My wife has been refused indefinite leave to remain in the UK (ILR), despite qualifying, because of misleading advice and intransigent bureaucracy on the part of the Home Office. When she checked if she was eligible on the government website, she was told she could apply as the partner of a British citizen. The website states: “If you’ve got a family visa as a partner or spouse on the five-year route, you must have been living in the UK for five years.” She has been living here for 13 years and we married in 2013.
What the website should have said is that applicants with family visas must have been living on the five-year route to ILR for five years. My wife was put on that in 2017.
If she had been directed to apply under long residence – those who have lived legally and continuously in the UK for more than 10 years and passed the required tests – she would have qualified. But the Home Office is refusing to grant ILR under this criteria because she applied under the wrong category.
Because of the mistake, she’s been granted limited leave to remain, which means she has to wait another five years before she can reapply and we’ve had to pay a £1,000 NHS surcharge. She lodged a reconsideration request on the basis the website was misleading, but the Home Office is sticking by its decision.
Anyone seeking to establish whether they are eligible to settle in the UK is asked by the government website which option describes them best. Number two on the list is whether they are the partner of a British citizen. If they are, they’re told that if they have a family visa on the five-year route, which your wife does, they can apply for ILR provided they have been resident for five years.
In vain have I explained to the Home Office that a simple change to a sentence would clarify what this means. It should say: “If you’ve got a family visa as a partner or spouse on the five-year route, you must have been living in the UK on this route for five years.” Your wife would have realised she needed to be resident for another year before she could apply under the five-year category.
The long residence option isn’t mentioned in the eligibility criteria for those with British partners. To discover that route, you have to return to the first page of the eligibility check, overlook the fact you have a British partner and tick number 13 to declare you’ve lived legally in the UK for 10 years.
You can’t tick both. The Home Office insists the rules are clear. “The applicant was granted leave on the five-year partner route in 2017 and the required full five years in the UK had not been completed when her indefinite leave to remain application was made in 2020,” it says.
When I questioned why those confused by the vague wording have to wait another five years and pay another four-figure sum to reapply, I was told your wife’s application would be reconsidered. A week later she heard she had been granted ILR under long residence.
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