Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Founding of Refugee Aid: Foundations of Refugee Aid UK

The Founding of Refugee Aid: Foundations of Refugee Aid UK: About Us Refugee aid is an independent non governmental organisation registered in England and Wales and set up to be run by refugees for...

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


19 June 2007


Interview Questions:

The Interview questions are based on feedback from many applicants over last 5 years, they will not be the same on every situation, they are to be taken as a rough guide only, everyone has a story, and all applicants’ circumstances are different, if you follow the advice given, there is no reason why a visa will not be granted.

Opening Questions:

Your Full name Please?
Do you speak English Fluently?
In what language do you wish to be interviewed in?
Please tell me right away if you do not understand anything
Are you fit and well to be interviewed today?
Who completed your application form? (she may say her husband/partner helped)
Are you satisfied that all your answers in the application form are correct?
Visa Related Questions
Is this your first application for a UK Visa?
Have you ever applied for a visa to another country?
Have you ever been refused a visa?
Is this your first visit overseas?
Is this your first and only passport?
How long do you intend to stay in the United Kingdom?
Why do you want to go to the UK?
I suppose if I grant you a visa, you will be looking forward to a good life in the UK?
Would you still have married your husband if you could not live in the UK?
What will you do if this visa is refused?

Meeting Questions:

When did you first meet your husband?
How did you meet your husband?
Did you stay with him when you met?
So how long did you live with him or stay with him?
Did he write or call you, How have you communicated?
When did you receive your first letter from him or how long have you been chatting?
Do you have any photos to show me?
When did your husband propose to you?
Did you ask your husband to marry you?

Family Question:

Has either of you been married before?
Do you have any children?
Does your husband have any children from a previous relationship?
Where are your children now?
Does your husband support them?
So if we granted you a visa today, and you fly to UK and live with your husband, what will happen to your children?
Do you have any relatives in the UK?

Occupation Questions:

What qualifications do you have?
What work experience do you have?
Have you ever worked overseas before?
Accommodation Questions
Where do you live?
Where will you live?
Do you know if it’s ok for your husband to have a second person living in his home?
Why should you live in the UK?
When did you decide to live in the UK?
Did you agree to marry your husband only if you could live in the UK?

Financial Questions :

What does your husband do for a job?
Do you know how much money he earns?
Does he send you any money for your expenses?
How much does he send and how often does he send it?
Do you think that your husband is capable of taking good care of you and your children (if any)
Does your husband support England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland or Wales National Soccer teams? ( wrong answer: Scotland, N Ireland or Wales)

General Questions:

What religion is your husband?
What are your husbands hobbies what does he do in his spare time?
What do you have in common with each other?
Why did you marry him? (“to get out of Kenya” - bad answer!)
What do you like most about him? (“The size of his bank balance?” - bad answer!)
What are the real reasons that you married him? (Please don't say for Sex!!!)
How do you feel about the differences in your cultures? (Well he does not like my food and says it stinks!!!)
Have you understood all the questions
Do you have anything else to add?
Who is the Captain of the England Football Team?
Who are the top strikers for the England National Football Squad?
Can you name all the six wives in order of King Henry the 8th ( 1491-1547) (Ha! They don't really ask these last three questions, so relax, it is not that tough!!)

Now, questions like "why did you marry him?" I don’t have to point out to you, that if you said this "Just to get a visa to get me to the UK" you would almost certainly be refused a visa, however I know you are all more intelligent than that, I am just demonstrating the obvious to you.

You must understand that there is a serious side to the interview, it’s designed to test the "Real Reasons for marriage" or the real reasons for wanting to come to UK and get married, and whether such a relationship will subsist, and (this means whether it will have a reasonable chance of lasting. Its also designed to see if your relationship is a "better life chance - style marriage"

Sometimes the interview process is over within 10 minutes if the ECO believes you have proven that you should be granted admission to the United Kingdom, so try and relax and have a laugh about the whole thing, in a few weeks, you will wonder what all the fuss was about

You want to know what a typical Visa Interview sounds like?

