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UK visa refused: Find out why and plan your next steps

UK immigration authorities refuse many visas not because they do not want you to come to the United Kingdom. The reason why they do it is simple; people tend to ignore the established rules and requirements of applying for a visa and then question why they are not welcome.

We decided to list most common reasons of refusal of UK visas and what to do not to be refused. We will also focus a lot on what you can do after a refusal, with useful tips from our experts.

Can I apply for a UK visa after a refusal?

A refusal of your visa to the UK does not mean that you are banned for life from coming to Great Britain. Read the refusal letter from the Home Office carefully and you will find out the reason why you have been refused.

If you have made a mistake and you can correct it, do it and submit a new application. But bear in mind that you will have to pay the visa fee again.

However, if you have provided false information about yourself or have done anything else to mislead the authorities, you will be banned from entering the UK for 10 years. This measure applies only in exceptional circumstances.

All you need to know about UK visa refusal

Why your British visa can be refused and what to do if it happens

What are the reasons for a UK visa to be refused?

Before we talk about most common reasons for refusal, let us mention four most extreme cases that make a legal entry to the UK impossible.

  1. False information has been provided, in which case, as has been already mentioned, you will be banned from entering the British Isles for 10 years.
  2. To become a persona non grata in the UK, you don’t have to be covered in blood or be on a public Red Notice. It is enough to become a member of a political or religious organisation that is considered by some countries as encouraging terrorist activities and you might not be even aware of that. Or you could have supported an extremist on the Internet once.
  3. Criminal record both in the UK and abroad. In the best-case scenario, you must have a 100% clean record, both from the point of view of the criminal and civil law, for example, no driving offences, civil court judgements, bankruptcy and debt proceedings against you.

Breaches of UK immigration rules that you have committed previously are one of the most solid grounds on which you will not only be refused a UK visa but can be also banned from visiting the country for the next decade.

  1. Previous visas refused to other countries. It also includes when you have been refused an entry at the border and all the measures that are being taken to remove you from the territory of a relevant jurisdiction, from a court notice to a deportation order.

The worst error you can make is not to disclose such information to UK authorities. If you have been refused a visa to any country for any reason, include it in your application with as much details as possible to avoid the 10-year ban.

A visa refusal to another country will not automatically lead to a refusal of a UK visa, but a case worker will pay extra attention to your application and documents.

Five most common reasons for a UK visa refusal

  1. Applying for a wrong type of visa that contradicts what you are going to do in Great Britain

An obvious, but a very common reason for refusal of a UK visa. It is common to get yourself into such trouble by applying through an unprofessional agency. For example, if you need to go to the UK for private medical treatment, it will be a mistake to apply for a standard visitor visa. A travel agency employee might not know the difference which will cause your visa to be refused.

  1. Failure to provide evidence to support the provided information

Applicants often forget that each word of their application must be backed by evidence. If not, a case worker will think it is false information or misrepresentation.

You must know what and how to include in your application. If you say a lot, be prepared to prove it. That is where professional advice and help are as invaluable as when you need to choose the right type of a visa category.

  1. Failure to mention a family in the UK; providing contradictory information; giving exaggerated periods of stay in the country

A case worker will not only check all the details of your application but will also assess it as a whole. If they think you have provided misleading or false information, they will take their time in double checking every suspicious detail and will refuse as soon as they find anything.

For example, they will question your intention to stay in the UK for a long time without enough money on your bank account or if you have an extended family in the country. If you fail to mention them and it is later discovered, you will be banned from the UK for many years.

  1. Financial inability to support yourself

There are a lot of legal and illegal migrants that are moving to the UK in search of a better life, and the HomeOffice has to be alert to everyone.

UK immigration authorities need to know and see that you earn enough money in your country to not only buy a return ticket, but also support yourself during your trip. Therefore, a low salary, a recently found job (less than half a year old) and a low bank account balance are red flags to them.

On the other hand, if a balance on your bank account does not match your level of earnings, the Home Office will be curious as to where you have got the money from. Our tip would be to show the required minimum and not all the savings.

