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Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Questions

What is the telephone number of the Home Office, UKBA for general enquiries or to find out about the progress of an outstanding application?

The Home Office, UKBA telephone number for general enquiries and update on the progress of a pending immigration application is 0300 123 2241.

What is the general fax number of the Home Office, UKBA, Croydon?

The general fax number of the Home Office, UKBA, Lunar House, Croydon is 020 8196 3248.

What is the address of the Home Office, UKBA, Lunar House, Croydon?

The Home Office, Croydon, address for general correspondence is:
Home Office
UK Visas & Immigration
Lunar House,
40 Wellesley Road,
Croydon,
Surrey CR9 2BY

How do I inform the Home Office, UKBA about my change of address in the UK?

  • You can inform the Home Office, UKBA about your change of address in the UK by way of a letter to the following address: Change of Address Team, 11th Floor, Lunar House, Wellesley Road, Croydon CR9 2BY; OR
  • You can update your contact details online.

What are the contact details of the Immigration Tribunal Customer Services?

Email for general enquires only: Customer.Service@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
Address: Arnhem Support Centre, PO Box 6987, Leicester LE1 6ZX
Tel: 0300 123 1711
Fax: 0870 7395895

EEA Questions

Who is a family member of an EEA national?

The following can be considered as ‘direct’ family members of an EEA national:

a) Spouse or civil partner;

b) Direct descendants of the EEA national or their spouse or civil partner who are:

Under the age of 21

Dependants of the EEA national or their spouse or civil partner

c) Dependent direct relatives in the ascending line of the EEA national or their civil partner

Who is an extended family member of an EEA national?

Extended family member means a person who is not a family member of an EEA national under regulation 7(1)(a), (b) or (c) and who satisfies the conditions in paragraph (2), (3), (4) or (5).
(2) A person satisfies the condition in this paragraph if the person is a relative of an EEA national, his spouse or his civil partner and—
(a)the person is residing in a country other than the United Kingdom and is dependent upon the EEA national or is a member of his household;
(b)the person satisfied the condition in paragraph (a) and is accompanying the EEA national to the United Kingdom or wishes to join him there; or
(c)the person satisfied the condition in paragraph (a), has joined the EEA national in the United Kingdom and continues to be dependent upon him or to be a member of his household.
(3) A person satisfies the condition in this paragraph if the person is a relative of an EEA national or his spouse or his civil partner and, on serious health grounds, strictly requires the personal care of the EEA national his spouse or his civil partner.
(4) A person satisfies the condition in this paragraph if the person is a relative of an EEA national and would meet the requirements in the immigration rules (other than those relating to entry clearance) for indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom as a dependent relative of the EEA national were the EEA national a person present and settled in the United Kingdom.
(5) A person satisfies the condition in this paragraph if the person is the partner of an EEA national (other than a civil partner) and can prove to the decision maker that he is in a durable relationship with the EEA national.

What are the basic rights of an EEA national in the UK?

EEA nationals are free to enter the UK subject to a passport or identity card check and have a right to live and work in the UK without any restrictions.

Can an EEA national come to the UK without doing anything, i.e. just stay indefinitely?

EEA nationals are entitled to reside in the UK for an initial period of three months without needing to exercise a Treaty right. An EEA national who will be in the UK for more than three months will have a right of residence for as long as they remain a qualified person (i.e. in the UK AND exercising a Treaty Rights).

What does exercising Treaty Rights mean and how can this be shown?

An EEA national who is in the UK can exercise a Treaty right as any of the following:

  • Jobseeker - The EEA national must be able to show evidence that they are seeking employment and have a genuine chance of being engaged, for example, evidence of job interviews, evidence of qualifications, registration with Job Centre / recruitment agencies.

In most circumstances we would expect an EEA national to be economically active within six months. It is highly likely that an individual claiming a right of residence as a job-seeker will also be exercising treaty rights as a self-sufficient person.

  • Worker - The EEA national must be able to show evidence that they are in full-time or part-time employment, for example, copy of a contract, pay slips.

