- How the UK is changing its immigration system and how it affects Ireland
So, the British government is working to overhaul the immigration rules in the country and wants to adopt a point-based system. Under this system, migrants will have to work harder to boost their chances of getting a work visa in the UK. What this means is that if this becomes law, from next year, EU migrants seeking a work visa in the UK will receive the same treatment as non-EU residents looking for the same visa. They will be required to provide biometric information. EU citizens will only be required to provide a digital photo of your face through a smartphone app, but for non-EU nationals, they will have to provide their fingerprints details as well.
Also, for the skilled workers, only those whose skills level are RQF3 or above, and be able to speak in English. From 2021, employers are required to sponsor their skilled migrant workers. Low skilled workers will not be allowed into the country. This will also be the case for low salaried workers.
For international students and graduates, the student visa will be extended to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. As long as you can speak in English, have been offered a place in an UK institution, and have enough funds to support yourself while in the country, you can apply for a student visa. And if you graduate with a degree, you are allowed to find work in the country for a period of up to 2 years.
How will Irish people be affected?
The Irish citizens will not be affected in the manner in which other EU citizens are affected. Irish citizens will be able to work and live in Britain as usual during the transition period, that until 31 December 2020. The decades-old agreement between Britain and Ireland, known as the Common Travel Area, allows Irish citizens in Britain and British citizens in Ireland to work and live in each other countries peacefully. However, non-Irish and non-British citizens living in Ireland will be required to apply for a work visa in the UK.
Politicians as well as representative from the hospitality, retail and business sectors in Ireland fear that the proposals announced may lead to a reduction of staff in the country. Majority of the EU citizens currently working in Northern Ireland, and are neither Irish nor British citizens, are in crucial sectors such as agrifood, hospitality, healthcare and manufacturing.
When it comes to the borders, the point-based system is likely to cause some problems. A majority of the non-Irish EU citizens do work on the south border in regions such as Monaghan and Cavan. Now, officials from the UK immigration department will be required to ensure that no non-Irish EU citizens will be moving across the border. What this means is that they would be some issues when it comes to the free movement of British and Irish people to both countries under the Common Travel Area.
For EU nationals who have lived in Ireland for years will also be needed to apply for a work visa if they are looking to work in Britain or Northern Ireland. This will for sure have an impact on the number of low-skilled workers who, since 2004, have moved freely between the two countries.
- UK spouse visa: what you need to know regarding absence days
The civil partner or spouse visa is not limited to the number of absence days from the UK or have any residence requirements, like the way most visas are. However, despite these, there are a number of factors the partners must be aware of if their future application to remain is to be successful.
For partner applications to be successful, the partners have to prove beyond any doubt that they intend to remain and live together permanently in the country. The Immigration Rules in the UK, paragraph 6, clearly states that the intention by partners to live together should be evidenced by a clear commitment from both individuals to live together following the outcome of the application. And when the partners apply to remain in the country, the applicant has to prove that since the last application, he or she has been living with the partner in the UK. And still, both partners have to present physically when submitting the application.
The applicants and their spouses are allowed to be absent from the country for a limited period of time, but the reason for their absence has to be consistent with the intention to live permanently together in England.
So, what are some of the acceptable reasons for absences in the UK?
According to the Home Office, some of the acceptable reasons include holidays as a couple, or generally, time that is spent by the partners oversees working, training or studying. It is worth noting that this isn’t an exhaustive list for the reasons of absences; there may be other valid reasons why the partners may be absent. What happens at this point is that the partners have to provide reasonable evidence to the Home Office, trying to explain why they were absent. Please know that the Home Office may accept or reject your reasons, so it’s better to make sure that the reasons are valid.
How to show the consistency of your absences with your intention to live together?
