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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

US Citizens During Pandemic – Can We Still Come To The UK?

18 June 2020 Amna Ashraf Blog

At the time of writing, all UK Visa Application Centres in the United States of America have been closed since 20 March 2020. These Visa Application Centres are necessary for any UK spouse visa application to be progressed. The closures have prevented US spouses of British citizens from moving to Scotland and the rest of the UK on a long-term basis.

Until the centres reopen (and we still don’t know exactly when that will be), applicants can consider the following steps to ensure they are ready to go with their applications as soon as the Visa Application Centres reopen:

      1. Ensure your financial criteria is met. The simplest way is to ensure your British partner has worked for over 6 months earning a gross annual salary of £18,600. There are many other ways of meeting this requirement, especially if you have cash savings of over £62,500. Our second webinar on the topic delves deeper.

      2. Ensure your British partner has adequate accommodation lined up for your eventual arrival. Our third webinar provides some tips as to which kind of evidence is beneficial both to prove you have adequate accommodation and also to prove aspects of your relationship.

      3. Fill out the online application form now and save it as a draft. This takes a while to complete as you need to provide a lot of detailed information. It’s important to ensure your data is accurate and there are no inconsistencies with what you may have said on a previous form. Be sure to sign in every few weeks to keep the application active until you are ready to submit it.

      4. Submit the application form if you think you are ready now. Yes, this can still be done. Some may want to do this to join the queue of pending cases. Others will want to do this if they fear they may not be able to meet an aspect of the rules in the future. For example, a British spouse on a temporary work contract due to end in 2 months may want to ensure that their contract doesn’t come to an end in the time that they are waiting for the Visa Application Centres to reopen.

      5. Invest in a quality printer and scanner if you do not already have one. Your evidence will need to be scanned and uploaded at some stage so getting a device set up that will not grind you to a halt when the crucial time comes is worthwhile. Once you have it, you can scan all of your evidence now and organise it digitally which will give you a head start.

      6. Hire a legal advisor who is qualified in this field. The current climate means lots of changes are unprecedented and happening without much notice. Your documents may become out of date, the form may not be completed properly or you may even think you qualify under the rules when you don’t. There are multiple failure points in an application. Hiring a professional to get full advice or guide you throughout the entire process is more valuable now than ever before.

      7. If you are not going to be ready to make your application for some time yet, consider coming to the UK as a visitor. Contrary to some horror stories, this trip does not need to be essential. It does however need to be temporary with the border officer satisfied that you will return at the end of your maximum duration of 6 months. You will need to return to the US to actually submit your visa application – it’s critical that you don’t attempt this from inside the UK while here as a visitor. But if you don’t envision that application being made for some time yet, there is nothing preventing you visiting in the meantime. As of 8 June 2020, new rules for all entrants, including visitors, state that those allowed entry will need to provide their contact and journey details and self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Some categories are exempt. Pay close attention to these rules before setting off or booking any travel.

The US reporting the highest death toll in the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the widespread protests, and a likely second terms for the current President has left a lot of people in the US rather anxious and Scotland is looking peaceful and hopeful to many! Adopting some of the above steps will head you in the right direction while we wait for things to get back to some form of new normal. If you would like our advice on your UK spouse visa application to move from the US to Scotland or the rest of the UK, please contact us using this page.

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