If you have recently been refused a partner/spouse visa in the UK, you will no doubt be concerned about what will happen next. This is understandable as your future life, and that of your partner/spouse and children may be hinging on securing permission to live in the UK. Having decided to appeal the decision, it is essential that you now prepare as much as possible in order to have the decision referred back for reconsideration. In this article, we will explain the types of questions you need to be prepared to answer to defend your case during an appeal hearing.
The Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice Early
Having received a refusal of your spouse visa, the options available to you will depend on your circumstances and the reasons for the refusal. For this reason, it is important to engage the services of an immigration Solicitor. While this is not mandatory, it will ensure that your case is fully assessed and the pressure of responding to the Home Office and dealing with the appeal process can be removed from your shoulders. In some cases, they may recommend that a new application be prepared and submitted, in others, it may be prudent to appeal the decision made. If you do proceed down the appeal route, you will need to robustly challenge the reason for the refusal and back this up with sufficient evidence that you are eligible for a spouse visa. The key challenge will be time, as you will only have 14 days from receiving your refusal decision to formally lodge an appeal. Once the appeal is submitted, you may then need to wait several months until your hearing – sometimes, it can take up to 12 months to complete the process.
What Types Of Questions May I Be Asked At An Appeal Hearing?
Assuming you have legal representation, they will typically speak first after the judge's preliminary statements. They will ask you to confirm your name and address and then outline some of the main points they wish to emphasise from your witness statement.
You may then be questioned by the Home Office's presenting officer regarding your case. For this section of the proceedings, it is important to be prepared. The questions asked may be difficult and require you to provide specific and even personal details.
It is important to always keep in mind the main reason for your spouse visa refusal. They may have reason to believe your relationship is not genuine and may ask a series of questions on these lines; for example, they may ask you to:
• Describe where and how you met your partner
• Describe how you have been living with your partner
• Explain your shared finances and commitments
• Show evidence of regular communication as would be expected in a relationship
If the Home Office have other concerns, such as you and your partner's ability to financially support yourselves and your children in the UK, they may ask for new documents which prove you meet the financial requirements, such as:
• Copies of bank statements
• Proof of income from employment
• Proof of savings
• Proof of income from other sources, e.g. rental properties, dividends, investments etc.
The key when providing any information to the Home Office while being cross-examined is that you simply do not give them the same documents and information as previously provided. By providing new information which adds to your case and proves your eligibility for a spouse visa, you can maximise your chances of overcoming the main reason/s for your visa refusal.
After the Home Office presenting officer has completed their questioning, they will then submit their legal arguments to the court as to why they believe your appeal should be dismissed. They will take into account any new information you have brought to light during questioning.
After some time for you to speak to your legal representative, they will present your case and provide any additional evidence or proof of your eligibility for a spouse visa. The judge will then close the proceedings and advise how and when you can expect a decision – typically two or three weeks later).
How Can I Maximise My Chances Of Securing A Positive Outcome From My Spouse Visa Appeal?
Preparation is essential to securing a positive outcome. When engaging an immigration lawyer who will guide you through the process, it is vital you choose someone who has a strong track record and has the confidence to represent you – i.e. they believe you have a strong case. You also want someone who is prepared to invest the time into your case so that they are able to respond robustly on the day of the hearing. As such, you need a Solicitor who is familiar with the appeal hearing process, understands why you were refused and how to overcome this, will prepare the new documents and evidence in a way that is acceptable to the court, and knows the finer details of your case. They also need to be prepared, and to prepare you, for the unforeseen. An experienced Solicitor will be aware of the types of strategies employed by the Home Office and be ready to counter these on the day. It is also important to be honest with your legal representative and tell them everything you know so they are not caught off-guard on the day of the hearing.
Ask your immigration Solicitor for a list of questions they expect that you will be asked during the cross-examination process. It is then recommended that you take plenty of time to rehearse your answers, and where necessary, do this in front of your Solicitor before the hearing. Likewise, you can ask an immigration lawyer to ask you questions and practice responding. Where they can see any gaps in your response, they can explain how to overcome these and what to say to fully satisfy the concerns of the Home Office and/or appeal judge.