UK VISA SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS (WHAT IS EVIDENTIAL FLEXIBILITY?)

When we researched the most common reasons for a visa refusal, issues with supporting documents was one of the biggest reasons cited.

In fact, asking for help with UK visa supporting documents is one our our most frequently asked questions.

So it’s understandable if you’re concerned about preparing your UK visa supporting documents, especially under the new Points-based System where many things are new. But you should also know that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) caseworkers can apply ‘evidential flexibility‘ to your application if something isn’t quite right.

Evidential flexibility doesn’t replace the requirement for properly preparing your supporting documents in the first place, but it is a safety net that can give you a second opportunity to submit a compliant set of UK visa supporting documents.

In this post, you’ll discover the answers to:

Before you get started, why not keep yourself up to date with the latest UK visa and travel developments by joining the Help with my visa! mailing list?

We’ll send you 2-4 emails per month with links to useful resources, interviews with visa and travel professionals and business updates so you can keep on top of your next UK visa application.

Just fill out the form opposite and we’ll add you to our list. 

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Before you get started, why not keep yourself up to date with the latest UK visa and travel developments by joining the Help with my visa! mailing list?

We’ll send you 2-4 emails per month with links to useful resources, interviews with visa and travel professionals and business updates so you can keep on top of your next UK visa application.

Just fill out the form below and we’ll add you to our list. 

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What is 'evidential flexibility'?

uk visa supporting documents evidential flexibility

UKVI caseworkers can use evidential flexibility when some part of your UK visa supporting documents isn’t quite right.

In this case, the UKVI caseworker will contact you (or your sponsor or third-party representative) to ask for further information.

‘Further information’ could be for you to clarify some aspect of your UK visa application, or it could be to provide a supporting document that is required but is missing or incomplete.

You’re given a timeframe to reply with the required information – in-country this is 10 working days – and you can submit the requested information digitally or by post.

Why is evidential flexibility applied?

uk visa supporting documents evidential flexibility

Evidential flexibility is applied where your UK visa application isn’t 100% correct but instead of straight-up refusing your application, you’re given the opportunity to clarify or correct it.

For example, meeting the financial requirements can be done several ways, such as providing your own bank statements, the bank statements of a partner or sponsor, a letter of sponsorship from a third-party, other savings you may have access to and more.

It’s your responsibility to provide the required supporting documents, however it’s UKVI’s responsibility to assess whether, on a balance of probabilities, the supporting documents you provide meet the immigration rules. In the above example, if your financial documents aren’t quite right, evidential flexibility can be used to clarify or seek further information.

In its guidance document on evidential flexibility, UKVI states that evidential flexibility can be used:

"...if it appears that the applicant has made an error with, or omitted, supporting evidence, or further information or verification of evidence is needed to make a decision, [caseworkers] should normally provide an opportunity for the additional information to be provided."

UK Visas and Immigration

A simple example of evidential flexibility could be where you provided bank statements but with missing pages, or where you provided an employment letter that doesn’t specify all the required information the UKVI caseworker needs to make a decision.

Information that’s unclear – such as a date in the incorrect format – may also be queried under evidential flexibility.

To sum up, if the UKVI caseworker believes you’ve made a simply omission or mistake in your UK visa application that you can fix easily, they’ll likely apply evidential flexibility.

When isn't evidential flexibility applied?

uk visa supporting documents evidential flexibility

Evidential flexibility isn’t applied in all cases where a supporting document is missing or unclear.

If you completely fail to provide a required document – or based on what you have provided, asking for more supporting documents from you would make no difference to a refusal decision – the UKVI caseworker is likely to simply refused your UK visa application.

The examples UKVI gives are if you provide bank statements or evidence of financial sponsorship that simply don’t meet the financial requirements, they don’t have to use evidential flexibility to give you another opportunity to provide more evidence.

Put simply, if your UK visa supporting documents don’t meet the requirements, you won’t be given the opportunity to use different documents to prove that you do.

