Priority Service Coming to the EU ID Check App

 

In a welcome expansion of the UK Immigration: ID Check App, holders of biometric passports from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland can now apply using priority service, even if they use the app. Standard processing times for those in the affected visa categories (Skilled Worker, Health and Care Worker, Student) are currently 15 working days, but priority service reduces this to 5 working days, super priority reduces it to 1 working day.

Previously applicants have been forced to choose between attending a centre in order to use priority (or in some limited cases super-priority) or using the app. With centres often very far apart, and in many cases only one centre per country as well as operating on limited hours (sometimes only opening for one morning a week) this renders the priority service almost unusable for many EU applicants.

The ability to enjoy both the convenience of the app, as well as priority service will make a big difference to many applicants. Not only does it remove the need to travel long distances to an application centre, but applicants applying through this method can also retain their passport during the decision making process, and will not need to worry about collecting their BRP as proof of their immigration status will be held digitally.

Not all visa categories can be submitted through the app, with notable exceptions including visit visas and T5 categories, but for applicants on the Skilled Worker, Health and Care worker and Student visa routes, this will be a very welcome development.

If you need advice on a UK visa, we can help. Call us on 01403 801 801 or send us an email at [email protected] to arrange a consultation with one of our friendly experts.

The HGV Shortage – Why Domestic Recruitment isn’t Working and 5000 visas are not enough.

 

Anyone who has been in a British supermarket in the past few weeks will be familiar with the sight of bare shelves and poor availability of a variety of products, but this pales in comparison to the fuel shortage. While an argument can be made that both issues have been exacerbated by panic buying, this grim reality of post-Brexit labour shortages provides very real evidence of the impact of the exodus of EU workers, and the impossibilities of filling the vacant roles they left.

A number of industries are struggling, including healthcare and agriculture but the current pressing crisis revolves around a shortage of an estimated 100,000 Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers.

The question is really whether the problems is with failure to recruit, or whether it is with the immigration system. The government is keen to place the blame at the feet of recruitment, claiming that it is the industry’s responsibility to ensure it is competitive and attractive to new workers. Pointing to the substantial number of people still on furlough, it rejects the idea that there are not enough workers available.

On the face of it this seems like a robust argument, if there are those without jobs, and jobs with high number of vacancies then the solution seems simple. The reality of the situation however is much more complex.

The most pressing issue is that the shortage is having impacts on supply chains now, and has been for some time, but despite HGV drivers not being classed as ‘Skilled Workers’ for the purpose of the government’s work visa, this does not mean absolutely anybody can do the job. Driving a lorry, naturally, requires a different skill-set to driving a car, and anybody new to the industry will have to go through a lengthy process of learning to drive. Even if they breeze through this, they face further obstacles to getting qualified due to the huge backlog of tests caused by the pandemic and the suspension of tests during it.

Even those intending to do the job face long waits between starting the recruitment protest and actually getting behind the wheel of the lorry to start making deliveries. Clearly this does nothing to solve our current supply chain woes, and is unlikely to provide a solution to the expected increase in demand related to Christmas.

In an attempt to address this issue, the government has announced 5,000 visas will be available immediately, however only on a temporary basis of a few months. There are several issues with this, the first being the obvious that 5,000 visas is simply not enough to fill a deficit of 100,000. The second is that many drivers feel slighted by the UK and quite rightly are disinclined to leave their jobs and countries to come bail us out. It seems incredibly naïve on the part of the government to assume that EU workers will be champing at the bit to make career sacrifices to save us after we have given them the diplomatic equivalent of the middle finger.

The other obstacle, relating to expecting domestic workers on furlough and the unemployed to fill these vacancies, is that it is unrealistic to expect that all, or even any, of these workers have aspirations to become a HGV driver. The hours are long and unsociable, and the nature of the work is mentally grueling in that it requires a high tolerance for hours of monotony and high focus. The physical demands of the job are also unappealing to many.

It is simply not helpful to live in an idealised fantasy world where large swathes of British and settled workers suddenly decide to realise aspirations to shift from unrelated fields to become lorry drivers. Part of making the job more enticing to new entrants as well would require, and indeed is driving (no pun intended), much higher salaries, but the money to fund this will be passed onto the consumer, seeing us pay more for products. This is also hardly an ideal outcome for the British public.

Mounting pressure on the government for a long term solution has prompted them to make the training process shorter and increase test availability, but this is clearly not an ideal solution. For one thing it raises the question of whether it is appropriate to cut part of the training process in order to bail the government out of this situation it has created for itself. Presumably the initial qualification period was lengthy for a reason, and personally I would like to be reassured that those responsible for operating 40 ton lorries, at speed, on our roads, have had a robust and comprehensive training process, not one which has been cut short in order to save the government face.

