How Does Covid-19 Affect my UK Spousal Application?

Spousal Vis

2020 has been the year that didn’t go to plan. If you’re planning to submit a spousal visa application or renew to the Home Office, here are a few situations that you may have come across.

I’m in the UK on a spousal visa. In the middle of the spousal visa extension process, my spouse died of Covid. What can I do?

Possible solution:
You may be eligible to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain in the UK) if your partner has died. Before your partner died, you must have had a visa as their partner (but not as their fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner). The cost is just over £2,300 unless your partner worked for the NHS. Then ILR is free. See

I’m a British Citizen and I want to bring my non-EEA spouse to the UK. I was laid off during the middle of the pandemic now I can’t meet the financial requirement of £18,600 per year.

Possible solution:
The Home Office has recently updated its guidance on the minimum financial requirement for spousal visas. The guidance states:

If you’ve experienced a loss of income due to coronavirus up to 1 January 2021, we will consider employment income for the period immediately before the loss of income, provided the minimum income requirement was met for at least 6 months immediately before the date the income was lost.

If your salary has reduced because you’re furloughed, we will take account of your income as though you’re earning 100% of your salary.
If you’re self-employed, a loss of annual income due to coronavirus between 1 March 2020 and 1 January 2021 will usually be disregarded, along with the impact on employment income from the same period for future applications.


I’m here in the UK on a Fiance visa. Due to Covid we can’t marry within the 6 month time period.

Possible solution:
According to the Home Office, “If you’re here with 6 months’ leave as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and your wedding or civil ceremony has been delayed due to coronavirus you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by emailing [email protected] and providing evidence of when your wedding will take place.”



I am a non-EEA national sponsored by my spouse on a spousal visa. I travelled out of the UK to my home country and ended up staying more than 6 months. Will my spousal visa be invalidated.

Possible solution:
Probably not. It depends.

Guidance for other UK visas suggests that a Covid-related absence between six and 12 months will be accepted as an important reason to remain out of the country. If you have FLR-M status and spend, for example, nine months of the pandemic outside the UK — are you able to argue that the situation was so critical that the extended absence didn’t break your “continuous qualifying period”?

There is a narrow band of what is considered acceptable by Home Office as an “important reason. Sadly, situations that are not covered is when an individual made a conscious decision to remain in his home country for economic reasons or because he wanted to be closer to his family members. A denial can even arise from an individual not returning to the UK or because he considered the risk to his health to be greater in the United Kingdom than his home country.


I can’t get ahold of certain documents I need for my spousal visa application.

Possible Solution:

Applicants may have more difficulty obtaining documents that they need for their spousal application, as many businesses in the UK and abroad are closed or only providing essential services.

Generally, the biggest problem is likely to be for those who need to take English Language or Life in the UK test prior to making their applications.

The English language requirement doesn’t apply to US passport holders.

As part of the evidence required for your application, there may be other third parties (banks, employers, landlords) who are required to provide documents for you.

If this is the case you should consult an immigration specialist for help on figuring out which documents can be relied upon for your case and where ‘evidential flexibility’ is likely to occur for you.


I need to contact the Home Office about a specific situation with my visa that has arisen out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Possible solution:
If you have immigration queries related to coronavirus, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre.
Email: [email protected]. Your email must be in English.

You will usually get a reply within 5 working days. Do not send follow up emails – they may delay you getting a reply.

You can also call the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. If you’ve emailed the help centre already, please do not contact them by phone. Telephone: 0800 678 1767




Top 5 Ways for Americans to Emigrate to the United Kingdom

I’m here to tell you our top five ways for Americans can immigrate to the United Kingdom.

Number five: Be lucky enough to have a British parent.
OK, not everyone falls in this category, we get it. If your mum, or dad is a British citizen, then you may also be eligible for British Citizenship.  This means there are no visa regulations.  Just apply for a British passport, pack your bag, hop on a plane and come on over.  What if you’re parents aren’t from the UK? If you have a parent or even a grandparent from an EEA country you may be entitled to a passport from that country. With an EEA passport you can come to the UK and live just like any other British citizen.

