NEWSLETTER No. 40 – September 2012

NEWSLETTER No. 40 – September 2012

Immigration consultants UKUK – NEW VISA RULES FOR SPOUSES AND PARTNERS

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

UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)EEA – NEW REGULATIONS AND NEW APPLICATION FORMS

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.

Children

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;

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

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

Commonwealth ImmigrationKEEP UP TO DATE THROUGH OUR
IMMIGRATION BLOG
– UPDATED FREQUENTLY

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

AUSTRALIA – NEW LOWER PASS MARK

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 

EEA2 Family Permit UK visasNEW  EUROPEAN ECONOMIC NATIONALS (EEA) 
FREE EEA GUIDE

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!

Regards
Tim McMahon
Commonwealth Immigration
www.commonwealthimmigration.com


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

New UK visa rules for spouses and partners

Effective 9 July, new rules will be 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 will be increased from 2 to 5 years. Some of the key points include;

introducing a new minimum income threshold of £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; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child;

publishing, in casework guidance, a list of factors associated with genuine and non-genuine relationships, to help UK Border Agency caseworkers to focus on these issues;

extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses andpartners 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;

from October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt;

allowing adult and elderly dependants to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor;

and restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published on 11 May 2012, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.

NEWSLETTER No. 39 – May 2012

AUSTRALIA – NEW VISA SUBCLASSES

In preparation for the launch of the new system on 1 July 2012, the new visa subclasses that will be available under the SkillSelect Expression of Interest (EOI) have been announced. These are;

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

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

Subclass 489 – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (Class SP)
Business Skills visa program
You can also express interest in the following visa programs on your EOI to be selected by an employer;
Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (Class EN)
Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Scheme (RSMS) (Class RN)
Subclass 457 – Temporary Business (Long Stay) (Class UC)

You can express interest in a range of skilled migration programs in one EOI.

The old visa subclasses of 175, 176 and 475 will be closed for all new applications on 1 July 2012.

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.

Australia info page;

www.commonwealthimmigration.com/australia.htm

UK – TIER 2 VISA CHANGES

The annual limit on the Tier 2 (General) sponsorship certificates was renewed on 6 April 2012 and will remain at the previous level of 20,700 sponsorship certificates per year.

In the previous year, this annual quota was not reached, so we anticipate that employers will still be able to sponsor overseas workers by requesting additional sponsorship certificates if needed.

20,700 will also be the annual limit for the year, starting in April 2013. In April 2014, the UK Home Office plans to introduce a new annual limit.

However, the government plans to increase the skills threshold from 14 June 2012 for Tier 2 (General) visas.

This will result in a reduced number of occupations eligible for Tier 2 sponsorship. In summary, the skills threshold is to be increased from National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 4 to level 6.

A new shorter list of occupations available for Tier 2 is effective from 14 June 2012.

UK – MAINTENANCE FUNDS CHANGES

Applicant should be aware of a change in maintenance funds for Tier 1 (General) and Tier 2 (General) visa categories from 14 June 2012.

The amount of maintenance funds for applicants and dependents will increase after that date. The following are the new amounts that UK based applicants will need to show in maintenance funds

Tier 1 (General) applicant £900

Tier 1 (General) dependant £600

Tier 2 (General) applicant £900

Tier 2 (General) dependant £600
Remember, this new amount needs to held in a bank account for 3 months, if applying anytime after 14 June 2012. This applies to new applications and extension applications.

Please make sure that you are meeting this maintenance funds requirement well in advance of your application.

UK – BORDER DELAYS AND COMPUTER SYSTEMS CRASHES

The last few weeks have seen much media coverage of lengthy queues at airports as the UK Border Force struggles to handle the numbers of passengers passing through immigration.

The situation has been particularly bad at London Heathrow airport with reports of some passengers taking up to 3 hours to pass through immigration.

The Immigration Minister, Damian Green was forced to make an emergency statement to parliament to explain the delays and reassure the public that the delays would be rectified. Apparently a new rota system will begin in May and the Minister stated that all border control desks would be fully manned during the London Olympic Games, which start on 27 July.

