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section 3C leave

December 2, 2021 208

This all sounds rather technical, and it is, but in some cases it is very important. We will try and explain why.

It is crucial to avoid becoming an overstayer. You must submit your visa extension application before your current visa expires.

But suppose, for example, you hold a spouse entry clearance visa which will expire on 28th January and you want to extend your spouse visa. So let’s say that you submit your application on 25th January.

Well, everything seems all right, but what happens at midnight on 28th January when the entry clearance visa expires? Well, nothing really. Because your extension visa application was submitted on time your immigration status is protected, and you keep your status as a spouse, despite the fact that your original visa has now expired. And so you keep all the rights you have as a spouse: the right to work, the right to hold a bank account, the right to rent, and so on.

And even if – as happens sometimes – it takes months and months for the application to be processed you still keep your status as a spouse. You keep your status as a spouse for however long it takes for the application to be processed.

And here comes the technical bit: this protection status comes about because of the operation of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971.

If the application is refused there will be a right of appeal, and if you appeal section 3C leave continues for as long as the appeal process takes.

So well and good, but sometimes things can go wrong. Let’s say, for example, that for some reason a migrant submits their application a few weeks before their original visa is due to expire and the Home Office processes the application more quickly than expected, and let’s say that the decision comes before the visa expiry date.

Well, if the application is successful then probably there is no harm done. But supposing the application is refused? Here there may be a problem, because no section 3C leave is created and the migrant will simply become an overstayer when their leave expires.

The rules about section 3C leave are quite complicated, and this is just a brief glimpse at them.

If you have issues, or think you might have issues, about overstaying and section 3C leave we will be able to advise you accurately and guide you in the right direction.

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