  1. Inability of your sponsor to support you

If you are applying for a family visa, for example, to join your British spouse, they will be your sponsor and they must also meet the Home Office requirements. The current level of annual income that a British husband/wife must earn in order to sponsor their foreign spouse must not be less than £18,600.

What should I do when my UK visa is refused?

First, we can tell you what not to do – not to despair and give up. As we have already said, if your UK visa is refused, you have a few options to revert to in order to set things right.

Do not throw away a refusal letter no matter how much you want to tear it to pieces. The date on a postal stamp is your reference point for how much time you have to take actions and potentially change the decision. Besides, the refusal letter contains the reason why you have been refused and it might not be only one reason.

There are 3 main courses of action after you get a refusal of a UK visa – an administrative review, a new application and an appeal. For your convenience, we have summarised all three of them, and how they are applied, in a table below (these rules apply since April 2015).

Visa categoryAppealAdministrative reviewNew application
Visitor visa+
Visitor visa on human rights grounds (visiting close family)


If court accepts the appeal

Investor visa++
Representative visa++
Work visa++
Start-up visa++
Innovator visa++
Spouse/child visa++
Tier 4 student visas++
EEA applications (European Regulations)


Based on a case and other factors

EEA applications (Appendix EU, UK immigration Rules)+++
Human Rights applications++
Applications outside UK Immigration Rules++

Deadlines for appeals and administrative reviews:

  • 14 calendar day if you have applied in the UK
  •  28 calendar day if you have applied outside the UK

Administrative review

If you suspect that your application for a UK visa or submitted documents have been processed or assessed incorrectly by a case worker, which led to them refusing the application, you can apply for an administrative review. But bear in mind that in this case you can only refer to the documents that have been already submitted and cannot submit new ones.

There are deadlines to apply for an AR (the start date is the date on a stamped envelope):

  1. 14 calendar days, if you have applied from within the United Kingdom.
  2. 28 calendar days, if you apply from the country of your residence.

A new application for a UK visa

If you and/or your immigration lawyer see that a case worker is right in their decision and it is you who have made a mistake or forgotten to submit some required documents, the best thing you can do is to do your homework and reapply.

The same applies if your circumstances, that prevented you from getting a visa, have changed and you stand a better chance of obtaining it the second time.


If a specialist that supports you in your application has found mistakes made by a case worker that led to refusal, you have the right to appeal that decision.

It is also possible to appeal a Home Office decision if it breaches UK laws regulating immigration policies, interracial relationships and human rights, as well as international declarations (for example, European Convention on Human Rights).

To appeal, you need to fill in a special form. Based on where you have applied, you will have various deadlines for submitting an appeal:

  1. If you apply for a visa extension and are refused in the UK, you will be given 14 calendar days.
  2. If you submit an application and get a refusal outside Great Britain, you will have up to 28 calendar days to appeal.

Please bear in mind that a visa fee is not refundable. The only thing that is refundable, if you pay it on application, is the IHS (Immigration Health Surcharge).

If you are not an expert in the UK laws and Immigration Rules, do get advice from a professional lawyer that has experience in that area. A good immigration adviser will not only help you prepare a good appeal but will also represent you in court.

Appeals are heard in an independent court called a tribunal. After submitting a form, you have up to 8 weeks to prepare and file all necessary documents. In some cases, if your immigration lawyer advises to do so, you can also send an appeal bundle directly to the Home Office at the same time you send it to the tribunal. It might be enough for a decision to be changed in your favour which will save you time and money.

If you are in the UK all this time, you may be asked to attend a court hearing of your case as a witness. If you receive a refusal in the country of your residence, you don’t have to go to the UK – your lawyer can represent you. However, no matter where you are, you are not given any allowances or exceptions if not all documents are submitted on time, so make sure you are 100% ready. A decision on your case will be made at the hearing, but the court might take 2-3 weeks to prepare an official notice and send it to you.

In any case, an appeal is a long and tedious process that can run for 9 months and longer. It requires attention and careful preparation of all documents, cover letters and other paperwork that could defend your case in the tribunal.


Irrespective of what type of a UK visa you are applying for, if you do not intend to mislead the Home Office or make no mistakes in an application or documents, the whole process should be really smooth.