Equally worrying are the major issues the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is experiencing in processing visa applications. Repeated IT problems have been reported through the UKBA website in the last few weeks. Everything came to a head on the first week of May when the foreign national ID card computer system crashed.

This is the key computer system which is used for issuing biometric residence permits to foreign nationals.

This is likely to lead to delays in processing for all applicants as the shutdown and backlog are addressed.

UK info page;

http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/united_kingdom_uk.htm

 

Migration to United Kingdom – a range of different immigration UK visa options

LATEST IMMIGRATION NEWS – UNITED KINGDOM
(as published in our newsletters)

UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)March 2012 – FOCUS ON
 – UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Overview

We have many years experience in assisting migrants to obtain UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) visas, also known as settlement or permanent residence.

The normal qualifying period to obtain ILR is 5 years. However if one is married to a British citizen, then the qualifying period is 2 years. However, not every visa category is counted as “qualifying” for ILR. For instance, time spent in the UK on a Working Holiday visa or a student visa does not count.

The following visa categories DO count towards the 5 year qualifying period;

Tier 1 (General)

Tier 2 (General)

Work permit

Tier 1 (Investor)

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

Ancestral visa

Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)

You can obtain your qualifying 5 years by living in the UK on one of these visas or a combination of these visas. However, applicants need to note that EEA visas and residence cards cannot be used in combination with any of the above categories to apply for ILR.

EEA visas and residence cards can lead to permanent residence in their own right under EEA law but not ILR through UK immigration.

Absences in the 5 Years

The main residence requirement 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.

New guidance has been issued to UK Border Agency case officers in April 2011 on calculating the continuous period in the UK and permitted absences.

The guidance states that discretion can be used where absences are for up to 3 months for a single absence or total absences of up to 6 months. The UK Border Agency can look at longer absences where these were for;

“compelling grounds either of a compassionate nature of for reasons related to the applicant’s employment or business in the UK”.

As detailed in their guidance, the case officer will want to see that;

“the applicant has clearly continued to be based in the UK“

Proof of employment, self-employment throughout the 5 years

The applicant needs to provide evidence to show that they were employed or self-employed in the UK or otherwise resident here in accordance with the terms of their visa.

So, for instance, Ancestral visa holders need to show that they have been working or self-employed in the UK throughout the qualifying 5 years – i.e. that the visa holder complied with the terms of their visa throughout the 5 years.

This previously was a very flexible requirement. However it is now being viewed much more strictly by the UK Border Agency.

Applicants need to be diligent in compiling as much material as possible throughout the 5 years. Many applicants may need assistance in this situation especially where a previous employer is no longer trading or in providing the correct proof of self-employment.

Applicants married to British citizens do not usually need to show employment or self-employment throughout the qualifying period.

Criminal convictions

In 2011, the government issued much more stringent rules relating to any criminal convictions when applying for ILR.

In short, an applicant cannot have any “unspent convictions” when applying for ILR. 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”.

Life in the UK Test

Unless exempt through age or disability, applicants need to sit the Life in the UK Test. 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”

If you are applying for ILR on the basis of an initial application through the old HSMP visa category, then please contact us so we can see if you need to sit the Life in the UK Test.

Spouses, Partners, Children

Previously, applicants could include their spouse, partners or children on their ILR application. Once declared on the application they would be granted ILR with the main applicant regardless of how long they had lived together.

The rights of dependents changed in 2011, when the government removed the automatic rights of spouses and partners to apply at the same time.

We now have to prove that spouses or partners have been living at the same address as the main applicant for a minimum of 2 years before they can apply for ILR.

2011 changes and future developments

The following are some of the main changes to apply for ILR announced in 2011, and future proposals

Applicants applying for ILR whose current visa is Tier 1 (General) are now points tested. This is a major change from the previous position where applicants just needed to show they were economically active through employment or self-employment. The new system requires the applicants to pass a points test based on age, qualifications and most importantly – recent earnings.

Applicants applying for ILR whose current visa is Tier 2 (General) need to provide specific documents to show that they are being paid at the correct rate of pay for their occupation’s code of practice.

Revised guidance has been published on absences from the UK throughout the qualifying period for ILR.
A recent consultation on family migration has proposed increasing the residence period for ILR for spouses and partners from 2 to 5 years.

