UNITED KINGDOM

United Kingdom UK immigration visa informationThe UK is noted for its liberal, tolerant society and throughout history has been very successful in attracting immigrants from all over the world. Such immigrants have contributed greatly to economic growth and with an increasingly aging population the demand for skilled immigrants is unlikely to diminish.

We are fully registered UK Immigration Consultants and we have an unrivalled track record in obtaining visas for clients across all visa categories. Through our status as approved agents, we also have a facility where we can have many UK visa applications approved in 24 hrs with the Home Office. Please contact us for details of this fast-track service.

Some of the areas we specialise in include;

Work Permits and Training Permits – this is where you have a UK employer willing to offer you employment or training in the UK. The employer then sponsors you to remain in the UK.

Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) – this is an excellent visa which allows you to work or set up in business in the UK. It aims to allow highly skilled migrants the opportunity to move to the UK and to give them freedom to find employment or establish a business. Eventually it leads to settlement in the UK. 

Recently the rules were changed for this visa. It operates on the basis of a complicated points system. The application process for this visa is highly detailed and many applicants are rejected for an ambiguous or incomplete application. This is a really good visa option but make sure you avail of our specialist knowledge when applying. 

Spouse and unmarried partner visas - Our service ensures a dedicated and highly personalised approach to processing your application. Every application under this category is different and we need to assess each application individually. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help you with applications in these categories.

Investor Category - this is another route to achieving UK residence. Through a suitable, guaranteed investment in the UK economy, investor immigrants become eligible for residence and eventually UK citizenship. Applicants need to have a total net worth of UK£1 million. 

Commonwealth Immigration have recently developed a partnership agreement with a leading international banking corporation. This provides for a service whereby applicants can receive financing for most of the required investment amount. This then frees up their capital to purchase a home or a business when they arrive in the UK, while complying fully with UK Home Office regulations. Please contact us for details of this excellent facility. 

Ancestral visas – if you have a UK-born grandparent and you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country, then this visa can allow you to work in the UK and later to obtain settlement. 

Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) and UK Naturalisation / Citizenship - we have many years experience in handling these applications, which are normally the prized ultimate goals of UK immigrants. Indefinite Leave to Remain allows one to stay permanently without restriction in the UK. Naturalisation / Citizenship allows one to become a British citizen and obtain a passport. 

For further information on migration to the United Kingdom, please call us on (+44) (0) 20 8365 3380 or complete an Online Assessment form on our website www.commonwealthimmigration.com.


USEFUL LINKS - UNITED KINGDOM FACTS & INFO
(external links with general information on the United Kingdom)
Wiki: United Kingdom (UK) - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
CIA - The World Factbook: United Kingdom
BBC News - Country profile: United Kingdom
National Statistics Online - United Kingdom statistics data



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Contact us

Commonwealth Immigration Consultants Ltd.

based in London and Cambridge

Tel. +44 (0) 1223 830 916
Email: info@commonwealthimmigration.com



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

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.


United Kingdom ImmigrationUNITED KINGDOM - RADICAL TIER 1 VISA CHANGES PROPOSED 

December 2009 - A recent review of the Tier 1 visa category has proposed some radical changes.

The review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published December 2009 has recommended;

* Reopening Tier 1 to applicants with a Bachelor’s degree as opposed to the current minimum Masters degree requirement.

* Changes to the overseas salary multipliers and the points awarded for earnings, requiring higher previous earnings.

* That migrants with previous annual earnings of UK £150,000 should not need to meet the educational requirements.

* Points should be awarded for age up until 39 years of age.

These are significant recommendations and would place a greater emphasis on previous earnings. The removal of the minimum Masters degree requirement would be very welcome.

The government have agreed to study the report carefully over the next few weeks and announce what changes will be introduced in early 2010.

The government have in the past followed many of the recommendations of the MAC so we expect changes to be introduced following this report.

We will of course keep subscribers updated through our newsletter.
 

United Kingdom ImmigrationUNITED KINGDOM - NEW CITIZENSHIP ELIGIBILITY AND NEW ADVERTISING RULES

December 2009 - The new citizenship rules are due to become effective on 13 January 2010.