Number Four: Come over as a student.
  The Tier 4 Student Visa allows you to get a college, graduate or a professional degree. You can even use U.S. Stafford loans at most British universities. College and grad school costs less in the UK than in the States. Not just a little less, tens of thousands of dollars less. You can get your undergraduate degree in 3 years and your graduate degree in one year.  That’s one less year of college to pay for
Number Three:  Walk down the isle.  Marry a Brit or European Union Citizen.  Yes, if you marry a British person or an EEA Citizen living in the UK, you can apply for a fiancé or spousal visa.  With the spousal visa you can come here to work, volunteer, go to university, set up your own business, whatever.  What if you’re not ready to get married?  There’s also an unmarried partner visa.  If your relationship is serious enough this could be the route for you.

Number Two:  Be super-skilled. The Tier 2 work visa allows skilled individuals to come to the UK to work. The UK has a skills shortage of certain professions. They even publish a list of these jobs on the Home Office website.  An example of few of these professions: Social worker, Classical ballet dancer, Chemical engineer, pediatrician, graphic designer, production manager, 2D/3D Computer animator… the list goes on. If you work in IT or medicine chances are you’re covered

Number One. Be an entrepreneur.
   UK businesses love innovation. Do you have a business or business idea?  With a comprehensive business plan and seed funding starting at £50,000 – that’s about 65,000 U.S. Dollars –  you can apply for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. Yes, £50,000 is a lot but here’s the trick:   It doesn’t have to be your money. A company, individual or government agency can fund your project for you.

If you need assistance applying for any of these visas our experienced lawyers at Talley and Barrow are here to help. Call us now for a free consultation. You can also find us on Facebook and on the web at


Why the location of your Nikkah matters for UK Immigration?

What is a Nikkah?

The word “Nikah” has been derived from an Arabic word ‘nikhun’ which means to bring together and to absorb. If a man and a woman are to become absorbed in each other, a basic and fundamental condition will be the mutually agreeing of both the parties to perform the nikah, which is relied upon to unite them as life partners for the rest of their lives.

They should, hence, be sure about the conditions, obligations and rights that apply to them in a marriage. In Islam marriage is a shared and lawful contract in which the two parties concur about every single part of the agreement. The willingness of both man and woman is necessary, without their assent the nikah is invalid. The nikah ought to be performed before the guests as a formal declaration. The agreement upon “Haq Mehar” is also one of the conditions of nikah and ought to be settled upon by both the parties. After the lady gives her consent, a prayer (khutba) of nikah has been performed by a religious person afterwards everyone gives best wishes to both the life partners. The measure of haq mehar settled upon ought to likewise be declared. After all the formalities, the man and woman have the privilege to begin their life together lawfully. There are some additional unwritten conditions of the nikah which are comprehended.


Is a Nikkah in Pakistan recognized by British Law?

Several cases have been seen regarding the issue that whether the marriage performed in overseas countries is valid in UK under the British Law or not. A lot of couples from various countries including Pakistan have asked us about the validity of their marriage in UK. Here you will find the answer to this query.

Let’s be specific, and try to answer the question, is a marriage (Nikkah) in Pakistan recognized by the British Government under British law? Before finding the answer to this specific question, another question should be answered first which is, whether the marriage is legally registered in that specific country where the marriage had been performed or not? If the answer is yes, then we will go further to our first question. Under the terms of the UK’s Foreign Marriages Act 1892, marriage (Nikkah) performed in Pakistan will be recognised by the British Law if it would be legally registered in Pakistan. The High Court (London) in 1967 also looked at this issue and decided that they would be recognised.


Is a Nikkah in the UK recognized by British Law?

In Sharia Law, marriage is seen as an agreement where two people consent to live as a couple as per the direction contained in the two essential sources of the Sharia, the Qu’ran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

In spite of the fact that Muslims trust that a nikah or marriage contract performed in the UK is substantial according to God, but it is not a legitimate marriage under British Law. The Nikkah, although valid in the Islamic sense, is certifiably not a legitimate marriage in its own privilege in the UK. It is an exclusively religious ceremony and isn’t acknowledged in the UK as a lawful function.