Retaining ILR

Once granted, ILR allows the holder to remain indefinitely or permanently in the UK. After living in the UK for another 1 year, the applicant may be eligible to obtain UK citizenship.

The main requirement to retain ILR is to continue living in the UK.

Any absences of more than 2 years at any one time outside of the UK, can result in one’s ILR being revoked.

Our ILR service

We have many years experience in securing ILR for our clients. The process can be complicated and is not granted easily by the UK government – it does, after all, allow permanent residence and is a very important step on the route to British citizenship.

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 visa 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;

* 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.


UK Immigration and ResidencyUNITED KINGDOM – IMMIGRATION QUOTA INTRODUCED 

July 2010 – The UK government have announced that they are pressing ahead with plans to implement a cap or quota on all non-EU economic migrants. This was predicted in our previous newsletter.

This is likely to affect all applications for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas.

A permanent cap is set to be introduced from April 2011. In the meantime, a temporary cap is to be imposed which will see overall numbers between now and April 2011, reduced by 5 %.

The criteria for Tier 1 visas (Highly Skilled workers) has been tightened from July 19th by increasing the points threshold by 5 points.

We therefore advise all applicants and employers to look at applying for such visas, as soon as possible. The announcement of a cap is unprecedented in UK immigration and is likely to lead to an increase in applications.

This may then lead to visas being unavailable until the new visa year commences in April 2011. The new criteria effective from April 2011 may well see further restrictions to ensure an immigration cap is effective.

A review by the Migration Advisory Committee has been launched into the permanent cap. There are a broad range of proposals on how the government should implement a cap and also what the final quota numbers should be.

If you wish to go ahead with a Tier 1 or Tier 2 application, then please contact us so that we can assess your eligibility

UK Immigration and ResidencyUNITED KINGDOM – NEW GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT QUOTA? 

June 2010 – The new UK government took office last month with Damian Green appointed as Minister for Immigration.

The coalition government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats has reached compromise on many issues. However the government has still retained the Conservative idea of a “cap” or quota on numbers, as their main immigration policy.

The following is an extract from the agreed Programme for Government on the subject of immigration;

“The Government believes that immigration has enriched our culture and strengthened our economy, but that it must be controlled so that people have confidence in the system. We also recognise that to ensure cohesion and protect our public services, we need to introduce a cap on immigration and reduce the number of non EU immigrants.”

No timeframe has been indicated for this and it is important to stress that it does not affect EU migrants or migrants in other categories such as spouses, students etc..

However, this may logically result in an annual quota of visas to be granted, in categories such as Tier 1 and Tier 2. Applicants intending to apply in these categories may be advised to start the process sooner rather than later, in case a future quota would work to their detriment.

In any event, new figures show that net migration to the UK is set to drop below 100,000 a year. This of course is a key target of the new government – the aim of reducing the level to “tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands”.

New official immigration figures show that more eastern European migrants (from the 2004 Accession countries such as Poland) are leaving than arriving.

The annual citizenship figures for 2009 also published show more than 203,000 people were granted UK citizenship last year.

The overall statistics show a continued decline in net migration to the UK – the number of people coming to work and study minus the number of people leaving to live abroad – to 142,000 in the year to September 2009. This compares with a net migration figure of 160,000 in the previous year to September 2009.


UK Immigration and ResidencyUNITED KINGDOM – TIER 1 VISA CHANGES 

March 2010 – The UK Border Agency has announced an important change in UK immigration that will affect many overseas migrants looking to work in the UK through the Tier 1 visa.

Effective April 2010, the minimum educational requirement for the Tier 1 visa has now been amended from a Masters degree to a Bachelors degree.

The points system has also been amended to change the qualifying criteria for previous earnings.

The Tier 1 visa allows overseas professionals to enter the UK to work or establish themselves as self-employed. Most importantly – this visa does not require a sponsoring employer. It is assessed on a points system with points awarded for age, education, previous earnings etc…

This previous Masters degree requirement affected many overseas migrants who scored well on other assessment criteria but were ineligible for not having a Masters degree. This is a very significant change and will now allow many more overseas migrants to qualify to work in the UK without a sponsoring employer.