If an EEA national temporarily ceases employment, they can still be considered a qualified person under the following circumstances:

  • They are temporarily unable to work as the result of an illness or accident;
  • They are involuntarily unemployed, having been employed in the UK, are registered as a jobseeker with the relevant employment office, and either: were employed for one year or more before becoming unemployed;
  • have been unemployed for no more than six months; or
  • can provide evidence that they are seeking employment in the UK and have a genuine chance of being engaged.
  • They are involuntarily unemployed and have started vocational training; or
  • They have voluntarily stopped working and started on vocational training related to their previous employment.
  • Self-employed person - The EEA national must be able to show evidence that they have established themselves in the UK as a self-employed person, for example, a copy of business accounts or an accountant’s letter.
  • Self-sufficient person - The EEA national must be able to show evidence that they have sufficient resources not to become a burden on the social assistance system and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover. There is no fixed amount that is regarded as ‘sufficient resources’. The personal situation of each applicant must be taken into account.

A retired person would qualify as self-sufficient if they can demonstrate that they are in receipt of a pension and / or have sufficient funds not to become a burden on the social assistance system.
An EEA national can qualify as self-sufficient based on the income of their non-EEA family member.

  • Student - The EEA national must be able to show evidence that they are enrolled at an establishment included on the DFES Register of Education and Training providers, for example, a letter from a college or university confirming that the EEA national is enrolled on a course and stating its duration.

How long before an EEA national (or their family/extended family member) can apply for Permanent Residence in the UK?

An EEA national normally acquires a permanent right of residence after they have resided in the UK in accordance with the Regulations for a continuous period of five years in the UK. An EEA national may apply for a document certifying their permanent rights of residence and their non-EEA national family members may apply for a permanent residence card. However no documentation is required under the EEA Regulations, i.e. it is optionally but is useful for the purposes of showing your right to reside permanently in the UK.

Can the different ways of exercising Treaty Rights in the UK be combined to count towards time for Permanent Residence in the UK?

The simple answer to this is YES however it would depend on whether certain periods met any other additional requirements, there are 2 in particular that must be carefully checked:

Exercising your Treaty Rights as a student OR self-sufficient person are the two main categories that you must watch out for to ensure that whilst you were exercising your Treaty Right as wither one of these, if you wish for this time to count towards your permanent residence then during these two categories you must have also had Comprehensive Health and Sickness Insurance.

For example, if an EEA national had spent 5 years in the UK continuously but was exercising their Treaty Right as a student for the first three years and the remaining two years were are a worker, the whole period can only be used to qualify for permanent residence if during the time as a student the EEA national had Comprehensive Health and Sickness Insurance throughout the whole period as a student.

If in the worst case scenario the EEA national did not have Comprehensive Health and Sickness Insurance whilst studying in the UK then they would have to wait another 3 years from their time of exercising Treaty Rights as a worker.

Once permanent residency is acquired and confirmed, can an EEA (or their family/extended family member) apply for British citizenship and if so how soon after can they do this?

Once an EEA national (or their family/extended family member) has obtained their permanent residency in the UK they can apply to become a British citizen after 12 months of holding the same.

What should be noted is that before 12 November 2015 EEA nationals were able to apply for British citizenship without the need to physically apply for a Permanent Residence Document, in other words, once they acquired their permanent residence period (i.e. continuously exercising Treaty Rights in the UK for a period of 5 years) they could straight away apply for British citizenship assuming that all the other requirements for British citizenship were met.

Since the changes to the British Nationality (General) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1806) on 12 November 2015, it is absolutely imperative that an EEA national first obtains their Permanent Residence Document before they can apply for British citizenship (assuming that they meet all the other requirements for Naturalisation as a British citizenship).

Spouse Visa Applications

What is spouse visa UK English Test requirement?

For UK spouse visa, the applicant must meet the English language requirement. You will meet the requirement if you can show that you:

  • are a national of a majority English-speaking country; or
  • have passed an English language test approved by the Home Office, UKBA at the appropriate level; or
  • hold a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree or above.

Exemptions
You do not need to meet the English language requirement if you provide satisfactory evidence that:

  • you are aged 65 or over when you make your application; or
  • you have a physical or mental condition which would prevent you from meeting the requirement; or
  • there are exceptional compassionate circumstances which would prevent you from meeting the requirement.

What is a genuine and subsisting relationship?

If your relationship is genuine and subsisting, the Home Office, UKBA would expect you to be able to show evidence that you:

  • are in a current, long-term relationship;
  • are living together with your partner;
  • share responsibility with your partner for any children;
  • share financial responsibilities with your partner, such as a joint mortgage or tenancy agreement, a joint bank account or joint savings, and utility bills in both your names;
  • and your partner have visited one another's home country and family; and
  • you have made plans about living together in the UK with your partner.

