Let me start with a simple and clear warning: lying to a UK Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) by way of presenting fake documents or incorrect information is an immigration offence, punishable not by just a refusal or cancellation of already issued visa but also by a ban, which can be as much as for ten (10) years.
At Fortwell Solicitors where I currently work, I spend a lot of my time making representations to the Home Office (UK Visas) on behalf of clients, challenging their decisions and mostly arguing that certain refusals are unreasonable, unconscionable and that the Home Office has failed to follow the Immigration Rules appropriately.
In the last few months, we have obtained 100% success in all refusal representations we’ve made the Home Office—requesting for a reconsideration of their decisions for clients from Ghana, Uganda and several other places.
While it’s true that you have no right of appeal or administrative review when you are mostly refused a UK visitor visa, Entry Clearance Officers who assess visa applications get it wrong sometimes and end up refusing people who meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules and therefore shouldn’t be refused.
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In such situations, we take up the cases and challenge the refusals by making further representations to the Home Office as part of a specified route to seeking legal redress, clarifying what the ECO probably didn’t understand or pointing him to things he should have considered—and then getting the refusals to be overturned by a senior officer, an Entry Clearance Manager, for our displeased clients.
Having dealt with several UK visa refusals, I’ve established some common reasons why people are mostly refused visitor’s visas. This includes certain widespread misconceptions which somewhat land people refusals.
- The Amount of Money Needed in A Bank Account
For whatever reason, people applying for UK visitor visas get into the old deception of increasing their bank balance ‘inorganically.’ A lot of people are refused visitor visas because of large unaccounted for deposits in their bank accounts.
And this is because there’s a misconception that you need to have a large bank balance to be given a UK visitor visa. So, people start depositing monies into their bank accounts, ahead of their application.
The requirement to provide a bank statement is to help the ECO ascertain your financial circumstance and not to just note your bank balance. Therefore, you are required to provide at least 6 months bank statement, and this is for a reason. If your bank statement shows that you earn 1500 GHS a month, and somehow there are regular deposits of large sums, the ECO will suspect trickery—an attempt to misrepresent your true financial circumstance and that’s a tick towards a refusal.
It’s unconventional in the UK or most Western Countries for anyone to be depositing monies in other’s account or running their money through other’s account. Hence, it raises suspicion if large deposits or transfers, either than salaries backed by payslips as evidence, are coming into anyone’s bank account without a reasonable explanation.
The applicable Immigration Rule, Appendix V: visitor rules, V 4.2 (e) states that you “must have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds. This includes the cost of the return or onward journey, any costs relating to dependants, and the cost of planned activities such as private medical treatment.”
To meet the above requirement, you must also show the source of the funds in your bank account which you are presenting—any irregular deposits or activities in your bank account for the period presented must be explained to the satisfaction of the ECO.
This means, do not be depositing funds in your bank account, purposely for a visa or to deceive the ECO into thinking your financial circumstance is great when it’s not. You are likely to be caught and be refused.
You are probably asking how much is a reasonable amount to be shown. The answer is, that depends—but what’s important is the activities in your bank account and the picture it paints of your finances.
My wife (then girlfriend) visited me in the UK in 2016 without a problem when she was receiving 700 GHS a month in her employment—with a little regular side income from her bead bags and accessories business.
- Would You Return to Ghana At the End of Your Visit to the UK?
A lot of people erroneously think that the UK government or High Commission does not want people to visit the UK. That’s never true. The UK derives a lot of money from foreigners coming to visit and therefore they want you to come and visit the UK.
It’s reported that 37.6 million overseas visitors came to the UK in 2016 and spent £22.5 billion. That’s a lot of money and the UK government wants even more.
Therefore, coming to the United Kingdom as a visitor is not a problem. What the UK government and every ECO is worried about is this: would the person go back to his or her home country after the visit, if he or she is granted a visa?
A lot of people have told the ECOs that they intend to visit the UK briefly and go back to their countries and never go back as stated. So, merely stating that you swear by God or Zeus that you will return to Ghana or wherever you are from after your visit to the UK is not persuasive enough.
An ECO needs more than your words and that’s where in assessing your application, an ECO will consider your social, economic/financial and family ties to your country of residence—to establish if you have things tying you to Ghana such that on balance of probabilities you will return to your home country.
If you are unemployed, you have no children, you are not married, you have no property, you have no savings, you have no investments, or nothing really is going on for you that ties you to Ghana, then you are highly probable to be viewed as likely not to return to your country if granted a UK visitor’s visa.
