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Genuine relationship requirement for immigration visa applications

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To successfully apply for some types of visa application the Home Office requires evidence of a “genuine relationship”. Failure to supply evidence of the genuine relationship can result in the refusal of a visa application. The best London immigration solicitors provide applicants with help to ensure that they have the knowledge and supporting paperwork to meet the genuine relationship requirement.

The genuine relationship requirement applies if an applicant is applying for a spouse visa. Although the Immigration Rules set out the documentary evidence required when applying for a spouse visa, they do not specify what evidence is needed to satisfy the genuine relationship requirement. All the rules say is that an applicant must show that he or she is in a genuine and subsisting relationship.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

OTS Solicitors are central London based specialist Immigration solicitors. If you require expert legal advice about a UK spouse visa application or you need help extend a spouse visa or to challenge a spouse visa refusal notice please call us on 0203 959 9123 to speak to one of our specialist Immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.

spouse visa applications and the genuine relationship requirement

Home Office guidance states that family migration must be based on a genuine and subsisting relationship. The guidance goes on to state that the applicant must provide evidence that they and their partner are in a genuine and subsisting relationship.

top London immigration solicitors recognise that for some couples, for example those who have had an arranged marriage or who for religious or cultural reasons have not lived together or gone on holiday together prior to their marriage, it can be hard to provide concrete evidence of a genuine relationship .

The Home Office are diligent in trying to establish if a marriage is a sham marriage for evading Immigration control but the Home Office diligence can make the process of applying for a visa a very stressful experience for a couple who have limited paperwork to prove their genuine relationship.

The Home Office guidance on the genuine relationship requirement covers applicants who are applying for a spouse visa, applying to extend a spouse visa or applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain because of family life with a person who is:

  • A British Citizen; or
  • Settled in the UK; or
  • In the UK with refugee leave or with humanitarian protection.

The person applying for the spouse visa is defined as the “partner” of the person with British Citizenship or settled status. In the Home Office guidance, the term “partner” means:

  • Fiancée or proposed husband or wife; or
  • Proposed civil partner; or
  • Husband or wife; or
  • Civil partner; or
  • Unmarried partner. An unmarried partner includes a couple in a same sex relationship.

The definition of unmarried partners when considering the Home Office genuine relationship requirement

top London immigration solicitors advise that in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, an unmarried partner or a same sex partner is defined as a personwho has been living with the applicant in a relationship that is similar to a marriage or
civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of application.

Evidence to meet the genuine relationship requirement

The best London immigration solicitors acknowledge that if partners have never lived together or have lived apart for a long period of time it can be a challenge to get paperwork and evidence to show that there is a genuine relationship. Nonetheless, the Home Office requires suitable evidence of a genuine and subsisting relationship.

Evidence of a genuine relationship can include:

  • Evidence of a long-term relationship or cohabitation. For example, utility bills addressed to the couple or council tax statements; or
  • A couple have a child. The child can be the biological, adopted or stepchild of one partner. Evidence could be in the form of a birth certificate and evidence of communication with the partner and child. The key point is that the couple are sharing responsibility for the child; or
  • A couple share financial commitments, for example, they have a joint mortgage or joint bank account or loan. Evidence would be in the form of a mortgage company letter, bank account statement or loan paperwork; or
  • A couple can prove that they have met and spent some time with one another and made plans to live together. Evidence could be pictures of the couple together or letters from friends or family confirming the couple’s commitment to one another. Evidence can also include text or WhatsApp messages and other forms of social media messaging.

Cultural and religious considerations and the genuine relationship requirement

The best London immigration solicitors advise that the Home Office guidance specifically draws caseworker’s attention to the fact that religious or cultural practices can result in limited evidence of a genuine relationship. For example, an arranged marriage may mean that a couple have not spent time together prior to the wedding or spent significant time in social media messaging.

Accordingly, Home Office caseworkers are obliged to take into account normal practices for marriages and family living according to particular religious and cultural traditions when considering the genuine relationship requirement and to then make an overall assessment of the relationship.

Home Office warning flags that a relationship may not be genuine

top London immigration solicitors advise that Home Office guidance warns caseworkers of some “flags” that may indicate that an applicant fails to meet the genuine relationship requirement. Examples of these flags are:

  • The marriage took place in the UK and the registration service reported a potential sham marriage; or
  • Failure by the applicant or partner to attend a Home Office interview, without reasonable explanation, where required to do so to discuss the application or use of unreasonable delaying tactics; or
  • The couple are unable to provide information about their planned UK living arrangements; or
  • There were no guests at the wedding or a reception was not held or family members were not present; or
  • The couple cannot provide personal information about their partner (such as their parent in law details) or do not report the same relationship story (such as how they met) ; or
  • The partner has previously sponsored another partner to come to or remain in the UK and the relationship was short-lived; or
  • There is a previous history of a sham marriage or forced marriage, or of unlawful residence in the UK; or
  • There is a history of the applicant applying for a visa and visa refusal.

If an applicant has any “flags” that may indicate to Home Office officials that they are not in a genuine relationship, it is vital the best London Immigration solicitor’s advice is taken prior to the visa application being submitted to the Home Office.

If there is a “flag” the Home Office caseworker will not necessarily refuse the visa application, but the flag may prompt extra scrutiny of the application. It will not necessarily result in the application being rejected, especially if a top London Immigration solicitor has prepared the application.

What happens if the Home Office decides that a relationship is not a genuine relationship?

If the Home Office caseworker assesses the relationship as “not genuine and subsisting” the visa application will be refused. If an application is refused, it is essential that the visa applicant get urgent advice on their appeal options.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

OTS Solicitors are Legal 500 recommended Immigration solicitors who specialise in all aspects of Immigration law. Our specialist approachable solicitors provide expert help with spouse visa applications and spouse visa extensions and challenging the refusal of a spouse visa application.

If you are applying for a spouse visa or want to apply to extend your spouse visa, our leading London immigration solicitors can help with the application, advise you on the complex Immigration rules and regulations and the documents you will need to produce to establish that you meet the genuine relationship requirement.

Please get in touch with us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors.

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