Immigration Update November 2014
UK – new citizenship route for children of British citizen fathers
Under the Immigration Act 2014, the UK government will be creating a new route to British citizenship for those born to British citizen fathers – where the father was not married to the mother when the child was born.
Before 1 July 2006 a child could only obtain citizenship through his or her father if the parents were married. The law changed on 1 July 2006 to allow a person to acquire citizenship through his or her father, regardless of whether the parents were married. That change was not made retrospective, leaving those born before 1 July 2006 still not entitled to British citizenship.
The new provisions under the 2014 Act will create a registration route for those born before 1 July 2006 who would have become British citizens had their parents been married. This will affect anyone born before 1 July 2006 who are now adults or children.
While the Immigration Act has passed through Parliament, the government have not yet issued a commencement order for these new provisions to take effect.
If you believe you may qualify for British citizenship through this new route then please contact us.
UK – meeting the financial requirements through savings
Since July 2012, applicants applying to move to the UK as the spouse / partner / fiancé of a British citizen or settled person, have been required to meet the financial requirements as set out under the Immigration Rules.
This is often met through income from employment but for some applicants there is no other way to meet the requirements other than through cash savings. This usually involves showing savings of GBP 62,500 held in cash funds for 6 months. Some applicants have realised this amount by selling their property to move to the UK.
However – many applicants do not realise that a change in the rules earlier in 2014 means that if the funds result from the sale of a property or other asset, then you do NOT have to hold the savings for 6 months in cash.
Instead you need to show that;
- The savings are currently held in cash funds at the date of application
- The relevant savings amount was held in the total value of the asset (such as property equity) that was owned by you for the preceding 6 months.
The same applies to those realising their cash funds from an investment portfolio or other savings account (such as shares etc…).
This is a major change for some applicants, significantly reducing the waiting time before they can apply for a visa.
If you think you might be affected by this and need further guidance then please do not hesitate to contact us.
UK – new notice period for marriage and civil partnerships
The Home Office has announced changes to the process for giving notice of marriage or civil partnership which will come into effect on Monday 2 March 2015. From this date, the notice period for all couples wishing to marry or form a civil partnership in England and Wales will be extended from 15 days to 28 days.
The stated aim, according to the Home Office is to allow more time to “identify and investigate suspected sham marriages and civil partnerships”.
Also, for couples involving a non-EEA (European Economic Area) national, where the Home Office suspects the couple are not genuine the notice period may be extended to 70 days to enable the Home Office to interview the couple and take further action as necessary.
Couples who give notice of a marriage or civil partnership before 2 March 2015 will not be affected by the changes.
Australia – new English tests accepted
From 23 November 2014, the Australian Department of Immigration will now be accepting 2 new tests as evidence of English language ability.
These are the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic).
Also the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test will also be accepted for a test taken on or after 1 January 2015.
These new tests join the already accepted tests – International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Occupational English Test (OET).
All of these English language tests can be used to evidence English language ability in the main skilled migration subclasses.
Australia – Focus on 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)
Processing times in 2014 – 2015
Recently processing times for many of these partner subclasses have increased. For instance, offshore applications submitted through London can take 10-12 months.
It is therefore more important than ever to plan well in advance and also to look at routes of entering Australia temporarily, while an offshore application is progressing. This is possible to do as long as the correct procedures are followed.
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.
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.
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.
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; http://www.commonwealthimmigration.com/assesment_form.html 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