It also does little to address the issue that many people simply do not want to be a HGV driver, and with job vacancies at their highest since records began, potential applicants looking to switch careers have a wide range of careers to choose from. It is delusional to gamble the nation’s supply of food, petrol and other essentials on the belief that there are thousands of people eager to retrain as HGV drivers. I am reminded again of the government’s previous out of touch poster suggesting ballerinas might retrain as IT professionals. Their inability to see people as varied and unique instead of just a workforce to be crammed into whatever vacancies exist regardless of individual choice or skill-set will set us on a path for continued labour woes in the years to come.

With the latest shortage and panic buying hitting petrol, and the UK gearing up for another wave of inevitable panic-buying in the run up to Christmas, the government has been forced to bring the military  in to ease pressure and try to get back on top of the crisis. Even as I write this I have struggled for the past week and a half to find fuel. This does not inspire confidence that everything is ‘under control’. Well adjusted immigration policies to not necessitate military intervention to ensure people have access to fuel and food.

The government’s continued argument against allowing migrant HGV drivers to apply for Skilled Worker visas is that they do not want UK and settled workers to be undercut by cheap foreign labour. I do query, when the government has full control over the ‘going rate’ an employer must pay a sponsored migrant worker for any given job, why they do not declare what they determine to be a ‘fair’ rate for an HGV driver and state that anyone hoping to employ one from overseas must pay at least this level.

It works this way for other professions eligible for the Skilled Worker visa, each of which has a going rate that must be paid according to the industry average, so I can see no reason why it wouldn’t be a viable option here. Indeed ‘foreign workers might undercut British workers’ is an argument that can be used for absolutely any career path and I cannot see any reason why HGV drivers should be considered unique. The only explanation I can see is stubborn refusal to face reality as the government cuts off its own nose to spite its face.

They would rather the people they claim to represent suffer food and fuel shortages as well as ridiculously inflated princes for essentials, than admit that we needed EU labour and that our society was reliant on it.

 

If you need help with a visa for the UK we can help. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or email us at [email protected]sas.co.uk to arrange a consultation with one of our friendly experts.

The Health and Care Visa and Care workers – What is it and who can apply?

 

With the shortage of health care workers wreaking havoc on care homes across the country in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19, many care homes may be looking for an answer to their recruitment woes.

The government’s answer to this has been the Health and Care visa, an attractive new route touting fast-track entry (15 working days as opposed to the standard 8 weeks for a Skilled Worker visa), cheaper visa fees, and an exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge. A number of healthcare professionals, particularly those working for the NHS, are covered but we will be focusing on its application in care homes after it was extended to cover certain professions in the social care sector.

 

Who is Eligible?

For the purpose of this blog, there are a number of Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) codes which are relevant for those hoping to employ staff for care homes. They include:

  • 1242 – Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
  • 2219 – Health Professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 3219 – Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 6141 – Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
  • 6146 – Senior care workers

Notably absent are care workers below senior or management level. The roles must be at RQF level 3 or above, which is equivalent to UK A-levels. At the time of writing, junior care workers are not considered as having met this threshold.

Applicants under this route will also need to meet all the criteria under the Skilled Worker route including meeting requirements for minimum salary, English proficiency and doing a job on the list of eligible occupations.

In addition they must also be employed by an approved body and which approved body must be made clear on the Certificate of Sponsorship. If the assigning organisation is private, details of the arrangements with the relevant NHS body to which they also provide services must also be provided.

The threshold for income is £20,480 or the ‘going rate’ for the role, whichever is higher. This also excludes many lower paid positions from eligibility.

Applicants and their family members may also need to provide test results from an approved tuberculosis test if they are applying from overseas and resident in certain countries.

 

How do I Employ Someone on this Route?

In order to employ someone under the health and care route, an employer will first need to apply for a sponsor license in the same way as is required for a Skilled Worker visa. We will not go into detail about the process here, but we do offer assistance with applications for both sponsor licenses and the visa application process itself, so if your organisation does not hold one, please do get in touch.

Once the sponsor license has been obtained, the sponsoring organisation will need to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant, who will use this to apply for the visa. Details of how the role meets the requirements for the Health and Care route must be included on the Certificate of Sponsorship. Where the organisation provides NHS services, it may also be necessary to provide additional evidence of this with the applications.

 

What About Family Members?

