RFL03 - General grounds for refusals
This is internal guidance for use by entry clearance staff on the handling of refusals for visa applications made outside the United Kingdom (UK). It is a live document under constant review and is for information only.
On this page
RFL3.1 What are the General Grounds for Refusal (GGFR)?
Paragraph 320 and Section S-EC: Suitability entry clearance of the Rules sets out a number of general grounds for refusal.
Mandatory grounds for refusal are set out in paragraphs 320 (1) - (7) and S-EC.1.2 to 1.7.
Discretionary grounds for refusal are set out in paragraphs 320 (8) - 20 S-EC.2.2 to 2.5.
RFL3.2 When are GGFR used?
In addition to the Rules governing the category applied for, the ECO should also consider whether the application falls under any of the general grounds for refusal.
RFL3.3 What if there are exceptional, compelling circumstances?
As with any application, an ECO needs to consider if there are any human rights grounds (in particular the right to family life under Article 8), or any exceptional, compelling circumstances which would justify the issue of an entry clearance. If there are exceptional, compelling circumstances the application must be referred to the Referred Cases Unit (RCU) for a decision to be made outside of the Rules.
Where no such exceptional, compelling circumstances exist, the grounds set out in 320 (1) - (7) and S-EC.1.2. to 1.7. are mandatory grounds for refusal. The grounds set out in paragraphs 320 (8) - (20) and S-EC.2.2 to 2.5.are discretionary.
ECMs are required to review all refusals under 320 (7A), (7B) and (11) and to ensure that their ECM review is recorded on Proviso and on the Documentation Verification Report (DVR) / Documentation Examination Report (DER) (a copy of these documents can be downloaded under 'Related documents' on the right of this page).
RFL3.4 Table summarising GGFR relevant to visa applications
This table summarises the paragraphs of 320 and S-EC of Appendix FM relevant to visa applications.
|Grounds where entry clearance must be refused||Refer before decision?|
|(1)||Entry is being sought for a purpose not covered by the Rules.||No|
|(2)(a) and S-EC.1.3.||Applicant is subject of a Deportation Order.
|(2)(b) and S-EC.1.4. (a)||Criminality: Custodial Sentence: 4 years' or more||Yes - ECM|
|(2)(c) and S-EC.1.4.(b)||Criminality: Custodial Sentence: 12 months to under 4 years'||Yes - ECM|
|(2)(d) and S-EC.1.4.(c)||Criminality: Custodial Sentence: less than 12 months||Yes - ECM|
|(3)||Failure to produce a valid passport.
|(6)||SoS directs that exclusion is conducive to the public good.||No|
|(7A)||False representations have been made or false documents have been submitted (whether or not material to the application, whether or not to the applicant's knowledge and irrespective of the applicant's age or the category of visa sought), or material facts have not been disclosed. ECOs should also consider whether para 320 (11) is applicable.||Yes - ECM|
The applicant has previously breached the UK's immigration laws by overstaying; breaching a condition attached to his leave; being an illegal entrant; using deception in a visa application, leave to enter or remain (whether successful or not), unless the applicant:
For the purpose of paragraph 320(7B) of the Rules 'removal decision' means:
|Yes - ECM|
|Grounds where entry clearance should normally be refused||Refer before decision?|
|(8A)||Where person is outside UK and fails to supply documents or medical report.||No|
|(9)||Failing to meet the requirements as a returning resident.||No|
|(10)||Failing to produce a valid passport or travel document.||No|
An applicant should normally be refused for 'contriving in a significant way to undermine the intentions of the Immigration Rules.' This is where an applicant has previously:
but only where there are aggravating circumstances, such as absconding, not meeting temporary admission/report restrictions/bail conditions, using an assumed identities or multiple identities, switching nationalities, making frivolous applications or not complying with the re-documentation process.
|Yes - ECM|
|(13)||Failure to satisfy the ECO that he will be admitted to another country after a stay in the UK.||No|
|(14)||Refusal by a sponsor to give notice in writing that they will maintain and accommodate an applicant.||No|
|(15)||Whether or not to the holder's knowledge, making false representations or failing to disclose any material fact for the purpose of obtaining an immigration employment document.||No|
||No written consent given by parents/legal guardian to a visa application made by a child under 18.||No|
|(18A) and S-EC.2.5.(a)||Within the 12 months preceding the date of the application, the person has been convicted of or admitted an offence for which they received a non-custodial sentence or other out of court disposal that is recorded on their criminal record||Yes - for all high-profile cases and when the ECM decides that it is necessary, to ECO Support, Visa Services Directorate|
|(18B) and S-EC.2.5.(b)||. the person's offending has caused serious harm; or
. the person is a persistent offender who showed a particular disregard for the law
|Yes - for all high - profile cases and when the ECM decides that it is necessary, to ECO Support, Visa Services Directorate|
|(19)||The Immigration Officer deems the exclusion of the person from the United Kingdom to be conducive to the public good; for example, because of the persons conduct (including convictions which do not fall within paragraph 320 (2), character, associations or other reasons which make it undesirable to grant them leave to enter||Yes - for all high-profile cases and when the ECM decides that it is necessary, to their regional operations manager or regional director.|
RFL3.5 What are the refusal wordings?
When a case is refused under paragraph 320, it is vital that the ECO also considers the application under the category of application applied for, and not just under the 320 Rules. (This however does not apply to refusals under 320 (1), (2A) or (6)). If an ECO only refuses under paragraph 320 and an appeal is allowed, entry clearance will have to be issued as the ECO cannot then consider the substantive application.
RFL3.6 Are there appeal rights for GGFR?
Paragraphs 320 (1)-(6): there is a limited right of appeal
Paragraphs 320 (7A)-(7B): appeal rights depend on the category of application
Paragraphs 320 (8)-(20): appeal rights depend on the category of application
Section S-EC.1.2. to 1.7. and S-EC.2.2 to 2.5.: there is a full right of appeal