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.

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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.

* 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


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  UK spouse / partner visas

  Australia spouse / partner visas

  UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
  UK Citizenship / Naturalisation

  Australia Permanent Residence
  Australia State Sponsored visas

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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.

The Canadian “Super visa”

Today the Canadian government announced details of a new “Super visa” for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

This allows applicants to stay for up to 2 years as visitors in Canada without needing to renew their visa.

Obviously the lengthy processing times for Parent category visas (and the resulting criticism) has encouraged the introduction of a visa like this to allow familiies to be reunited.

Are you interested in migrating to Canada ? If so, then please contact us.

EEA1, EEA2, UK visas, how to apply… – free guide from immigration consultants

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants

EUROPEAN ECONOMIC NATIONALS (EEA) AND FAMILY MEMBERS

Advice on UK visas, EEA1 Family Permits and EEA2 Residence Cards

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.

FREE GUIDE ON EEA APPLICATIONS

Complete our form for your free guide:

EEA Guide

 


EUROPEAN ECONOMIC NATIONALS (EEA) AND FAMILY MEMBERS

The Free Guide on EEA Applications will be emailed to you, containing information on;

– All categories of EEA Applications
– The application process in your country of residence
– Advice and guidance on the documents required to support an application
– How to complete the application forms
– Common mistakes to avoid
– How to deal with the UK government
– How to obtain specialist advice when applying
EXTRA UK settlement advice on; employment, obtaining a National Insurance number, taxation, property, opening a bank account, transferring funds.

Obtain your Free Guide now!