In the case of an arranged marriage, you and your partner should both consent to the marriage and agree with the plans made by your families.

How much income do I need to have to meet the financial requirement?

You must have an income of at least £18,600 gross per year.
If you are sponsoring a child as well as a partner you will need an income of at least £22,400.
For each additional child being sponsored you will need an additional income of £2,400. For example, if you are you are bringing 2 children with you to the United Kingdom, you must have an income of £22,400 for the partner and one child and £2,400 for the additional child, so a total of £24,800.
You will be required to provide documents to show that you can meet the financial requirement. The way you meet the requirement will be different, depending on whether you are applying from inside or outside the UK.
Exemptions
You will be exempt from the new financial requirement if your sponsor receives a specified disability-related benefit or carer's allowance in the UK. You will need to show that your sponsor can maintain and accommodate you without access to public funds.

Can you switch into spouse visa if you are already in the UK?

You may be allowed to switch into the category of partner if you are currently in the UK in a different immigration category.
You will not be allowed to switch if you are in the UK:

  • as a visitor;
  • with permission to stay that was given for a period of less than 6 months (unless that leave was as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner);
  • on temporary admission; or
  • in breach of the Immigration Rules (a period of overstaying of less than 28 days will not be taken into account).

For how long you will be granted the UK spouse visa?

Applications from outside the UK
If your visa application is successful, the Home Office, UKBA will grant you a visa for 33 months. Shortly before the end of that period, you can apply for spouse visa renewal/extension.  If you still meet the requirements you will be granted permission to stay for a further period of 30 months.  Once you have completed 5 years in the UK, as the partner of someone who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, you can apply for ILR as a spouse.  
Applications from inside the UK
If your application to switch into spouse visa is successful, the Home Office, UKBA will grant you permission to remain in the UK (known as 'further leave to remain') for 30 months.  Shortly before the end of that period, you can apply for extension/renewal of your spouse visa.  If you still meet the requirements you will be granted permission to stay for a further period of 30 months.  Once you have completed 5 years in the UK, as the partner of someone who is a British citizen or settled in the UK, you can apply for ILR as a spouse.

When can you apply for ILR as a spouse?

 If you have been granted initial spouse visa under the Immigration Rules in place before 9 July 2012, you can apply for ILR as a spouse 28 days before completing your two years residence in the UK on spouse visa.
If you have been granted initial spouse visa under the Immigration Rules in place on or after 9 July 2012, you can apply for ILR as a spouse 28 days before completing your five years residence in the UK on spouse visa.
If you have been granted initial spouse visa under the Immigration Rules in place on or after 9 July 2012 and the leave was granted relying on paragraph EX1 of the Appendix FM of the UK Immigration Rules, you can apply for ILR as a spouse 28 days before completing 10 years residence in the UK on spouse visa.

How can you challenge the refusal of your UK spouse visa application?

If you applied for UK spouse visa from outside the UK, the refusal of your application can be challenged by way of an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal within 28 days of the date of receipt of the refusal letter.
If you applied for UK spouse visa from inside the UK, you can challenge the refusal by way of an in-country appeal to the first-tier Tribunal within 10 working days of the date of receipt of the refusal letter (5 working days if you are in detention at the time of the service of the refusal letter). If you have not been granted appeal right, you can challenge the refusal of your application by way of Judicial Review in High Court within 90 days of the date of the refusal letter.

Naturalisation / UK Citizenship

What are the standard requirements for Naturalisation as a British citizen?

There are seven requirements you need to meet before you apply:

  • You must be aged 18 or over.
  • You must be of sound mind.
  • You must intend to continue living in the UK, or to continue in Crown service, the service of an international organisation of which the UK is a member, or the service of a company or association established in the UK.
  • You must be able to communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic to an acceptable degree.
  • You must have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK.
  • You must be of good character.
  • You must meet the residential requirements.

What are the residential requirements for Naturalisation as a British citizen?

To demonstrate the residential requirements for Naturalisation, you must have:

  • been resident in the UK for at least five years (this is known as the residential qualifying period); and
  • been present in the UK five years before the date of your application; and
  • not spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the five-year period; and
  • not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of the five-year period; and
  • not been in breach of the Immigration Rules at any stage during the five-year period.

When does the residential qualifying period start?