These changes, introduced through the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, will mainly affect those born outside the UK to British mothers before 1961. Such individuals will now be allowed to apply for registration as “British citizens by descent”. 

For employers looking to sponsor migrant workers through the Tier 2 visa category, the government has now made changes to the length of time that the position must be advertised for. Effective from December 14th, this advertising period is increased to 4 weeks. The type and medium of advertising depends on the offered position.

If you are an employer looking to sponsor migrant workers, then please contact us so that we can advise on how and where you should advertise.


United Kingdom ImmigrationUNITED KINGDOM - SOME RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS 

October 2009 - The Home Office have now announced the timeframe for introducing changes to obtaining UK citizenship.

The new process of “earned citizenship” will be introduced in July 2011. All applications for indefinite leave to remain and British citizenship received before earned citizenship is introduced will be dealt with under the current system. 

The government is still engaged in a consultation exercise, on the exact details of what “earned citizenship” will involve. However, this recent announcement will go some way to reassuring those who are hoping to secure indefinite leave to remain or citizenship before July 2011. 

Another recent announcement concerns those applying under Tier 1 (General). Recent guidance published by the government removes the route where students could use their earnings from the 12 months BEFORE their studies commenced, to claim points for earnings in the Tier 1 (General) visa.

This is no longer possible, effective from October 2009. Only those on maternity leave / adoption absence can claim earnings from an earlier period. 

We will obviously keep applicants informed of any further announcements regarding the new rules for UK citizenship.
 

UK ImmigrationUNITED KINGDOM - NEW PROPOSALS FOR CITIZENSHIP 

August 2009 - The Home Office have now announced proposals on future plans for applicants to obtain UK citizenship.

At the moment, after complying with rules on residence and character, applicants are normally eligible to apply for full UK citizenship.

The new proposals would allow the Home Office to introduce a points based system for UK citizenship. There would also potentially be a system of “probationary citizenship” before “full citizenship”.

As outlined by the Home Office, the new system 

“would see people rewarded for economic contributions, skills and English language proficiency above the level already expected. Points could be removed and citizenship withheld or delayed for those breaking the law or committing anti-social behaviour”.

This would obviously be a radical departure from the current system and potentially lead to much greater scrutiny of applicants. The timeframe to achieve full UK citizenship could also be longer.

At the moment, the proposals are still at the consultation stage until 26 October. After that, we expect details on the implementation of the new system. 

We will obviously keep applicants informed of any further announcements regarding the new rules for UK citizenship.
  

United Kingdom Immigration and UK ResidencyUNITED KINGDOM - NEW RULES CLARIFIED


April 2009 - The government have now clarified the April 1st changes to the UK Tier 1 General (Highly Skilled) category.

All new applicants applying in this category will need to have a minimum qualification of a Masters degree and previous earnings equivalent to UK £20,000 (adjusted for different countries). 

The new rules do not apply to those already in the UK on a Tier 1 General visa or the previous HSMP visa, who are extending their status while in the UK. However, they do apply to those in the UK such as students or work permit holders changing their UK status. 

Also, the rules have now been changed for the Tier 1 Post Study Work visa. From April 1st, applicants who have been awarded a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate (unless it is a PGCE Postgraduate Certificate in Education) will not be eligible for this visa. There is no change for applicants who have a UK Bachelors degree or postgraduate degree.
 

United Kingdom Immigration and UK ResidencyUNITED KINGDOM - NEW RULES FOR MIGRANTS


February 2009 - Significant changes have just been announced for the UK Tier 1 General (Highly Skilled) category.

From 1 April 2009, overseas applicants applying in this category will need to have a minimum qualification of a Masters degree and previous earnings equivalent to UK £20,000 (adjusted for different countries). The Masters degree requirement is a major new development as currently the minimum qualification is a Bachelors degree. 

The new rules do not seem to apply to those already in the UK on a Tier 1 visa or indeed switching / extending their status while in the UK. The initial indication is that this would not affect students or work permit holders changing their UK status. 

In relation to Tier 2 migrants (sponsored by a UK employer), the government has asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to review if further changes are needed to the list of occupations that can be sponsored.

