UK visa categories 2013

So far in 2013, we have seen changes in UK immigration reflecting the current government’s policy of reducing migration. The following is an up to date summary of some of the key UK visa categories that may be relevant to actuaries;

Tier 2 (General)
This is the main category for UK employers to recruit overseas employees.

The employer will need to demonstrate that they have carried out a standard recruitment search or “Resident Labour Market Test” before offering the position to an overseas employee. In 2012 certain actuarial occupations (especially in life assurance, general insurance, and health and care sectors) were exempt from this “Resident Labour Market Test” being seen as acute shortage occupations. However, in April 2013 the UK Border Agency removed these actuarial occupations from the shortage list.

Actuarial employers have a variety of different options open to them to advertise in meeting the “Resident Labour Market Test”. This can include using a recruitment agency, advertising on their company website or through external job-boards.

UK employers who do not have a sponsorship licence cannot look to recruit employees to work for them on Tier 2 (General) visas.
Employers who possess a sponsorship licence can request an increased allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship. This is especially important if the employer has already allocated all available Certificates of Sponsorship and still wishes to recruit further employees.

Tier 1 – Post Study Work visas
This visa category was closed to new applicants in April 2012.

Those who possess existing Post Study Work visas can still remain and work in the UK throughout the validity of their visa (up to 2 years in most cases)

Tier 1 (General) / HSMP visas
These visa categories are now closed to new applicants. Those currently in the UK on these visas can extend their stay and later apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Both extension applications and ILR applicants are points tested based on age, qualifications, earnings etc. This points test would be the same as that in operation when the applicant first applied – to ensure that the points for earnings have not diminished.

Tier 1 General and HSMP visa holders possess the freedom to work on a self-employed or employed basis.

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
Citizens of the following countries are eligible for this 2 year visa; Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Monaco and Taiwan. South Korea has now been added to this list. Applicants must be between 18 and 30 (i.e. not have reached their 31st birthday) when they apply.

It is not possible to switch from this visa to another work visa category while in the UK. The applicant would need to return to their home country to submit a fresh application.

Ancestral visas
If you have a UK-born grandparent and you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country such as Australia or Canada, then this visa can allow you to work in the UK and later to obtain settlement. The visa is issued for 5 years. A sponsoring employer is not required and the visa holder has freedom to work on a self-employed or employed basis.

EEA Nationals and Spouses
Although EEA nationals do not require a visa to work in the UK, their non EEA spouses do.

If you are married or in a civil partner / unmarried partner relationship with an EEA national, then contact us regarding moving to the UK.

Business Entry
The UK permits business visitors to enter the UK for up to 6 months.
Permitted business activities would include attending meetings, selling goods or services, agreeing contracts etc. However, this is very different from permission to work in the UK

Our UK Visa Application Service:
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.

We can then review in full and get back to you.

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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



Australia – Residence visas for Spouses and Partners

Australia – Residence visas for Spouses and Partners

There are several visa categories that can lead to Australian residence based on a relationship with a partner, married spouse, prospective spouse etc.. The following are some of the main categories of entry;

• Partner Visa: Offshore Temporary and Permanent (Subclasses 309 and 100)

• Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)

• Partner temporary visa (subclass 820) and permanent visa (subclass 801)

Spouse visa Partner UK

What Relationships can be included ?

Australia permits many different types of relationships to apply under these categories, including;

Married spouses (same sex or opposite sex)

Defacto spouses (i.e. same sex or opposite sex spouses living together but not married)

Prospective spouses – those who intend to marry in Australia.

In all cases, applicants need to show that there is a genuine and continuing relationship. Many applications are delayed for want of sufficient evidence on this point. Regardless of the length of the relationship, this point is crucial.

Defacto spouses

In order to qualify as a Defacto Spouse (either through a same sex or opposite sex relationship), the applicant and sponsor must show the existence of such a relationship for the 12 months period immediately before the application.

Unfortunately, many applicants are rejected on this point by confusing a defacto relationship with cohabitation for 12 months. Applications are frequently submitted with evidence just showing cohabitation for 12 months and then expecting approval. This approach is not likely to receive approval without more evidence.

Cohabitation for 12 months is just one component of proving a defacto relationship. Unless, you can provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate all the components of a defacto relationship, then there is little point in applying.

Australia is generous compared to many other countries (such as the USA) that only recognise married spouses. However, the evidence required for defacto spouses is not something that is viewed lightly. Each application needs to be carefully assessed to ensure the key components are met.

The content of statements from the sponsor and applicant are crucial, as are those from family and friends. We regularly assist applicants to show that all the key components of a defacto relationship are being met.

Who can sponsor ?

Your application must be sponsored by your partner who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.

Your sponsor can live in Australia or outside Australia. If your sponsor lives outside Australia then he / she should be intending to return to live in Australia with you.

Evidence of employment or other sufficient financial resources is often required from the sponsor.

Criminal Convictions

Australia screens all applicants for spouse / partner residence visas as to whether or not they can meet the “character” requirement.
This requires a full declaration of all criminal convictions, regardless of whenever such convictions occurred.

Applicants also need to provide Police Record Checks for every country one has lived in for 12 months or more over the last 10 years since turning 16

Even if you have criminal convictions Australia can still determine that you meet the character requirement. This really depends on the dates of conviction (s) and most importantly the nature of the conviction.

Applicants need to provide detailed written statements and sometimes character references to support any application in which criminal convictions are declared.

In many cases, applicants with criminal convictions can still be referred to the specialist Visa Applicant Character Consideration Unit (VACCU) for more detailed scrutiny.

Annual quotas in these visa categories

Unlike other countries, Australia operates an annual migration programme, which places quotas on the number of visas that can be issued in any particular category (or subclass). Spouse / partner visa subclasses are subject to this annual quota or cap.
Therefore, every year there is a cap on the number of such visas that can be issued. Recently, the numbers of such visas have been reduced, leading to the situation where processing times are increasing for such applicants.Also, remember the Australian visa year runs from 1 July to 30 June, so as the end of the year approaches the number of available visas can be reduced rapidly.

Typically, these applications can take 4 -6 months from submission for a decision to be made. This timeframe may well change in future months. It is crucial therefore to plan ahead if thinking of moving to Australia with your partner.

Including Dependents

Your partner (which can include opposite, same sex, married or unmarried partners) can include their dependent children on their application.
Children usually need to be living with you and dependent on you.

In cases where children have turned 16, it is often necessary to produce additional evidence to show that they are still dependent.

Our service in applying for Australian spouse and partner visas

We have many years experience in securing Australian residence visas, through the spouse and partner subclasses, 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 statements, 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. We are immigration consultants based in the UK, assisting applicants all over the world.

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.

We can then review in full and get back to you.

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on Australian immigration changes

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

Subscribe to our newsletter online HERE 
or by email at 


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