NEWSLETTER No. 43 - October 2013

ILR Indefinite Leave to RemainUNITED KINGDOM – October 28th changes to ILR and Naturalisation  

A major change is to be introduced to the criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and also for Naturalisation as a British citizen, effective October 28th 2013.

This will require applicants to pass the Life in the UK Test AND show sufficient evidence of English language ability. Applicants can show English language ability either through passing a designated test, showing a degree qualification through English or by possessing a passport from a majority English speaking country.

This is a change from the current criteria which only requires applicants to pass the Life in the UK Test.

* Our free Online Assessment Form

* United Kingdom info page with the migration news

Immigration UK visa EEA LawUNITED KINGDOM – British citizens using EEA law  

One question we are asked frequently is whether British citizens can use EEA law to bring a family member back to the UK.

The short answer is – yes, this is certainly possible.

However it does require the British citizen to be exercising Treaty Rights in another EU Member State. This type of application is commonly referred to a “Surinder Singh” application, after the case that established this. This route has many advantages compared to an application under the UK Immigration Rules.

In short, the British citizen would need to live and work in another EU Member State (for example Ireland) for between 3 and 6 months. Then an application can be made by the spouse and other family members to return to the UK under EEA law. The family members are then not required to satisfy the tougher UK Immigration Rules on English language ability, financial maintenance etc..

This route is a well established method of using EEA law to bring family members in to the UK – avoiding the UK Immigration Rules. We have successfully helped many applicants with this in the past. With careful planning it can help reunite families who do not otherwise qualify.

We have prepared a detailed guide on this option. If you would like a copy of this guide then please email us at and we will forward to you.

Also – effective October 2013, new EEA application forms have been released by the UK Border Agency. Applicants need to make sure they are using the correct application forms for the category they are applying under.

If you wish to make any type of EEA application, then please complete 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.

Immigration ILR visaUK - Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

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 (but was increased to 5 years for spouse applications after July 2012).

But, 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“

More recent guidance issued in 2013, has permitted case officers to accept up to 180 absence days PER YEAR, in certain cases.

Applicants will often need to fully explain such absences in their ILR application, this needs to be done carefully.

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.

Recent changes and future developments

The following are some of the main changes in relation to ILR 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.

· The government is consulting on changing settlement rights for those in the UK on employment routes such as Tier 1 and Tier 2. The proposals could remove the right for some migrants to apply for ILR after 5 years.

· Since July 2012 the residence period for ILR for spouses and partners has been increased from 2 to 5 years. Those were issued spouse and partner visas before then, will still be on the 2 year pathway.

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;

* 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

* United Kingdom info page with the migration news

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Contact us

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants Ltd.

based in London and Cambridge

Tel. +44 (0) 1223 830 916

Australia Immigration and ResidencyAUSTRALIA - SKILLED MIGRATION UPDATE  

With the new government elected recently in Australia, the new full name for the immigration department is the “Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).”

At the state level, new updated occupation lists have been introduced by several states recently. These include Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

For instance, Victoria updated its occupation list in October 2013 and has included the following occupations - Primary School Teachers, Metal Machinists, Child Care Centre Manager.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT, includes Canberra) has launched their state nomination occupation list with an extensive list of desired skills.

State sponsorship provides vital extra points in a migration application (5 or 10 points depending on visa subclass).

The SkillSelect system of inviting migrants to apply based on their points score is now issuing invitations twice a month. Applicants scoring 60 points are meeting the minimum score to be invited to apply.

On the SkillSelect system - Engineers are one of the most popular occupations for migration to Australia and are in demand in every state in Australia.

We assist Engineers to move to Australia and secure permanent residence visas. This includes all types of Engineers – Civil, Chemical, Structural, Electrical, Electronics, Mechanical, Industrial, Mining, Production, Aeronautical and more.

On our website we provide a Free Guide for Engineers containing detailed information on the requirements for having your skills assessed, finding employment in Australia as well as the requirements for migrating to Australia. It provides all the crucial information that you need to establish if moving to Australia is an option for you.

The Free Guide provides detailed information on the following;

Engineering Shortage
Engineering Occupations in Demand
Skills Assessment
Employment as an Engineer and Sample CV
Salary levels
Australian Visas
Relocation Advice for Moving to Australia
Guide to areas of Australia
List of websites and other information sources

You can obtain a Free Guide at

If you are interested in applying for migration to Australia, then please contact us so that we can check your eligibility.

* Our free Online Assessment Form

* Australia info page with the migration news

USA Immigration and Residency VisaUSA - BUSINESS OWNERSHIP  

If you are looking to move to the USA and you have some funds to invest then there are some attractive investment led visa options available.

The EB-5 Investor programme is still going strong for those with $500,000 to invest. This secures an Immigrant Visa – i.e. permanent residency.

Or from around $150,000 you can look to set up your own venture on an E-2 visa. This permits you to live and work in the US whilst your business is operating.

Franchising is probably the best route for most people new to the world of business where a successful business model is already in place.

If you think this may be for you then please contact us through our website so we can see if we can help you.

* Our free Online Assessment Form

* USA info page with the migration news


While many British citizens rely on UK immigration law in sponsoring family members to join them in the UK, its needs to be remembered that EEA law can also be used by British citizens.

This is especially so, where the British citizen has been living in another EEA member state.

EEA2 Family Permit UK visasThere are many advantages to applying under EEA law as opposed to UK immigration law. Firstly, the definition of a Family Member is wider (for instance including parents). There is no requirement for an EEA Family Member to complete an English language test. Also, the application process can be quicker.

If you are a British citizen having difficulty in sponsoring a Family Member under UK immigration law, then please contact us so we can see if an application under EEA law would be possible. 

This includes children, spouses, unmarried partners, parents etc.. 

EEA law has specific criteria for “Family Members” and “Extended Family Members”. The definitions that cover these relationships do not necessarily follow the same definitions as under UK immigration law. 

We have extensive experience in EEA applications, please visit our dedicated EEA webpage and obtain your free EEA guide;

* EEA info page with free Guide on EEA applications

Commonwealth ImmigrationKEEP UP TO DATE THROUGH OUR


Teaching Australia Immigration and VisaE-book  TEACHING AUSTRALIA 

Are you a Teacher looking to work or study in Australia?
Then you should visit and obtain your Free E-book.

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 or
2) give us a call on +44 (0) 1223 830 916

We would love to hear from you!

Tim McMahon
Commonwealth Immigration

  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
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