Similarly, if evidential flexibility could be used, but because you’ve failed to meet another part of the visa requirements (such as failing a background check on your immigration history), you won’t be given the chance to provide more supporting documents under evidential flexibility as it won’t affect the visa decision.

What do I need to do if I'm contacted about my UK visa supporting documents under evidential flexibility?

uk visa supporting documents evidential flexibility

If the UKVI caseworker applies evidential flexibility, they’ll contact either you directly or your representative, sponsor or other third-party. So if you used an immigration advisor to prepare your UK visa application, UKVI will contact them; if the evidential flexibility query relates to your sponsor, UKVI will contact them.

You’ll usually be contacted by email, but may be contacted by telephone as well.

You’ll be given 10 working days to provide the requested information, which you can do by email or post.

Thirteen calendar days after contacting you, UKVI will make a visa decision based on what supporting documents they have. Given the caseworker wrote to you under evidential flexibility, this decision is almost certain to be a visa refusal.

So if you’re contacted to provide more information under evidential flexibility, you should address it immediately – especially if you need to get the requested information from a third-party.

How do I get help making sure my UK visa supporting documents are correct before I submit my visa application?

uk visa supporting documents evidential flexibility

While evidential flexibility is a useful safety net, it’s no replacement for submitting a fully compliant UK visa application in the first place.

There are three ways you can do this.

Firstly, you can make sure you 100% understand the UK visa supporting documents required for your visa application and prepare everything yourself.

Many people choose this route as it’s the cheapest option, but if you’ve never made this type of visa application before, you’re unsure of any aspect of your visa application or you simply don’t want to risk a visa refusal, you can use a professional immigration advisor to assist. 

The second way to prepare a fully compliant UK visa application is to appoint an immigration advisor to thoroughly check the supporting documents you’ve already prepared.

In this ‘application checking service’, a registered professional will check everything you’ve prepared and provide you with a written report on what’s missing or what needs changing. It’s a great way to get extra peace of mind that your application is correct.

Finally, the third way is to appoint an immigration advisor to provide you with a full immigration advice and application preparation service.

This is a ‘done-for-you’ service, where you’ll get professional assistance every step of the way.

Your immigration advisor will tell you exactly what supporting documents you need to prepare (and what information they need to contain) and they’ll complete your visa application forms for you.

They’ll schedule an appointment for you at your chosen visa application centre to finalise your UK visa application, and will upload all of your supporting documents to the visa application portal.

If the UKVI caseworker has any questions under evidential flexibility, the immigration advisor will handle this on your behalf and tell you precisely what you need to do in clear English.

While a full immigration advice service is the most expensive way of making sure your UK visa application is correctly prepared, it does mean you have everything done for you by a professional and can get answers to any questions you have at any point in the visa application process.

So if you simply cannot risk making a mistake with your visa application – or just want it handled for you – this is an excellent option.

Appoint a regulated immigration advisor on Help with my visa!

If you’d like to use an immigration advisor for either an application checking service or full immigration advice service, you can do this online within 3 minutes on Help with my visa!

What’s more, when you buy a full immigration advice service through Help with my visa! we’ll guarantee you get a UK visa or we’ll refund you 100% of the fees you’ve paid us (terms and conditions apply.)

We’re a marketplace for immigration advice services and we list the services offered by immigration advisors we’ve vetted for their regulatory compliance, financial stability and excellent level of customer service.

All prices are transparently displayed so you know exactly how much each service costs, with no hidden extras. This saves you from calling around immigration advisors during office hours to get quotes and compare offerings as we’ve already done all of that for you.

When you’re ready to use an immigration advisor, just click on the service you want below and we’ll take you to a full list of all immigration advisors and services we offer. You can then choose the service that’s right for you and book and securely pay for an appointment online.

All services are fully COVID-19 compliant and typically take place remotely using a combination of telephone, video conferencing and email. 

Full immigration advice service

Get professional assistance preparing your UK visa application by appointing a fully vetted immigration advisor

Application checking service

Get your UK visa supporting documents checked for compliance by a professional immigration advisor
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