What are the immigration laws concerning marriage and spousal visas to the UK?

There are various laws and requirements which should be fulfilled before applying for the spousal visa in UK. Here are is a concise list:

  • Your age and your spouse’s age must be 18+ years.
  • You have to get married legally and according to British law.
  • You should expect to live respectively for all time.
  • You should have enough money to help yourselves and your dependents.
  • Your supporting partner must earn more than £18,600 every year or enough saving to support you. The financial requirement is higher if they also have children to be supported.
  • You should have appropriate accommodation for you, your life partner and any dependents.
  • You must also fulfil the English language requirements.

What problems arise when only an Islamic marriage is entered (and there is no civil ceremony)?

In British law, a marriage, performed as only a religious ceremony in UK, is not considered as a valid marriage. You have to fulfil all the legal requirements along with the religious ceremony. If someone only relies on religious function and considers it as a whole or doesn’t perform a civil ceremony, they face a lot of problems. First of all their marriage is not recognised legally so they can enjoy all the facilities as the married couples of UK.

Another main problem which arise when only Islamic marriage is entered and there is no civil ceremony is that if the marriage does not work, women who have just had a nikah (Islamic ceremony) can’t go to the family court to look for a division of assets, for example, the family home, property and life partner’s pension. It can also bring about some other major issues. Therefore, it is necessary to register the marriage according to British law along with religious registration. Talley and Barrow are here to help you in all these aspects.

UK Spousal Visas, Financial Requirements and Article 8 ECHR

Let’s start with the basics.  So what exactly is a spousal visa?


A spousal visa allows a British Citizen or “Settled Person” (that’s a non-British citizen with ILR or Permanent Residency) to bring a non-EEA spouse, partner, fiancé or civil partner to the UK for a period of more than 6 months.


The spouse will be considered a “dependent” as his/her right to join you is practically based on your own right to stay in the U.K and you will be the “sponsor”. [1]


Spousal visas are valid for 33 months, with the possibility of renewing it for an additional 2 years and 6 months.  The renewal of your spousal visa is known as FLR-M (Further leave to remain – married).


In order for the spousal visa to be issued and your spouse or partner to join you in the UK, you will have to meet the financial requirement of earning the minimum amount £18,600, before tax. In the case of your spouse and one child joining you, the minimum amount is £22,400 with £2,400 required on top of that of each additional child.[2]


This financial requirement can be met through different means:

  • Salary
  • Self-Employment
  • Pension
  • Non-salaried employment


Some of the additional means of securing the minimum financial requirement are, income generated through rent or share, maternity/paternity/ adoption/sick pay and cash savings which need you be at £16,000 and on your name and under your control for at least six months.[3]


There is no need to meet the financial requirement in case you have a benefit such as Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Severe Displacement Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Bereavement Benefits, Armed Forces Independent Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.


It should be noted that the sponsor can get more than one benefit, as long as he/she can show that he/she receives enough money to support the dependent as well.[4]

In case that you don’t comply with the financial requirement and you are facing problems with reuniting your family, a solution may be possible either though Article 8 ECHR or Working Outside the Rules Applications.


Article 8 ECHR 

Artilce 8 of the European Convention for Human Rights stipulates that “everyone has the right to respect to his private and family life, home and correspondence” and that the public authorities are not allowed to intervene with the exercise of this right unless they are trying to protect the “interests of the national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, to prevent disorder or crime, to protect health and morals or the rights and freedoms of others”. [5]


Since British courts are not bound by the ECHR, how exactly can the citizens rely on Art. 8 when the financial requirement for the spousal visa is not fulfilled?

