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UK visa categories 2013

So far in 2013, we have seen changes in UK immigration reflecting the current government’s policy of reducing migration. The following is an up to date summary of some of the key UK visa categories that may be relevant to actuaries;

Tier 2 (General)
This is the main category for UK employers to recruit overseas employees.

The employer will need to demonstrate that they have carried out a standard recruitment search or “Resident Labour Market Test” before offering the position to an overseas employee. In 2012 certain actuarial occupations (especially in life assurance, general insurance, and health and care sectors) were exempt from this “Resident Labour Market Test” being seen as acute shortage occupations. However, in April 2013 the UK Border Agency removed these actuarial occupations from the shortage list.

Actuarial employers have a variety of different options open to them to advertise in meeting the “Resident Labour Market Test”. This can include using a recruitment agency, advertising on their company website or through external job-boards.

UK employers who do not have a sponsorship licence cannot look to recruit employees to work for them on Tier 2 (General) visas.
Employers who possess a sponsorship licence can request an increased allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship. This is especially important if the employer has already allocated all available Certificates of Sponsorship and still wishes to recruit further employees.

Tier 1 – Post Study Work visas
This visa category was closed to new applicants in April 2012.

Those who possess existing Post Study Work visas can still remain and work in the UK throughout the validity of their visa (up to 2 years in most cases)

Tier 1 (General) / HSMP visas
These visa categories are now closed to new applicants. Those currently in the UK on these visas can extend their stay and later apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Both extension applications and ILR applicants are points tested based on age, qualifications, earnings etc. This points test would be the same as that in operation when the applicant first applied – to ensure that the points for earnings have not diminished.

Tier 1 General and HSMP visa holders possess the freedom to work on a self-employed or employed basis.

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
Citizens of the following countries are eligible for this 2 year visa; Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Monaco and Taiwan. South Korea has now been added to this list. Applicants must be between 18 and 30 (i.e. not have reached their 31st birthday) when they apply.

It is not possible to switch from this visa to another work visa category while in the UK. The applicant would need to return to their home country to submit a fresh application.

Ancestral visas
If you have a UK-born grandparent and you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country such as Australia or Canada, then this visa can allow you to work in the UK and later to obtain settlement. The visa is issued for 5 years. A sponsoring employer is not required and the visa holder has freedom to work on a self-employed or employed basis.

EEA Nationals and Spouses
Although EEA nationals do not require a visa to work in the UK, their non EEA spouses do.

If you are married or in a civil partner / unmarried partner relationship with an EEA national, then contact us regarding moving to the UK.

Business Entry
The UK permits business visitors to enter the UK for up to 6 months.
Permitted business activities would include attending meetings, selling goods or services, agreeing contracts etc. However, this is very different from permission to work in the UK

Our UK Visa Application Service:
At this stage, we just need you to complete this quick registration form on our website;

This should give us all the information we need to give you the correct advice.

We can then review in full and get back to you.

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It is now nearly 12 months since comprehensive changes were introduced by the UK government to the criteria for spouses and partners of UK citizens and of those settled in the UK.

These changes introduced on 9 July 2012 affect husbands, wives, unmarried partners, civil partners and fiancés.

As well as extending the probationary period for settlement from 2 to 5 years, the new rules introduced stringent new financial maintenance requirements.

12 months on, and many applicants are struggling to meet the requirements and many families have been separated as a result. A recent report by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration condemned the “anguish” caused by the new rules.

However, the new rules seem set to remain in one shape or another. An immediate reduction in family visas of 16% is the first indication that these rules will help the government to meets its target of reducing net migration.

So, how does one meet the financial requirement? Currently, this can be met through income or savings (or a combination of the two).

In short – an annual income of GBP 18,600 is needed by the UK sponsor or total savings of GBP 62,500 (held either by the UK sponsor or applicant). These amounts are increased if children are to be included.

