- thin ice -
Joined: 19 Aug 2011
|Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:11 am Post subject: Settlement visa from Pakistan - useful information
|Moderator edit: Some of the content that follows may not be applicable for applications submitted after 08-Jul-12 (e.g. - highlighted in red).
The following is an update of the original information and advice provided by BatleyKhan. If you find there are any mistakes or any critical changes that need to be corrected then please let me know by PM and I will modify. I have updated it based on the recent changes in process. The information provided in this post is purely to help out others and not for any personal or financial gain.
The law regarding Spouse VISA will change on July 9 2012, the changes will impact the financial criteria for sponsors. Please see UKBA's news section for more detail.
Hello and welcome. I have prepared this document to help and guide those of you who have got married to someone who is present and settled in the United Kingdom. In order to join your spouse in the UK, you have to ensure you have a valid VISA join your spouse. You and your sponsor (spouse) should read this document and ensure each of you provide the correct documents and meet ALL of the criteria stated by the UKBA at the time of the application.
A spouse visa is issued to applicants who have married a British citizen (or the person is a permanent resident of the UK). It is issued by the British High Commission/Embassy where the applicant has a claim to normal residence or citizenship. For almost all applicants from Pakistan, their applications are handled in either Islamabad or in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan has a very high number of applicants for UK Spouse VISAs, which is why not all applications are handled at the same location. If your application is not handled in Islamabad, then do not worry, it is nothing to do with the application itself.
The visa itself runs for 27 months and is probationary. You should travel to UK within 90 days to avoid having to apply for an extra extension before becoming eligible for settlement.
During the probationary period, the applicant cannot seek access to public funds (See list below of what are termed as public funds. The following benefits count as public funds. For more info on these benefits please go the DirectGov website:
Child tax credit
Council tax benefit
Disability living allowance
Income Related Employment & Support Allowance - ESA (IR)
Health in Pregnancy Grant
Housing and homelessness assistance
Income-based Jobseekerís Allowance
Severe Disablement Allowance
Social fund payment
State pension credit
Working tax credit
Please note there are some exceptions where the benefits listed above, are not treated as Public Funds and you should seek advice before claiming any benefits. It is in your best interest to always ask if you are unsure. Many of the members on the forum are experienced and have seen all sorts of issues and questions being raised, so you can get ďfreeĒ advice here if you cannot afford a lawyer.
You can however take up employment and may use the facilities offered by the UKís National Health Service.
In order for the spouse application to be successful, it is important that good evidence is provided by the applicant at the time of application.
A successful application for a spouse visa will generally include documentary evidence of both the applicant and their sponsor. It must be noted that some Consulates are more rigorous than others, and some applicant profiles invite more scrutiny than others.
Where to apply for a visa in Pakistan
In the past anyone applying for a British visa in Pakistan would normally visit and make an application at the Embassy in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Unfortunately due to the terror threats in Pakistan, this is no longer possible.
Instead the British Embassy uses its service provider, Gerryís FedEx for applicants to lodge their applications. The applications are then sent to British officials in Abu Dhabi or London where Entry Clearance Officers look at each application and make a decision to either grant or refuse a visa.
Details of how to apply, visa application fees, length of time in processing application etc, can all be found by going to this link:
Most of the present day applications are decided on the basis of the documents provided with the applications. On some occasions it might be necessary to interview the applicant at the Embassy in Islamabad, this is not common, but it can happen.
All evidence should be in the form of originals or certified copies. While not strictly required, it is sensible to make an additional photocopy of each document submitted, you will be asked to do this at the Gerry AC anyway, and itís another way for them to make money. It is recommended and advisable that the applicant make a copy of the entire application package in the event that documents are lost in the post or misplaced by the consulate.
Most of the documents submitted as evidence will be returned to the applicant once the consulate has processed them. There is a possibility that certain original documents may be kept by the Consulates as proof of evidence if the visa is refused and the matter goes to an Appeal Hearing.
Documents to be provided by Applicants
Applications will only be accepted at the visa application centre if applicants:
1. Provide a signed, dated visa application form (VAF4):
Note since April 2012, the online application process has been introduced; it is no longer a paper based application. You complete the form online and then you go to the AC to submit your docs and also go through the biometrics process.