When an applicant takes a short trip or a holiday vacation with his or her partner, it does not show any inconsistency in your intention to live together with your partner. However, if you are absent for too long, you will have to explain to the Home Office the reason why you were absent, and you have to provide evidence showing that your reasons are actually true. You will also have to show the time period these reasons lasted in order to prove that the UK remained to be your permanent home.
If both the applicant and his or her partner has been separated for a long time, it may call to question the realness of the relationship. For this reason, both parties have to show evidence of how the relationship has been during the periods they have spent apart, by providing evidence of regular visits and/or communication.
So, are the absences limited?
Currently, a partner is not limited when it comes to the time he or she can be absent in the UK. However, according to the Home Office’s guidance, if one of the partners spends a majority of the time abroad, then that will be a reason to doubt whether the couple is serious about living in the country permanently. When you apply to bring your partner to the UK, it is expected that you will spend the majority of the time together as a couple in the country. And you know, this makes a lot of sense as the main purpose of applying for the spouse visa was for the non-EEA national to join their partner in the UK to live as a family.
The Home Office, however, is obliged to consider every case on its merit, where everything is taken account, from the reasons of travel, your absence period, and whether the couple traveled and lived together when outside the UK.
Who is exempted?
An applicant sponsored by a member of the British council or the HM Diplomatic Service, Department for International Development, or even a Home Office on a tour of duty overseas and has joined them overseas, then that individual is allowed to remain outside the UK until their period of residence is complete. After this period, the applicant is also required to apply for indefinite leave or further leave to remain.
- Switching from Tier 4 student to Tier 2 work visa
From 29 March 2019, after the new Immigration rules were introduced, every student who graduates with a degree is allowed to switch from Tier 4 visa to the Tier 2 category 3 months before the completion date of their course. This application must be done from within the UK and should be before the tier 4 visa expires.
What you need to consider when switching
For you to switch to tier 2 visa, you must be granted leave to remain or enter the country as a Tier 4 migrant and also be sponsored by an overseas higher education institution or a higher education provider that’s known for compliance to undertake a study programme in the UK. It is important to note that not every tier 4 holders will be accepted, only those who meet specific requirements.
What are the qualifications?
You must have the following qualifications;
- A bachelor’s degree recognized in the UK
- A recognized master’s degree
- A postgraduate certificate in education
- A professional graduate diploma of education
- A PhD
All these qualifications have to be for courses recognized in the UK.
Those people who have already completed the qualification mentioned above (apart from PhD), are able to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa in the next 3 months. As for the Ph.D. students, only those who have studied for a minimum of 12 months in the UK will be eligible to apply.
Permission to study
You must not be subjected to any form of restriction to pursue any study programme during your time in the UK, and you must be in the country legally when doing so. Also, you will need to note that you must have had undertaken or are undertaking the course at your tier 4 sponsor and that relying on the supplementary study that is undertaken at the tier 4 sponsor is insufficient.
The students who are sponsored by an international scholarship agency or even the government might find themselves required to provide more additional information before they are allowed to switch.
Requirements for the switch
First and foremost, you need to know that for you to apply for Tier 2, you need to at least have an offer on a job position with a proper salary. The second thing you need to have in your mind is the age requirement. See, you need to be 16 years of age and above for you to be allowed to apply. But note that if you are less than 18 years, the Home Office may require consent from your parents.
Certificate of sponsorship (CoS)
Before you are allowed to switch to Tier 2 visa, your UK sponsor or employer is required to have a Tier 2 sponsor license. If they don’t have this license, they will have to apply for it. In this case, there are quite a number of documents required, and the processes for an application can get challenging, so it is recommended that the sponsor gets legal help to apply for it. Now, once your sponsor gets this license, they will be able to give you the certificate of sponsorship. But let’s get something straight here; the fact that you are issued with a certificate of sponsorship doesn’t – in any way – mean that you will get a free pass in your Tier 2 application. There are a number of requirements that you still have to provide, for your switch to be successful.