Applicants on this route are able to bring dependant family members with them. This may include children under the age of 18, spouses, and unmarried partners living with the main applicant for at least 2 years in a relationship akin to marriage. There is no facility to bring extended family members or adult children in on this route.

Applicants’ dependant family members also enjoy the reduced fees and Immigration Health Surcharge exemption. They must prove their relationship to the main applicant, normally with a birth certificate, marriage certificate or evidence of cohabitation, unless their dependants have had a previous successful application as dependants of the main applicant.

 

How Long will the Visa be for?

The visa can be granted for a maximum of 5 years, with no minimum period, and is indefinitely renewable, the length of the visa is specified when the CoS is issued. If the visa is granted for a shorter period than 5 years, then it will be necessary to renew the visa before it expires in order for the individual to remain working in the UK.

After 5 years on this route, applicants and their dependants will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK which will grant them the right to stay in the UK indefinitely (subject to some conditions).

 

How Much does it Cost?

The visa itself is comparatively cost efficient, with an exemption from the costly immigration health surcharge and the immigration skills charge.

The fees differ depending on whether the visa is issued for more or less than 3 years. The costing is also the same for each dependant, regardless of age. There may be a £55 fee reduction for the main applicant’s fee for applicants from certain countries.

Application fee: £232 per applicant (3 years and under)/£464 per applicant (over 3 years)

Biometric enrolment fee: £19.20 per applicant

Biometric appointment fee: Variable, may be free or up to £199 depending on the location.

Certificate of Sponsorship: £199

Applicants may also need to demonstrate financial maintenance if their sponsor does not certify this.

 

UK Visas has extensive experience with the Health and Care visa as well as other work visas. If you require support with a sponsor license, or managing applications for employees, we can help. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or email at [email protected] to talk to one of our experts about the support we can offer.

Covid Right To Work Checks – A Post Brexit Summary

With the closure of the EU settlement scheme, employers of EU staff members will now have to perform right to work checks to ensure that their EU workers have acquired the right to work in the UK whether through application to the settlement scheme or otherwise.

With Covid, however, many employees or prospective employees may be self-isolating, working from home, or otherwise unable to come into the office to perform an in person right to work checks.

In addition to the existing right to work check, which is available here, there are also a number of Covid concessions in place to allow employers to continue to remain compliant throughout the pandemic. The full document is available here but please see below for a summary.

These concessions are valid until 31/08/2021 at the time of writing (15/07/2021).

 

Alternative Ways to Check Applicants’ Documents

  • Checks can be carried out via video call with the applicant. They should hold their original documents up to the camera so you can check the details against the digital copies they have sent you. In the event that the worker has a Biometric Residence Permit or Card or has status under the EU settlement scheme, you may use the online right to work checking service while on the video call. The applicant will need to provide their consent for you to view this information.

 

  • Applicants may send scans or photographs of their documents via email or a mobile app instead of providing the originals.

 

  • Employers should use the Employer Checking Service to check the right to work of any applicant or employee who cannot provide suitable documentation.

 

From September 1st 2021 these temporary adjustments will end, and you will need to see applicants’ original documents or check their right to work online, as was the case before the pandemic. There is no need to re-do these checks on individuals who had their right to work check carried out under the temporary concessions.

 

If you require help with a UK work visa, or a sponsor license application we can help. Call us on 01403 801 801 or email us at [email protected] to talk to one of our friendly experts.

New Plans for Immigration – A Summary

 

On the 24th of May 2021 Priti Patel announced a variety of changes to be made in the immigration. The gist of the move is increased digitisation of the border and more accurate tracking of people who enter and exit the UK, there will also be some changes to existing immigration routes, although these do not seem to be on the same level as the government’s total overhaul of the system last year. A summary of the main changes is as follows:

 

Electronic Travel Authorisation

The government plans to bring in an electronic pre-clearance system for travellers to the UK, whether they are visa nationals or not. Currently nationals of a number of countries (for example countries in the EEA and the USA) are able to travel to the UK without seeking any kind of prior permission to enter. Under the new system, everyone would need to apply for some form of clearance, whether in the form of a full visa, or in the form of an ETA.

The ETAs will reportedly cost £9, a 6 month visit visa currently costs £95 for comparison, but this is yet to be confirmed. This is not a new idea, and it is not likely to be rolled out in the immediate future.

 

Increased Digitisation

The government is keen to increase digitisation of the systems which verify foreign national’s right to work and live in the UK. Currently most foreign nationals are issued with a biometric residence permit, a physical document they can use to demonstrate their status to employers and landlords. EEA residents with settled or pre-settled status, and some migrants from the EU who applied using the government’s app, are now not issued with any physical document and all checks must be carried out online. The government is looking to expand this system.

It is the long term plan that eventually the majority of biometric information will be given digitally, and that the current entry clearance vignette system will be replaced with E-visas. In the immediate future the Home Office has made the commitment that all border control staff will be able to check if an individual has settled or pre-settled status. This will hopefully reduce the number of issues arising at the border where EEA individuals.

 

The Points Based System

The ink is barely dry on the government’s new points based system, but the government is already looking to tweak aspects of the business visas. We are still awaiting details on what exactly this might look like, but the government promises to ‘continue to simplify our Immigration Rules and make them as user-friendly and accessible as possible’ which can only be a good thing.

There are also plans for “Global Business Mobility” visa which is likely to combine several existing routes, including intra-company transfer, representative of an overseas business.

The unsponsored work route for high achievers has also been confirmed, and the current plan is for this to open in early 2022.

How to Avoid Problems at the Border when visiting the UK – A Guide for EU and Other non-visa nationals

 

With Brexit now in full swing, many EU nationals are now coming up against the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy for the first time. Individuals who have previously had no issues coming into the UK have been surprised to find themselves stopped at the border, interrogated, and then promptly detained for removal.

Free movement rights ended on 31/12/2021 at 11pm, meaning visitors from the EU now need to ensure they are compliant with the UK’s rigorous restrictions on permitted activities for visitors. Do not be fooled by the term ‘non-visa national’, just because you do not need a visa does not mean that border control will simply let you into the country to do whatever you want. If you do not hold settled or pre-settled status, you will need to seek entry as a visitor at the border. It is not permitted to enter the country for any other purpose without a visa.

If you are not sure whether you require a visa to visit the UK, the Home Office provides a handy guide here. EU citizens and other so-called non visa nationals do not need to apply for a visit visa in advance of travel (although may find it helpful to do so if they have adverse immigration history to avoid risking being turned away at the border), but they must normally apply for a visa if they would like to work, study or live in the UK.

 

Who is a Visitor?

Visitors normally enter the UK for a temporary period of time, normally less than 6 months although there are exceptions. There are a number of prohibited activities in Appendix V: Visitor which a visitor is not permitted to carry out unless expressly permitted under a separate appendix. These include working, studying, getting married and receiving medical treatment.

If the border officer suspects you are entering the UK to carry out any of these prohibited activities, they have the right to refuse you entry and enforce your return to your country of origin. It is important to be clear on what you are and are not permitted to do in the UK, and to be able to clearly explain at the border what your intentions are, so that there is no doubt about the type of activity you intend to carry out.

Most tourists will have no problems, as tourism and leisure are clearly permitted, but other activities are permitted as a visitor, and this is where things can get a little confusing. Work is a prohibited activity for instance, but what counts as work? Is attending a business meeting working?  Does attending a seminar count as studying? For those with slightly less straightforward purposes, the below list, which is a non-comprehensive summary of some of the more common permitted activities, taken from Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities may be helpful.

  • tourism and leisure
  • visiting friends and family
  • school exchanges and visits
  • volunteering for up to 30 days with a registered charity
  • attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews
  • negotiate and sign deals and contracts
  • site visits and inspections
  • intra-corporate activities
  • interpreting and translation work as an employee of an overseas enterprise
  • tour group work
  • journalism
  • scientific and academic research
  • preaching and pastoral work by religious workers

 

Clearly then there are some scenarios in which work and study related activities are permitted, and if you are unsure we highly recommend you seek expert advice before you travel. The exact nature of work which is permitted is very difficult to interpret as a layperson, and can often fall foul of subjective interpretation on the part of the border officer. If your particular activity falls into that murky ambiguous area between ‘worker’ and ‘visitor’, it may be worth applying for a visit visa regardless of the requirement, to avoid the risk of problems upon entry.

Related to employment there are also no express restrictions on visitors seeking employment or even attending job interviews, although they should under absolutely no circumstances start doing any actual work should they be successful. They will need to leave the UK and reapply under the Skilled Worker scheme in order to take up employment.

It is also not prohibited for visitors to work remotely while in the UK for their overseas employer (for example by responding to emails), however this should not be the primary purpose of the visit as it is not on the list of permitted activities which should form the primary basis for a visit to the UK. This means it would be ok to answer a few work emails while visiting a family member in the UK, but not to visit the UK for the sole purpose of working remotely from the UK.

 

How Do Border Officers Decide?