Applicants can for the first time see for themselves how a typical interview is conducted and the likely structure of the interview, this interview is an actual genuine interview conducted at the British Embassy during June of 2005, the applicants name has been removed for privacy and confidentiality, after you have read this transcript, we will discuss the question and answer styles of an Entry Clearance Officer and how visa decisions are made.


ECO: Hello Mrs xxxxxx I understand you have applied in your Maiden name, did you complete this application?
App: Yes I did.
ECO: Are you fit and well to be interviewed today?
App: Yes I am.
ECO: Would you prefer the interview to be completed in English
App: English please.
ECO:. Very well..So this is your application, are the answers contained within this document you have submitted correct?
App: Yes they are!
ECO: Can you tell me how you first made contact with your husband?
App: We met at, and then we sent e mails and started chatting every day
ECO: So why were you on the internet?
App: Just looking for a friend!
ECO: Come on, surely you were just looking for a husband to get you out of the Philippines isn't that the case!
App: No that isn’t true, I was looking for a friend, but yes actually a foreign friend
ECO: So really then, you wanted a foreign friend, but really a husband, isn’t that true?
App: No, but I would prefer a foreign husband
ECO: Why is that ? is it because you wanted to get out of the Philippines for a better life ?
App: No I am quite happy in my job here as a xxxx I never thought about it in that sense
ECO: Come on you can do better than that, isn't the real reason for your application , for a better life, you are not saying that you don't want that do you ?
App: Well I'm sure everyone does !, I would be happy if I can take care of my husband, I would be happy if he joins me here in the Philippines.
ECO: Did your husband ever discuss with you about him coming to live with you ?
App: Yes he did, in fact he loves it in the Philippines, but he is worried that he could not support me here
ECO: I see then, so how much does your husband earn ?
App: He earns xxxx but he has not earned the same this year, because he travelled so many times to be with me
ECO: Did you propose marriage to your husband?
App: No he proposed to me on xxxx in xxxxxx
ECO: So if I decide to refuse you a visa today, what are you going to do?
App: I will ask my husband to come and live with me, although he will not be happy as he cannot make the money he makes in UK
ECO: So what attracted you to your husband?
App: His qualities!
ECO: Come on surely you can do better than that; you must be able to tell me why you were attracted to him?
App: Well he is very kind to me, he is loving, and I like his sense of humour, although I have trouble understanding it, but I trust him so much
ECO: So you would say then that really you were looking for a foreign husband, because you have shown that’s what you wanted?
App: Well not necessarily a foreign husband, but a husband with those qualities, I heard British men were like this, nice and kind and gentlemen
ECO: Why does your husband not have a house for you?
App: Because my husband has been divorced, his former wife got the house
ECO: Oh yes I can see the wife got it, so does your husband have a house for you?
App: Yes my husband has a house for me to live in, I will be living in xxxxx and our house is xxxxx xxxx
ECO: Does your husband have any family?
App: Yes his Mother is called xxx and His father is called xxx his sister is xxxxx and his nephew and niece are called xxxxx

ECO Concludes Interview as follows: Mrs xxxx I am satisfied with your application and answers, I am going to grant you a visa, please return at 3pm tomorrow and collect your passport, before you go, were you happy with the style of interview and how you were treated here today

APP: It was satisfactory and I am happy to receive my visa thank you !!

How are Entry Clearance Officers required to conduct themselves and consider the applicant at an interview?