These Tier 1 changes have just been announced and we are still waiting further detailed advice from the government on the new system and exactly how overseas applicants will be assessed. If the government introduce any more changes, we’ll let you know. 
ake sure you remain up to date with our newsletter.
 

Australia Immigration and Residency VisaUNITED KINGDOM – CITIZENSHIP CHANGES PROPOSED

February 2009 - The government is proposing to pass legislation later this year to amend the requirements to allow applicants to become British citizens.

The new requirements may involve a longer period of residence before qualifying for citizenship. Another proposal is that a new concept of “probationary citizenship” will be introduced before one can become a full citizen.

We must emphasise that the exact details of the new system or the implementation date have not yet been decided. However this is expected to receive approval by Parliament at some point this year.

Our advice to all applicants is to consider applying now, if you are eligible. Last week, the Home Office announced a significant increase in the number of citizenship applications being submitted.

If you wish to consider applying for UK citizenship at this point, then please contact us. 


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM – FIRST IDENTITY CARDS FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS ISSUED

December 2008 - The UK Home Office have started the process of issuing Identity Cards for foreign nationals applying for visas in the UK.

Initially, Identity Cards are being issued for applicants applying for visa extensions as students or spouses / partners. The aim is that within 3 years it will include all visa categories. 

The process involves applying for a visa extension in the normal way, and then awaiting further instructions to attend an appointment for fingerprinting and facial image scans. These features are then incorporated into the new card.

Once the card is issued it is mandatory that the card and your passport are presented to immigration upon returning to the UK. Without the card, entry to the UK will be refused.

We will keep you updated on future developments of the card as more and more visa categories will be included.


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM - NEW  RULES FOR MARRIAGE VISA

November 2008 - The UK government have just announced a change in the minimum age requirements for a marriage visa for the UK.

Effective from the end of November, the minimum age has been raised from 18 to 21 years. Both parties in a marriage will need to be 21 years before a marriage visa can be issued.

The Home Office have not clarified if this new regulation will apply to other categories of relationships – such as civil partners, unmarried partners and same-sex partners.


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM - CURRENT WORK PERMIT SCHEME TO END

November 2008 - On 27 November, the current work permit scheme in the UK will come to an end. From that date on, employers looking to sponsor overseas workers from outside the EU will need to apply through Tier 2 of the new Points Based System.

Also on that date the current Working Holiday Maker visa will no longer exist. Instead the new category will be through Tier 5 Youth Mobility of the Points Based System.

We will bring full details on the new categories once available.


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM - GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN

September 2008 - Many of you may have seen and heard the new government TV and Radio advertising campaign to promote the launch of the next stage of the new Points Based System (PBS).

The next stage – known as Tier 2, is due to be launched in November and will largely replace the current work permit scheme. The new category differs from the work permit scheme in that it requires employers to register in advance on the new Register of Sponsors.

However, so far the number of employers who have applied to register is very low. By August, only 350 applications had been received. It is believed the Home Office are very concerned at the lack of applications to register, and therefore have decided to launch their TV and Radio advertising campaign. 

It should be noted that the new Tier 2 visa will still contain many of the current general criteria for issuance of a work permit. There will still be a shortage occupation list and approval can still be issued for other skilled positions, where the employer has met the Resident Labour Market Test (proof of advertising / recruitment to fill the position).

The main difference is the requirement for employers to be registered in advance on the new Register of Sponsors.


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM - NEW “POST-STUDY WORK” CATEGORY INTRODUCED

July 2008 - As part of the launch of its new Points Based System (PBS) throughout 2008 and 2009, the government have now introduced the new Post-Study Work category (Tier1 of the new Points Based System). This will replace the current International Graduate Scheme (IGS) available for overseas students who graduate from a UK university.

The new category differs from the IGS in that allows applicants to apply for a 2 year visa, rather than the current 1 year. 

Furthermore, those who are currently in the UK on the IGS visa can apply to switch into the new Post-Study Work category for a 1 year extension. 