Anyway, back to the CoS, so, before your sponsor gives you this certificate, they may conduct a Resident Labour Market Test, to test where they need to advertise the position in two appropriate places for a calendar month. But for Tier 4 migrants, if they meet the relevant requirements, the sponsors may exempt them from this test.
- You have to undertake the relevant English language test
- Also, you may also have taught a degree in English; or
- You are from an English speaking country.
Tier 4 holders who have already completed their studies who wish to travel before submitting the tier 2 application should know that they may experience some problems when coming back to the UK. The applicant will have to prove to the immigration officer beyond any reasonable doubt that they will apply to extend their stay in this category or that they are planning to leave before the tier 4 visa expires. And once you’ve made your tier 2 application, you are also not allowed to leave the country until you receive a decision on your application and also until you receive your new BRP.
- How to apply for a business visa in the UK
When it comes to opening a new business or starting a new venture, the UK is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative countries to do so. From the straight-forward processes to the infrastructure and the unending number of talents from across the globe, the UK is for sure one of the most sought-after countries to start a successful and thriving business.
That being the case, the country attracts so many entrepreneurs from Europe and all over the world, which makes the business visas to be in such high demand. Nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland aren’t required to apply for this visa though. Nationals that reside outside these regions are the ones required to apply for a business visitor visa for them to be allowed into the UK for business-related purposes for a short period.
You need this visa if you have a UK limited company and are looking to travel to the UK for meetings with service providers or to open a bank account, carry out site visits, etc. But if you qualify for British citizenship or dual nationality, you are not allowed to apply for this visa. Instead, you are required to apply for citizenship.
A business visa can last you for a period of up to 6 months to 1 year for academic visitors but is open for an extension as long as the total time spent in the UK is less than 6 months. And if you will be visiting the country repeatedly, then you can apply for a long term visa. But you will have to prove your reasons for making repeat visits.
How long does it take to get a business visa in the UK?
If you are planning to apply for a business visa, you should do it online 3 months before the travel date. It takes 3 weeks for a decision to be made with regards to your visa application, but the processing of the visa may take a little more time. The processing period varies with the country you are making an application from.
How much does a business visa cost in the UK?
The cost of a business visa depends majorly on the length of the visa, you are applying for. There are also other factors at play such as the urgency of the visa and the policies governing the local visa application center in your country. So, here are the fees that you need to know about:
Visa type fee (GBP)
Standard visitor visa (6 months) – 93
Standard visitor visa (2 years) – 350
Standard visitor visa (5 years) – 636
Standard visitor visa (10 years) – 798
So, what are the eligibility requirements for the business visa in the UK?
To qualify for a visa, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be 18 years old and above
- Reside outside EEA and Switzerland
- You are able to support yourself financially, at least for the duration you will be in the country.
- Should not be on transit to another country, unless that country is Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.
The following persons are the ones eligible for a business visa:
- A business trainer or advisor
- An academic on sabbatical, accompanying students on a study program abroad or doing research in the country.
- Medical personnel undertaking clinical observer posts or clinical attachment, or just taking the PLAB (professional and linguistic assessment board)
- A nurse taking the OSCE test
- An overseas crew member coming to shoot in the country
- A religious worker
- A driver carrying passengers or delivering goods
- A researcher or a scientist from overseas working on an international project that’s being coordinated from within the UK.
- A lawyer whose firm has offices in the UK
What do you need when applying for a business visa in the UK?
You will have to bring the following documents to the visa application office:
- A passport size photograph (colored)
- A passport or any other form of travel identification that is valid
- Proof that you will be able to support yourself during the duration you will be in the UK – payslips or bank statements
- Your travel plans details – such as the place you intend to stay.
- Translation of documents that are in other languages other than Welsh or English.