According to paragraph EX.1 of the Home Office Immigration Rules, Art. 8 ECHR applies upon the Immigration Rules, for the spouses who already live in the UK and hold a visa of a different category which is about to expire or who do not have a visa at all and need to apply either for a new one or for extension but are unable to fulfill the minimum financial requirement.[6]


In a situation where  a British citizen or “settled person” wishes for his/her spouse to get the spousal visa, he/she will have to illustrate that their family life would be affected by “insurmountable obstacles” in the case that the spouse’s or partner’s application was denied and was forced to return to their home country.[7] It must be noted that the term “insurmountable obstacles” refer to those obstacles that would be impractical to overcome rather than impossible. For instance, an insurmountable obstacle would be if a British citizen who has lived and worked in the UK for his whole life, as a result of not being able to be with his/her spouse, was forced to move instead in a place where the language barriers will make it impossible to relocate. The same argument applies also in the case that the couple has little children and moving to another county will make it impractical for them to adapt to the new standard of life and have a stable childhood.[8]


As soon as the existence of “insurmountable obstacles” and accordingly paragraph EX.1 have been established that apply in the case in hand, then the Right to family life as described in Article 8 ECHR takes presence, regardless of whether the financial requirement for the spousal visa is fulfilled.


What that means in practice is that the spouse/partner will be granted the right to remain in the UK, under the “10-year family route” which entitles them to “2,5 years” segments of leave, able to be extended in case they continue to fulfil the requirements. After the 10-year period of continuous leave is completed, the spouse/partner will most probably be eligible to apply for an indefinite leave to remain in the UK.  However, it should be noted that the final decision regarding the grant of the indefinite leave to remain depends on the discretion of the Home Office and the evidence required in each case.[9]


So, in case that your 10-year period is soon coming to an end, you must ensure that the legal requirements for applying for the indefinite leave are still the same and that no legal amendments have taken place that may affect your personal situation.


Finally, you should make sure that the documents backing your case are both correct and enough to support all the information mentioned in your application, as not doing is the most common reason for applications being declined.


Working Outside the Rules Applications

Another way for a defendant to be granted the spousal visa, in case that a sponsor is not able to comply with the financial requirement of the £18,600, is to request that the Home Office exercises its discretion to grant a permit to leave outside of the Immigration Rules.[10]


These rules, which were also mentioned in the section above, were adopted by the Secretary of State of the Home Department in 2012, in order to define the circumstances under which Art 8 ECHR, will apply. Even though, discretion is possible in some sections of the Rules, in most cases the requirements have to be met with the greatest possible detail or otherwise the application will be rejected automatically.[11]


In case, however, that the applicant does not fulfil any of the requirements of the Immigration rules, the Secretary of State of the Home Department has the discretion to grant permits of leave to the applicant outside of the Rules of Immigration. It should be noted though, that for this discretion to be exercised the circumstances of the case must be compelling and other issues of the case, such as the human rights of the specific individual and the other family members, should be examined carefully.[12] For instance, a British citizen who got married to a non-European citizen and have two children which are both British, has been unemployed for almost a year now and for that reason cannot sponsor his spouse’s application.


Since the financial condition of the British citizen constitutes a unique situation and children being raised without their mother while their father cannot take sufficient care of them, is considered a significant violation of their rights, is quite possible that an application working outside of the rules might be successful. What is important to keep in mind in this case, is that the key for your application here is to be able to prove that the circumstances of the case have a unique element and that the human rights of the whole family (or some family members) might be threatened.


Once again providing the necessary and correct evidence is extremely crucial and can determine the outcome of your case.


Finally, the applicant can request the Home Office to grant leave outside the Rules by publishing a concession.[13] That is a statement of policy or practice which explains or expands the Immigration Rules but never limits them. Concessions are made ad hoc as a response to a legal issue arisen or due to a difficulty related to an Immigration Rule in force. Even though requesting a grant this way still constitutes one of the possibilities and you should be aware of it, at the same time the reality is that concessions have been reduced significantly these past few years and only a few of them remain valid.[14]

Thus, while there is a financial requirement in order for the spousal visa to be issued, you should not be discouraged if you cannot fulfil it. The three options described above aim to assist you to be granted leave, according to your personal circumstances, insomuch as you have valid claims which you can support by providing the necessary evidence.

