP.3.1. (a) the applicant needs to meet the min income threshold. Accordingly, the applicant or UK sponsor/partner must earn a min annual income of £18,600.

Moreover, if the applicant is applying with one dependant child under the age of 18 years, then the amount increases by £3,800. In fact, for each additional dependent child, the financial requirement, for UK spouse or partner entry clearance application, increases by £2,400. Accordingly, if an applicant is applying with three (3) dependent children then the min income threshold is a £24,800 (i.e. £18,600 for spouse/partner + £3,800 for the first child + £2,400X2 for the additional two children).

What is the specified savings for UK spouse visa application?

In terms of E-ECP.3.1. (b) the specified savings is £16,000. If an applicant has cash savings of £62,500/- then they may not need to combine the savings level with the Income from other sources. As after deducting £16,000 (i.e. the amount of mandatory savings) from total available savings £62,500, the residual cash savings amounts to £46,500, which in terms of (b)(ii) are 2.5 times of the min income of £18,600.

Combination of income sources for meeting financial requirements

Certainly, an applicant can meet the financial requirement through a combination of sources. These may include income from:

  • employment
  • self-employment
  • a pension
  • non-employment earnings like rent
  • savings of over £16,000

Moreover, an applicant can use own income if earning it in the UK. As this will contribute to the household income. There may also be cases which exempt you from the financial requirement.

Accordingly, an applicant may combine income from multiple sources to reach the financial requirement, which may include:

  • income from employment/self-employment, for at least six months
  • pension
  • maternity, paternity, adoption, or sick pay
  • any other income such as rent or shares
  • Cash savings of over £16,000 if these are in couple’s control for over six months
Is exemption from financial requirement possible?

Applicants who are exempt from the minimum income threshold under the financial requirement in Appendix FM (because their partner is in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance) must instead demonstrate that their partner is able to maintain themselves, the applicant, and any dependants “adequately” without recourse to public funds. An applicant needs to furnish the specified evidence as set out in Appendix FM-SE.

10. Accommodation

In terms of paragraph E-ECP.3.4 of Appendix FM, for qualifying for entry clearance as a spouse or partner on the 5-year route to settlement, an applicant needs to meet the adequate accommodation requirement in the UK. Certainly, an applicant needs to furnish cogent evidence for proving adequate accommodation, without recourse to public funds, for the family, which the family own or occupy exclusively. In this regard, the meaning of family includes other family members who are not included in the application but who live in the same household.

When accommodation is not adequate?

Accommodation will not be regarded as adequate if the accommodation is, or will become, overcrowded, and contravenes public health regulations.

11. English Language

In terms of paragraph ECP.4.1. and ECP.4.2. of Appendix FM, for qualifying for entry clearance as a spouse or partner on the 5-year route to settlement, an applicant needs to meet the English language requirements in one of the following ways by:

  1. being a national of a majority English speaking country listed in paragraph GEN.1.6.
  2. passing an English language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of level A1 of the CEFR
  3. having an academic qualification which is either a bachelor’s or master’s degree or PhD if awarded in the UK. If the qualification is awarded outside and UK NARIC confirms that the degree in English to level A1 or above
  4. qualifying for an exemption

2. Suitability

UK Spouse Visa Requirements

All applications for entry clearance under the 5-year route as a spouse, civil, unmarried, or same-sex partner and their dependant children need to fulfil suitability and associated requirements stated in S-EC 1.1 to S-EC 3.2 of Appendix FM under the family visa route. Accordingly, the suitability and associated requirements relate to:

  1. exclusion of an applicant is conducive to the public good because of conviction, conduct, character, and association
  2. deportation order
  3. non-compliance to the provision of information, undergoing a medical examination and attending an interview
  4. medical grounds
  5. conditional caution
  6. applicant’s parent or parent’s partner poses a risk to the applicant
  7. failure to provide maintenance and accommodation undertaking in terms of paragraph 35 of the immigration rules
  8. failure to pay litigation cost to the Home Office
  9. inability to clear outstanding charges of the National Health Service (NHS) with a total value of at least £500
  10. exclusion of the applicant from the UK is conducive to the public good because of a non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded in an applicant’s criminal record
  11. false documents, representations, information, and material facts not disclosed in the current or any of the previous applications
  12. the applicant has caused serious harm
  13. the applicant is a persistent offender with a particular disregard for the law


The suitability criteria under paragraphs S-EC.1.2 to S-EC.1.5 are usually considered with reference to criminality. The suitability criteria under paragraphs S-EC.1.6 to S-EC.1.8, S-EC.2.2 to S-EC.2.5 and S-EC.3.1 to S-EC.3.2 of Appendix FM relates to the General Grounds for Refusal. Applicants applying as a partner/spouse under Appendix FM are not subjected to the General Grounds for Refusal. However, the provisions in paragraph 320(3), (10) and (11) applies to applications under Appendix FM.

Applicant Removed with a Caution

In terms of paragraph S-EC.1.8 a UK spouse or partner visa entry clearance application made on or after 6 April 2013 is refused if an applicant either left the UK or was removed as a condition of a caution issued under section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 less than 5 years prior to the date on which the application is decided.

