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new refusal grounds uk visa

New grounds for Visa refusal

The UK Immigration Rules had a significant shake-up in December 2020. A lot of the changes were just to do with structure and nomenclature but some were more solid, in particular the rules about “Grounds for refusal”. These are rules which specify when applications can be refused and when immigration leave can be curtailed in relation to, but not limited to, criminal convictions.

The rules have now become stricter. As with the previous scheme, applicants in some categories – eg family visa applications under Appendix FM, private life applications – can escape from some, but not all, of the rules, but applicants in other categories are subject to their full force.

So applicants who are applying for, for example, working visas or study visas are now subject to a quite harsh regime.

The rules now state that an applicant who has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more will have their visa application refused, and it does not matter how long ago the conviction happened. And an applicant who has a criminal conviction that resulted in a lesser penalty (no matter how much less) than 12 months’ imprisonment may have their visa application refused.

And if an applicant has been granted their visa but they are subsequently convicted of a criminal offence then they can have their leave revoked, under the same principles.

And even an applicant who is applying under one of the exempted categories such as Appendix FM can come up against the rules concerning criminality – although, rather confusingly, some of these rules come in different places. Such an applicant will have their application refused if they have at any time received a custodial sentence of at least four years and will also have their application refused if they have received a lesser penalty, unless a sufficient time period has passed.

These rules can be quite complex. As is often the case – and as we alluded above – the rules come in different places and not all of them are in the Grounds for refusal.

If you have any criminal convictions and you are intending to make an immigration application you need good advice beforehand; there is no point in making an application that is bound to fail. We at GSN will be able to advise you about this.


Oliver Westmoreland
OISC Level 3 Immigration Adviser

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