[1] Citizens advice, ‘Getting a visa for your spouse or partner to live in the UK’ (Citizens Advice, 2018)<> accessed 29 April 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] European convention of human rights, ‘Wwwechrcoeint’ (European Convention of Human Rights, 2018)<> accessed 29 April 2018.


[6], ‘Immigration Rules’ (Gov.UK, 6 April 2018) <> accessed 29 April 2018

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Lexis Library, ‘Outside the Immigration Rules and human rights applications—overview’ (Lexis Library, 2018)<—overview> accessed 29 April 2018.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

EEA Retained Right of Residence

What is EEA Retained Rights of Residence?


The European Economic Area Family Permit (EEA Family Permit) allows persons who:

  • are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and
  • are family members (or extended family members) of an EEA or a Swiss citizen

to come to the United Kingdom. [1]

The EEA permit is free to apply for and makes it not only easier but quicker to enter the United Kingdom. Without one it is possible that your entry to the country may be refused. The EEA permit is valid for a period of six months and you will be able to leave and return to the U.K. as many times as you wish within this period.[2]

However when your EEA permit expires, you may be still able to remain in the U.K. One of the ways that someone may be eligible for an EEA Family Permit is with a Retained Right of Residence which gives you the right to remain in the United Kingdom even if your EEA national family member dies, leaves the U.K. or is no longer your spouse or partner. The Retained Right of Residence will not only confirm your right of residence in the United Kingdom but it will render it easier for you to prove your eligibility to continue living and working in the U.K.[3]


Why would you need Retained Rights of Residence?

Firstly in order to qualify for applying for the Retained Rights of Residence, you must first have had the right to reside in the U.K. as a family member of an EEA national.[4]In addition, the latter should have:

  • the right of permanent residence in the U.K. or
  • be a qualified person in the U.K. A qualified person may be a worker; a self-employed person; a student; someone who is looking for a job, or a self-sufficient individual.[5]

You may need the Retained Rights of Residence if:

  1. the EEA national family member on whom your EEA family permit was based dies and you had lived in the United Kingdom for at least a year before their death[6]
  2. your marriage or civil partnership to the EEA national family member comes to an end through divorce (for marriages), dissolution (for civil partnerships) and nullity (for marriages or civil partners). The termination of the relationship is determined based on the date that these official documents are issued. It is very important that the relationship should have been terminated on a date after 30thApril 2006. If it was terminated before then sadly you will not be able to retain your right of residence. In addition, the marriage or the civil partnership must have lasted for at least three years before the official proceedings of separation commenced. Also you should have lived in the U.K. for at least one year as a married couple or partners.[7]

It should be noted, that for you to be able to retain your right of residence, the ex-husband or partner must continue having a permanent residence right or exercising his or her free movement rights. However, if your relationship has not officially ended and the EEA national sponsor stops being a qualified person or loses the right of permanent residence, you will lose your residence permit as well.[8]

Finally, your right of residence in the U.K. may be warranted due to particularly difficult situations, for example if you or another family member were victims of domestic violence while your marriage or civil partnership was still ongoing.[9]

  1. the EEA national family member leaves the U.K.[10]
  2. you are the child of the EEA national family member who left or died, or of their spouse or civil partner and you were in school or university when he left or died and continue to be education.[11]
  3. you are the parent or have the custody of a child who has a Retained Right of Residence because they are still in school. As a parent, you will be able to retain the right of resident for as long as the child retains its own right or until the child reaches the age of 21 or until you no longer have custody of the child or if, finally, you gain the permanent residence permit. Regarding the requirement of the child reaching the age of 21, there can be an exception if the child still requires its parent in order to complete its education.[12]


In any case, a very significant requirement for you to be to retain the right of residence is that you must be undertaking similar activities to the sponsor. That means that you should be a worker, self-employed or self-sufficient, and remain as such in order to qualify for the permanent resident right.[13]


How does one apply Retained Rights of Residence?

