Article 50 – what EU citizens need to know

In response to many calls and emails from EU citizens worried about their status after Article 50 has been invoked today, we have put together a brief summary on what this means.

Article 50 has not changed the law. The rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK are still the exact same. Only a change in the EU Treaties can amend the rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK. This is likely to be a very lengthy process, which needs to be agreed by all EU member states.

EU citizens can still enter the UK to work, to study, to set up a business or to reside as self-sufficient persons. After 5 years in the UK they can look to apply for the right to permanent residence.

The right to reside also extends to family members of EU citizens (including non EU citizens).

Obviously the process of the UK withdrawing from the EU has now formally begun. This means the UK will leave by March 2019.

What shape the post-Brexit UK will take is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps, a transitional deal to continue to allow free movement will continue for a period of up to 5 years. However, EU citizens and their families should be prepared for a so called “hard Brexit” which would mean that after March 2019, the right to reside in the UK (and to work, study, run a business) would require some documentation.

At the moment, there are 2 types of documents open to EU citizens and their families.

Firstly, permanent residence can be applied for after five continuous years of possession of the right of residence. This means being a “Qualified Person” for 5 years such as a Worker, Self employed person, Jobseeker, Student, Self-sufficient person. Family Members of EU citizens can also apply for permanent residence.

Secondly, an EU citizen currently in the UK can look to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate to confirm that he / she is exercising an EU Treaty Right. This would include employment, self-employment, studying or self-sufficient persons.

This Registration Certificate confirms that the applicant is currently living in the UK and is lawfully exercising an EU Treaty Right. This is usually not a very complicated application – the applicant just needs to show they are currently exercising an EU Treaty Right and not that they have being do so for any set period of months or years.

Please note – it is not at all mandatory to apply for a Registration Certificate but if there is a future cut-off date where EU free movement to the UK is stopped, then this document could prove very useful to confirm the EU national is already resident in the UK under EU law.

If you have any enquiries on applying for EEA documents then please email us on info@commonwealthimmigration.com

Immigration Update March 2017- UK and Australia

UK – Immigration Update

EEA permanent residence applications

In the last few months the numbers of EU / EEA citizens living in the UK applying for permanent residence has dramatically increased. The UK Home Secretary has mentioned that post-Brexit, that EEA citizens will require some type of documentation to continue to reside in the UK.

Many applicants are looking to apply soon in case restrictions are introduced in relation to employment etc.

The increase in applications has led to a new online application system and a new service called the “European Passport Return Service” (EPRS)

This allows the applicant to instruct a local council to witness their original passport, requiring only the witnessed copy to be submitted to the Home Office. The applicant can then retain their own passport for travel during the application process.

The EPRS service has now been expanded to include family members applying at the same time.

The Home Office have also started to issue confirmation of the date on which the applicant is deemed to have acquired permanent residence in the approval letter to the applicant.

This is a welcome development as it will allow applicants to then know when they can apply for British citizenship. This will be one year after the date confirmed in the Home Office letter and not necessarily the date on the PR document (applicants married to or in a civil partnership with British citizens do not need to wait this one extra year).

Up to now applicants have been in the confusing position of being able to provide 6 or more year’s evidence of being a qualified person and then hoping that this was all accepted by the Home Office in recording their date of acquiring permanent residence.

Furthermore, some EU citizens may well have an older status marked as “Indefinite Leave to Remain” (ILR) in an expired passport or through a Home Office letter. This status can still be valid of the applicant has remained living in the UK. The Home Office are now starting to accept historic ILR stamps as being equivalent to permanent residence, thereby allowing the applicant to apply for citizenship.

Permanent residence can be applied for after five continuous years of possession of the right of residence. This means being a “Qualified Person” for 5 years such as a Worker, Self employed person, Jobseeker, Student, Self-sufficient person.

Those who have not lived in the UK for 5 years are being advised to consider applying for EEA Registration Certificates, which can confirm that the holder is currently living in the UK legally in accordance with EU law. This may well prove important in time to come.

Please note the exact evidence to support your status as a Qualified Person will vary from person to person. We deal with EEA Permanent Residence and Registration Certificate applications regularly so please contact us if you wish to discuss making an application.

English language rules changing in May 2017

Spouse / Partner applicants applying to extend their UK visas from 1 May 2017 onwards must now meet a higher English language level.

