NEWSLETTER No. 40 – September 2012
UK – 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
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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NEW 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!
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