Essentially Unwilling

20 Mar 2015

My client is a highly qualified professional man from South East Asia who came to this country in 2006. He has remained here lawfully on a series of student and work visas. Last year he married a British citizen and applied for limited leave to remain on the basis of his marriage.

The Home Office accepted the marriage was genuine but refused the application saying my client didn't meet the financial test. It also said there were no insurmountable obstacles to his family life continuing outside the UK. I suppose it's arguable that if you fall in love with, and marry, a foreigner you must accept the risk you'll have to live apart or that your government will effectively force you to leave your country to settle in an alien environment on the other side of the world (assuming of course that country will let you in). But it doesn't seem right; you can't control if or with whom you fall in love but that might be one of the many reasons why I'm not the Home Secretary!

My client and his wife satisfied the financial test by reference to their savings of £90,000. The required amount is £62,500 so why was the application refused? The savings weren't held for 6 months prior to the application. Approximately 45% of the funds were in place for more than 6 months but the balance only went in towards the end of the period. That balance was the proceeds of sale of land owned by my client. However in October 2013 the Immigration Rules were changed to permit qualifying savings to include the proceeds of sale of land where the sale took place within 6 months of the application. Furthermore the Home Office instructions to its officials quote with approval a hypothetical example which is very close to my client's circumstances. So why weren’t those instructions followed?  In the words of the immigration Judge allowing the appeal it was:

             "…essentially an unwillingness to consider them at all."

The Immigration Rules can ambush anyone, even the Home Office. That said, its unwillingness to even consider its own rules sets a new low which seems hard to beat; but the Home Office isn't shirking the challenge. Syrians holding general and business visitor visas to enter the USA have been allowed to pass through our airports without a transit visa. This concession was withdrawn last Tuesday. Why? Some travellers have had the audacity to claim asylum here. A Syrian holding a US class B1 or B2 visa and wishing to fly to the USA via the UK must now apply for a transit visa from the UKVI outposts in Lebanon or Jordan. He/she will also have to go there in person for fingerprinting and should bear in mind that the office in Beirut is liable to unannounced closures at this time of year because of bad weather.