2. Provide the required photographs:
3. Provide your passport, this is for ALL applicants travelling to the UK (this includes any children). The data on the passport/s must correspond to those on the visa application form/s (name, passport number, expiry date). The passport must be valid and it should have at least 1 blank page (both sides) free for the insertion of your VISA.
4. Provide an original NIC card with 1 photocopy. Contrary to the comments flying around, you do not need to change your surname if you are a female applicant and you do not your status changed to married if you are applying soon after your wedding. It is sensible to get the status changed if you are getting married several weeks/months after the wedding. It helps in demonstrating that it is a legal marriage under Pakistani law.
5. Provide a valid tuberculosis certificate if planning to come to the UK for more than 6 months -
6. Provide your SPONSORS supporting documents - See below list of supporting documents that need to be produced besides these.
7. Pay the published visa fee (contact Gerryís call centre for current fee).
8. Provide your biometric data.
9. Provide valid proof of you meeting the minimum English language requirements. At the moment the minimum requirement is the A1 English test. The test costs 11-13k rupees. You will need to contact a test centre or submit a form which can be obtained from.
The test date given to you will be about 3-6 weeks from date of submission. You will need to take ID with you to the test, please make photocopies and take them with you. The test itself has 2/3 components, reading, speaking etc, however it is basic and most people who have been taught to high school level in Pakistan should be comfortable. The certificate with the result will be posted about 3 weeks later. So in total it can take 8 weeks.
There are some people exempt from the English language test requirement, you will need to explain why and show documentation supporting this. Original Certificates/Degrees are a must.
Applicant's Tuberculosis (TB) test and Biometrics
All applicants must undertake a Biometric enrolment, this is done at the AC and itís part of the application submission process.
The enrolment process
You will be called to an enrolment station. Only the applicant will be allowed in, no one else, not even the sponsor will be allowed past the barriers at the AC. The enrolment station is an area which contains a fingerprint scanner and a camera. Your identification will be checked once more and the process will begin. It generally involves the following steps...
Your left hand fingers will be scanned
Your right hand fingers will be scanned
Your two thumbs will be scanned together
Each finger will be rolled around the scanning plate so as to capture the entire forefinger
Your photograph will be taken
Once the process begins, it takes between 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Upon completion, the examiner will sign and stamp your form and return this to you.
Female applicants please note, your hands should be completely free of Mehndi (henna), otherwise it is likely the AC will turn you away, this has happened more than once.
Tuberculosis (TB) test
Applicants from Pakistan must also show that they are free from infectious pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). Applicants will first be required to have a chest x-ray. If this shows signs of infection, they will be required to undergo further tests. The tests are carried out at designated medical centres and not just any health centre. Visa applicants are expected to pay for their screening and any subsequent treatment. Please contact Gerry as they will point you in the direction of a valid TB Test centre.
Sponsors Supporting Documents
The following documents will be provided by the sponsor (spouse of the applicant settled in the UK) in addition to the above documents
The sponsorís identification usually takes the form of the sponsor's British passport. It is not necessary to send the sponsors passport with the application, instead a certified copy (OF EVERY SINGLE PAGE) of it will suffice. Each page must be stamped and signed by a Public Notary Officer or a Solicitor. The sponsor's identification must confirm that the sponsor is at least 18 years old.
Evidence of marriage
This will be in the form of the original Nikkah Nama (In Urdu). A certified English translated one will also have to be produced with it at the same time. Beside this photographic evidence of the wedding will also have to be provided with at least one showing both couples sitting/standing next to each other in the same photo. Videos and DVDs will simply be handed back at the AC. You will also have to ensure that your Nikkah is registered with the Union Council, when it is, they will notify you and if youíre from state of Punjab, you will be issued with a NADRA Marriage Registration Certificate. Ensure you submit the marriage certificate too.
Although not essential, it is useful to send a letter in which the sponsor explains his/her awareness and support of the application. The letter should address:
ē How and where you met.
ē How you have maintained contact.
ē The place and date of your marriage.
ē What plans you have made for living together in the UK.
ē Finally, if there are exceptional circumstances about the application, or if the sponsor is seeking a concession, it should be thoroughly explained here.
The application must be supported by evidence which demonstrates that the applicant will not become reliant upon public funds. In the normal case, this takes the form of the sponsor/applicant (or co-sponsor) providing:
Bank statements for at least the previous 6 months; showing regular deposits and withdrawals from the account (the last statement should ideally be no older than 4-6 before application is lodged) AND
Letter of Employment clearly stating the sponsorís job title, National Insurance number as well as the numbers of hours worked per week and the gross yearly salary.
