Daniel is a British citizen. He met Rachel, from the USA in 2009 online. "He had me at 'bats in Honduras," Rachel will say, if asked how their romance started.
Daniel owns and operates his own cleaning business, works at a health-food store as well and does odd-jobs self-employed on the side. Through this effort, he satisfies the income requirement of £18,600 for both the fiancée visa and the subsequent FLR(M) visa to follow, as the partner of a British person.
They applied for the fiancée visa in 2012, but were horrified to receive a letter telling them that it was denied for reasons that even now remain unclear. They enlisted a solicitor and, upon appeal, the visa was granted with the same documentation that was provided as part of the original application. Thinking their troubles were over, they put the event behind them and were married in April 2013.
In June 2013, the couple applied for FLR(M) visa. They used the same solicitor as they had for the fiancée visa, effectively repeating the process. They even used the same accountant to provide evidence of income. Eager to get on with their lives, they opted to pay the extra fees for Premium service.
It didn't go according to plan. Despite having the right to exercise judgement, the officer interviewing them refused to accept the credentials of the accountant who had prepared their Statement of Income and Taxes because it wasn't "certified". They were told that they had ten days to have a "proper" accountant review the financials, obtain payslips (including one which had not yet been received or issued!). They were assured that they still maintained their "priority" status given they had paid for the Premium service.
Frantic, Rachel and Daniel called every accounting firm in the town they live in, searching for someone who would be willing to complete the daunting task of reviewing two years of financials in 10 days. Thankfully, there was someone benevolent enough to take on the challenge. This certified accountant, upon interviewing was puzzled as to why the officer had rejected their documentation, saying “The way your accountant did this is exactly the same way that any accountant would prepare your documents. Accountants do not know Immigration law”. This certified accountant pointed out that even the guidance information for the visa didn't state that they had to be prepared any differently.
Frustrated but grateful the accountant did his best to address the concerns of the officer, they mailed back the requested documentation seven days later. Then the waiting started; they heard nothing, saw nothing, until a month later when a letter arrived through the post, informing them their “outstanding” documentation was received, and that the fiancée visa was effective until a decision was made.
The couple believe the complexity arises because Daniel has three sources of income and UK Home Office does not even flirt with the same rules HMRC does in calculating income. All of this is made worse by the Home Office treating self-employment income almost like it's not legitimate earnings by requiring documentation that doesn't even exist to prove that it is "real"!
Three months after application, the couple who paid for Premium service have still not heard anything from the Home Office about their application.
At the end of October 2013, Daniel and Rachel received a letter from the Home Office. Despite the fact that they have provided clear evidence to show Daniel earns over £18,600, the Home Office has said their application is on hold indefinitely, because they do not meet the financial requirements of an annual salary of £18,600. The Home Office was however generous enough to offer Rachel the option of withdrawing her application and losing her application fees.
This couple is now stuck in limbo only because the Home Office does not appear to have staff who can read an Accountant’s Statement of Income.
They will be working with their solicitor to see how best to proceed with this. Home Office rather than actually reading the documents submitted, thought it easier to put them in the ‘delay’ pile.
Daniel is reasonably confident the courts will stand by their original verdict in regards to the Income Requirement ruling and at least, while their application is on hold the couple gets to remain together as it was an in-country application. However it’s very frustrating for Rachel to not be able to do anything or go anywhere; to be unable to make any sort of contribution to society or even partake in any activity.
Daniel and Rachel were put on hold for not meeting the income requirements according to the Home Office, despite HMRC, Certified Public Accountants and bank statements showing otherwise, pending the result of the MM case.
Rachel and Daniel grew increasingly worried as the days, weeks, and months passed without any word. After that awful Court of Appeal judgment on the MM case, the couple was prepared for the worst and had begun the process to re-settle in the USA.
Much to their surprise however, in October 2014, they learned that Rachel's visa had been approved (begging the question why the MM case was used as an excuse to put their application on hold pending the judgment given the lack of relevance). It couldn't have come at a better time, as the couple are also expecting the birth of their first child.