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How Does Coronavirus Affect Spouse Visa Applications?

Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost every area of our lives. No country in the world is untouched by the crisis. One thing that is helping us all to get through is the physical support of our loved ones, who are by our side in isolation.

However, for many visa applicants, especially those awaiting Spouse Visa applications to be processed, or who are in the UK on a Spouse Visa and need to apply for an extension or Indefinite Leave to Remain.

The stories of worry and anxiety faced by many are often heart-breaking to read. A woman who asked to be called Mary (not her real name) who must now apply for a Spouse Visa extension told Open Democracy:

“Now I’m having to apply imminently for a new visa to be able to remain here with my husband. We now have to prove our income again – otherwise, we’ll be trapped in the same nightmare we went through the first time around. Our income, like that of many, many others, has taken a huge hit due to the pandemic, and I don’t know how it’s going to be possible to prove we’re over the threshold.”?

There are several pressing issues to consider relating to a Spouse Visa application or extension of leave to remain during the Coronavirus lockdown, including but not limited to:

  1. The timing of your application

  1. One spouse is outside the UK

  1. Can you still meet the minimum income requirement?

  1. Delays to marriage ceremonies

The timing of your extension application

Although you may think it is OK to put your Spouse Visa extension application on hold whilst bigger issues such as work and health consume you, the harsh fact is the Home Office will not take into consideration the challenges brought about by Coronavirus if your leave expires. It is vital to prepare and submit your Spouse Visa extension application well in advance of the expiration of your leave to remain in the UK.

One spouse is outside the UK

If you are applying for a UK Spouse Visa from abroad, you may have trouble getting into the UK due to travel restrictions in your home country. As of 1 May 2020, the UK border was open. Government guidance states that all overseas Visa Application Centres are currently closed. Also, in some areas, UKVI cannot send visa vignettes across borders and routes due to restrictions.

To find out when the Visa Application Centre closest to you is reopening, go to:

  • TLS contact?if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East

  • VFS global?for all other countries

Many English Testing Centres are now closed or experiencing disruption. To find out if your closest centre is operating, click here.

Meeting the minimum income requirement

For those who have been furloughed or are self-employed and have seen their business dry up to nothing, meeting the minimum financial requirements for a UK Spouse Visa or a Spouse Visa extension may now seem impossible. However, there are solutions.

The first is to consider making your application sooner rather than later. For example, if you are a self-employed sponsor, you may be able to meet the income requirements if you rely on the last financial year’s income (April 2019) rather than this year.

Applicants can also consider relying on the exceptional circumstances’ provisions relating to the minimum income requirement, namely paragraphs EX.1 or Gen 3.1 in Appendix FM. You will need to show that denying granting you a Spouse Visa or an extension is a breach of your rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private and family life) because it would result in “unjustifiably harsh consequences” for you, or your partner, child or another family member involved.

The test for exceptional circumstances is high. You will need legal advice if you wish to proceed with this route.

Finally, if you have other sources of income that allow you to meet £18,600 per year (more if children are included in the application) requirement; for example, rental income, shares, bonds, pensions, trust funds, or interest from savings, you can ask for these to be considered.

Delay in marriage ceremonies taking place

It is not just those on Spouse Visas that have been impacted by the Coronavirus lockdown. Abshire, a US citizen who is in the UK on a Fiancé Visa, was meant to marry her fiancé on 23 March – the day the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced virtually all non-essential services were to close. She told The Guardian that the registry office called her the day before to cancel the ceremony. Abshire’s Fiancé Visa is set to expire in early July and with no confirmation of when the registry office will open again, she will have to apply to extend it, at the cost of £1,033.

“It would be great if they did waive those extension charges, given that this is unprecedented. It wasn’t a personal issue that came up needing us to get an extension. It’s a national emergency that is causing everything to go on pause. It would be helpful if the government could bear that in mind, seeing as how people aren’t allowed to work here legally and need to fork out a lot of money to stay here.”

Extension of a Fiancé Visa is permitted under ‘E-LTRP.1.11 of Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules:

If the applicant is in the UK with leave as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner and the marriage or civil partnership did not take place during that period of leave, there must be a good reason why and evidence that it will take place within the next 6 months.’

To avoid the visa extension fee, you may be able to take advantage of the government’s visa extension on request. The Guidance states:

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020:

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, although this route may remove the need to pay the £1,033 it comes with considerable risk. If your application is not accepted, you will become an overstayer. Do not proceed with filling in and submitting the online form until you have sought and received legal advice from an experienced immigration lawyer.

In summary

The Covid-19 pandemic is providing many challenges to Spouse Visa applicants. However, there are solutions to every problem. The key is to obtain accurate, up to date legal advice from experienced immigration solicitors. Many visa applications are denied simply because the applicant relied on

Related Article: Temporary Changes to UK Visa Extensions and Switching due to COVID-19 Outbreak

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I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

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"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

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