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



Complete our form for your free guide:

EEA Guide



The Free Guide on EEA Applications will be emailed to you, containing information on;

– All categories of EEA Applications
– The application process in your country of residence
– Advice and guidance on the documents required to support an application
– How to complete the application forms
– Common mistakes to avoid
– How to deal with the UK government
– How to obtain specialist advice when applying
EXTRA UK settlement advice on; employment, obtaining a National Insurance number, taxation, property, opening a bank account, transferring funds.

Obtain your Free Guide now!

Advice on UK visas, EEA1 Family Permits and EEA2 Residence Cards

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants


We have many years experience in handling applications for UK visas and permits on behalf of EEA nationals and their families (especially non EEA family members).

We submit applications in the UK and at British Embassies and High Commissions all over the world.

This includes applications for EEA Family Permits, EEA Residence Cards, EEA permanent residence and EEA registration certificates.

We have particular experience with many complex situations in such applications.

These include;

– Demonstrating that the EEA national is a ‘qualified person ‘ – a jobseeker, a worker, a self-employed person, a self-sufficient person or a student.

– Including unmarried partners or same sex partners on an EEA Family Permit.

– Changing to EEA family status while in the UK on a different visa.

– Proving sufficient funds are in place to support the relocation.

– Applications to show a genuine marriage exists

– Requesting return of passports for travel.

– Obtaining permanent residence and then British citizenship for EEA nationals and their family members.

It is important to remember that the UK government can be very strict in reviewing EEA applications, as these are under European Union rules and not derived from UK law. Many applicants are refused for poor quality documents or for incomplete applications. Many applications are refused because they have not demonstrated that the marriage or relationship is genuine.

The EEA (European Economic Area) consists of the EU (European Union) and 3 other countries. The following countries are members of the EEA (European Economic Area);
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Although Switzerland is not a member of the EEA, Swiss citizens and their families are included in this, due to a separate agreement signed with the EEA.

So, who is a Family Member? This definition is different under EU law than through normal UK immigration. A Family Member includes; spouses, civil partners; unmarried partners, children under the age of 21, dependent children aged 21.

It can also include other direct relatives who can show they are dependent such as parents and grandparents.

However, the rules vary for different Family Members. Spouses (married or civil partners) are treated differently from unmarried partners or same sex unmarried partners. It is vital to plan such applications accordingly.

EEA Family Permits – these are for non-EEA family members looking to move to the UK with the EEA national. This includes spouses, partners, same-sex partners, children and other dependants. This has to be applied for outside the UK – usually at the nearest UK Embassy or High Commission.

EEA 1 Registration Certificates – this is an application by the EEA national to prove their status in the UK. Although this is not mandatory, this can be of benefit in seeking to bring non EEA family members to the UK.

EEA 2 Residence Cards – after the family member has arrived in the UK, this is the process allowing them to apply to stay. This process involves demonstrating the family relationship and the employment / self-employment of the EEA national. This category has a relatively high rate of refusal – especially for applicants who have arrived on an EEA Family Permit. It is vital to remember that this is a fresh application and new updated evidence is required. It is not the same as simply extending an EEA Family Permit.

EEA 3 and EEA 4 Permanent Residence
EU law provides a right for EEA nationals and their family members to attain permanent residence after 5 years.

This is not the same as UK Indefinite Leave to Remain – instead an application under EU law for permanent residence is assessed under different criteria.

It is vital for the applicant to be able to show that he / she has lived and worked (or exercised another Treaty right) for the last 5 years. These applications can be complex and require extensive preparation.

Contact us

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants Ltd.

based in London and Cambridge

Tel. +44 (0) 1223 830 916
Email: info@commonwealthimmigration.com



NEWSLETTER No. 40 – September 2012

NEWSLETTER No. 40 – September 2012


We are now seeing the impact of new rules that have been implemented for those applying for UK visas as spouses, partners and fiancees.

Tougher new financial requirements need to be met, including minimum levels of income or savings. The new rules seem to remove much of the inbuilt flexibility currently in the “maintenance” tests.

Also, the probationary period for those in this category has been increased from 2 to 5 years. Some of the key points include;

introducing a new minimum income threshold of GBP 18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; GBP 22,400 for one child and an additional GBP 2,400 for each further child;

much more rigorous assessment to identify genuine and non-genuine relationships

extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to “test the genuineness of the relationship”

abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least 4 years, and requiring them to complete a 5 year probationary period

Summary – Applicants thinking of applying for such visas, need to plan very carefully in advance of submitting an application. In particular, the new financial requirements are very tough.

The documentary evidence to support the new financial requirements are extensive and detailed. The guidance makes it clear that applications can only be approved if the correct documentary evidence in the right format is provided.

* United Kingdom info page with the latest migration news


The UK government have introduced new EEA Regulations –which govern the rights of EEA nationals and their families to enter and live in the UK.