Protection of Children

The purpose of paragraph S-EC.1.9. of Appendix FM is to enable a decision consistent with the need to safeguard children where entry clearance applications involving children raise child welfare or child protection issues.

The paragraph S-EC.1.9 provides a ground for refusing entry clearance based on suitability where the applicant is a child and the applicant’s parent, or parent’s partner is regarded as posing a risk to the applicant. In the specific instances covered in sub-paragraph (a) to (c) of paragraph S-EC.1.9, there is a presumption that such a risk exists although the sponsor may rebut this. For instance, while offenders and other individuals subject to sex offender notification requirements are not prevented from having a private or family life, it will normally be the case that a change to their domestic circumstances will have to be notified to the police and non-compliance with this is itself a basis for presuming that a risk exists.

3. Grant

UK Spouse Visa Application Successful

In terms of paragraph D-ECP.1.1. Appendix FM, if an applicant meets the requirements for entry clearance as a partner (not a fiancé or fiancée or proposed civil partner) under the 5-year route, the applicant gets an entry clearance as a spouse, civil, unmarried, same-sex partner for an initial period of 33 months and subject to a condition of no recourse to public funds. Moreover, the entry clearance for 33 months is also granted even if the sponsor (i.e. spouse or partner) is in the UK with leave as a refugee or with HP (except where entry is being granted as a fiancé or fiancée or proposed civil partner).

No Access to Public Funds

The condition of no recourse to public funds means that the applicant can’t access:

  • any social benefits
  • housing assistance through public funds and
  • any tax credits

However, the holder of spouse or partner visa is entitled to do work in the UK, which is an advantage over 6-month fiancé(e) visa that does not allow applicants to work in the UK.

Leave to Remain

An applicant needs to make an extension application as a spouse or partner of the same person, for a further leave to remain once he/she has completed a period of 30 months in the UK. Accordingly, an applicant needs to make an extension application no more than 28 days before his/her extant leave is due to expire, or no more than 28 days before they have completed 30 months with leave as a spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner in the UK.

ILR (Settlement)

A person may qualify for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) after completing 60 months (5 years) in the UK with limited leave as a partner under the 5-year route under Appendix FM. The 5-year route is for those spouses, civil, unmarried, same-sex partner, who meet all the suitability and eligibility requirements of the Immigration Rules at every stage. However, if a spouse or partner fails to meet the financial, English language or lawful immigration status eligibility requirements then the applicant cannot apply for settlement under the 5-year route. However, if exceptional circumstances apply then a spouse or civil, unmarried, a same-sex partner may be considered for settlement under the 10-year route if they meet all other requirements.

Dependant Child

If a spouse or partner gets an entry clearance under paragraph D-ECP.1.1. of Appendix FM, then it is quite likely that any dependent child may also get the visa under paragraph EC-C.1.1. Accordingly, if the dependent child (or children) meets the requisite requirements then get an entry clearance under paragraph D-ECC.1.1. for a period and subject to conditions in line with those of the parent who is, or has been, granted entry clearance under the spouse or partner rules of Appendix FM.

4. Rejection

UK Spouse Visa Refusal

In fact, an applicant does not get the UK spouse visa if they applicant fails to meet all the relevant requirements. And there are no exceptional circumstances. Moreover, when the ECO refuses an application under paragraph D-ECP.1.3. of Appendix FM then the refusal letter indicates the refusal with reference to the relevant suitability and/or eligibility requirements. The ECO considers every spouse visa application for exceptional circumstances, which otherwise falls for refusal under the rules.

Exceptional Circumstances

If an applicant otherwise falls for refusal under the relevant Immigration rules, then the application is usually considered under paragraph GEN.3.2 of Appendix FM. A refusal might result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant or their family. Therefore, the casework certainly ascertains whether there are any exceptional circumstances that require a grant of entry clearance on ECHR Article 8 grounds.

Wordings of the Refusal Letter

Usually, a spouse or civil, unmarried, same-sex partner entry clearance visa refusal notice starts with the following lines:

On 23/03/2018 you made an application for entry clearance to the UK under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules on the basis of your family life with your partner Vinod Khanna and child(ren) – Kiran Khanna and Pooja Khanna.

Your application has been considered under those rules, and with reference to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The relevant Immigration Rules can be viewed on gov.uk here: Immigration Rules – Guidance – GOV.UK.

This decision takes into account as a primary consideration the best interests of any relevant child in line with section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.

We have considered your application under paragraph EC-P.1.1. of Appendix FM. However, you do not qualify for entry clearance under the 5-year partner route for the following reasons…….

The refusal letter elaborates the UK spouse visa refusal reasons

Accordingly, the refusal letter (notice) elaborates the UK spouse visa refusal reasons under the 5-year route. Moreover, also includes reference to exceptional circumstances under the 10-year route and. And mentions the rights of appeal and usually concludes with the following paragraph:

In light of the above, your application is refused under paragraph D-ECP.1.3. of Appendix FM with reference to paragraph EC-P.1.1.(a), (b), (c) and (d) and you do not qualify for entry clearance on the 5-year partner route, or on the 10-year partner route on the basis of exceptional circumstances, under Appendix FM.