The Post-Study Work category is seen as a viable “stepping stone” option allowing overseas graduates to remain in the UK to work. After the end of 2 years in this category, applicants may be eligible to remain in the UK through other categories such as Highly Skilled workers or employer sponsored work permits. 

The application process for this new category is quite detailed, so please do not hesitate to contact us, to allow us to see if you are eligible.


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM - COURT RULES AGAINST GOVERNMENT ON HSMP CHANGES

June 2008 - The High Court has recently ruled against the UK government, in declaring that the changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP visa) introduced in November 2006 were unlawful. 

The changes introduced at that time, were applied retrospectively to those who were already in the UK. In other words, those who were admitted under one set of HSMP rules were now told that they had an additional set of new criteria to meet to remain in the UK. 

The government have agreed to implement the High Court judgement and will not appeal against the decision. This means that those who were granted HSMP approval prior to November 2006 will now not need to satisfy a different points test to remain in the UK.


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM – NEW WORKING HOLIDAY VISA TO BE INTRODUCED

June 2008 - As part of the launch of its new Points Based System (PBS) throughout 2008 and 2009, the government have provided details of the new Youth Mobility Scheme (Tier 5 of the new Points Based System). This will replace the current Working Holidaymakers scheme for applicants from Commonwealth countries.

It is likely that the new scheme will initially only be open to those countries who already have an existing Working Holiday scheme for UK citizens, such as Australia, New Zealand etc.. This may mean that many other Commonwealth countries may not benefit from the scheme such as South Africa, India etc.


United Kingdom Immigration UK
UNITED KINGDOM – NEW MAINTENANCE FUNDS REQUIREMENT

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR UK EMPLOYERS

March 2008 - The UK government have announced details of the new requirement for maintenance funds for applicants under the new Points Based System. 

The new system is currently in place for applicants who are applying from within the UK. Over the next 6 months or so, the system will replace the HSMP visa process for applicants applying from outside the UK. 

For applicants currently in the UK, the required amount is UK£800.

For applicants applying from outside the UK, the proposed required amounts are;

Principal applicant UK£2,800
Spouse UK£1,600 
Each child UK£800

The accepted evidence of such funds will be the applicant’s last 3 months bank statements, showing a constant balance at or above the required level.

We are still awaiting exact details of the new application system and maintenance funds required for Out of Country applicants. Once we have this, we will be detailing the process for you on our website and explaining exactly what it involves. 

In the meantime, if you are outside the UK and are eligible to apply for the HSMP visa now, it may be advisable to do so, to avoid having to meet the new maintenance rules. 

Also if you are a UK employer, looking to take on overseas workers on work permits, then you need to be aware of the process to do so under the Points Based System. This involves a pre-registration application to be included on the new “Register of Sponsors”.

The UK government will implement the new regime for work permits in September/October this year. Only employers who are registered, as approved Sponsors will be permitted to apply for work permits. If you are a UK employer that requires further information on the new process as it becomes available, then please contact us.


United Kingdom Immigration UKUNITED KINGDOM – DETAILS ON THE NEW SYSTEM

February 2008 - The UK government have just announced that the first stage of the new Points Based System will be introduced on 29th February 2008. 

From that date any highly skilled foreign nationals (such as current HSMP holders) currently working in the UK who want to extend their stay will need to apply under the new system. In April, the new system will begin to be rolled out overseas when anyone from India who wants to work in the UK as a highly skilled migrant will need to apply under the new system. By the summer the new highly skilled system will operate worldwide.

At the moment, the initial guidance from the Home Office is that the new system from 29th February will only apply to those in the UK looking to obtain or extend a HSMP visa. Other categories such as work permits would not yet be affected.

We are still awaiting exact details of the new application system for
applicants in the UK from 29th February. Once we have this, we will be detailing the process for you on our website and explaining exactly what it involves. 

For further information on the overall changes to be introduced gradually in the new Points Based System, please see back issues of the newsletters on our website.  


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM – DETAILS ON THE NEW SYSTEM

December 2007 - The UK government have just announced details of the implementation of the first stage of the new Points Based System in 2008. The new system will consist of 5 Tiers of Entry - Highly Skilled, Skilled Workers, Low Skilled Workers, Students, Youth Exchange Programmes and Various other programmes.

