Joined: 08 Aug 2012
|Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:50 pm Post subject: Problems with Applying for EC/LTR as a Spouse
|The situation seems a bit muddled, so please bear with me while I try to explain it all.
I am a US citizen who came to the UK in February to marry a UK citizen. Knowing that we had to get married within 6 months, we were married in June and I submitted my FLM(R) form on the 29th of June.
Having been through the process with the fiance visa, I made sure to dot every i and cross every t, include all relevant and necessary documentation as to avoid any potential problems.
On the 4th of July, we received the letter stating that the application was received and would be passed on to a caseworker, who would get back to us. We didn't hear back for quite some time, so we figured everything was going to plan.
On the 1st of August, we received the returned application/documents with a letter stating that my application was "invalid" because "the issuing bank rejected the payment." The letter is dated the 31st of July.
I cannot say why the bank would reject the payment, because we certainly had enough money in the account to cover the costs. We are not sure if I accidentally filled in the details wrong or what, considering the payment details page wasn't returned with the application.
The letter we received with the returned documents stated "If you still wish to make an application, you must return your fully completed application form with the appropriate fee to the address given on the application form."
However, by the time we received this letter (1st of August), the rules for leave to remain and the FLM(R) form had changed. We promptly called the UKBA and asked if we had to use the new forms or if we could re-submit the old form with payment and have it still be valid. We were told that we MUST use the new form, and thus our application will be judged under the new rules.
Under the new rules, we would not meet the specified financial requirements. At the moment, I am unemployed (as I've been on a fiance visa), and we do not meet the minimum (£18,600) annual salary/cash savings requirements. Therefore, we felt there would be no reason to submit an application given we knew that it would be declined.
Also, note that my fiance visa expired on the 2nd of August, the day after receiving the letter.
I was told that I had no recourse to an appeal, and that I would have to leave the country and apply for entry clearance as a spouse of a UK citizen (using, presumably, form VAF4A and its relevant appendices). I promptly went to the travel agent and have a flight booked that will be sending me back to the US within the next week.
Since then, I have made several calls to the UKBA and received very mixed messages regarding what I should be doing.
I have been told that if I had been able to apply before the expiration of my current visa (2nd of August), I would not have been held to the new financial requirements. Rather, the application would have used the financial requirements for when my fiance visa was granted. However, when I called immediately after receiving the letter, I was told that I would have to apply with the new FLM(R) forms and would have to meet all requirements contained therein. Which is true? Because I feel rather duped, because I did have one day that I could have sent the application out before my visa expired.
I have also been told that as long as I leave the country within 28 days of the expiration of my visa, I will not be considered an overstayer and it won't count against me when I go to make my new application. Is this true? I certainly don't want to be in breach of any immigration laws when I go to make my application.
With the changes, they have removed the 2.5 year LTR and changed it to 5 years or 10 years. I have been told (by the UKBA) that if I apply for the 5 year leave to remain visa, I will have to meet the financial requirements. However, if I apply for the 10 year LTR visa, I will NOT have to meet the financial requirements (but will have to wait for 10 years before applying for indefinite leave to remain). I cannot find any information about this on the UKBA website, so I am having troubles confirming this information - or figuring out how I apply for each. Can anyone provide any insight?
I know this is a long post, so here is a summation of my most pertinent questions:
1. Given that my current (fiance) visa expired on the 2nd of August, do I have no other choice than to leave the country and apply for entry clearance with the VAF4A form?
2. Will I be considered in "breach of immigration law" even if I leave the UK within 28 days of the expiration of my visa?
3. Do I have any recourse for appeal given that my application was invalidated due to payment problems, and I was not told until only a few days prior to the expiration of my visa?
4. Is the financial requirement on the new EC/LTR application valid on only applications for 5 years LTR, and not on the 10 years LTR?
5. How do I apply for 5 year LTR vs. 10 year LTR? I cannot find any information on the application that would dictate which I'd be applying for.
Again, I apologise that this is so long and complicated. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.