UK Immigration – Major Changes April 2003

There have been a number of significant changes to the UK Immigration Rules since 1 April 2003. The most important changes are as follows:

Unmarried Partners and Spouses

The requirements mentioned here for spouses is relevant if you are married to a British Citizen or married to someone with indefinite leave to remain in the UK. If you are applying to enter or remain in the UK based on marriage to someone with a temporary status in the UK then the procedure is different and is in fact simpler. If you are applying to enter or remain in the UK as an unmarried partner then the requirements are similar whatever the status of your partner is in the UK. The basic changes are as follows:

  • You no longer have to show that you are legally unable to marry to be allowed entry as an unmarried partner. The previous immigration rules meant that in practice about the only people who could gain entry as unmarried partners were those in a same sex relationship. Those in a heterosexual relationship found it impossible in most cases to show that they were legally unable to marry.
  • You now need to wait two years before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) based on your relationship to someone who is a British Citizen or someone who has permanent residence. This is true for both unmarried partners and spouses unless you have been together for four years. It was previously the case that to gain indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) as a spouse you only had to wait one year. This rule change is obviously designed to reduce the number of bogus relationships that are only entered into to gain entry to the UK.
  • If you wish to gain entry based on being the spouse or unmarried partner of someone in a long term temporary category rather than based on a relationship to a permanent resident or British Citizen your status will be based on the status of your spouse or partner. For example, if you are the partner of someone on a full UK work permit you will have to wait four years to gain permanent residence.
  • You will gain permanent residence on entry if you show that you have been together for four years as an unmarried partner or if you have been married for four years to a permanent resident or British Citizen. This is a significant change and is about the only situation where you can gain permanent residence in the UK without having to live in the UK for a certain period of time.
  • You cannot change status to remain on the basis of marriage in the UK if you have been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for six months or less. This is likely to affect those who are visitors to the UK who can now no longer apply to remain in the UK on the basis of marriage. These people will normally now need to apply for entry in their Country of citizenship or Country of residence. If you are applying to remain in the UK as an unmarried partner this restriction does not apply.
  • It is now part of the immigration rules that the overseas spouse or unmarried partner has to be 16 years old or over, and the sponsor in the UK has to be at least 18 years old.

Permanent Residence after ten years lawful, or fourteen years of any type of residence in the UK

  • The long residence concession as it was previously known as is now officiallyin the UK immigration rules. It was previously just a concession outside the immigration rules.
  • You will need to show that you have spent not longer than six months outside the UK at any one time during the ten or fourteen year period.
  • You should not have been absent for longer than 18 months in total during the ten or fourteen year period.

You will find the new updated guide to indefinite leave to remain on the basis of long residence on our web-site.

Highly Skilled Migrant Program and Innovator Scheme

These categories have now formally been added to the immigration rules, which is likely to mean that these immigration categories will be available for entry to the UK for many years to come.

Fiance or Fiancee of an UK or EU Citizen, or UK Permanent Resident

It is now part of the immigration rules that the overseas fiancé/fiancée has to be 16 years old or over, and the sponsor in the UK has to be at least 18 years old.

If you would like advice and assistance on any of the above call the London office on +44 (0)20 7842 0800.