At the border, a border officer will assess the purpose of the proposed visit and make a decision as to whether it falls within permitted visitor activities or not. They will ask you questions about your reasons for visiting the UK, and it is important to answer honestly and in a way which makes it clear your visit falls within the permitted guidelines.

The decision will be made on the balance of probability and depend on whether the officer thinks it is more likely than not that you are a genuine visitor. This is a subjective decision against which there is no right of appeal, and there is therefore the potential for inconsistencies in decision making between border officers.

If the officer wants to talk to you, they will look at things like the main reason for your visit, your immigration history and any problems you have had, how many visits you have been making to the UK (are you trying to live here by visiting repeatedly), whether you have family in the UK, your ties to your home country, whether you booked a return flight, and how much money you have. These are issues it is helpful to have thought about and have an answer for in advance.

How Long Can I Stay?

As a non-visa national you can stay six months at a time from the date of entry. There is no formal ‘cooling off’ period before you can re-enter the UK, but attempts to live in the UK through repeated visits will arouse suspicion. A good rule of thumb is not to spend more than 180 days in any 12 month period in the UK.

 

If you are interested in a visit visa, or any other category of UK visa, we can help. Get in touch with one of our friendly experts today for a consultation on 01403 801 801 or email us at [email protected]

Introducing the UK-India Young Professionals Scheme

 

What is it?

As part of a new agreement with India, the UK government has agreed (albeit in a non-binding agreement) to participate in a scheme aimed at allowing increased mobility for a limited number of young people between India and the UK. It has some similarities to the existing Youth Mobility Scheme, and will allow up to 3,000 Indian nationals per year aged between 18 and 30 to come to the UK to live and work for a period of up to two years. In return, 3,000 UK nationals a year will be able to do the same in India.

 

Who can apply?

Unlike the Youth Mobility Scheme, which has no qualification or English language requirements, hopeful applicants under the Young Professionals scheme will have to hold a diploma or degree equivalent to at least three years of higher education and be able to express themselves in the language of the host country.

It is also possible that the visa could require sponsorship or a job offer from a named employer, which would distinguish it from the un-sponsored Youth Mobility Scheme route, however the eligibility requirements have not yet been finalised.

 

How will the 3,000 be picked?

This is not yet clear. It is likely that this visa will be over-subscribed, with millions of Indian nationals meeting the eligibility requirements. In this case it is likely that there will be a lottery for places, as in some countries for the Youth Mobility visa where places are heavily limited. There are also concerns that this category may be dominated by large tech companies, which will gain a monopoly on the limited spaces available, if it offers a cheaper way to bring talent into the UK.

 

Follow our blog to find out more about this visa category and the eligibility requirements as they are announced. If you have a query about your eligibility for any other UK visa we can help. Get in touch with one of our experts on 01403 801 801 or emails us at [email protected] for a consultation.

Applicants for Biometric Residency Permit/Card Replacement Service to be able to use IDV App to submit biometrics

Due to increased demand for replacement Biometric Residence Permits and Cards the Home Office’s commercial partner UKVCAS has been struggling with appointment availability for all applicants. In order to reduce the pressure, it has been announced that as of 22/04/2021 some BRP/BRC replacement customers will be invited to apply through the IDV app.

When applicants submit an application in this category UKVI will assess whether the application can be progressed using the app. If so, they will contact you by email with instructions on using the app, if not, they will let you know and invite you to book an appointment through UKVCAS.

UKVCAS have indicated the assessment process should be carried out within a few weeks of registration with UKVI. This means you should create an account by following the instructions to provide biometrics after submitting the online application. Once an account is created you should await further instructions.

The email will be sent to the email you registered your application with and will be titled “Book your UKVCAS appointment now” or “Download the IDV app now”

In addition to this, UKVCAS have now started sending emails after applicants for all visa categories attend a biometric appointment confirming that supporting information has been sent to UKVI. This email will be entitled ‘Your supporting information has been submitted to UKVI’ and will be sent to the email account you registered to UKVCAS with. It should arrive within 24 hours of the appointment.

If you require a replacement Biometric Residence card or permit we can help. For information on this, or any other UK immigration matter please get in touch for a consultation on 01403 801 801 or send us an email at [email protected]

An Introduction to the UK Start-Up Visa

 

The Start-Up visa was brought in to provide a route for individuals hoping to set up a business to enter the UK who may not yet be eligible for the Innovator visa. The requirements are stringent and the route requires the business plan to be endorsed by an approved body. It is an attractive alternative to the Innovator visa as it does not have such stringent financial requirements. Here are some of the most common questions.

What Requirements Do I Need to Meet?

