Yet another round of new application forms was published last week by the Home Office, all with effect from 01 July 2014. The affected categories are applications for travel documents, settlement applications on account of long residence, PBS dependants, and applications from Turkish working or business people and their families. The frequency of publication of new editions of forms seems to be rapidly on the increase. Take for example the latest iteration of the SET(LR) for long residence applications based on ten years continuous lawful residence. The previous version of this form was published only four weeks previously on 02 June 2014.
Whilst each round of new forms often only brings with it minor changes to the substance of the forms themselves, the frequency of publication of new versions can have serious consequences for any well-prepared applicants who have downloaded and completed their forms some time in advance of when their visa application is made.
The majority of application forms published for use in Immigration Rules applications state on their front page that in accordance with paragraph 34 of the Immigration Rules, this is a specified form.
An application is ‘specified’ if it is published on the Home Office website, the form is marked ‘specified’ for the purpose of the Immigration Rules, and it comes into force on the date specified on the form and/or in any accompanying announcement.
If a form has been superseded by a more recent version, paragraph 34C of the Immigration Rules makes it clear that such an application will be invalid and not considered. Invalidation leads to an application and supporting documents simply being returned without substantive consideration. Failure to use an in-date application form can therefore have drastic consequences for anyone making what would otherwise have been a successful application either shortly before or after the expiry of their leave to remain.
Some slight relief from the rapid publication of new forms can be found in paragraph 34I of the Immigration Rules which states:
34I. Where an application or claim is made no more than 21 days after the date on which a form is specified under the immigration rules and on a form that was permitted for such application or claim immediately prior to the date of such specification, the application or claim shall be deemed to have been made on the specified form.
Therefore, if an applicant has completed and submitted the previous version of a form which has, unbeknownst to them, since been superseded, some comfort can be found in the fact that for 21 days after the date specified on the new form, the old version will continue to be accepted. Further guidance on this topic, including scenarios in which discretion can be exercised by the Home Office, can be found in the Home Office’s 76-page guidance document ‘Specified application forms and procedures.’
The new forms published on 01 July 2014 are:
- Application for Home Office travel document: form TD112 BRP
- Application to settle in UK: form SET(LR) (Indefinite leave to remain in the UK on the basis of long residence)
- Form to apply to extend stay in the UK and get a biometric immigration document as a Tier 1, 2 or 5 dependant.
- Application to extend stay in UK: form ECAA 1 Turkish working person
- Application to extend stay in UK: form ECAA2 Turkish businessperson
- Application to extend UK visa as family of Turkish person: form ECAA3