Salary slips for at least the previous 3 months before application.
The sponsorís most recent P60 (in the absence of salary slips and if it is available).
If the sponsor is self-employed, he must produce certified copies of the previous two years' tax returns accompanied by a notarized version of his business accounts.
If there are disproportionate deposits and withdrawals in the bank statements, they should be explained in the sponsor's letter.
Consulates are reluctant to accept bank statements printed out from e-banking accounts because these can be so easily forged. Properly headed original statements can usually be obtained by visiting a branch office.
If the financial standing is marginal, and if the applicant has plans to work in the UK, a job offer letter can be included to bolster the application's strength; and failing all other evidence, the applicant may attach a CV (or academic credentials) which demonstrate favourable prospects. Note however, that this is generally the weakest form of evidence.
Accommodation (home owners)
If the sponsor owns his home, he should include copy of the propertyís title deed showing this. If the sponsor has a mortgage, the appropriate entry from the Land Registry should be provided, and the mortgage payments should appear in the bank statements. If you require a Title Deed and donít have it with you, then you can print off one from the local land registry site for your area, there will be links from your local councilís website. It will cost between £10 and £20.
If the sponsor rents a flat or house, the Short hold Tenancy Agreement should be provided. If the applicant is not a signatory to the tenancy agreement, then an additional statement from the landlord (or estate agent) should be provided that attests to his agreement that the premises will be occupied by an additional person. If an existing tenancy agreement is to be used, it should have at least six months before expiry. If the tenancy agreement does not have at least six months before expiry, then an additional statement from the landlord showing intent to renew at the same terms should be provided.
Accommodation (Living with Family Members)
If you intend to live with your parents or other members of your family, you must get a letter from them stating that they are prepared to allow you and your spouse to stay free (or pay a small contribution) in the property until such time that you can afford to buy or rent your own. If you do decide to live with your parents/family, then do provide a title deed stating their names as owners of the property.
Housing Inspection Report for Immigration Purposes
This report can be obtained from your local council or an environmental officer (cost between £75- 125), failing that you should speak to a local estate agent. The report will briefly outline the condition and state of the property, how many rooms it has, how many occupants intend to reside there. This is to ensure the property is habitable and is not overcrowded.
If the applicant and sponsor have been separated for a lengthy period of time before the application is submitted (for example, longer than 3 or 4 months), then evidence of intervening devotion should be included. This would normally take the form of telephone records or other forms of electronic communication. If the couples have lived separately for a longer period, travel receipts can be used to show that contact has been continual and proportionate. Do not use calling cards; time and again people have been refused to sending calling cards as evidence.
If a prolonged separation is the result of mobility issues (which would include military duties or other foreign assignments), the evidence you provide would take the form of assignment letters or similar documentation.
When submitting email or instant messenger logs, it is important to bear in mind that intervening devotion means evidence of contact and not an exhaustive transcript of each on-line session. In simple English, two or three conversations are sufficient, but a screenshot of your inbox and outbox showing regular send/receive dates is also needed.
It would be helpful to send at least one or two utility bill (Council Tax, Gas, Water, Electric or Telephone) if the sponsor is responsible for paying it.
Some doís and doníts before and after applying
Prior to getting married or engaged, a number of things should be considered carefully and planned properly. Do not rush into things, which you will later regret. First and foremost consider whether getting married to someone abroad is the wise thing, particularly if you have not seen and met the person and their family.
Attempts should be made to find out about the background of the prospective spouse. Things such as their education background, prospective employment in the UK should be taken into account.
The marriage arrangements should be discussed and agreed openly with your parents. Evidence of such arrangements should be recorded (letters etc) as this would come very handy during the early stages of application.
Remember getting married to someone abroad can be an expensive matter. The cost of the initial application to getting indefinite leave to remain to completing the English test then applying for British Nationality and passport will exceed £2500. If you are refused and have to appeal, then solicitors cost could be as much as £1000.
All these matters should be taken into consideration before committing yourself to someone from abroad. Beside the above, you will not be entitled to public funds/housing etc till indefinite leave to remain is granted.
There is a possibility of the marriage breaking down before the two years ILR is granted. If that happens your spouse may well be sent back.