Tier 1 – Highly Skilled
In a document entitled “Statement of Intent”, it is announced that 8 existing immigration categories will be removed when the new “Highly Skilled Tier” is introduced. These current categories include the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, Investors, Self Employed Lawyers, Businesspersons, International Graduate Scheme, Innovators, Fresh Talent (Working in Scotland) Scheme and Writers, Composers & Artists,

Most importantly, the current assessment criteria for the HSMP category will be incorporated into Tier 1 circa March 2008. This will involve applications submitted to the British Embassy in the home country of the applicant. If the applicant is currently in the UK on a work visa / student visa, they can apply in the UK. 

This visa will be for 3 years, then extendable for another 2 years, bringing the applicant to the 5 years necessary for permanent residence.

The International Graduate Scheme (IGS) will be incorporated into Tier 1 (designated as the Post-Study Work sub-category) and will be for 2 years, not 1 year as it currently is. After 2 years, applicants would have to fit into another category to stay here. 

Transitional arrangements will be introduced which will allow applicants currently in the UK on HSMP visas to remain here, when their stay expires.

If you wish to apply for the new Highly Skilled category, including the new Post-Study Work subcategory, then please complete the Online Assessment form on our website.

Tier 2 - Skilled Workers
The current work permit category will be incorporated into Tier 2 for Skilled Workers, towards the end of 2008, possibly 2009. This category will involve some significant changes.

Employers wishing to sponsor non-EU citizens to work for them, will need to register with the Home Office. Only employers who successfully register, will be allowed to apply for Sponsorship Certificates (the new term for work permits). 

A team of Compliance Officers will check that aspects such as the resident labour test are being carried out properly. Prospective employees will then need to apply to the British High Commission and Consulates for entry clearance, once they have a Sponsorship Certificate.

The application process for employers who wish to be included on the Register of Sponsors will be introuduced in early 2008. We will obviously provide more details on this, when available.

We will be able to assist all UK employers to be included on the Register of Sponsors. Once Tier 2 is introduced, then an employer who is not on the Register of Sponsors cannot sponsor a non-EU worker. 


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM - ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS

November 2007 - The UK government have announced that English language ability will be an important factor in the new application process for all UK study and work visas.

This new process which the government are labelling the Points System will be introduced at different stages throughout 2008.

At the moment, applicants for the HSMP visa, and also for residence and naturalisation will be familiar with the requirement to prove effective communication in English. For instance, for the HSMP visa an overall band score of 6 or above on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required.

We understand that the new system will require applicants to provide evidence to demonstrate that they have an acceptable standard of English. One way in which applicants can demonstrate this will be by providing evidence that they have passed an English language test.

Most importantly, this will apply to those categories for whom English language ability is not currently tested - such as work permit holders.

To this end, the Home Office have invited organisations that offer English language tests (such as IELTS) to apply to be included on the list of approved English language tests providers.


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM – ROMANIA AND BULGARIA


November 2007 - The UK government have recently decided to retain the restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals working in the UK until at least the end of 2008.

Romania and Bulgaria both joined the EU on 1 January 2007 but their citizens have not been granted rights to work in the UK. They can work however if self-employed or if they obtain permission to work through one of the normal routes such as work permit, HSMP visa etc.


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM - NEW SYSTEM FOR 2008


October 2007 - We are expecting much more detailed announcements in the next month or so on the new application process for all UK study and work visas.

This new process which the government are labelling the Points System will be introduced at different stages throughout 2008.

The first stage will involve the introduction of Tier 1, which will cover 
the HSMP visa. This is to be introduced in early 2008. This may result in changes to the current HSMP criteria.

Tier 2 will cover applications under the current Work Permit scheme. We understand that the new system will mean employers wishing to employ non-EU citizens will need to register with the Home Office in order to employ non-EU citizens in the future.

Once employers have successfully registered they will then be allowed to issue a set number of permits each year, in the form of Sponsorship Certificates. The role of the Home Office will be to monitor the procedures of registered employers to ensure they are still endeavouring to recruit from within the domestic labour market.

