Curtailment of leave is when an individual’s permission to enter or stay in the UK is shortened by the Home Office. Receiving a curtailment notice can be hugely concerning, particularly if you were planning to remain in the UK right up until the end of your original permission expiry date.
How is a visa curtailed or cancelled?
Curtailment/cancellation of a visa is done via a curtailment letter issued by the Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)). The letter advises you that your permission to stay in the UK has been withdrawn, why it has been decided and when it takes effect.
The letter is usually sent to your postal address or your legal representatives. Alternatively, it can be sent via email. A curtailment decision can be served ‘on file’ if the Home Office is not able to make contact with you at your last known address. Therefore, it is paramount that you keep the Home Office up to date with any changes of address.
When does the curtailment or cancellation take effect?
In December 2020 the term “curtailment” was changed to “cancellation” under Part 9 of the Immigration Rules (grounds for refusal), but the same principles still apply. In contrast, if someone’s visa is cancelled immediately, the migrant will have no leave remaining from the point of cancellation. Whereas, if the visa is curtailed, their permission will end at a future date (normally 60 days from the date of the curtailment letter).
The curtailment date will be decided by the caseworker and will be specified in your curtailment letter.
Why is a visa curtailed or cancelled?
Visas can be curtailed or cancelled based on discretionary grounds or mandatory grounds (as outlined in the Immigration Rules).
Curtailment can occur for many reasons and in some cases, it can be due to more than one reason.
Typically, curtailment or cancellation will be due to you either breaching a condition of your visa or due to your circumstances changing and therefore you are no longer eligible for your visa.
For example, under the Immigration Rules (Part 9), a Skilled Worker’s visa can be cancelled (curtailed) if they stop working for their sponsor.
How is a curtailment or cancellation decision made?
UKVI caseworkers have a wide range of statutory powers which allow for curtailment of an individual’s visa. These powers are accompanied by the Home Office’s guidance on when leave should be curtailed and when discretion should be used.
In the case of criminal activity, where for example you received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, your visa must be cancelled (mandatory ground). However, if your sentence was less than 12 months or non-custodial, the UKVI caseworker can use their discretion on the outcome (discretionary ground). Careful consideration must be given to the individual’s circumstances and if the caseworker requires further information, to use their discretion, it is key that you cooperate. Failure to do so can result in curtailment of your leave.
What should I do if I receive a curtailment letter but want to remain in the UK?
You should immediately seek legal advice, even if you have just been asked to provide further information.
If you have been given a specified period of remaining permission (usually 60 days), you then have two main options:
- Make arrangements to leave the UK within the specified time period
- Apply for further permission to stay; you may be able to switch to a new visa category, for example if the reasons for the decision were outside your control
In some cases, you may be able to challenge the decision and if you believe an error was made by the caseworker, you can make a written ‘error correction’ request.
If you wish to remain in the UK, a curtailment letter can be hugely worrying, and it is paramount that you seek legal advice from an immigration specialist in the first instance. If your visa has been curtailed, you may be able to look at the possibility of submitting an alternative application for further permission to stay.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm, with extensive experience. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with a curtailment letter or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!