Remember the problems that may be caused particularly if you are closely related to your spouse.
Do not be forced into a marriage. This is against British law and as well as Islam. Remember that there is a small minority of spouses whose only intention is to come and live in the UK through the marriage route. Weíve all seen and heard about it, so be vigilant and ensure you marry someone who can and will genuinely love you.
Ok letís go and have a look at some things you should be careful about after you are married and are about to apply for your spouse visa.
1. ALWAYS make sure that you supply genuine documents. If genuine document such as those outlined above are not available, then explain why this is so. REMEMBER if you provide false or forged documents, your spouse visa will be refused and they will not be able to apply for another one till 10 YEARS have elapsed in some cases.
2. Be careful about using Agents in Pakistan. It is well known fact that certain agents cannot be trusted and have known to have ripped some people of money and have provided them with little or no service. If you are willing to pay a fee for professional advice, then use the Immigration Advisory Service in Pakistan. They can be found in Karachi, Lahore and Mirpur:
3. Application Form:
It is advisable to download the application form that your spouse is going to use for their application here in the UK, and you complete it carefully to make sure it is 100% right. Send this application form to your spouse and get them to fill the form they get from FedEx exactly as you have done (The downloaded and printed application are sometimes accepted whilst other time some have not been accepted). Donít let agents complete the form, because if they make a mistake in completing it, you will be refused and cannot argue that someone else made a mistake when completing the form.
4. Bank Statements:
Make sure you send at least 6 months of bank statements with your application form. The statements must show a regular income (wage etc) coming in and things such as mortgage, bills etc going out. WHATEVER YOU DO, DONíT PUT A LUMP SUM IN JUST BEFORE AN APPLICATION UNLESS YOU CAN JUSTIFY AND SHOW EVIDENCE AS TO WHERE IT CAME FROM. Although there is no minimum amount that you should have in your bank account, it is advisable that between £2500 and £3000 should be in it for your spouseís application to succeed, as this will show that you are a person who can save and have something to fall back on it, if you need it.
5. Employment Letters:
Make sure the letter of employment is on headed paper and the letter contains the date you started, the job you do, the hours you work and the yearly salary you get paid and your National Insurance number on it. Also supply at least 6 weekly or 3 months wage slips. If you have your last P60 send this as this is the best proof you can show what you have earned and how much Tax and NI you have paid. If you are self employed you need to send at least one or two years account that are certified and attested by a qualified accountant.
6. Wedding Photos:
These are a must. They must be printed photographs. CD and films are not accepted by the Embassy. The photos must show the couple in their wedding dress and both husband and wife must be in at least one photo sat together. Do not provide photos that have been altered using photographic software. This will almost certainly lead to a refusal. You donít need to send an entire album, a few pictures of the different events will suffice.
7. Letters/Phone cards/Means of Contact etc:
If you have lived separately for some time, you must show how you have kept in touch and show that your marriage subsists (This is one of the most common reason for refusal now).It is a common practice that we use cheap phone cards to call our relatives in Pakistan, but the trouble is that these cards do not show you have rung and spoken to your spouse. It is strongly advised that you use a phone where you can show an itemized bill for such calls. Write letters to your loved one, but make sure you keep them as proof. Contract by email is accepted to. If you have been to see your spouse after marriage, keep copies of the airline tickets, photos of you being together etc would also be helpful.
8. Money Sent to Spouse:
If you have been apart for some time, it would be better if you send your spouse some spending money that they might need for themselves. Ideally the husband should send something like £100-150 every 4 months or so. This should be sent via a bank or a money exchanger and the receipt kept as proof.( The wife should not send that often as it will go against our norm and culture) DO NOT SEND CASH BY GIVING IT TO FRIENDS AND RELATIVES TO GIVE IT TO YOUR SPOUSE AS YOU WILL HAVE NO PROOF) . Sending money is good evidence and shows that you are caring and supportive of your spouse.
9. Housing Reports/ Tenancy Agreements:
Make sure you get a Housing Report for Immigration done by your local Council to show you have enough space in the house to accommodate all the people that are going to stay there. Donít try and exclude people who genuinely live there just because there are too many people living there already, as the ECO can make inquiries from other sources to know how many people have or are living there currently. If you live in rented property you need to send an Assured Short hold Tenancy Agreement valid for 6 months or more. You must also provide proof that your rent is up to date.
