An Immigration Solicitors Guide to the General Grounds for Refusal
When you read about UK visa eligibility criteria there is often a throwaway line that says that in addition to meeting all the positive eligibility criteria for the specific work, business, or family visa, you must also not meet the general grounds for refusal of a UK visa application.
In this article, our immigration solicitors explore what is meant by the general grounds for refusal.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
Why the general grounds for refusal are important
Immigration lawyers and visa applicants need to know about the general grounds for a refusal to understand whether:
- It is a worthwhile exercise to submit an immigration application
- The applicant has a reasonable prospect of visa success
- There are any reconsideration or appeal options
- There are things that the applicant must not do whilst in the UK if they want to apply to switch visas or extend their visa or want to avoid their visa being cut short or things that the applicant must not do whilst overseas if they want to apply in the future for a UK visa
Part 9 of the immigration rules and general grounds for refusal
The general grounds for refusal are contained in part 9 of the immigration rules. They set out why a visa applicant may not be classed by the Home Office as suitable to enter or remain in the UK.
The general grounds for refusal are in addition to the visa-specific eligibility criteria. Even if you are an ideal skilled worker visa applicant with highly prized qualifications and experience, your visa application will be refused if you fall foul of the general grounds for refusal. In addition, entry into the UK does not mean you are then safe to ignore the immigration rules because if you breach part 9 of the immigration rules you could be asked to leave the UK before your visa is due to expire and future immigration applications could be refused.
Some of the general grounds for refusal are mandatory (there is no discretion ) and others allow the Home Office official to exercise some discretion provided the official follows the relevant Home Office guidance.
Exclusion from the UK
A visa application or entry clearance must be cancelled if a deportation order has been issued or if a person has been excluded from the UK. There is no discretion.
Not conducive to the public good
Permission to enter or stay in the UK must be refused if your presence in the UK is considered not to be in accordance with the public good. There is no discretion. Exclusion for the public good could occur because of an applicant’s convictions or character.
Permission to enter or stay in the UK if a visa applicant has been:
- Convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or whilst overseas and received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more or
- A persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law or
- Guilty of committing a criminal offence which caused serious harm
Must be refused on the general grounds for refusal. There is no discretion.
However, a visa application may be granted through the exercise of Home Office discretion, or a visa holder allowed to stay in the UK if the Home Office official exercises discretion in cases where the applicant has:
- Been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas and received a custodial sentence of fewer than 12 months or
- Been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas and received a non-custodial sentence or received out-of-court disposal recorded on their criminal record
Visitor visa applicants will have their visitor visa applications refused if:
- They have been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas and received a custodial sentence of fewer than 12 months unless more than 12 months have elapsed since the end of their custodial sentence or
- They have been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas and received a non-custodial sentence or received out-of-court disposal unless more than 12 months have passed since the conviction
Exclusion from asylum or humanitarian protection grounds
The immigration rules say there is discretion to refuse an application or cancel permission to stay if a person:
- Is a danger to the UK
- Should be excluded from a grant of humanitarian protection or have their humanitarian protection revoked on the grounds of exclusion
- Should be excluded from Refugee Convention
Involvement in a sham marriage or civil partnership
The Home Office may refuse a visa or cancel permission where they assess that it is more likely than not that the applicant is or was involved in a sham or fake marriage or civil partnership.
The Home Office can decide to refuse a visa or cancel permission if they think false representations have been made or false information and documents supplied.
Previous breach of immigration laws
It is a reason for refusal or cancellation of entry clearance if an applicant or visa holder has previously breached UK immigration laws.
Failure to provide the required information
If an applicant or visa holder doesn’t provide the information or take steps requested by the Home Office their visa application or continued UK presence may be refused if the person does not have a reasonable excuse to withhold the document or fail to act. For example, not attending an interview or providing information or biometrics.
Money owed to the NHS for treatment or unpaid court costs owed to the Home Office can result in refusal of permission
Exclusions to the general grounds of refusal
There are some exceptions to the operation of the general grounds of refusal including family-based applications, An immigration solicitor can advise on whether your application is exempt.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors