What to Do If Your UK Spouse Visa Expires Before You Renew Your Visa?
Updated: Oct 19
Make sure you apply for a spouse visa extension after 2.5 years as it's crucial to take appropriate steps to maintain your legal status in the UK.
applying for a spouse visa extension after 2.5 years
Receiving your First Entry Clearance Spouse Visa or switching into your first Spouse Further Leave to Remain visa is only the beginning of your immigration journey when it comes to settling long-term with your Partner in the UK.
It's important to be prepared from the beginning so you can prevent any possible set backs and manage any unexpected surprises. Ignoring unfavourable situations can impact your immigration status causing lasting damage when left unresolved. So being proactive is always the best policy when it comes to looking after your legal status in the UK this guide has been produced to help you understand what to do if your visa expires.
Even when you acquire Indefinite Leave to Remain you still have obligations to maintain your legal status in the UK if you wish to continue to hold and remain here as a permanent resident. Understanding your legal compliance obligations whilst living in the UK is key to maintaining your legal status here.
1. Apply for a UK Spouse Visa Extension after 2.5 years
1. Apply for a UK Spouse Visa Extension after 2.5 years on time
Always submit your new visa application within time and start the application process as early as possible before your current UK Spouse Visa expires. Whilst ensuring you continue to meet all the requirements and provide the necessary supporting documents. Keep copies of your visa application and supporting evidence for your own records is important, as you may need to rely on previous application documents again to support a future visa application.
If you need help making sure you have recorded everything correctly we can help you do this. Get in touch with our Immigration adviser to arrange an appointment.
When you apply for Further Leave to Remain (FLR) as a Spouse before your current visa expires, you can continue to stay in the UK under what is known as "Section 3C leave." Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 allows applicants who submit applications on time to remain in the UK under the same conditions as their last visa whilst waiting on a pending FLR application decision.
Key points to consider:
Section 3C Leave:
When you submit your FLR application before your current visa expires, Section 3C leave comes into effect. This means that your immigration status is automatically extended, and you can remain in the UK under the same conditions as your last visa until a decision is made on your new FLR application.
Continuation of Rights:
While on Section 3C leave, you retain the same rights associated with your last visa, including the right to work and study if you were granted those conditions previously.
Duration of Section 3C Leave:
Section 3C leave continues until a decision is made on your latest FLR application, even if it takes longer than originally expected. This ensures that you maintain your legal status in the UK during the decision-making process for your new visa application.
Traveling Outside the UK:
Unfortunately travelling outside the UK when you have received Section 3C leave is not permitted. Exiting the UK whilst an FLR application remains under consideration will result in the application being considered automatically withdrawn on the day of exit. Previously this wasn't an issue as you would have to give up your passport to the UKVI as part of the application process, preventing you from travelling. However this is no longer the case as UKVI follow a digital application process meaning you no longer have to submit your original passport. To account for this change the UK Immigration rules have been updated to acknowledge the fact that visa applicants no longer have to relinquish their passports allowing them the ability to travel unchecked whilst an FLR application is under consideration. I don't recommend leaving the UK as you will need to apply for a separate visa through entry clearance again causing you to loss any previous rights of stay you may have previously accrued.
Communication with the Home Office:
It is important to maintain regular contact with the Home Office regarding the progress of your FLR application. Should you need to notify them of any changes in your circumstances, such as a change of address or contact details, to ensure effective communication throughout the process.
It is essential to remember that individual circumstances can vary, and it is always advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer or an experienced immigration advisor to receive personalized guidance based on your specific situation. As they can provide you with the most up-to-date information and advice regarding your immigration status and the impact of your pending FLR application on your stay in the UK for guidance on your application
2. Utilize a "Grace Period"
In certain cases, you may be eligible to submit an application late allowing you to utilize a "grace period" which allows you to continue staying in the UK legally even if your visa has expired. There are niche eligibility requirements associated and limited amount of scope which can make it difficult to determine if you qualify in this circumstance as you will still need to demonstrate you continue to meet the eligibility criteria other than you have failed to submit within time. If you submit late you will not qualify for Section 3C leave rights and if you are refused submitting late can prevent you from appealing in certain circumstances.
You should consult with an immigration advisor before considering submitting to determine you meet the eligibility criteria to apply in these circumstances as it may not be in your best interest to submit.
3. Maintain Regular Contact with the UKVI
Inform the Home Office about your situation on your new FLR application. Explain the circumstances around why you submitted late causing you to miss your application deadline, make sure your reasons our factually based and not circumstantial. Provide all your application details and any reference numbers including previous they may require. This will ensure that they are aware of your circumstances and can advise you accordingly.
4. Retain Proof of Your Application Submission
Keep copies of all documents related to your new visa application, including the Document checklist and all acknowledgment emails from the Home Office. These documents will serve as evidence that you have applied for a visa extension and are waiting for a decision.
5. Comply with Immigration Rules
While waiting for a decision on your new visa application, it is essential to adhere to all immigration rules and regulations. You will need to seek out advice if your previous conditions associated to your last visa still apply? Restrictions may now apply in regards to your previous rights of stay, such as a right to continue working, studying and rights to continue renting property or accessing's public funds. Checking these still apply to your circumstances will help ensure you maintain a good immigration record.
6. Seek Legal Advice
If you are uncertain about your legal status or have concerns about the process, consult with an immigration lawyer or an experienced advisor. They can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances and assist you in navigating the complexities of visa applications and extensions.
7. Plan for Contingencies
It is wise to have a contingency plan in case your new visa application is refused. Explore alternative options such as applying for a different visa category or seeking advice on potential avenues to regularize your stay in the UK by other means.
Remember, it is crucial to act promptly, submit your visa further leave to remain application within time so you can maintain your existing rights of stay, and maintain regular communication with the UKVI.
By submitting your FLR application in time, you can rule out the risk of being in the UK without a valid visa. While ensuring you maintain your continued rights of stay under your last visa application. If you are unfortunate and miss your submission deadline. Seek out legal advice and support as early as possible to increase your overall chances of being able to continue to stay in the UK long term.
Using an Immigration adviser who is legally qualified to provide representation and can handle more complex immigration cases will be best placed to support you than trying to resolve the situation on your own.
Marc Gibson specialises in assisting foreign nationals with there visa application needs. Marc has supported hundreds of UK and other nationals support there partners to prepare and submit successful Visa applications. Whether you require a consultation to understand the more complex Immigration Rules addressed above, or have your own visa application professional checked by him before submitting or use his own representation service to prepare and submit your visa application for you, Marc is here to help.
Late application submissions associated to family settlement visas are particularly complex requiring specific attention to detail relating to documentary evidence associated to your circumstances leading up to why you failed to submit within time. Including demonstrating how you now continue to meet eligibility requirements of a UK spouse visa application. Our immigration adviser also specialises in assisting family applicants with complex financial circumstances complete and submit successful applications.
Marc prides himself on being friendly, approachable and professional in meeting his clients’ needs, he is dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to his clients when providing his UK Spouse Visa service.