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Latitude Law


  • General Immigration

No Entry: Why are visa applications refused?

Visa refusals can be distressing, disappointing and just downright frustrating. Leading to lost time and money, when UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) says ‘no’, applicants can face major disruption to their plans. In this article we look at some of the common reasons for refusal, and how they might be avoided.

Visit visas

The most common reason we see cited for refusal of visit visas is that UKVI does not accept that the applicant will return home at the end of their trip. Applicants can reduce their risk of refusal for this reason by submitting targeted evidence of their previous travel history (showing good compliance with visa restrictions) and their ties to their home country (such as family, employment, assets). Applicants should never assume that their intentions will be accepted without some evidence in support.

Partner applications

In this category the issue is often one of documents, rather than a general refusal to accept that a relationship is genuine, for example. The financial requirement regularly causes problems, with applicants failing to satisfy the complex document requirements set out in the Immigration Rules. Unfortunately, the application forms and document checklists produced as part of the submission process often do not fully address these requirements, making it easier for applicants to slip up.


Students have the support of an education sponsor, but despite this, applications can be refused for both objective (eg insufficient evidence of available maintenance funds) or subjective (eg UKVI does not accept that the applicant is a genuine student) grounds. Objective grounds of refusal are easy to avoid; the Immigration Rules have clear document requirements, which can be met with proper preparation. Subjective grounds of refusal are trickier, with students needing to take care to establish not only their ability to complete the planned course of study, but also a clear explanation of why study is being pursued. This is especially true for short-term students, whose intentions are often more closely scrutinised than long-term students committing more time and money to the UK.

Workers and business owners

The now defunct Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route had one of the highest refusal rates of all immigration categories, mainly due to judged failure of the genuine entrepreneur test, a subjective assessment of whether the applicant truly had the business acumen and plans to be successful in the UK. Even though this route has been closed to new applicants, we still see the opportunity for similar subjective refusals, including in the new innovator and start-up routes (here it is called the credibility assessment).

Workers face similar problems: even if a sponsor has secured a licence, conducted advertising and offered employment to a migrant worker, approval may be withheld where UKVI does not accept that there is a genuine vacancy within the business. UKVI sometimes questions whether the job exists at all, is truly as advertised (eg is the skill level sufficient), or whether there are available settled workers.

These subjective reasons for refusal – often made by UKVI workers with no specialist training in relation to commerce, people management, skills or education – are especially problematic. Many of the affected visa categories have no appeal rights, leaving limited opportunity to challenge refusals which may taint future UK visa applications.

If you have received a refusal decision, or would like specialist advice and assistance to avoid this occurring, call our experts now on 0161 234 6800 (Manchester and London) or 0151 305 9600 (Liverpool).