But the new rules are incredibly complicated and the documentary evidence to support an application needs to be almost perfect – case officers are rejecting applications without asking for clarification.

Income can be met through employment, self-employment, pension, investment, property rental.

Savings can be met through “cash funds” held in a bank account or similar.

The following are some of the main issues that arise;

* What sources of income and savings can be combined together? For instance employment and pension income can be combined but self-employment and savings cannot be combined.

* The rules have introduced a new formula for using savings to top up an income shortfall.

* The rules differ greatly depending on whether the applicant and / or sponsor are in the UK or outside the UK

* Applicants outside the UK can only rely on the employed income of the UK sponsor but pension income can be from either party.

* Applicants employed outside the UK must have an offer of employment in the UK. Self-employed applicants must show an intention to continue self-employment.

* Only savings held in cash funds can be counted – property equity, shares and stocks are all irrelevant. Savings must be held for 6 months.

* The specified evidence for self-employment and employment is very difficult to meet and many applicants (especially outside the UK) struggle to satisfy the requirements.

We are seeing many applicants coming to us who have been refused and are trying to submit an appeal. The reality is that an appeal is difficult unless you can show that the case officer made a basic error (which does happen of course).

It really is vital to prepare an application thoroughly and well in advance. We advise applicants to contact us early in their plans to move to the UK.

These new rules are complex and applications need to fit in exactly with one of the permitted categories for financial maintenance. The new approach is very different from the previous more flexible system that was in place before July 2012.

If you need assistance on any aspect of UK migration, then please feel free to contact us through our website;

* Our free Online Assessment Form

* United Kingdom info page with the migration news


With the new migration program year (2013-2014) starting on 1st July 2013 the Australian Department of Immigration has confirmed that there will be no major change in the planned migration intake.

The Immigration Minister has stated that Australia’s migration program would be maintained at 190,000 places “to help fill skills shortages and reunite Australian families”.

This is likely to see a continued focus on state sponsored migrants in the skilled migration categories

Since the launch of the SkillSelect application system 12 months ago, state sponsored migration has now become a very important component of the migration program.

Indeed from July 2012 to May 2013, nearly 8,000 nominations for permanent residence (visa subclass 190) were made by state / territory governments. The most popular states for nomination were New South Wales, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia.

For the same period, over 18,000 applicants were invited to apply for Independent migration (visa subclass 189) by SkillSelect.

The Pass Marks for both Independent and State Sponsored migration has remained constant at 60 points. State Sponsored migrants can receive 5 or 10 points to reach the required 60 points.

The most popular occupations currently being processed include Accountants, ICT Professionals, Engineers, Nurses and Teachers.

The most popular countries of origin for skilled migrants are;
India, UK, China, Pakistan, the Philippines, Iran, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Ireland, Bangladesh, South Africa, USA.

The SkillSelect system has been able to impose “occupation ceilings” – i.e. to limit the number of invitations that can be issued from an occupation group.

In the migration year, 2012-2013 the following occupation groups reached their “occupation ceiling”;

Chemical and Materials Engineers
ICT Business & System Analysts
Electronic Engineers
Telecommunications Engineering Professionals
Other Engineering Professionals
Software and Application Programmers.

The new migration program on July 1st allows all these occupations to become eligible again.

Also, on July 1st all state / territory governments will release their updated occupation lists for state sponsorship. These lists are crucial for many applicants who do not qualify for Independent migration. State sponsorship is now a major route of entry and this trend is likely to continue.

Another development to take effect on July 1st is a change in the Federal Skilled Occupation list with some occupations now being removed. These are; Hospital Pharmacist, Retail Pharmacist, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics), Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical), and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures).

Would you like to migrate to Australia in 2013-2104? What visa subclass is best for you? How does the new migration program affect you?

If you are interested in applying for migration to Australia, then please contact us so that we can check your eligibility.

* Our free Online Assessment Form

* Australia info page with the migration news