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I'm French and my wife is Chinese. I work in the UK and she is in China. We just got married and we applied for the UK spouse visa, as she is a spouse of an EEA national. And... the application got rejected!

The decision maker is not "convinced that we have been together." Indeed, we didn't supply anything other than a proof of wedding, as this is the European law.

The reason why this law applies is that the French Embassy already made some interviews to be sure before our wedding that we knew each other/were in a relationship and that it was not a wedding to get papers.

Note that our conversations were on WhatsApp or Skype etc... and we didn't keep everything. Our phones have died and we got new ones. How can we reapply successfully?

  • Did you actually apply for a spouse visa or for an EEA family permit? – phoog Jan 31 '17 at 15:47
  • @phoog EEA family permit – Thomas Jan 31 '17 at 15:51
  • while I don't entirely agree with Crazydre's answer, his conclusion is basically correct. Because you were married recently, they can examine the question of whether you married for the purpose of acquiring freedom of movement for your wife. So look at it from that perspective when deciding what evidence to submit. – phoog Jan 31 '17 at 16:00
  • @phoog well... we did marry for freedom of movement. we love each others and after 1 year of long distance relationship we wanted to be together. it took like 1 year to get married... that's the whole point of getting married. the only thing the official should look at is whether the wedding is official or if we faked the paper. and for this he should call the embassy or smthg – Thomas Jan 31 '17 at 16:05
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    No, I'm sorry, the freedom of movement directive specifically excludes marriages of convenience, that is, marriages in which the couple have married solely for the purpose of enjoying an immigration benefit in the absence of a genuine relationship. You have a genuine relationship, but the UK is entitled to evidence of that fact, because the marriage certificate by itself isn't enough. – phoog Jan 31 '17 at 16:15
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The UK has adopted a definition of spouse in the that excludes parties to a marriage of convenience, in section 2(1) of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006:

“spouse” does not include a party to a marriage of convenience;

This is in contrast to the freedom of movement directive itself (2004/38/EC), which does not define spouse. However, it is certainly arguable that the definition is allowed under Article 35 of the directive, which reads

Abuse of rights

Member States may adopt the necessary measures to refuse, terminate or withdraw any right conferred by this Directive in the case of abuse of rights or fraud, such as marriages of convenience. Any such measure shall be proportionate and subject to the procedural safeguards provided for in Articles 30 and 31.

So, unless you want to go to court to challenge the UK's definition of spouse (a challenge which seems unlikely to succeed), you must accept that it excludes parties to a marriage of convenience.

The exclusion of marriages of convenience implies an ability to investigate marriages to determine whether they are in fact marriages of convenience. In that light, the UK's own guidance on the issuing of EEA family permits says

EUN2.10 What if I suspect a marriage / civil partnership of convenience?

The definition of ‘spouse’ and ‘civil partner’ in the EEA Regulations does not include someone who has entered into a marriage / civil partnership of convenience.

When a marriage / civil partnership of convenience is suspected, the burden of proof is high and rests with the ECO. However, in these cases the ECO is entitled to interview the applicant. Factors to consider include:

  • an adverse immigration history;
  • doubts about the validity of documentation;
  • application follows soon after the marriage / civil partnership;
  • no previous evidence of the relationship.

The ECO should not consider the following cases as marriages / civil partnerships of convenience where:

  • there is a child of the relationship;
  • there is evidence to suggest cohabitation.

So your marriage fits one of the grounds for suspicion (application soon after marriage), and doesn't fit either of the grounds for non-consideration (you have no child and, I assume, you have not lived together).

(If you have lived together, then you should submit evidence of that fact, which should suffice to overcome the officer's suspicions about the validity of your marriage.)

As I have alluded to in a comment, there are many stories floating around the web of people whose applications were refused improperly on the grounds of marriage of convenience. If the entry clearance officer (ECO) suspects a marriage of convenience, he or she is supposed to develop actual evidence to support that suspicion, and it sounds like that may not have been done here.

The refusal formula suggested in the guidance says "I am satisfied that you are party to a marriage of convenience," which reflects the ECO's burden of proof to establish that a marriage of convenience exists. If the ECO did not use this formula, instead saying "I am not satisfied that your marriage is genuine" or the like, you may have grounds for appeal. Also, if the ECO used that formula but did not actually develop any evidence aside from the timing of your marriage, you may have grounds for appeal.

However, appeal requires payment of a fee, and may be time consuming. It might be faster just to resubmit a new application, as advised in Crazydre's answer, which is free of charge, including the evidence of your relationship.

There is a third possibility: if the ECO clearly did not follow the guidance, you can get in touch with the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) at the consulate or embassy and complain. This has apparently been successful in some cases.

You might therefore try a two-pronged approach: First, write to the ECM and, if that is unsuccessful, file an appeal; second, file a new application.

I am reluctant to offer specific advice in your case, however, as we have not seen your refusal notice, so we do not know exactly what the ECO said in refusing the application.

5

For the record, we applied again, this time providing lots of pictures of us of holidays together, dinner with our families, small emails with different dates to show continuous conversation, screenshots of phone conversations on whatsapp. And the application succeeded.

3

Visa applications are not the time to be minimalistic.

Attach every single proof you have of being married and having lived together (flight tickets, photographs...everything!), along with an explanation letter about your phones having died and (this may sound odd) receipts of having bought new ones.

In addition, attach proof of all WhatsApp and Skype convos that you did save.

Because they're now more or less convinced that you used deception (claiming you're in a lasting relationship, which they aren't convinced of) to try and get your wife a spousal visa, your credibility as an applicant just might be at stake.

As such, to be completely honest with you, you should seek the aid of a qualified solicitor, and have them apply on your behalf. Be 100% honest in admitting your mistakes, and go from there.

  • thanks, will follow. But Im surprised. the (european) law is: they have to give a visa to a spouse, their role is not to check whether she is my wife or not, no ? – Thomas Jan 31 '17 at 14:40
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    "visa applications are not the time to be minimalistic": except that giving more evidence than asked for can give the visa officer something to base a refusal on that might otherwise not have been present. @Thomas is right, though, officers are required to meet a burden of proof before suspecting a marriage of convenience. Unfortunately for him, being married recently is one of the grounds for such suspicion. – phoog Jan 31 '17 at 15:46
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    For example, if there is a message in a couple's chat history that says "let's get married so we can get a free visa to visit the UK" then that chat history should probably be omitted. – phoog Jan 31 '17 at 16:05
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    @phoog Well, I assume OP and his wife to be 100% bona fide, in which case whatever evidence they have should reflect that. And like you said, a recent marriage is more suspicious and his application therefore on less strong ground - hence why I wrote he should attach much more evidence – Crazydre Jan 31 '17 at 16:07
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    My point is that it's possible for a bona fide couple to discuss marrying for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit, but if that is disclosed it will be much harder to show bona fides. Another point is that it's not simply that a recent marriage is more suspicious; the UK cannot pursue a possible marriage of convenience without evidence to suspect one, and government guidance is that a recent wedding date constitutes such evidence. A couple married for ten years, for example, should not expect to have to show anything other than their marriage certificate. – phoog Jan 31 '17 at 16:24

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