Currently, applicants only need to prove their English language ability through an approved test at level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

This will change in May when applicants applying to extend their UK spouse / partner visas must pass a test at the higher A2 level.

Applicants who are from a majority English speaking country or who have passed a degree qualification through English can still meet the English requirement without having to sit the test. Those over the age of 65 are also exempt from the test.

Please note – the new English test only applies to spouse / partner applicants looking to extend their visas in the UK. Those applying for entry clearance from overseas will still need to meet the lower A1 level.

28 day rule abolished

The Home Office have changed the Immigration Rules to prevent applicants applying for further leave in the UK even though their current visa had expired by up to 28 days.

This concession was introduced a few years ago and in effect it allowed an applicant to overstay their visa and still make a new valid application in the UK within 28 days of the visa expiring. This 28 day exemption did not need to be justified or explained.

This has now been replaced by a new grace period of up to 14 days provided;

“there is a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative, given in or with the application, why an in time application could not be made”

No guidance has been issued on what constitutes a good reason but one would expect this would include illness or other compelling circumstances.

This is now a crucial practical point for all applications submitted in the UK – you need to submit an in-time application (unless you have a “good reason” not to) or else your application will be returned as invalid.

UK Supreme Court – MM case

The recent Supreme Court case in the MM case has now finally clarified the legal position of the financial requirements for spouses / partners in the Immigration Rules (Appendix FM).

The court has held that the £18,600 minimum income requirement is lawful in principle and does comply with the relevant human rights obligations of the UK government.

This means the general principle of the minimum income is here to stay.

However, the court did find that Appendix FM did not contain sufficient provision to consider the position of children in spouse/partner visa applications. Currently the government is failing in its legal duty to have due regard to children’s best interests as a primary consideration in immigration decisions.

The judges also ruled that, where the financial requirements are not met, further consideration should be given to alternative sources of income in spouse / partner applications. This might include support from another family member, the prospects of the applicant to find gainful employment in the UK etc.

We now wait to hear from the Home Office as they consider the ruling and make sufficient amendments to take into account the court’s judgement.

Australia – Western Australia

Migrants looking to move to Western Australia might need to pause their plans temporarily as the state government have announced a review of their state skilled migration occupation list.

We anticipate that this will reopen in time for the new financial year in Australia – 1 July 2017. In the meantime, applicants might want to consider other states in Australia who are actively competing for skilled migrants.

South Australia, Queensland and Victoria in particular are continuing to offer state sponsorship for numerous occupations leading to permanent residence.

Australia – parent visa changes ahead?

A new Parent Class visa is earmarked to be introduced in Australia in July 2017 following the launch of a detailed consultation.

This will be a new temporary sponsored parent visa. The temporary sponsored parent visa will allow Australians to sponsor their parents to stay in Australia for up to five years.

This would be very different from the current Contributory Parent visa which leads to permanent residence.

The temporary visa wouldn’t be part of Australia’s annual permanent migration stream.

Visa holders would be able to stay in the country for up to five years before renewal.

The government says the visa would be available for periods of one, three or five years, depending on the capacity of the Australian citizen to support their parent, the health and age of the applicant, and the length the applicant desires.

No price has been set yet for the visa, but the government has said it will be “more affordable” than current parent visa options such as the expensive processing fees of the Contributory Parent visa.

However, applicants would need to have private medical insurance to cover themselves while in Australia.

For those planning to use the current Contributory Parent scheme ahead of the anticipated significant increase in fees you still have time to prepare and submit an application.

Australia – new Skilled Occupation List for July 2017

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for subclasses 189 and 190 (permanent residence) is being reviewed by the Department of Immigration.

Each year a number of occupations are removed and added to the SOL which takes effect on 1 July. Last year 9 occupations were removed and 2 occupations added.

The current review has flagged 52 of the 183 occupations for possible removal. These include popular occupations for many migrants such as Engineers (in certain fields), Accountants, Actuaries, and Surveyors.

Generally, occupations are flagged when there is emerging evidence of excess supply in the labour market in the medium-to-long term

Applicants intending to migrate to Australia should consider seeking advice as to starting an application if they are currently eligible.

Our service in applying for UK visas and Australian residence

We have many years experience in securing UK visas and Australian permanent residence for our clients.

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 government and bringing to a successful conclusion. This continues throughout the whole process until your application 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;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/assesment_form.html

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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