You need to be endorsed by an authorised body. This must be a UK higher education institution or a business organisation which has a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

You need to show that your idea is new, and innovative. This means you can’t start a business providing the same service an existing company is already providing. It also has to be viable. This means that there has to be the potential for the business to grow.

How Long Can I Stay For?

This visa will give you leave for 2 years. It cannot be extended, at the end of the 2 years you will have to switch into another visa category. For most people this is the Innovator visa. If your endorsement is withdrawn your visa may be cut short and you will have to re-apply with new endorsement.

Does This Route Lead to Settlement?

No, you cannot settle on this route, however you can switch from this route into the Innovator visa path, if at the end of the 2 years your endorsing body agrees your business is active, trading and sustainable, and that you have day to day involvement with it. You are allowed to work outside of your business, but you must remain involved.

If you are not able to switch to the Innovator visa, then you may be able to switch to another visa category, such as the Skilled Worker visa.

How Much Does It Cost?

To apply in the UK (by switching from another visa category) it will cost you £493 each for you and each of your dependants.

To apply from outside of the UK it will cost £363 each for you and each of your dependants.

You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year per adult applicant and £470 per child applicant per year.

You will not be able to access most benefits or the State Pension while in the UK on this visa category.

Can I Bring My Family?

Yes. You will be able to bring immediate family members such as partners and children under the age of 18 on this visa. Your partner will be able to work in the UK while they are present as your partner.

What Evidence Will I Need?

You will need to provide your passport, proof you meet the English Language requirement, your tuberculosis test results (where applicable), and evidence of your maintenance funds.

 

We recommend everyone takes professional advice when applying for a visa. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you apply for the Start-Up visa, or any other UK visa, please gives us a call on 01403 801 801 or email us at [email protected] for a consultation.

Meeting the financial requirements for a spouse visa

One of the most onerous aspects of applying for a spouse visa in the UK is meeting the financial requirement. On the surface it looks relatively straightforward with the sponsor or applicant needing to be earning £18,600 a year. If there are children who are not British nationals then the income requirement rises by £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for each additional child after that.

You must prove you have been in this position for at least 6 months at the time of application and provide evidence to substantiate this in the form of payslips, bank statements, p60s and employer letters. While this is the most common way of meeting the income threshold, there are however a number of other ways it can be met which we will explore below. It is possible to combine some of these categories and for less straight forward cases particularly we would strongly advise you take professional advice.

Savings

Savings must amount to £16,000 plus the shortfall between the salary earned and the amount required, multiplied by 2.5 (this is the length of the visa). So if you earn £17,600 and want to sponsor just your spouse you would need to hold £18,500 in savings (£16,000 + £1000 x 2.5).

You can also rely solely on savings to satisfy the requirement. For 1 dependant this would be £62,500 (£16,000 + £18,600 x 2.5), for a spouse and 2 children this would be £78,000.

Employment Held for Less than 6 Months

It is possible to use employment you have held for less than 6 months if your total income over the past 12 months has totalled at least £18,600 and you will be employed for the foreseeable future. The evidential requirements are more complex, and we would advise anybody pursuing this route to take professional advice.

Self-Employment

You can also use income earned from dividends, stocks, self-employed income and a variety of other sources to satisfy the financial requirements. You must provide extensive documentation to demonstrate how you meet the requirements using this method. Simply providing bank statements will not be sufficient and preparing the appropriate documents is a technically demanding task.

Returning to the UK with your Partner

If you and your partner are intending to return to the UK together there is a provision to allow you to meet the financial route despite obviously not being employed in the UK at the time of application. You (the sponsor) must have a confirmed job offer from a job willing to pay at least £18,600 which starts within 3 months of your planned return to the UK. You must provide evidence of this with your application.

10 Year Route

Should you fail to meet the financial requirements listed under the permitted routes it is possible you may be granted discretionary leave under what is known as the 10 year route. You will still have to demonstrate your partner will have adequate accommodation and be supported without recourse to public funds. How this evidence is provided can take many forms.

Whether you are granted leave despite failing to meet the financial requirements is discretionary and things like the best interests of any children you have, and whether there are insurmountable obstacles to you and your partner making a life together in another country.

 

Meeting the financial requirements for a spouse visa can be incredibly complex and evidence heavy. We strongly advise that you take professional advice when applying for this visa category. Our experts have extensive experience managing family visas and are happy to help. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or email us at [email protected] for a consultation.