Accordingly, new application forms with additional sections have been introduced as well.

The new Regulations set out some detailed changes following some important cases in the European Court of Justice.

There are new rights of residence established for certain categories (such as carers and children).

However, a major restriction seems to be introduced for those who are dual nationals – an EEA citizen and also a UK citizen.

The UK Border Agency are maintaining that EEA rights are not applicable to an EEA national who has never exercised his right of free movement, who has always resided in a Member State of which he is a national and who is also a national of another Member State. We remain to see exactly how this will be enforced but it could impact on many applicants.

Do you need assistance with an EEA application ?

If so, please complete this quick registration form on our website;

* Our free Online Assessment Form

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.

Focus on UK Citizenship / Naturalisation

We have many years experience in assisting migrants to obtain UK Citizenship, also known as Naturalisation.

There are several different routes to obtaining citizenship, however the normal route is through residence in the UK. In most cases, applicants should already have obtained UK permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain (ILR). The normal qualifying period to obtain ILR is 5 years. However if one is married to a UK citizen, then the qualifying period has been 2 years (this has now been changed for recent applicants).

For those who have obtained ILR through 5 years residence, they are then required to live in the UK for a further 1 year before being eligible to apply for UK citizenship.

Those married to UK citizens can apply for citizenship straightaway after securing ILR, without waiting for a further 1 year. However such applicants do need to have been in the UK for 3 years in total before applying.

EEA applicants for UK citizenship

Citizens of EEA Member States and their family members follow a different path to UK citizenship. Such applicants do not apply for ILR in the UK.

Instead, they can apply for UK permanent residence through EEA law. This, however, is not 100 % mandatory but it can help a citizenship application.

Either way, EEA applicants and their family members need to be living in the UK for 6 years in total. The first 5 years are to be granted permanent residence or to be deemed eligible for permanent residence. Then, the remaining 1 year is required between permanent residence and UK citizenship.

Many EEA applicants have difficulty in proving their UK residence. As visas are not required for such applicants, a large amount of documentation needs to be provided to fully demonstrate the applicant’s residence in the UK.

For each qualifying year, the applicant needs to demonstrate residence in the UK while exercising EU Treaty Rights.

Absences from the UK in the qualifying period

The main residence requirement for citizenship is that the applicant has been living in the UK throughout the qualifying period. All absences from the UK need to be declared in the application. The UK Border Agency will of course disregard short absences for annual leave every year or for business trips.

However, to be sure of satisfying the residence requirements for citizenship, you should not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months. Additionally the total number of day’s absence for the whole 5 year period should not exceed 450.

If you are married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen the total number of day’s absence for the whole 3 year period should not exceed 270.

There is discretion to disregard absences in excess of the limits however such decisions need to be taken by a senior case officer.

The official guidance issued to UK Border Agency case officers clearly states;

“The main purposes of the residence requirements are to allow an applicant to demonstrate close links with, and commitment to, the United Kingdom, and to enable the Home Secretary to assess the strength of that commitment and the applicant’s suitability on other grounds (e.g. character).”

The guidance also states that on reviewing absences the discretion should be considered;

“only when we are satisfied that applicants have genuinely thrown in their lot with the United Kingdom and meet the other requirements.”

Applicants should obtain specialist advice if applying though such discretion on excess absences. A careful presentation on absences and mitigating circumstances would need to be made.

Good Character

In December 2007, the government announced tougher rules relating to any criminal convictions when applying for UK citizenship.

In short, if an applicant has any “unspent convictions” when applying for citizenship the application will normally be refused. Most convictions become “spent” after a set period of time passes. This has proved a major hindrance for many applicants who may only have been convicted of a minor offence.

Please contact us, in strictest confidence, if you wish to see if a criminal conviction is seen as “unspent” and when it can be “spent”.

Also, the UK Border Agency may conduct checks into an applicant’s financial background to see that they pay tax and National Insurance.

All civil proceedings resulting in a court order or any bankruptcy proceedings also need to be declared.

Life in the UK Test

Unless exempt through age or disability, applicants need to sit the Life in the UK Test before applying for UK citizenship. This is available at centres throughout the UK and is designed to test applicants’ knowledge of UK society, history, politics and government.

The test is not seen as particularly onerous – however applicants should take some time to prepare and read the recommended text book on “Life in the UK”.

Recent legislative change on those born abroad to British born mothers

New citizenship rules were introduced in January 2010 to applicants who were born abroad to British born mothers.

These changes, introduced through the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, mainly affect those born outside the UK to British mothers before 1961. Such individuals can now apply for registration as “British citizens by descent”.

This redresses the anomaly in the system which allowed those born to British born fathers to apply for citizenship but not those born to British born mothers.

These applications can take some time to be processed. Although applied for in the UK, applicants in this category do not have to be resident in the UK or travel to the UK.