We have yet to receive any more detailed information on the new process but once we do, we will be in touch promptly with detailed advice for employers and overseas workers.


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM - LIFE IN THE UK TEST


August 2007 - We wish to remind all our UK visa clients about the “Life in the UK test”. This is now a mandatory requirement for all applicants for UK indefinite leave to remain and UK citizenship.

The test must be passed before we can submit your application. There are over 90 test centres in the UK, where the test can be undertaken. All applicants will need to prepare for the test by reading the “Life in the United Kingdom” handbook.

If you have any queries on the test, then please feel free to contact us.


Immigration visa residence permit - UK UNITED KINGDOM - SAME DAY APPLICATION SERVICE

July 2007 - Are you looking to apply to the Home Office for a UK visa? If so, maybe you would like to avail of our Same Day Application Service?

Commonwealth Immigration are designated agents for the Home Office based in Croydon. We can submit your application for a UK visa as your appointed representative and have it considered and approved on the same day!

If this is something you are interested in, then please contact us.

Please note that not all applications can be submitted through the Same Day Service.

For further information on migration to the United Kingdom, please call us on (+44) (0) 20 8365 3380 or complete an Online Assessment form on our website www.commonwealthimmigration.com.


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM
– NATIONAL SHORTAGE OCCUPATION LIST


June 2007 - The UK government have recently made some amendments to the National Shortage Occupation List for Work Permits.

This list is important, as an application for a work permit for an occupation on this list does not have to be accompanied by proof of advertising. In other words, there is an assumption that such occupations are in recognised shortage.

All positions for Teachers in England and Scotland are now included on the list.

Furthermore, the following 4 occupations have now been removed from the list; Senior Physiotherapists, Salaried General Dental Practitioners, Salaried Assistant Dentists, Salaried Vocational Dental Practitioners.


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM – MARRIAGE LAW 
THROWN OUT BY COURT OF APPEAL

June 2007 - UK immigration rules in effect since 2005, regarding the right to marry in the UK, have been found to be unlawful in the UK Court of Appeal.

The rules were designed to require non-EU citizens to obtain permission to marry in the UK. However, the Court has found that the rules were unlawful on 2 grounds;

1. The rules did not allow for proper investigation of individual cases and did not endeavour to find out if those marrying were genuine or part of an immigration scam.

2. It was incompatible with human rights on grounds of nationality and religion, particularly because bizarrely it did not apply to those marrying in the Church of England

The Home Office have seemed to have backed down very quickly and have now announced that they will look at each application to:

“obtain information and supporting evidence to enable us to be satisfied that your proposed marriage is genuine”

For any applicants that may be in this situation, please contact us 
immediately for specialist advice on the new Home Office approach.


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM
– CHANGE OF NAME


May 2007 - The UK government have announced that the “Border and Immigration Agency” is a new executive agency of the Home Office. The Agency assumes the responsibilities of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) for managing immigration control in the UK.


Immigration visa residence permit - UKUNITED KINGDOM
- NEW SYSTEM TO START IN 2008


May 2007 - It has been announced that the new so-called “points system” which will allow migrants to come to the UK under one of five tiers replacing more than 80 existing routes of entry, will be introduced at the beginning of 2008.

Tier 1 of the system, which caters for highly skilled migrants, will be 
launched at the beginning of 2008. Further tiers, targeting skilled workers, youth mobility, temporary workers and students will come on line later in 2008 and 2009.

A system of sponsorship by employers and educational institutions to ensure compliance with the immigration rules is also being introduced as part of the new system at the beginning of next year.

So far, the government have been extremely vague and ambiguous about the operation of the new system. It remains to be seen if the new system will involve any major changes in selection criteria or will instead be more of a “tidying up” exercise in classifying all the main categories of entry into one overall framework.

For further information on migration to the United Kingdom, please call us on (+44) (0) 20 8365 3380 or complete an Online Assessment form on our website www.commonwealthimmigration.com.


Migration to United Kingdom - student visa UNITED KINGDOM
– INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE SCHEME (IGS)


May 2007 - The new International Graduate Scheme (IGS) visa has now been launched. This replaces the old Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme.