If you still get a UK visa refusal, this is not the end of the world. Mistakes can be corrected, and wrong decisions can be appealed in a tribunal that is independent of the UK government.

Both at the application stage and after a refusal you might need qualified legal advice from an immigration lawyer. Professional advisers at Imperial & Legal will give you advice on any matter related to a refusal, will help you take necessary steps to change the decision in your favour, will prepare all required paperwork and solve any arising issues.

FAQ about UK visa refusals

What are the reasons for a UK visa to be refused?

If we begin from the most common reason, a UK visa refusal is usually due to the applicant’s mistakes:

  • Applying for a wrong type of visa or making mistakes while filling the necessary forms, or providing information that is not backed by evidence, or omitting any essential document.
  • Life circumstances of the applicant which prevent the Home Office from giving the applicant a UK visa. For example, the applicant is on a rather low monthly income, has no savings and got a job only a month before.
  • Providing contradictory information. For example, the applicant mentions a low salary, but a bank statement shows huge sums of money passing through, and no explanation is provided in the application.
  • Previous legal offences, visas refused to other countries, bankruptcy, unpaid debts, etc.
  • Considering some information about themselves or their families evident enough not to provide it in the application. The point is, if any information is not supported by evidence, it is not taken into account by the Home Office.
  • Finally, intentionally deceiving a case worker by providing false information or evidence, trying to hide true information about themselves.

Definitely, case workers are just humans, and they might make mistakes. These things happen. But most commonly the applicant is the one to blame for the following difficulties.

What should I do when my UK visa is refused?

The first thing that we recommend, if you haven’t approached qualified immigration experts yet, is that you do it on the occasion of getting a refusal letter. The refusal letter from the Home Office contains the clearly explained reason why you have been refused.

The reason determines what you should do next:

  • If the mistakes you made are not too serious, you may set things right with the help of your legal expert and re-apply.
  • If for the time being you do not qualify for the visa route you wish to obtain, you may try again as soon as all the obstacles are eliminated.
  • If you are sure that you have done right, and it was a mistake of a case worker which led to them refusing the application, you can apply for an administrative review. You may believe us, the Home Office is fully impartial, and you are highly likely to get a positive decision.
  • Finally, as a last resort, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).

The only situation that leaves you with nothing to do is when you have tried to deceive the Home Office or when there is something in your record (e.g. terrorist-related offences) that makes the Home Office ban you from entering the UK for at least 10 years.

Can I recover the fee if I am refused a visa?

No, according to the legislation in force the money that you spend on the fee can’t be recovered. Moreover, if you opted out of applying for an administrative review and decided to re-apply, you will have to pay the fee again.

It is not a good idea to correct the initial application, add documents which have been omitted and apply for an administrative review denying any changes in an attempt to economise. This may result in you being banned for 10 years.

On the other hand, you still might be able to get back some of the money you spent. For example, the immigration health surcharge (IHS), medical insurance fee that every prospective resident is obliged to pay, can be recovered.

What are the common mistakes made by the applicants who have been refused incorrectly because of the Home Office case worker?

As a matter of fact, the most regrettable mistake will be to waste time, especially if to appeal is the only way to set things right. Remember, that once you have received your refusal letter, you only have 14 calendar days to appeal if you have applied in the UK, and 28 days if you have applied outside the UK. Do not throw away the refusal letter or the envelope because you will need the date on a postal stamp.

Besides, unless you are an expert in the British law and the immigration law, you will definitely need help of a qualified legal expert. Professional advisers at Imperial & Legal have necessary knowledge and experience to appeal a UK visa refusal caused by a mistake made by the Home Office.

Do I have to attend the Appeal Court proceedings if I received the refusal letter in my home country?

Since your lawyer will act on your behalf at the proceedings, there is no need for you to come in person.

It is crucial to prepare for the proceedings carefully, so that your lawyer can have all the necessary evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the refusal breaches UK laws regulating human rights. If you need more time to collect the evidence, your lawyer can file a special motion.

You will have to put up with the fact that appeal to the tribunal, preparation of the documents and court proceedings take a lot of time. It might take you up to 3 weeks even to get a tribunal ruling in writing.

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