Dual citizenship

The UK government does not require you to give up your present citizenship or nationality to become a UK citizen. Under UK law, you are permitted to retain dual nationality and carry a UK passport and the passport of another country.

However, many countries will not let you have dual nationality. If you become a UK citizen and you are also a citizen of a country which does not allow dual nationality, the government of that country may either regard you as having lost that nationality or may refuse to recognise your new nationality.

This is something that many applicants are unaware of and do not check this beforehand. If you are in any doubt before you apply for UK citizenship you should check the position with your country’s Embassy.


There are many different routes for children to apply for registration as UK citizens. This is separate to the usual residence requirements for adults.

Children may be eligible to apply for registration in the following circumstances;

· Children born to a parent who has obtained ILR or permanent residence

· Children born abroad to parents who are British by descent and who are now living in the United Kingdom

· Children born before 1 July 2006 whose father is a British citizen but not married to their mother

· Children adopted abroad by parents who are British citizens

· where it is considered to be in the child’s best interests to be granted British citizenship

Please contact us if you have a child who you wish to be assessed for UK citizenship. The rules relating to children are complex and have been subject to many changes. Different criteria often apply depending on the child’s date of birth and the relevant legislation in force at that time.

Approval of UK Citizenship

Successful applicants for UK citizenship receive a Certificate of Citizenship which then allows them to apply for a UK passport. Citizenship can only be removed in exceptional circumstances where fraud is uncovered in an application.

Of course one of the main benefits to UK citizenship is that the holder is able to live and work freely throughout Europe in accordance with EEA regulations.

Our UK citizenship service

We have many years experience in securing UK citizenship for our clients. The process can be complicated and is not granted easily by the UK government – it does, after all, allow you to “become British” and receive the full protection rights and privileges of a UK passport.

We can handle the whole application from start to finish. The service includes everything from pre-application advice, document review, completing forms, covering letter, drafting your personal statement, submission to the authorities and bringing to a successful conclusion. This continues throughout the whole process until your citizenship is approved.

You will only deal with one dedicated immigration adviser to provide you with a focused one to one service.

Our success rate is second to none and we can provide numerous verifiable references from satisfied clients for you to review and inspect.

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.

Commonwealth ImmigrationKEEP UP TO DATE THROUGH OUR

BLOG  http://immigration-newsletter.blogspot.com


Following the launch of the new Skill Select system on 1 July 2012, a reduction in the Skilled Migration Pass Mark from 65 to 60 points has also been announced.

This applies to the following main categories of entry;

Subclass 189 Skilled – Independent (Permanent) (Class SI)

Subclass 190 Skilled – Sponsored (Permanent) (Class SK)

Subclass 489 – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (Class SP)

Any reduction in the Pass Mark is of course a welcome measure. This will open up the possibility of migrating to Australia for those who previously didn’t qualify.

Applicants still need to be aware that in order to submit an application, they need to pass a skill assessment in their occupation and meet other requirements, such as age, experience and English language ability.

SkillSelect is a radical new selection model for skilled migrants. If you are interested in applying for Australian residence, then please contact us so that we can check your eligibility.

We can advise you on your ability to qualify through the new SkillSelect process.

Our free Online Assessment Form

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.

* Australia info page with the latest migration news

Teaching Australia Immigration and VisaFREE e-book  TEACHING IN AUSTRALIA

Are you a Teacher looking to work or study in Australia? Then you should visit www.teaching-australia.com 


Please see our dedicated webpage on all EEA applications – EEA Family Permits, Residence Cards, Permanent Residence.

You can also obtain your FREE EEA GUIDE (emailed directly to you) providing detailed information on making applications, supporting documents and specialist advice.

See our EEA webpage at

* EEA info page with free Guide on EEA applications

We hope that this newsletter has been informative for you.  However, remember everyone’s circumstances are different so if you or a friend or family member want to check your eligibility to emigrate then either

1) complete the Online Assessment form on our website www.commonwealthimmigration.com or
2) give us a call on +44 (0) 1223 830 916

We would love to hear from you!

Tim McMahon
Commonwealth Immigration

NEWSLETTER – Subscribe to keep updated!

We are sending a newsletter on a periodic basis to update you on new developments and changes in all matters relating to migration.

Please feel free to forward the newsletter on to your friends and family. Newsletter will be archived on our web site as well.

Subscribe to our newsletter at info@commonwealthimmigration.com 

  UK spouse / partner visas

  Australia spouse / partner visas

  UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
  UK Citizenship / Naturalisation

  Australia Permanent Residence
  Australia State Sponsored visas

OISC, UK visa, immigration services

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants
UK Government Registered Immigration Consultants No. F200100020

Member of the Association of Regulated Immigration Advisers (ARIA)
Affiliate Member of the Australian Institute of Migration

ILPA, Immigration Law Practitioners' Association

ILPA – Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association