10. Incoming and Outgoing expenses Sheet:
This document is helpful if it is prepared carefully. The purpose of it, is to show to the Entry Clearance officer that you have sufficient money coming in and that after paying all the outgoing expenses, you have enough money left over to support your spouse (Remember the minimum amount a couple with no children needs to live on in the UK is in the region of £100 - £110 per week). Your savings should be put into a bank account and hopefully it will be reflected in your bank statements.
11. The average wait for a settlement application in Pakistan is around 3 months (recently this has gone up to and over 4 months). Do not make enquiries from the British High Commission or FedEx till this time is up. The BHC will not respond (or in case they do it will be standard message) until the application is gone over 3 months. Remember Gerry FedEx only handle the applications. They cannot inform you of the outcome or the chances of your application succeeding etc so please donít pester them.
12. If your spouse has been fortunate enough to be granted a visa and are now coming to the UK, make sure they bring their valid TB certificate with them, as they will be required to show it on arrival into the UK.
Common reasons for refusal
1. Not meeting the English language requirement, some people are incorrectly refused on this even though they meet the requirement. Even people who have a degree which was taught in English have been refused, so ensure that you cover in detail how you meet the requirement. Certain people do the IELTS test, thatís unnecessary for a spouse; you need the A1 test which is much easier.
2. Marriage not being genuine, this includes things like the Nikkah Nama not being registered or a marriage certificate not being submitted. Please ensure it is registered with the local union council AND you have a marriage certificate or the equivalent depending on the area in Pakistan you reside.
3. Financial reasons, for example this includes things like not having enough saved up and spending too much. So it is best advised to start saving up as soon as possible, to ensure you have savings and also be stingy with your spending where possible, this will demonstrate you can support your spouse when they arrive in the UK.
4. Spelling mistakes or incorrect names, for example working for small firms sometimes there are differences in terms of the names i.e. Finance Ltd is listed as Finance Plc. So ensure all the details on all the documents are correct and match those on the form.
5. Overstaying in a country and not stating it or not giving the reason as to why, need I say more? Please ensure you state if you have overstayed, they WILL find out.
No two cases are the same, so whilst we do have common reasons for refusal, common documents to support, you know what is best in your situation and you should handle it accordingly. Always ASK if you are uncertain.
Although itís not nice to think about, you will have to be prepared in case of a refusal. The actual application will be returned with a Notice of Decision and an appeal form. It will be your choice to decide whether you want to appeal (could and does take 6-8 months) or to re-apply. If you re-apply you will have to pay the entire fee again. The current oral appeal fee is £140 and the written appeal is £80. Appeals can be submitted online, but the documents would need to be posted to the IAT in Leicester. You have 28 days to appeal, so donít waste your time, but donít rush and overlook something vital.
If you have complicated and several refusal points in your Notice of Decision then you would be best advised to get more help on the matter, you may decide that itís best to get someone to legally represent you. Be warned that solicitors charge a lot, over £500 for this, some as much as £1500 for legal representation at the court hearing. If itís a simple point and you know why they refused or if you feel they were incorrect in their decision, then no one is better positioned to argue your case than you are.
It takes about 4-6 weeks from the date of appeal submission for the appeal to be processed and send to the decision making post. The ECO handles your application, the ECOís manager. The ECM handleís the appeal. The ECM is given a deadline in which to assess and decide whether they will stand by the original decision or to overturn the decision. If they overturn, brilliant, the applicant will be requested to submit their passport with a valid TB test to Gerryís and youíll get your VISA in about 2-4 weeks.
Should the ECM not overturn or not respond, then a court hearing date is set, about 6 weeks after the deadline date and at court you fight for your case versus some member of the UKBA/HO. It is after this the judge decides whether the decision should be overturned or not and in the majority of cases the judge will give an indication of his decision there and then. Youíll get a letter of his decision a couple of weeks later and the applicant is requested to submit their Passport and TB certificate to the AC they submitted the original VISA application.
Should anyone be unfortunate enough to not get a resolution after the appeal, they can almost always appeal to the upper tribunal, but that is a process which should be dealt with by experts. It rarely goes to the upper tribunal, hence you should get as much advice and seek legal assistance if it does go this far.
Last edited by king2be98 on Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:47 am; edited 4 times in total
Joined: 17 Mar 2006
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|Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:19 am Post subject:
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