- How COVID-19 is affecting the UK immigration system
By now, we know that everybody in the entire world is familiar with the term ‘COVID-19,’ or coronavirus – as it is commonly known. And you have also seen the damage it has done and is continuing to do in the affected nations. You’ve seen how the virus has shaken even the most powerful nations. It has ruined the global economy in an unimaginable way. It has impacted global societies in all aspects and has changed the way we live our lives. If we were to write all the challenges this pandemic has brought to our world, it’s pretty obvious we won’t be able to exhaust all of them, as they are so many. But let’s leave that for another day!
Now, one of the sectors this pandemic has greatly impacted is the immigration department. You are aware that anyone going in and out of any country is thoroughly being checked for any symptoms related to the COVID-19 disease. The presence of the virus in the UK has left significant knock-on effects for the immigration system. But it is important to note that, even though this is the case, policymakers are advised to be sympathetic to the situation and show some humanity when deciding the control measures to enforce with regards to this fact. After all, we don’t want a situation where the rights of the immigrants are violated.
The reason for saying this is the fact that the Home Office is yet to give some guidance on how the visa holders are affected by this pandemic. This single fact leaves so many people with so much uncertainty and anxiety with regard to their position. Given how fast the virus is spreading, the British government has advised against all non-essential travel, and due to the seriousness of the situation, it has ordered border closures.
Given all these reasons, many immigrants may be unwilling to leave the country, which is understandable, but the thing is, their visas may have imminent expiry dates. But, is the Home Office aware of this? Well, for now, we can say that it is dealing with matters related to immigration on an ad-hoc basis.
What this means is that, for instance, submission in the immigration department is no longer needed to be presented in person. But, being a key immigration office, it has to know how the visa holders may be affected by this pandemic, which is why it has laid down a number of policies as a measure to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
If you are aware that your visa is about to expire, instead of becoming an over-stayer – which is pretty risky and unlawful, you are advised to make an application for an extension to remain in the country, by applying for leave to remain outside the rules of immigration.
Due to the impact of the virus, anyone who had planned to return to the UK and is unable to do so can now rely on the compassionate and compelling factors in support of an application to remain outside the immigration rules. For the Home Office to approve your application to remain, it considers the following factors: unexpected events or emergencies or disasters, crises or an accident that wasn’t anticipated. And since COVID-19 perfectly falls under these categories, your application has a higher chance of being approved.
For non-EEA nationals who are currently living in the UK, their visas are taking a little longer to be processed. The visa extensions policy will also apply to the foreign nationals whose visas have already expired, allowing them more time to apply. This policy initially applied to Chinese nationals, or residents living in china, but it was later updated to include other nationalities, given that the pandemic have now spread to whole lot other countries.
Also, for non-EEA nationals living in the UK under the Tier 2 visa, then you are being allowed to switch to a general (tier 2) visa, from within the UK. In normal circumstances, the applications to switch are done when outside the country.
Also, for sponsors, they won’t be required to disclose absences from their students or employees, sponsored under the Tier 2, 4 or 5 visas, if the absences are somehow related to the coronavirus epidemic. Also, sponsors don’t need to remove the sponsorship, if the individual has been affected by the virus.
As you know, NHS workers are the front line soldiers in the battle against the pandemic. As a result, the UK government is allowing these workers and their families to get a visa extension for one year, automatically. On March 31st, the Home Office announced that close to 2800 nurses, doctors and paramedics with leave expiring on October 1st would get an extension of one. This extension will include the workers’ family members, and there won’t be charged any fee.
- UK visa types and information
A visa in the UK is an authorizing document, which gives the citizens from all around the world the right to enter, temporarily stay, or even live forever within the country’s territory. UK Visas are available under many diverse categories. In this article, we will present a general overview of different types of UK visas, and what you need to know when applying for it.
Who needs a visa in the UK?
Citizens from Switzerland, the European Economic Area, and the commonwealth countries don’t need to have a visa to enter the country. But nationals who are not from these countries do need a visa.
How to apply for a visa?
