Whether we like it or not, debt in one form or another is a reality for a large majority of people. According to Money Charity, the average total UK household debt is £ 62,706 (including mortgages), and the average credit card debt per household in June 2021 is £ 2,022. We often receive inquiries from potential migrants to the UK who are concerned that unpaid debts from previous periods in the UK could jeopardize their chances of getting a visa. In this article, we’ll explain the implications of debt (including credit cards and personal loans) on visa applications.
Can credit card or personal loan debt affect my visa application?
No, if you have unpaid debts in the form of credit cards or personal loans, there is no reason that this alone will negatively affect your visa application. However, there are some considerations that you may need to take into account. First, for your visa application to be accepted, the eligibility rules may state that you must have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents while you are in the UK. It is normal for you to have unpaid debts as long as you have enough money in your bank to meet this requirement. For example, to get a student visa, the rules state: “You will need to show that you have enough money to support yourself – unless you have been in the UK on a valid visa for at least 12 months. month on the date of your application. The amount of money you need depends on where you will be studying. You will need: £ 1,334 per month (up to 9 months) for courses in London or £ 1,023 per month (up to 9 months) for courses outside London ”.
A related rule is the requirement of proper maintenance for UK family visas. Applicants must prove that they have sufficient monthly income to support their family. When making a decision on a family visa, the UKVI case manager is required to calculate whether there are adequate maintenance funds using a formula that takes into account income and housing costs. Personal debt does not affect this calculation, however. The guide explains that “Personal debt, including loans and credit card debt, should not be factored into this assessment. Only weekly housing costs are deducted from weekly net income ”.
Can NHS debts affect my visa application?
There is a set of general grounds for refusal that apply to all requests for entry authorization, entry authorization or modification of entry or stay authorization in the UK. These are described in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules (Grounds for Refusal), which states that “suitability requirements apply to all routes and must be met in addition to validity and eligibility requirements. “. Section 9.11.1 includes a specific rule covering debts owed to the NHS; “9.11.1. An application for an entry permit, entry permit or residence permit may be refused when a relevant body of the NHS has notified the Secretary of State that the applicant has not paid the fees under relevant NHS regulations regarding fees imposed on foreign visitors and that unpaid fees have a total value of at least £ 500 ”. As such, if you owe more than £ 500 in debt to the NHS on a previous visit to the UK, it can potentially jeopardize your visa application. In this case, we recommend that you ensure that such debt is cleared and that a payment receipt is received before proceeding with a new visa application.
Citizenship applications can also be negatively affected by NHS debt, as the rules on good character (a key requirement for citizenship in the UK) state: ‘A person will not normally be considered of good character if they has unpaid debts to the NHS. in accordance with relevant NHS regulations on fees for foreign visitors ”.
Can Personal Debt Affect UK Citizenship Applications?
The rules of “good character” (a key requirement for British citizenship) have a lot to say on the issue of debt. As we have established, NHS debt can lead to denial of citizenship, but debt, in general, should not, as long as those debts are paid off. The rules of good character on “financial soundness” state: “An application will not normally be refused simply because the person is in debt, especially if the loan repayments have been made as agreed or if acceptable efforts are made to repay the debt. accumulated debts. However, when a person deliberately and recklessly accumulates debts, and there is no evidence of a serious intention to repay them, the application will normally be rejected ”. Therefore, debts that are not repaid risk being a barrier to obtaining citizenship in the UK.
Another consideration is bankruptcy. In some cases, bankruptcy can result in denial of citizenship for lack of “good character”, but not if:
- the bankruptcy order was set aside
- the person was released at least ten years ago
- the person has been declared bankrupt abroad
- the person was involved in a business that was wound up more than ten years ago
Even if the above does not apply, it is still possible to obtain citizenship depending on the circumstances of the bankruptcy. UKVI officers are required to consider several factors, including:
- the extent of the bankruptcy or liquidation
- economic circumstances at the time of the request when considering mitigating circumstances
- to what extent was the person guilty of going bankrupt or of his involvement in the business that went into liquidation?
Debt in some forms can impact immigration applications, but credit card and loan debt that is paid off shouldn’t have an impact. If you are concerned about having debts in any form that could jeopardize your application for a visa, indefinite residence permit or citizenship, it is advisable to speak to an immigration lawyer who can assess your situation before submitting your file. . Where possible, an immigration lawyer will be able to help overcome any possible grounds for denial and ensure that enough supporting documentation is provided to ensure your application is approved.