The residential qualifying period is calculated from the day when the UKBA receive your application. Most unsuccessful applications fail because the applicant was not present in the UK at the beginning of the residential qualifying period. You must make sure you meet this requirement before you make your application. For example, if the UKBA receive your application on 25 March 2010, you must show that you were in the UK on 26 March 2005.
If you have spent time in the UK while you were exempt from immigration control, you cannot include this time as part of the residential qualifying period. If you were in the UK as a diplomat or as a member of visiting armed forces, or if you were in any place of detention, you are considered to have been exempt from immigration control during that time. This time is treated as absence from the UK when the UKBA assess your application.

What are immigration time restrictions to apply for Naturalisation as a British citizen?

You must be free from immigration time restrictions when you apply for Naturalisation. Unless you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, you should have been free from immigration time restrictions during the last 12 months of the residential qualifying period.

What are the requirements for Naturalisation for EEA nationals?

If you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, or you are the family member of such a person, you will automatically have permanent residence status if you have exercised EEA free-movement rights. You should have held permanent residence status for 12 months before you apply for Naturalisation.
If you have been outside the UK for six months or more in any one of the five years of the residence period, you will have broken your residence. This does not apply if:

  • the absence was due to military service; or
  • all absences were for less than 12 months and were for important reasons such as pregnancy, childcare, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.

How do the Home Office, UKBA exercise discretion on absences from the UK during the residential qualifying period?

The Home Office normally disregards absences of up to 300 days.
If you have been absent for between 301 and 540 days, the Home Office will disregard this if you meet all the other requirements and have established your home, family and a large part of your estate in the UK. The Home Office would also expect that:

  • for absences of up to 450 days, you have been resident in the UK for the past four years; or
  • for absences of more than 450 days, you have been resident in the UK for the past five years; or
  • the absences occurred because you were serving abroad in Crown service or because your husband, wife or civil partner was serving abroad in Crown or designated service; or
  • the absences were unavoidable owing to the nature of your work - for example, because you are a merchant seaman or you work for a UK-based business which requires frequent travel abroad; or
  • there are exceptional or compelling reasons of an occupational or compassionate nature, such as having a firm job offer for which British citizenship is a genuine requirement.

Absences during the final year
If you have been absent from the UK for up to 100 days in total during the final year, the Home Office normally disregards the absence.
If you have been absent from the UK for between 101 and 180 days in total during the final year, the Home Office normally disregards the absence if:

  • you have met the residence requirements over the qualifying period; and
  • you have demonstrated a link with the UK by establishing your home, family and a large part of your estate here in the UK.

If your absence lasted between 101 and 180 days and you have not met the residence requirements over the qualifying period, the Home Office will only disregard the absence if:

  • you have demonstrated a link with the UK by establishing your home, family and a large part of your estate here; and
  • the absence occurred because you were serving abroad in Crown service, or for a compelling occupational or compassionate reason.

If you have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in total during the final year, will only disregard the absence if:

  • you have met the residence requirements over the qualifying period; and
  • you have demonstrated a link with the UK by establishing your home, family and a large part of your estate here; and
  • the absence occurred because you were serving abroad in Crown service, or for a compelling occupational or compassionate reason.

If your absence lasted more than 180 days and you have not met the residence requirements over the qualifying period, the Home Office will only consider disregarding the absence in exceptional circumstances.

Long Residence Applications

Is Tier 1 Post Study Work (PSW) visa counted in 10 years long residence to apply for ILR under the 10 years long residence category?

Yes, the stay under the Tier 1 PSW is counted towards continuous and lawful residence for the purposes of ILR application under the ten years long residence category.

Is Section 3C or 3D leave counted towards 10 years lawful residence in the UK?

All the time spent in the UK under section 3C and 3D of the Immigration Act 1971 is counted as lawful residence in the UK. If a person completes 10 years continuous and lawful residence while he has an outstanding application or appeal, the application or appeal can be varied so that the applicant or appellant is granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) on the basis of 10 years long residence.

Is time spent as family member of an EEA national counted towards 10 years long residence for the purposes of applying for ILR under the 10 years long residence category?

According to the Home Office Policy Guidance on 10 years long residence, the Home Office must exercise discretion in counting all the time spent in the UK under EU law being exempt from immigration control as lawful residence. As such a person can combine his lawful stay under the domestic law (UK law) with the stay spent under EU law to apply for ILR on the basis of 10 years continuous and lawful residence.