Refusal despite compassionate grounds

If an applicant has raised compassionate grounds in the application, then the refusal letter may also include:

You do not fall for a grant of entry clearance outside the Immigration Rules on the basis of compassionate factors for the following reasons……

5. Right of Appeal

UK Spouse Visa Refusal and the Right of Appeal

In case the visa is refused then a refusal letter is issued with a full appeal right and depending on the nature of a refusal an applicant may appeal or reapply.

Establishing Relationship is important!

Here it is important to understand the spouse/partner visa is granted based on an applicant’s relationship with a UK sponsor/partner. The situation gets complex when objective criteria such as evidence of marriage/civil partnership do not corroborate with subjective criteria such as intentions to live together permanently. Therefore, establishing a relationship between the applicant and the UK sponsor/partner is critical to the success of the application.

Spouse Visa Refused: Appeal or Reapply?

I am a British born citizen, and my husband is Indian and we applied for the spouse visa on the 27th of May 2017, which was refused 14th September based on financial income
1. They wanted a letter 28 days prior to the application from one of my employers confirming my job. But I gave them my entire contract signed and dated
2. I had a interview phone call which I pretty much messed up to be honest and this is the main reason they refused it. I have two jobs, one full time and one part time, which gives me an income of 22k after tax. They rang asking information about my part time job.

A simple mistake can lead to UK spouse visa refusal

I work for a ridiculously small company and my hours are flexible and because most of the work is done online, I usually hot desk too. I’m good friends with everyone I work with and so the environment is pretty laid back and were like a family. I made a mistake with my income. She asked me how much I get paid and instead of saying £791, I said £719 because I just quickly glanced at it. They further went onto call my manager, I told him he was expecting a call and made the same mistake of telling him £719 instead.

So, I’m screwed because of two numbers

My solicitor has asked the home office to see if the phone call was recorded or not. The question is: is it worth appealing? Or shall we just reapply all over again

Any sort of advice would be helpful


Immigration Boards

Is it expedient to appeal after refusal?

There is a good chance to successfully appeal against the refusal decision as new evidence can be furnished in an appeal. Moreover, the transposition error i.e. 719 instead of 791 can be easily explained in the appeal- in fact, it is not a big deal. Here it is important to understand that it is expedient to follow the legal process i.e. if the immigration laws allow filing an appeal, then there is some good logic and consideration to it.

6. Statistics 2008-17

During 2008-17, a total of 406,466 entry clearance applications submitted for UK spouse or partner visa. Accordingly, 414,054 applications resolved, and 324,125 entry clearance visas granted to spouses and partners under the UK family visa route. Therefore, 10 years average UK spouse or partner entry clearance visa success rate is 78.28%. Indeed, more than one out of five applicants are quite prone to a refusal.

UK Spouse Visa Success Rate

A close look at the UK spouse or partner visa entry clearance statistics indicates a downward trend during 2012-14. The dip of 9% in 2012 was due to the changes introduced in July 2012. Moreover, in 2013 and 2014 the success rate continued its downward journey to reach the lowest ebb of 70.35%. However, since then the UK spouse visa success rate has been showing improvements. And in 2017, the UK spouse visa success rate was 82.49%, which is more than 4% higher than the 10 years average success rate.

UK Spouse Visa Refusal Rate

From 2008 to 2017, a total of 86,315 applications for UK partner or spouse visa refused. And 2,937 applications withdrawn and 677 lapsed. Accordingly, the average UK partner or spouse visa refusal rate for entry clearance applications is 20.85%. The UK spouse visa refusal rate was highest in 2014 (27.40%) and lowest in 2011 (15.63%), 2008 (16.28%) and 2017 (16.87%). It is good news for genuine applicants that UK spouse visa refusal rate has come down during 2017.

UK Spouse Visa Success Rate 2008-17

Year Applications Success Rate
2008 58,367 82.79%
2009 44,338 81.67%
2010 48,854 81.57%
2011 36,193 83.73%
2012 39,730 74.70%
2013 32,382 73.84%
2014 31,928 70.35%
2015 38,724 72.56%
2016 37,360 74.94%
2017 38,590 82.49%
Total 406,466 78.28%

UK Spouse Visa Refusal Rate 2008-17

Year No. of Rejections Refusal Rate
2008 8,748 16.28%
2009 8,081 17.26%
2010 8,352 17.74%
2011 6,253 15.63%
2012 10,075 24.75%
2013 7,978 25.09%
2014 10,264 27.40%
2015 10,708 26.89%
2016 9,282 24.68%
2017 6,574 16.87%
Total 86,315 20.85%

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    *What Happens Next?

    Multilingual qualified London based immigration specialists will get back to you. Usually within 2-3 working days. If you have not attached any documents, then the UK based Law firm may ask for the relevant Case-Specific Document(s) such as Refusal Letters, Deportation Orders, Application Forms etc. Moreover, after reviewing the papers and information, the legal advisor may advise a course of action and quote the fees for processing the application.

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