In order to apply for the Retained Rights of Residence, you need the following[14]:

  • a valid passport.
  • two colour photographs (passport size).
  • proof of your relationship with your EEA national sponsor. For instance, this could be a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, a civil partnership certificate or, if unmarried, proof that you have been living together for two years.
  • evidence proving your family member’s identity and nationality. This could be an identity card, a passport or a  previous residence permit card.
  • evidence that you EEA family member is a qualified person or has a permanent residence. As previously noted, to constitute a ‘qualified person’, the individual needs to be a worker, self-employed, a job seeker or else self-sufficient. [15]


You must also provide proofs of the following, but ONLY if they are relevant for your application[16]:

  • of the termination of your marriage or civil partnership to the EEA national by providing your divorce or annulment certificate.
  • of the death of your EEA family member by providing a death certificate.
  • of the departure of your EEA family member from the U.K.
  • of the fact that either you or the child whom you have the custody of were in school when the EEA family member died or left the U.K. and are continuing your education. You will need to provide a letter from the school or university.
  • of the custody of your child or of the child of a family member by providing a court order.
  • of being a victim of domestic violence by proving a social services report or injunction [17].


Please note that in case that any of the required documents are not in English or in Welsh, you need to provide a certified translation of these.

You can find a more detailed guide to the necessary supporting documents here:


In order to apply for the Retained Rights of Residence, you need to follow the usual EEA Family Permit Process.


What are some notable cases?

A very significant case on the topic of the Retained Rights of Residence is Singh and Other (2015), which concerned three individuals who resided in Ireland as family members of E.U. (EEA) spouses who were exercising their free movement of people rights.  The main question for the CJ. was what would be the position of the non-E.U. family member who got a divorce that preceded the departure of the spouse from the E.U. (EEA) state.[18]The CJEU decided that the right of the non-E.U. citizens to live in the E.U. (EEA) state stemmed from the fact that their spouses or partners were exercising their free movement rights.[19]So it was implicit that the right of residence could only be retained if the E.U. national spouse or partner resided in the host Member State on the date that the divorce proceeding started. [20]

Another significant case pertaining to Retained Rights by non-EEA citizens is OA (EEA- Retained Rights of Residence) Nigeria. The claimant initially entered the U.K. by requesting asylum going on to marry a French national one year later, subsequently applying for a residence permit as the spouse of an EEA national. In 2003, she was granted this permit and, in 2008, she applied for a permanent residence card while stating in her application that her spouse had left the conjugal home and that she had initiated divorce proceedings.[21]The CJEU decided that the non-EEA applicant must demonstrate that their EEA-national ex-spouses had exercised their treaty rights for five years in order for them to qualify for a permanent residence themselves. [22]

As is evident from the cases shown above, the Retained Rights of Residence is inextricably linked to European Union law. Most cases deal with divorced couples and the protection available to the non-EEA spouse. Unfortunately, such protection is not provided to non-married couples, and if you belong to this category you would be advised to seek advice from an experienced solicitor who may be able to suggest alternative legal options for obtaining the permanent residence card.




 Works Cited

[1], ‘Apply for an EEA family permit from outside the UK’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <> accessed 5 May 2018.



[4], ‘Retained rights of residence’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <> accessed 5 May 2018.



[7]Home Office, ‘Free Movement of Rights: retained rights of residence ‘ (Home Office , 7 February 2017) <> accessed 5 May 2018.



[10], ‘Retained rights of residence’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <> accessed 5 May 2018.



[13]Home Office, ‘Free Movement of Rights: retained rights of residence ‘ (Home Office , 7 February 2017) <> accessed 5 May 2018.

[14], ‘Retained rights of residence’ (Gov.UK, 2018 ) <> accessed 5 May 2018.




[18]Case C-218/14 Singe and Others v Minister of Justice and Equality [2015]



[21]OA (EEA – retained right of residence) Nigeria [2010] UKAIT 00003



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