Child Registration Fee Declared Unlawful

The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s previous ruling that the £1012 fee the Home Office charges in order to register a child as a British Citizen is unlawful. The basis of this ruling is that the cost is prohibitively high, does not reflect the actual administrative costs, and results in alienation and ‘othering’ of children with a right to citizenship who are unable to access this due to financial limitations. The actual process of registering a child costs the Home Office £372 and the Home Office claims to use the remaining £640 profit they make to cross-subsidise other parts of the immigration system.

It is difficult to see why it should fall to children and their families to subsidise other aspects of the immigration system and the judge today pointed out that the system failed to consider the impact of this on the children in question’s rights, pointing out that for many families, particularly those with multiple children, it was “difficult to see how the fee could be afforded at all”.

The original judgment was made by a High Court judge in December 2019. The judge ruled that the fee was unlawful on the basis of substantial evidence that there were many children who were unable to register for citizenship as a result of the prohibitively high fee. This made them feel “alienated, second best and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK”.

The ruling indicated that the department had failed to take into consideration the best interests of these children or give primary consideration to those interests when considering the level at which to set the fee. The Home Office appealed unsuccessfully against this ruling, and must now reconsider the fee, taking into account the best interests of the children as they do so.

It has not yet been announced what the new fee might be, or how the Home Office will respond to this ruling, but it is likely this will lead to a reduction in fees for children applying to register as British citizens, so watch this space for further news.

If you would like to find out more about your child’s eligibility for British citizenship, or any other UK immigration matter, we can help. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or send us an email at [email protected] for a consultation with one of our experts.

What Records Do I Need to Keep for Employees on Skilled Worker Visas?

As of the 1st of January 2021, firms hoping to employ EU workers will now need to apply for a sponsor license in order to employ workers from any country outside of the UK or Ireland. This is because Freedom of Movement from the EU has now ended and these workers are required to apply for entry clearance under the same system as non-EU nationals.

For many companies this will be their first time holding a sponsor license and the duties can seem overwhelming, with serious consequences for even innocent mistakes. One of the most common areas where sponsors are likely to run into trouble is the requirement to keep extensive records for their sponsored workers.

In this article we will provide a brief summary of the document keeping requirements, but there are many other complex aspects to sponsoring overseas workers.

The following is a summary of the documents which you must keep for all sponsored workers. It is not intended to be exhaustive or a replacement for consulting the official immigration rules, which can be located in Appendix D.

We highly recommend you take professional advice when sponsoring overseas workers, as non-compliance can result in your license being revoked, which then results in all sponsored employees losing their right to work for you and indeed to remain in the UK. You may also struggle to become licensed again in the future with a history of non-compliance.

You must keep the following records, and be aware that the Home Office has the right to inspect them so you should ensure they can be accessed easily if requested. You may also be required to keep some other records not listed here depending on your individual circumstances.

  • Records of the migrant’s absences, which may be kept electronically or manually.
  • Copy of their current passport and both sides of the BRP card. This can be a hard copy or a scanned copy in a format which cannot be manually altered, such as a jpeg or pdf document. You should keep the copies securely for the duration of the person’s employment and for a further two years after they stop working for you. You should also be able to produce these document copies quickly in the event that you are requested to show them to demonstrate that you have performed a right to work check and retain a statutory excuse. You must also make a note of the date on which you conducted the check. This can be by either making a dated declaration on the copy or by holding a separate record, securely, which can be shown to us upon request. This date may be written on the document copy as follows: ‘the date on which this right to work check was made: [insert date]’ or a manual or digital record may be made at the time you conduct and copy the documents which includes this information.
  • A history of the migrant’s contact details to include UK residential address, telephone number and mobile telephone number. This must be kept up to date with any changes to these details.
  • Copies of the migrant’s payslips, clearly showing the name, NI number, tax code, any allowances paid, and deductions made
  • A copy of any contract of employment or for services, or a written statement of employment particulars, between the sponsor and the migrant which clearly shows the names and signatures of all parties involved, the start and end dates of the contract, details of the job the migrant has been contracted to do and an indication of how much the migrant will be paid.

 

We offer assistance with record keeping and compliance as part of the ongoing support we offer for the duration of your sponsor license, should you instruct us to manage it. If you will be sponsoring migrant workers we advise you take professional advice. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or at [email protected] for more information about how our experts can help you with all aspects of the license process including application and ongoing compliance.

Introducing the New Visa for Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas)

As of 31/01/2021 the new visa for Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) will be open for new applicants. In this blog we will give an overview of the eligibility requirements as well as the kind of activities successful applicants are able to undertake while present on this visa.

 

Who Can Apply?