The diplomatic service procedures provide the following guidelines:

If the sponsor accompanies the applicant, they should always be interviewed separately, (although see below)
Treating the applicant fairly
You should be careful and courteous while interviewing an applicant or sponsor.
Some "dos" and "don’ts" for conducting balanced interviews:
Entry Clearance Officers should express questions directly and clearly in terms which the applicant will understand. Take extra care when an interpreter is being used.
Ensure that the applicant is fully aware of those topics which are relevant to the application and will be taken into account in considering the application.
Put to both parties any contradictory statements between the applicant and sponsor or adverse inferences from an applicant or sponsor’s statements and invite their comments.
Entry Clearance officers should avoid:
Steering the applicant to a particular answer.
Using hypothetical situations in questioning.
Question either party about their views on starting a family or about their sex life

Chronology of events in the relationship
o In settlement interviews, you will find it useful to ascertain the sequence of events in the relationship of the couple.
o You should find out when the couple first met;
o if there was an intervening period before the relationship became properly established,
o how long this was;
o when marriage (or engagement) was first discussed; and
o when was the decision to live in the United Kingdom made.
This information provides an important factual base for assessing potential marriages of convenience and the intention to live together. By asking these questions of the applicant and sponsor individually, you will often be able to gauge the attitudes of both parties to their relationship.

Line of questioning:

You will need to question the applicant (and if possible the sponsor) on a number of matters such as:
the applicant’s circumstances and prospects in his or her own country;
whether the applicant has previously attempted to settle overseas;
whether the applicant has any relatives in the United Kingdom;
the background to the decision to marry e.g. discussion between applicant and sponsor or, if appropriate, their respective families; what discussions took place (and between whom) as to future place of residence;
the sponsor’s family circumstances and any previous connection between the families;
The relevance of the sponsor’s residence in the United Kingdom to the marriage.
The above list is not exhaustive but it should give ECOs some idea of the factors which may need to be considered. Obviously it will not be appropriate to question all applicants on all of these factors. Common sense should dictate in each case whether a particular subject is appropriate. The circumstances of an individual applicant may suggest factors which are not listed but which should be considered.

Recording the interview:

It is essential that the actual questions and answers leading up to and including the critical points of an interview are accurately recorded and that the report includes interview notes. These should be typed if possible. You should bear in mind that accuracy is paramount. The report of the interview may be challenged in a public hearing in connection with an appeal against a refusal decision.

Considering the evidence:

What applicants say about their reasons for seeking entry clearance must be of the first importance, although the weight to be given to the various pieces of evidence in any particular case is for an ECO to decide. In some circumstances the views of not only the sponsor but any other parties who may have been instrumental in bringing the applicant and sponsor together may be relevant. It is important that whilst maintaining the paramountcy of the applicant’s intentions, the intentions and evidence of other relevant persons are considered and given their due weight. You are not restricted to considering only such evidence as the applicant chooses to offer. You may make enquiries of your own to balance the evidence which an applicant has In considering the evidence, it may be appropriate for you to defer the application to enable the sponsor to be interviewed by the Immigration Service in the United Kingdom. However, this should only be done in exceptional cases as such enquiries may take a considerable time to complete. ECOs should, where possible, try to reach a decision on the available evidence.If there is a conflict of evidence between the applicant and the sponsor, and it appears that on the applicant’s side there is no intention of living permanently with the sponsor, the applicant will have failed to discharge the onus of proof and the application should be refused. Where such a conflict of evidence does arise it is important, in the interests of natural justice that any discrepancies are put to the applicant and/or sponsor, if appropriate, and the applicant should be asked to account for such discrepancies as may exist.

Reaching the final decision

NOTE: The burden of proof is on the applicant to satisfy the ECO that he or she meets the requirements of the Rules.
In discharging that proof the applicant need only do so "on a balance of probabilities". You should weigh up the evidence before you as a whole, allowing for points both in favour of an applicant as well as any that may go against him. These applications have a right of appeal against the ECO’s decision and an explanatory statement will have to justify a decision to refuse.
Sponsors attendance at Interviews
A consistent approach is needed to ensure that all Posts offer the same advice to sponsors who ask to attend visa interviews. Current policy is that Posts have discretion on whether or not to admit sponsors to interviews. There is no blanket ban on sponsors attending. Equally they have no automatic right to attend. It is preferable to conduct the interview with the applicant alone, seeing the sponsor separately if necessary. ECOs should, therefore, draw on the following when sponsors make such requests.