This new visa opens the door to overseas students in the UK to remain in the UK and work after completion of their studies. The IGS allows overseas students who have successfully completed and obtained a degree, Master’s degree, PhD, or postgraduate certificate or diploma on or after 1 May 2007 to work in the UK for up to 12 months upon completion of their studies. If they want to remain in the UK beyond this time, they can switch into an appropriate immigration category to pursue their career, provided they meet the relevant requirements.

This will allow many graduates to gain valuable UK experience to enable them to then apply under different categories to remain here – such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme visa.

For further details, please feel free to contact us.


UNITED KINGDOM
– NEW APPLICATION FEES


April 2007 - All clients need to be aware that new government application fees apply for all UK visas and work permits, effective from April 1st. The new fees are the result of a consultation exercise recently conducted by the Home Office.

Please contact us to ensure you are paying the correct government fee.


UNITED KINGDOM - NEW VISA
– INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE SCHEME


April 2007 - The UK government have just announced a new visa which will be launched on May 1st – The International Graduate Scheme (IGS). This will replace the current Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme.

The IGS will allow overseas students who have successfully completed and obtained a degree, Master’s degree, PhD, or postgraduate certificate or diploma on or after 1 May 2007 to work in the UK for up to 12 months upon completion of their studies. If they want to remain in the UK beyond this time, they can switch into an appropriate immigration category to pursue their career, provided they meet the relevant requirements.

This will allow many graduates to gain valuable UK experience to enable them to then apply under different categories to remain here – such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme visa.

For further information on migration to the United Kingdom, please call us on (+44) (0) 20 8365 3380 or complete an Online Assessment form on our website www.commonwealthimmigration.com.


UK HIGHLY SKILLED MIGRANT PROGRAMME (HSMP) – CLARIFICATION REGARDING SALARY

March 2007 - Work Permits (UK) changed the criteria for this visa in December 2006 without giving any advance notice. According to Work Permits (UK) this has lead to many applicants submitting incomplete applications that have been refused, particularly in relation to proof of salary (one of the assessment criteria for which points are awarded).

Now Work Permits (UK) have issued further guidance clarifying the new rules relating to salary. These new rules explain in detail the supporting evidence that must be supplied as proof of salary. For instance, tax documentation must be supplied if available.

The new rules take into account differing situations – i.e. for salaried employees, self-employed applicants, independent contractors etc….

It is important to remember that Work Permits (UK) will not normally issue a request for further information. The application has to contain all required evidence when submitted.

The HSMP visa allows an individual to come to the UK to work or to establish oneself in self-employment. Eventually it leads to UK permanent residence for the applicant and his / her family. It is based on a complicated points system so make sure you get expert advice from us on your eligibility.

By completing the Online Assessment Form on our website, we can see if you will qualify under the new criteria.


UK Immigration and Residency
UK HIGHLY SKILLED MIGRANT PROGRAMME (HSMP) – NEW RULES

January 2007 - Work Permits (UK) suddenly changed the criteria for this visa in December 2006 without giving any advance notice. The new rules reduce the number of categories in which points can be scored but overall it appears more applicants will be eligible. It will of course mean that many previous applicants who didn't qualify may now indeed be eligible. However, if you qualify, you are best advised to apply promptly. Once approved by Work Permits (UK) you can choose to wait up to 6 months before having your visa inserted in your passport.

The new rules have also introduced new requirements in relation to providing evidence of your English language ability and proof of previous earnings.

The HSMP visa allows an individual to come to the UK to work or to establish oneself in self-employment. Eventually it leads to UK permanent residence for the applicant and his / her family. It is based on a complicated points system so make sure you get expert advice from us on your eligibility.

By completing the Online Assessment form on our website, we can see if you will qualify under the new criteria.


We hope that these news have 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 Tel. +44 (0) 1223 830 916

We would love to hear from you!

Regards
Tim McMahon
Commonwealth Immigration
www.commonwealthimmigration.com


Commonwealth Immigration Consultants Ltd. | info@commonwealthimmigration.com