There are currently about 12 different ways to immigrate to or visit the UK and most of these require an entry clearance. The requirements for each type of entry clearance are different, the fiance application, for example, requires evidence that the couple have met; whereas the student application requires evidence of acceptance in a degree-level course of study.
So while each type of application requires different evidence, all entry clearance applications have a common set of hurdles, regardless of the type of application. This section looks at the four hurdles which are common to all entry clearance applications: Maintenance, Accommodation, Credibility, and Intent.
- Maintenance. All entry clearance applications must demonstrate that the applicant will not require access to public funds. This normally takes the form of bank statements and salary slips from the sponsor, and sometimes a co-sponsor is needed to clear this hurdle. Frequently asked questions about this hurdle include...
- How much savings is enough?
- Can the applicant and the sponsor combine their evidence?
- Which counts more: Savings or income?
- My fiance/spouse is getting child benefit (or other benefit). Will this affect my application?
- Should I have a job before I apply?
- Accommodation. The applicant needs to demonstrate that their presence here will not result in overcrowding (as defined by the Housing Act of 1985 and 1996). For visitors, this usually takes the form of a hotel reservation or a letter of invitation from a sponsor. But for settlement applications, the rules are more stringent. As a guideline, the ECO will often refer to the IDI's (Chapter 8, Annex H) which contain a table listing the acceptable number of occupants versus the number of bedrooms. Again, it is not uncommon for young couples to rely on their parents to clear this hurdle. The evidence needed is usually something that shows the sponsor has exclusive access to a dwelling (or part thereof), this would include a lease, tenancy agreement, mortgage, or deed. In the event that the accommodation is owned by a landlord, his permission to allow another occupant is also required. For fiance and spousal applicants, the minimum requirement is to have exclusive access to their own bedroom. And finally, although less of problem in these times, the accommodation must be cleared as a livable premises and fit for human occupation. Frequently asked questions about this hurdle include...
- My fiance (or spouse) lives in council housing and the council does not provide letters of permission. What can be done?
- How can it be shown that an accommodation is spacious enough to include another occupant?
- How long can co-sponsorship be used to meet the rules? Is there a requirement to be independent of co-sponsors in the future?
- Credibility. This is undoubtedly the most stressful hurdle for many applicants. Credibility is not only ubique to all parts of the application, but also takes a number of external factors into account. A job offer letter to a spousal applicant, for example, may not be seen by the ECO as authentic and thereby raise a credibility issue with the entire application. Another example would be a student applicant who wishes to take an English course, but appears to speak fluent English. This would cause the ECO to think that the application was not genuine and cause the entire application to have credibility problems. And of course the applicant's immigration history plays a big role in establishing credibility. A first-time visitor from a visa-national country will have a more difficult time than someone who has travelled to the UK and who has built up a track record of compliance. Frequently asked questions in this area would include...
- How much does a prior refusal at a port of entry affect an application?
- Does a poor immigration history as a visitor affect a settlement application?
- How long a relationship is necessary before someone can apply successfully as a fiance? a spouse?
- Intent. This hurdle has attracted the most media attention in 2004 and 2005, especially with respect to so-called sham marriages. The "intentionality" hurdle addresses the applicant's motivation for coming to the UK versus what they have declared on their application. For visitor applications, this challenge of this hurdle is to present evidence of not intending to settle in the UK. For settlement applications, the applicant needs to convince the ECO that their marriage (or other reason) is genuine, and that they intend to live together as a married couple. Countries where intent plays strongly in the decision process are visa-national countries, typically poorer or developing countries. Countries where intent is less of a concern are "fast-track" countries, where the applicant applies over the internet and may have a short telephone interview.
- English. Some applications require evidence that the applicant has sufficient knowledge of the English language. This requirement is waived for certain nationalities and there is a list of exempt nationalities on the UKBA site.
Reviewed 5 May 2012