Anyone with British national (overseas) status. You don’t need a British national (overseas) passport in order to apply, and if you have one but it is expired you don’t need to apply for a new one. If you have an expired one however you should submit this with your application.

You will need a valid travel document but this can be a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport. You can apply from inside or outside the UK.

If you apply from outside the UK you and your family must normally be resident in Hong Kong. If you apply from inside the UK you must be normally resident in the UK, Hong Kong, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.

How Long Can I Stay For?

You will initially be granted 5 years of leave or 2.5 years of leave after which you will be able to extend it for a further 2.5 years. After 5 years on this route you will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. After holding Indefinite Leave to Remain for 12 moths you will be able to apply for British Citizenship.

What Can I do?

You can work, study, and use the NHS (National Health Service). If you have children they will be able to attend school for free if they are under 18.

You will not be able access public funds (social welfare benefits and similar)

How Much Does it Cost?

The visa application itself will cost £180 for 2.5 years or £250 for 5 years (although the Home Office has not made it clear under what circumstances an application could be made for 5 years).

You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as a mandatory part of the application. This costs £1,560 for 2.5 years or £3,120 for 5 years per adult applicant and £1,175 per 2.5 years and £2,350 per 5 years per child under 18.

Can I Bring my Family?

This visa category allows for dependants to accompany the main applicant regardless of whether they themselves are British nationals (overseas). Your family must apply at the same time as you, they cannot apply to join you later.

Your family members must normally live with you and may include the following

-Spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner,

-Child under 18

– Adult child born on or after 1 July 1997 (and their spouse, or child under the age of 18)

– Extended family members like parents, grandparents or siblings where there is a high level of dependency and exceptional circumstances.

What Documents Will I Need?

You will need to provide the following:

  • Evidence you can financially support yourself and your family for 6 months (this might take the form of bank statements or letters from friends and family)
  • A TB certificate (If you normally live in Hong Kong or have been living in another country requiring a TB test in the past 6 months OR you are in the UK and your last grant of leave was for 6 months or less)
  • Evidence of where you normally live.

 

We recommend everyone takes professional advice when applying for a visa. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you apply for the British National (overseas) visa, or any other UK visa, please gives us a call on 01403 801 801 or email us at [email protected] for a consultation.

Graduate Visa Route to Open for Applications From 1st of July 2021

The government has announced today (4th March 2021) that the new Graduate route will be open for applications from the 1st of July 2021. Here’s what it means for you at a glance.

 

Who Can Apply?

International students who have completed a degree at an undergraduate level or higher and have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application. Applicants who have previously studied in the UK but do not currently have Tier 4 or student leave will unfortunately not be eligible.

How Much Will it Cost?

Applicants will have to pay a £700 application fee as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge at a rate of £624 per year (so £1248)

How Long Can I Stay?

Successful applicants will be able to stay for 2 years (3 years for doctoral students). This period of time will not count towards settlement but they will be able to switch in country to the Skilled Worker route if they are successful in finding a job with a company willing to sponsor them. They may also be able to switch under the family route if they have a British or settled partner. You are not able to extend your stay under the same visa route.

Can my Dependants Apply with Me?

Any individuals who were present with you as dependants on your Tier 4 or Student visa will be able to apply to remain with you as your dependants, however you will not be able to add new dependants after you have applied.

Do I Need a Sponsor?

No you do not need a sponsor for this route although if you choose to stay in the UK you will need one in order to switch to the Skilled Worker route. Your university will also not have to sponsor you or fulfil and sponsorship duties in relation to your application under this route once they have notified the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course.

What Am I Allowed to do on this Visa?

You can work, rent property, marry and use the NHS on this visa. You may not however access public funds, (for example housing benefits or Universal Credit). You can switch in country to a Skilled Worker Visa.

 

If you think you may be eligible for this visa route, or any other, we can help. Get in touch on 01403 801 801 or at [email protected] for a consultation with one of our experts. 

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UK VISAS NO WIN NO FEE PROMISE

We provide a ‘No Win – No Fee’ guarantee for all points-based system visa applications unless expressly stated at the time of appointment. We will guarantee our service for these applications by offering a full refund on our fee should it be unsuccessful.

These guaranteed terms are conditional upon the client being able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Home Office that they have earned the income claimed or that they have the necessary funding in place for maintenance or are fully conversant with their business plan in the case of Tier 1 Entrepreneurs.

It also presumes that neither the applicant nor their dependants have previously come under scrutiny or been under investigation by the Home Office for any immigration matter. In order that we can do our job properly the necessary information and details required should be made available and they must genuine as well as accurate.