If a sponsor wants to speak to an ECO it can help to do this separately from the interview with the applicant. This helps ECO's to verify that the information presented by both is consistent;
In considering an application, ECO's must concentrate on the circumstances and intentions of the applicant. Information from (and support of) a sponsor can be very helpful, e.g. when assessing maintenance/accommodation. It should be given full weight, but will rarely impact on the intentions of the applicant; Posts may encounter reluctant applicants (e.g. spouses, fiancé (e) s, and domestic servants). In order not to compromise the confidentiality and safety of such applicants, ECO's usually ask to see them on their own.
Maintaining a standard procedure for all applicants ensures an even handed approach and avoids drawing attention to the cases where reluctance is believed to be a factor.
What are the ingredients of a positive decision to grant a visa?
Balance of Probability!

In my experience and those of many others in the UK who have their partners now happily living with them in the UK, the best way for a successful result, is where the Applicant is:

1. well briefed,
2. properly trained and
3. fully informed and
4. Works in partnership with their British Sponsor
, (this may be done through networking with other couples, joining Forums, and reading relevant material, so when they come face to face with official situations they will always stand a higher chance of getting the required result.)

There is one point that needs to come out, which rarely does, when it comes to trying to get your loved one to come and live in the UK, the husband, is actually more or less pushed out of the loop, and rarely gets a chance to be represented unless the situation goes to an appeal in the UK.
This is frustrating for the sponsor, but there are simply lots of ways that a sponsor can still be involved in the whole process, being in attendance giving support, and briefing and coaching there loved one to be more confident and assertive during interviews certainly goes along way to helping.

What does this mean when we break it down, well it would appear that the institution of marriage cannot be seen as an automatic right of entitlement to admit a foreign national, this is because marriage or the participation in a marriage ceremony has much been miss-used as a means of obtaining a passport to a better life from developing countries, the British government is fully aware that those who seek to leave developing countries, may wish to do so through the better life chances that marriage to a foreign national will bestow on them.

An Entry Clearance Officer will seek to look at 3 areas when making an appreciation of an applicant’s suitability to be admitted to the United Kingdom:
That they will represent no burden on the state and will be privately housed.
That they will be adequately supported without recourse to public funds.
That the evidence shows that the applicant is more than likely to live in the UK as a wife or husband of the sponsor.

The main areas that spring to mind, for visa refusals are always the same, and sponsors in the UK are often to blame for total lack of preparation.


1. The applicant has no information about the intended wedding in the UK (marriage visa applicants only).
2. The Applicant wife/husband or fiancée’ fiancé' has no help or has not been briefed properly about the rules, and how to satisfy the ECO.
3. Lack of documentation, not properly filled out.
4. Failure to show evidence of accommodation and Earnings.
5. The applicants fail to show knowledge of husband's family or knowledge of him as a person.
6. Defaced documents, corrupt passport pages - Faulty Laminate strip on photo page of the passport.
7. NSO Documents incorrect - Lack of correct names for the applicant.
8. Failing to disclose former marriages, local checks required, not having Divorce Decree Absolutes or Annulment papers.

Remember this in all things:

