Truth Legal helps secure British citizenship for a client with excess Covid-19 absences

October 30 2023,

October 30 2023,

Our client, Hera, was a Greek national and had lived in the UK since 2017.  She initially entered the UK under EEA free movement rights before the UK left the EU.  As part of the EU withdrawal agreement Hera had signed up to and was granted Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme as she had been legally resident in the UK for 5 years.

Hera had secure, full-time employment in the UK, she rented her home and lived with her long-term partner, also a Greek national.   Hera easily met most of the requirements for her application for British citizenship; she is of excellent character, passed the Life in the UK Test, and could prove she spoke English to a high level. She’d also lived in the UK without any time restrictions on her status for the required 12 months.

Hera did, however, have a complex element to her application, and this was due to the amount of time she had spent outside of the UK in the 5-year qualifying period prior to the submission of her application.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, the time we all remember too well, Hera ended up unintentionally spending a large amount of time outside of the UK.  Hera struggled to return to the UK due to intense travel restrictions in place during this time.

The residency requirements that applied to Hera were that she was not to have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK in the 5-year qualifying period and no more than 90 days outside of the UK in the 12 months immediately prior to her application.  The Home Office’s policy guidance allows a caseworker to apply discretion automatically for any absences of up to 480 days in this period without the need to address these additional absences.  However, if an applicant has exceeded 480 days absences, then a request for discretion must be made as part of the application.

The Home Office is strict when it comes to an applicant relying on a global pandemic as the reasoning for their absences.  In practice we have found that an applicant must be able to evidence their struggles to return to the UK by way of cancellation of their intended and pre-booked travel arrangements, closure of airports and ports, health conditions and vaccination requirements etc… However, Hera was unable to provide such evidence as she did not attempt to book a flight because she was aware the flight would not be able to depart.

Knowing this, Truth Legal advised Hera to provide news articles and archived country guidance for both the UK and Greece covering the time she spent outside of the UK due to the pandemic.

Hera had initially instructed a different firm to assist her with her application, however, she reached out to Truth Legal in desperate need of our help after being let down by the firm she had been working with for several weeks. Hera was already on a very tight time frame which had just been cut 10 times shorter by being left without representation at the very last minute before she was due to submit her application!  Hera was connected to Olivia Pickering, an experienced paralegal in our immigration team, and Hera was able to submit her entire application and supporting documentation in less than 24 hours with lots of hard work and determination from both Olivia and Hera.  Hera was extremely grateful for the very fast turnaround.  Olivia also spotted some very serious mistakes that had been made with Hera’s previous application which the previous firm had drafted and provided a copy to Hera.  Some of these errors would have had a detrimental effect on the outcome of Hera’s application and would have most likely resulted in Hera receiving a refusal on her application.

Hera received a positive decision just 4 months after enrolling her biometric information!  Given Hera was requesting discretion based on the Covid-19 pandemic this is a very positive outcome and Hera was over the moon.  Hera has left a very honest and appreciative review which can be found on Review Solicitors.

We’ve included the review below for reference:

Exceptional Support from Miss Olivia

A few months ago, I embarked on the journey of applying for British citizenship, only to encounter a distressing setback due to a fraudulent lawyer who mishandled my case. As the application deadline loomed, I found myself lacking the necessary documents and felt trapped in a frustrating predicament.

In my quest for a solution, I stumbled upon Truth Legal Limited solicitors, and when I made that pivotal phone call, fate smiled upon me as Miss Olivia answered. When I laid out the harrowing details of my citizenship application woes, she extended a helping hand without hesitation.

Miss Olivia became my solicitor, and from that moment onward, she went above and beyond the call of duty. Not only did she efficiently complete all the necessary paperwork for my application in an astonishingly brief span of fewer than three days (a stark contrast to my previous lawyer’s month-long fumble), but she also provided unwavering support throughout the process. She didn’t just process my documents; she dedicated herself to addressing my queries, concerns, and worries, ensuring that I could achieve the best possible outcome.

Miss Olivia’s work was nothing short of exceptional. She exhibited remarkable organizational skills and an unparalleled attention to detail. Her diligence and dedication to the minutiae of the application were evident at every turn. I cannot express my gratitude to Miss Olivia sufficiently for her outstanding work, unwavering support, professional excellence, and compassionate nature. She is not just a highly competent legal professional; she is a remarkable person with a heart full of kindness.

I am genuinely overjoyed that I serendipitously discovered Miss Olivia that day; otherwise, I shudder to think of how I would have fared in my naturalization application without her guidance, expertise, and timeliness.

If you have a complex immigration matter that you’d like to discuss with our team of experts, contact us today!

*name changed to maintain confidentiality


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Catherine Reynolds
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