NEWSLETTER No. 37 – November 2011

UNITED KINGDOM – IMPORTANT COURT CASE ON SPOUSE / PARTNER VISAS

In a major blow to the government’s immigration policy – the UK Supreme Court has struck down the restriction on spouses / partners aged less than 21 years being able to settle in the UK.

This was introduced in 2008 by the previous government in a bid to cut down on “forced marriages”. However, the rules also discriminated against legitimate couples aged over 18 but under 21 who wished to settle in the UK to join a spouse / partner.
The rules applied to married spouses, civil partners, fiancés and unmarried partners applying under UK immigration law.

This court case was an obvious result of such legislation – it just took some time for a test case to be decided by the courts. The court said that the rule was unjustified because it interfered with the human rights of couples. While the intention to cut down on “forced marriage” may have been a good idea, the implementation of this restriction was far too wide-ranging.

The Home Office has now agreed to change the relevant section of the Immigration Rules.

2012 is also likely to see major changes to the requirements on spouses / partners moving to the UK. This is following the recent consultation on family migration. Proposed changes may include; increasing the probationary period for spouses from 2 to 5 years, more rigorous assessment of relationships, introducing minimum income requirements.

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

AUSTRALIA – PROPOSED JULY 2012 CHANGES

A senior Australian immigration official has outlined the framework of a new selection model, which they hope to implement by July 2012.

The idea that more radical changes are to be introduced will likely annoy migrants still getting used to the current system.

The new initiative to streamline skilled migration to the benefit of Australia is the introduction of “SkillSelect” – from 1 July 2012.

SkillSelect will be a new skilled migrant selection register which will still include the point tests system and will allow selection of skilled migrants from a pool of prospective migrants. It will be based on a two-stage process whereby prospective migrants first submit an expression of interest and may subsequently be invited by the department to make a skilled migration visa application.

Employers will also have the option to access SkillSelect —allowing them to locate and contact prospective migrants that have shown an interest in employer sponsorship.

However, the new system will also allow immigration to impose occupation-specific Pass Marks instead of the current Pass Mark which applies to all occupations. So, where applications in a specific occupation are oversubscribed or undersubscribed, an occupation specific Pass Mark will be implemented.

This is a radical change from the current system, where migrants are able to assess themselves against a fixed Pass Mark. It seems that these new proposals require a lot more thought to ensure Australia can still remain attractive to skilled migrants and that forward planning for potential applicants can still be undertaken.

These changes will not apply to anyone who has already applied or who will apply, to the Department of Immigration before July 2012.

If you are looking to apply for Australian residence before these changes may affect you, then please contact us so that we can check your eligibility.

If you are interested in moving to Australia, then please complete the Online Assessment form on our website so we can see if you qualify on the current system

EEA APPLICATIONS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OF BRITISH CITIZENS

While many British citizens rely on UK immigration law in sponsoring family members to join them in the UK, its needs to be remembered that EEA law can also be used by British citizens.

This is especially so, where the British citizen has been living in another EEA member state.

There are many advantages to applying under EEA law as opposed to UK immigration law. Firstly, the definition of a Family Member is wider (for instance including parents). There is no requirement for an EEA Family Member to complete an English language test. Also, the application process can be quicker.

If you are a British citizen having difficulty in sponsoring a Family Member under UK immigration law, then please contact us so we can see if an application under EEA law would be possible.

This includes children, spouses, unmarried partners, parents etc..

EEA law has specific criteria for “Family Members” and “Extended Family Members”. The definitions that cover these relationships do not necessarily follow the same definitions as under UK immigration law.

We have extensive experience in EEA applications, please visit our dedicated EEA webpage and obtain your free EEA guide;

* EEA info page with free Guide on EEA applications

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