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What is 3C Leave?

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Your immigration solicitors may know what they are talking about when they mention 3C leave but do you? Even the best immigration lawyers can drop into legalese and start talking about immigration 3C leave, with you not understanding what section 3C is all about. In this article our immigration solicitors take a look at 3C leave and how it may affect you.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors 

For advice on immigration law call the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971

When immigration lawyers refer to 3C it is shorthand for section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. You need to know about section 3C if you are an individual visa applicant submitting a visa extension application and you suspect or know that the application won't be decided by the Home Office until after your leave to remain expires.

You also need to know about 3C if you are a HR director or key personnel in a business with a Home Office issued sponsor licence or if you are responsible for the conduct of right to work checks in your organisation. Landlords assessing a prospective tenant’s right to rent also need to know about 3C leave.

Section 3C says, in essence, that if a visa applicant has submitted a visa application to the Home Office to extend or switch their current visa and the application is made before the old visa expires then, if the Home Office does not decide the application before the current visa ends, the visa applicant is not classed as a visa overstayer if they remain in the UK pending the determination of their outstanding visa application.

Should visa applicants apply late to take advantage of 3C?

Immigration solicitors are asked if there is any advantage in applying late for a visa extension or switch application and taking advantage of 3C. The general advice is that you should only use 3C where necessary. It is always best to plan ahead and submit your visa application to the Home Office in plenty of time. If your visa application is rushed, as you are nearing the cut-off date, there is a greater risk that your extension or switch application will be rushed and you won't submit the detail or the paperwork  necessary to get your new visa without hassle or additional questions being asked.

Overstaying in the UK

If you wait until your visa has expired before submitting a new visa application to the Home Office, you will be classed as an overstayer. This will go on your immigration record and will affect the prospects of your getting another visa. It is therefore crucial to submit your new application before your current visa expires so you can take advantage of 3C through securing continuation of leave pending the variation decision.

Does 3C apply to all immigration extension and switch applications?

You can get the protection of section 3C if you made an in time application (an application before your visa expiry date) and you are awaiting a decision from the Home Office on:

  • Your visa extension application or switch application
  • Your administrative review application because the Home Office has refused your extension or switch application
  • Your appeal against a refusal decision

It is best to note that 3C only applies if you have made a valid application to the Home Office or you are appealing a refusal. If your new application was invalid then 3C doesn’t protect you .

If you have made an invalid application and your leave has expired you need urgent immigration legal advice. That’s because the Home Office only gives ten days to rectify an application that is invalid. Call our specialist immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 for help.

When section 3C leave can catch you out

If your application to extend or switch was made in time and was refused by the Home Office before the date of your visa expiry then section 3C leave will not cover you during the appeal process. If you submit a variation or extension application in time but the outcome isn’t known until after your visa has expired you are covered by section 3C during the initial visa wait and during the administrative review or appeal process. The complexities of the rules show why it is best to get urgent specialist immigration legal advice.

Working while in the UK on section 3C leave

Normally if you have section 3C leave you can continue to work in accordance with your visa conditions. Accordingly, if an employee has section 3C leave they continue to have a right to work in the UK. An employer will therefore not be in breach of illegal working legislation by continuing to employ a worker on 3C leave.

Cancellation of 3C leave

It is important to be aware that 3C leave can, in some circumstances, be cancelled so it is stopped by the Home Office  before the outcome of an application, administrative review decision or appeal hearing. 3C leave can be cancelled if visa conditions are not complied with or there has been deception in the immigration application. If it is a minor breach of visa conditions, you will probably be OK as the Home Office focusses on significant visa breaches. If you are concerned that your 3C leave may be cancelled, call our immigration lawyers to discuss how we can help you.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors 

For advice on visa applications, switches, extensions and appeals call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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