The application process varies with the type of visa you are seeking. This is especially so if the visa you are applying for belongs to a point-based system category. Though the requirements in each category are the same, their evaluation processes are the one that differs.
When should you apply for a visa?
The most appropriate time to apply for a visa in the UK is three months before the date of your intended visit. The reason being, processing a visa may take up to three weeks, so it’s better that you apply in advance, to allow enough time for it to be processed.
Again, the documents required varies with the type of visa being applied for and also the applicant’s nationality
Types of visas in the UK
Bearing in mind that there are several reasons why people want to travel to the UK, the government organized a system where a visitor is given a visa that’s based on the purpose of the visit. The visas include the following;
- Work visas
- Study visas
- Business visas
- Visitor visas
- Family visas
- Transit visas
- Settlement visas
Work and business visas
This is a visa for people who wish to work and live in the country, either for shorter or even longer periods
- Foreigners that are highly qualified;
- Tier 1 visa ( for the exceptionally talented individuals
- Skilled workers offering their skills in the area of shortage
- Tier 2 visa, which is a general visa
- Tier 2 visa (intra-company transfer)
- Tier 2 visa (sports individuals)
- Tier 2 visa (minister of religion)
- Youth mobility and also temporary foreign workers
- Tier 5 visa (temporary worker)
- Tier 5 visa (Youth mobility scheme)
- Turkish worker visa
- Exempt vignette visa
- Croatian National Registration Certificate
- Household Domestic works
For the business visas, they include the following;
- Tier 1 investor visa
- Tier 1 entrepreneur visa
- Tier 1 visa for graduate entrepreneurs
- Turkish businessperson visa
International student looking to study in the UK applies for this particular visa.
- Tier 4 student visa (child)
- Tier 4 student visa (general)
- Short term study visa
Tourist and visiting visas
As you know, the UK is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and also for short and long term visits. The visitor visa is issued for tourism visits, short stays, and other similar purposes. The tourism visa mostly lasts for not more than six months. Also, with this visa, individuals are prohibited from getting a job in the UK.
- Marriage visitor visa
- Short-term study visa
- UK visitor visa
- Permitted paid engagement visa
- Parent of a tier 4 student visa (child)
As the name suggests, it is issued to family members living in the UK. Also, this visa is for those with family members working and living in the UK, and are looking to join them for a period of more than six months, as their dependents. These people can include spouses, fiancé, partner, proposed civil partner, parents, children, or any other family member
- UK child visa
- UK parent visa
- UK spouse visa
The Transit Visa is for non-EEA foreigners using the UK as a transit country to their destination. The visa offers an opportunity for the holder to apply for a long-term transit visa if he/she can prove that he/she needs to regularly travel through the country to their destination, and is not intending to stay in the country for long or permanently.
Direct Airside Transit Visa – this one is for those looking to change flights without leaving the airport in the UK.
Visitors in Transit Visa – this one is for foreigners who are planning to leave the airport, through the land using another means of travel. The visa is valid for 4 days.
This visa is for those people looking to enter the UK, and are held at the border given they had to leave their country as their life was in danger. The application for the refugee visa is done in the UK. This visa is temporary, and the holder uses it until he is not endangered anymore.
UK residence permits
Indefinite leave to remain – also known as a Settlement Permit, it is for those living in the country on a temporary basis but now want to remain in the country permanently. The visa also applies to those who have been living outside the UK and are looking to return to the UK and had lost their passport.
EEA resident permits
- EEA residence card
- UK registration certificate-EEA
- Permanent residence card-EEA
- EEA family permit (derivative right of residence)
- EEA family permit (Surinder Singh)
- EEA family permit (retained right of residence)
Other resident permits
- Returning resident visa
- Residence permit for common
- Settlement visa
- Commonwealth residence permit
Immigration Consulting Pro is a London-based law firm. We provide professional legal advisory services on all UK immigration related matters including visas, work permits, citizenship, family reunification, deportation, among others.