The Key is "Balance of Probability that the applicant and sponsor intend to live as man and wife in the UK.
Balance of probability, is only established through a question and answer session, at the British Overseas mission, quite literally, how the applicant performs, is the key, if she/he is weak and indecisive, and gives out the wrong impression, it can be disastrous, as we all know, the following question is the dagger in the back....
"So you want a better life in the UK then"?
Applicant: Yes..I do.
Hahahahah result...disastrous.
"So I suppose you are looking forward to going to UK for a better life"
Answer..Oh yes I am,
Answers like this are in themselves not unreasonable, I mean who wouldn’t be looking forward to coming to another country for a better life, isn’t it what we all want?
The problem with answering in that way, actually seeks to give the interviewer, who knows little or nothing about your relationship, a one sided prospective, in other words. A negative prospective, unless the applicant can be more assertive and define his/her answers like this.
"So you want to come to UK for a better life then?”
(This is what we call a 'one up the spout question' it’s often asked to see if the applicant will give a one word answer)
The Applicant should answer this way - "I had not thought of that really, my husband wants me to come and live with him, I did of course ask him to come here to the Philippines, he told me that his career is in the UK, and that he doesn’t really want to leave his job, I have my family here in the Philippines, leaving is not going to be easy, but I have discussed it with my husband, and agreed to come with him, I realize, he wants me to take care of him, on that basis I should be with him.
Do you see the difference in the answers, can the applicant modify their answer, in such a way, that it is a concise picture of the applicants true position, not a one word answer that gives little help for the Entry Clearance Officer to understand the applicants motives for wishing to come to the United Kingdom to live.
Or for example “Come on. Surely you can’t expect me to believe after only 3 months that you know this man?”
This question is simply put by an Entry Clearance Officer to test the personal conviction of the applicant, and to put to the test the strength of the applicants own commitment in their relationship with the sponsor, a loving wife/husband would seek to defend their relationship against anyone who would seek to dismiss it as anything other than a passing holiday romance
"Well sir, I put it to you, that I know my husband, I know everything about him, and I love him, its my decision to go and live with him, all I want to do is take care of my husband, I do expect you to believe me, simply because its true, whether I go to the United Kingdom to live or my husband comes here to live, I don't care, either way, it won't stop us being together!”
In this case, I am trying to empathize something here, its not a matter of whether the ECO believes the relationship is genuine, but simply, the Applicant is so assertive in this case her answer, that he thinks she does !!!!
In other words, the applicants answer to the question is strong and has self belief; if she believes it then it must be true.
Here is another example of a loaded weapon style question, here again the Entry Clearance Officer is simply using this question to ensure for his/her peace of mind that the application to live in the UK is not simply the overriding motive behind the application, and that marriage was not a vehicle to a better life, but a genuine marriage, the fact that the sponsor lives in the UK is irrelevant.
So you wanted to marry a foreigner to get you to the you really expect me to believe that you didn’t want that?
This is a very hard question to answer at first, since it seeks to put a suggestion to the Applicant, then it makes the question more personalized, by insisting that the applicant convinces the ECO to change his mind about the applicants intentions.
The question appears to be prejudicial, the ECO for example appears to have made up his or her mind in the question, it appears then that the applicant has to rebut the question to get anywhere, but the question could be easily dismissed in the following manner!
I cannot deny that I was looking to marry a foreigner, because of the qualities I perceived they possess, when I met my husband, he was sweet and kind to me, I immediately fell for his qualities, such as...(you are now being specific, demonstrating a knowledge of your husband), his honesty, his caring attitude, his gentleness, his generosity, yes, I do actually expect you to believe me, because its true, I love my husband, if he could live with me here in this country, my family would prefer that, I know my husband has often talked with me about it, but he does not think he could make a living in the economy, I would be happy to live in either country, no I must admit, I would have preferred to live here in, for example, the Philippines.
Again a similar answer, but the applicant is re-iterating to the ECO that the prospect of a better life chance in a G8 country is not the overriding factor in the relationship, this therefore establishes that coming to the UK to live, is not the primary motive for the application, or the marriage.
This is a favourite tactic of an ECO...they ask questions in the "Surely you are not expecting me to believe???”
This is of course unfair in one sense, since most applicants are not used to confrontational style questioning methods, this sounds very similar to: "Surely you are not asking the jury to believe???” This is standard tactic of lawyers when asking questions of witnesses in much the same way, ECO's ask questions to establish the credibility of the witness in our case the applicant.

Once the Entry Clearance officer has granted you a visa, you may have to call back at the Embassy in the afternoon at 3pm and collect your passport, or your passport will be returned to you the following day, if your interview was completed in the afternoon session.