South Africans looking to relocate to the UK with their British partner are faced with one of the UK’s most technical and challenging visa applications.
Commonly referred to as the “spousal visa“, the UK settlement visa has the one of the highest risk of refusal. This conclusion is drawn by the fact that this category of settlement visas has the highest percentage of refusals when compared to the other UK visas available.
This article serves to address some of the frequent challenges South Africans understandably neglect to acknowledge. Not many realize the consequences of getting the visa process wrong.
The problem that applicants face daily, not only relates to cost but it also future implications – often that not many realize will happen (until it’s too late).
As per our “UK Visa Fee” page, you can see that the UK Settlement visa costs £1195 (approx. R22 705) per applicant (applicant being a South African passport holder). There is a further National Health Surcharge cost of £600 (approx. R11400) per applicant.
In terms of risk in the application, the UK settlement visa cost (£1195 – approx. R22 705) is generally forfeited when a case is refused.
We know of many financially strained applicants, who are not in a rush to join their partner, that follow through and appeal the decision of refusal. This appeal process takes longer than resubmiting a new case but it does give applicants the opportunity not to “lose” their visa fee.
It is important to note that the appeal process only applies to cases where applicants might have left out one important qualifying document. Cases where applicants have left out several qualifying documents or have presented confilicting (or false) documents do not gain successful outcomes.
In the event of a refusal, it can take a while for Pretoria’s UKVI (department of UK Visas and Immigration) to refund the £600 (approx. R11 400) NHS surcharge. In theory though, the NHS is “automatically” refunded.
Processing times of future applications is the biggest underestimated consequence. Getting the Settlement visa refused means that applicants are going to be delayed in joining the partner.
Understandably, in cases where South Africans have formed a family with a British national, naturally they tend to not want to be apart from their partners.
The initial application has a 3 month processing time (known as standard processing time). Applicants can for an extra £450 (approx. R8 550) per applicant – to expedite the application. This expedite increases the processing time from 3 months to 3 weeks. Most of our clients make use of this opportunity.
At this point, it is important to emphasize that the opportunity to expedite the UK settlement visa has an very important condition. This service is only available to applicants that have not had a UK visa refused in the most recent 10 years.
In turn, this “expedite service condition” impacts cases where the settlement visa is refused. It means that when the Settlement visa is refused, in the second submission, there is no provision for fast tracking the visa.
We have seen applicants try and apply to fast track a second submission. When the ECO’s see that a recent refusal has taken place, the automatically take that case file out of the “priority queue” and place it into the “standard” processing queue. In turn it means that applicants forfeit the expedite fee if they process payment in second submission.
With the above in mind, the second submission, after refusal, is processed as a “standard” case. That means applicants are forced to wait a further 3 months in their second submission.
The worst part is that lodging a second submission is the quickest way to get a decision made (when compared to the alternative of appealing the decision). This is why most applicants accept the loss of their first submission.
SUMMARY OF REFUSAL RISK
There are three main aspects that a refused settlement visa impacts. Cost, processing time and future applications.
A. Cost of refusal:
£1195 (approx. R22 705) visa fee per applicant +
£450 (approx. R8 550) visa fee per applicant
= £1645 (R31 255) Total Loss – excluding other visa costs
B. Delayed processing time:
3 weeks (initial application) +
3 months in second submission.
= 4 month Total Loss in Processing Time – excluding visa processing time
C. Future applications:
The UKVI (department of UK Visas and Immigration) has a compulsory protocol in place. ECO’s (Entry Clearance Officials) are expected to conduct a comparison of the records presented in the previously refused case to any new records. This is compulsory practice that is part of their security mandate.
The comparison of refused cases helps the ECO’s in determining changes in documents presented. Their role is look for conflicting information, which is seen as dishonest and can compromise the applicants character.
What this protocol means in reality is that applicants in second time submissions experience delayed processing times. It takes longer for ECO’s to compare previous cases to new cases.
With the above consequences in mind, one can conclude that the UK settlement visa has a higher percentage of refusal than majority of other UK visas. It is more difficult to obtain.
This difficulty in administration is the reason why Move Up’s visa solutions exist.
It costs quite a bit to get the visa awarded and it costs even more to get the visa refused. It doesn’t just cost applicants in money, it costs them in time. Time needed to research (to understand what is expected) and waiting times (processing time once the applicant has submitted).
When it comes to relocating, we encourage those applicants who can afford professional assistance, to contact us. Especially in these Settlement visa cases.Get In Touch
Please note that Move Up offers free assessments, to ensure applicants can qualify. Then Move Up only offers representation in cases where applicants do qualify.
Move Up’s representation comes with a full case fee refund guarantee. If that visa is not awarded first time around, Move Up’s case fee is refunded in full.
Let Move Up help navigate the qualifying hurdles and hidden formalities for a successful first time submission. We save applicants time, money and give them peace of mind, knowing that their application is being handled by industry experts.
Other relevant content can be found here:
- Settlement visa versus Ancestry visa
- Family Dependent visas for the UK.
- UK Spousal Visas explained.
- Recognized Married Like Relationships for visa purposes.
- Spouse dependent of British nationals
- English test needed for UK settlement visa
- Financial requirement of the UK Settlement visa