In a recent successful challenge of a visitor’s visa refusal for a client from Ghana who had a child, a savings, and was gainfully employed, I argued, inter alia that, “considering the applicant’s strong economic, social and family ties in Ghana which she has provided evidence of, it’s unreasonable and unfair that the ECO came to the conclusion that she will suddenly abandon all these including her young son, to become an overstayer in the United Kingdom with uncertain or no future prospects. This conclusion is unconscionable, on balance of probabilities, when examined in light of the applicant’s circumstance in Ghana and presented pieces of evidence.”
Here, the challenge was successful and the refusal was overturned, because the client had several things tying her to Ghana and therefore the refusal on the basis that she will not return was deemed to be unfair.
In Sawmynaden (Family visitors—considerations)  UKUT 00161 (IAC), the tribunal held that when assessing the eligibility for entry, entry clearance or further leave to remain as a visitor, the Entry Clearance Officer needs to take into account relevant factors such as the links that the one retains with his country of residence.
You need to show the ECO that you have links to your country, and as such you cannot reasonably abandon those to overstay in the UK.
- How Long Should You State That You Will Stay in the UK…
I get a lot of people asking me about the number of weeks or months they should put on their application forms as wanting to stay in the UK for. I find this weird, albeit, important.
If you want to visit the UK and return as claimed, then you should know how long you want to visit—and not be asking your legal representative about how long you should stay.
When you travel, several factors including your finances, the responsibilities or ties you are leaving behind and others determine how long you can go for. If you claim to have a job and state that you want to go and visit the UK for 4 months, is that not a red flag?
If you claim to be earning 1500 GHS and have a bank balance of 8,000 GHS and state that you want to go and visit the UK for 5 months, how would you be able to sustain yourself with this money for that long?
All I am stating is that, a genuine visitor knows his or her circumstance and will always state a reasonable number of days, weeks or months he or she intends to stay in the UK.
- Do You Need Someone to Send You An Invitation Letter for A UK Visitor’s Visa?
I recently visited China with my wife, and we were required to obtain a visa. We did not know anyone in China and yet we got the visa. It’s the same for every other country.
You do not need anyone to invite you to the UK before you can get a UK visitor’s visa.
You can come into the UK as a tourist, and that’s what majority of the people who visit the UK are.
To come to the UK as a visitor, you will have to provide evidence of accommodation for the period you will be in the UK—which can be a hotel booking. You will have to show that you can maintain yourself while you are in the UK during that period and cater for emergencies if any arises.
In fact, I find it straightforward for people who are genuine visitors to come to the UK via the no-invitation route.
When someone invites you, your application is somewhat assessed in two folds: your circumstance is examined and that of the person inviting you is also considered. That’s ‘double trouble’ for you.
Free Legal Advice:
A lot of the people intending to visit the United Kingdom are mostly refused visas because they are unable to satisfy or convince the ECOs that they are genuine visitors—as in, their intention is purely to visit, they will return back to their countries after the visit and that they have the financial strength to afford the trip and maintain themselves while in the UK.
The most important elements to be met, for a UK visitor’s visa, are captured below, from the Immigration Rules, as:
Genuine intention to visit…
V 4.2 The applicant must satisfy the decision maker that they are a genuine visitor. This means that the applicant:
- (a) will leave the UK at the end of their visit; and
- (b) will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home; and
- (c) is genuinely seeking entry for a purpose that is permitted by the visitor routes (these are listed in Appendices 3, 4 and 5); and
- (d) will not undertake any prohibited activities set out in V 4.5 – V 4.10; and
- (e) must have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to their visit without working or accessing public funds. This includes the cost of the return or onward journey, any costs relating to dependants, and the cost of planned activities such as private medical treatment.
If you have recently (in the last 3 months) been refused a UK visitor visa, and you want to challenge the decision, we are able to do this for you at Fortwell Solicitors. You can call us via +442033257030 or +447837576037 (Direct/Whatsapp) and ask for Vincent.
If you have any question regarding UK Visitor’s visa, contact the author or use the commenting box to ask and the author will respond.
About the author:
Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri is the Founding Editor of GhanaCelebrities.Com , a Film Critic and a Human Rights Advocate; he holds 2 masters degrees in Law; International Human Rights Law (LL.M) and Legal Practice Course (LL.M) from University of Leicester and Nottingham Law School–and also a degree in Law (LL.B) from University of East London.
He’s a Professional Truth Sayer and he is the author of the popular eBook “Success is a Right, Not A Privilege.”
He currently works at Fortwell Solicitors in London–where he uses his legal brains to kick real ass, for the good of his clients and humanity.
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