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General Grounds for Refusal of Visa Applications

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Part 9 of the Immigration Rules applies to the vast majority of applications for entry clearance (including a standard visitor visa) and permission to stay in the UK. It contains the general grounds for refusals, including mandatory grounds for refusal, even if an applicant meets the remainder of the suitability, eligibility and validity requirements for their immigration route.


Part 9 serves as a comprehensive framework for immigration officers to assess the eligibility and suitability of an applicant. However, it does not apply to certain routes, such as Appendix EU, Appendix EU Family Permit, and certain parts of Appendix FM and Appendix Private Life.


Grounds for refusal


Where a ground for refusal is met, an applicant may either have their clearance or permission application refused, or, if they are already in the UK, it may be shortened or cancelled. The main grounds for refusal (or cancellation) of entry clearance, permission to enter, and permission to stay in the UK as a migrant are set out in Section 2 of Part 9 of the Immigration Rules. We discuss some of the main grounds below.


Criminality


One of the key provisions of Part 9 relates to criminal convictions. Criminal convictions can significantly impact immigration decisions. Part 9 stipulates that individuals with certain criminal convictions may be refused entry or leave to remain in the UK. The severity and nature of the offenses play a crucial role in these decisions.


Criminality is a mandatory ground for refusal if the applicant:

  • has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more; or

  • is a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law; or

  • has committed a criminal offence, or offences, which caused serious harm

Criminality is a discretionary ground for refusal where the applicant:

  • has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months; or

  • has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a non-custodial sentence, or received an out-of-court disposal that is recorded on their criminal record

Previous breach of immigration laws


Individuals who have breached immigration laws may also face refusal. This includes cases of overstaying, breaching visa conditions or engaging in activities not permitted under their visa category. Breaching an immigration law is a mandatory ground for refusal if the application was made in the relevant time period as set out in paragraph 9.8.7. Breaching an immigration law is a discretionary ground for refusal if the application was made outside the time specified in 9.8.7 and ‘the applicant has previously contrived in a significant way to frustrate the intention of the rules, or there are other aggravating circumstances (in addition to the immigration breach), such as a failure to cooperate with the redocumentation process, such as using a false identity, or a failure to comply with enforcement processes, such as failing to report, or absconding.’


Non-conducive to the public good


Another ground for refusal is being not conducive to the public good. Part 9 states at 9.3.1

‘An application for entry clearance, permission to enter or permission to stay must be refused where the applicant’s presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good because of their conduct, character, associations or other reasons (including convictions which do not fall within the criminality grounds).’

This means that permission must be refused or existing clearance or permission cancelled where the applicant’s presence in the UK is considered not to be in accordance with the “public good”. This might be based on the applicant’s conduct, character, or other reasons.


The guidance defines non-conducive to the public good as being "...undesirable to admit the person to the UK, based on their character, conduct, or associations because they pose a threat to UK society.’ This applies to matters in the UK and abroad. It is a test to be applied on a case-by-case basis, and which is required to consider if, on the balance of probabilities, a decision to refuse is based on sufficiently reliable information.


Involvement in a sham marriage or sham civil partnership


The Home Office may refuse or cancel permission where it is considered more likely than not that the applicant is, or has been, involved in either a ‘sham’ marriage or civil partnership. A ‘sham’ marriage, civil partnership, or relationship is one that is fake and solely for the purposes of gaining a visa under a false pretence.


False representations


Permission may be cancelled or refused where the Home Office believes that in order to obtain documents in support of the application, false representations have been made, false documents or false information submitted, or relevant facts are not disclosed, whether or not to the applicant’s knowledge. This is also the case if it is more likely than not that the applicant used deception in their application for permission to stay.


What are your options if you are refused on Part 9 Grounds?


Should your immigration application be refused on Part 9 grounds, you will be unlikely to have a right to appeal unless your application constitutes a human rights claim. You can make a fresh immigration application under the same or a different route.


If it can be shown that a case working error was made, you may be able to apply for Administrate Review. If it can be shown that the decision is unlawful, you could apply for Judicial Review.


 

If are you not sure if any general grounds of refusal apply to you, or have questions about any aspect of your application, contact us to discuss it today.

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