Sunday, 27 December 2009

UK Marriage Visa update

We have been involved in UK immigration matters for the past 6 years roughly, over the years we have witnessed the many changes and additions to the UK Visa laws.

I personally have submitted most application types that have been available over the past few years:

Work Permits
Sole Representative Visas
Marriage Visas
Dependent Visas
Student Visas

Recently I have witnessed a real tightening of the way the UKBA and entry clearance officers are looking at Visas and the supporting evidence required with each application.

Even though there are guidance notes for each application there are still various details/questions that the public often have a hard time confirming. Family based applications were excluded from the Points Based System but it is my opinion that these applications too have become far more of a challenge than previously.

Recently a UK Marriage Visa was submitted through the Visa processing office in Turkey, Istanbul and normally with the documentation that was provided an approval should been reached within 4-6 weeks BUT the approach the caseworker used when deciding on the case made it impossible for an approval and the application was sent back refused.

This was the first time I had ever seen a marriage visa application refusal and you can imagine the disappointment for the applicant and British Spouse.

One thing noticed that even though there should be Generic supporting evidence for each application the truth is that each application has to have a thorough and clear explanation that confirms each piece of evidence and what it is confirming or trying to demonstrate.

Do not expect the entry clearance officer to understand or make sense of just a whole bunch of is vital to either use a professional visa/immigration agent or to have a step by step explanation to avoid any issues or delays.

Heroin Smuggler gets 10 years

23 December 2009 A man from Staffordshire received a 10 year jail sentence after being found guilty of attempting to smuggle 42 Kilos of Heroin into the UK at Canterbury Crown Court

The UKBA officers stopped the man and after questioning found 42 packages with Heroin.

The UKBA is determined to stop drugs from entering the UK and within the UK they are motivating residents and anyone with info on drugs to contact crimestoppers without having to reveal any personal details.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Latest Statement of Change in Immigration Rules

10 December 2009 The most recent Statement of Change in UK Immigration rules was presented to parliament.

These changes included:

These changes are due to come into affect on January 1st 2010 except the Tier 4 changes which will come into play on the 22 February 2010

UK Border Agency responds to claims on Pakistani Visa applications

11 December 2009- UKBA Executive Lin Homer responded to claims in the British Media that Pakistani visa applications to come to the United Kingdom are more likely to be refused.

She was reported to have said that there is no discrimination against any one nationality, applications from all countries including Pakistan are assessed in the same manner against the same criteria as everyone else.

All applications require the applicant to submit enough supporting evidence to support their applications.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Some facts and figures from UK Visas

  • Facts and figures from UK Visas:

  • In 2008 and 2009 they received 2,43 million applications fewer than in 2007/9:
  • Applications were down in all major categories except for Student Visas which were up 2% overall
  • The Points Based System was initiated during 2008-9 attracting over 50,000 applications

  • The overall refusal rate was 19%, up 1% on 2007-08

  • more than 50% of all visa applications were for visits
  • The top nationality by application by application amount remains Indian, followed by Nigerian, Pakistani, Chinese and Russian.
  • The top visa issuing offices remain New Delhi, Chennai, Moscow, Mumbai and Istanbul.

ID Cards for foreign nationals -Tier 2 applicants included

From January 2010 migrant workers and their dependants will receive an ID card when they apply to extend their visa duration under Tier 2 of the UK points system.

All in country Tier 2 applications submitted from 6 January 2010 will need the submission the applicant's biometric details.

Certain categories of of Visas already have a requirement to submit biometrics when extending their stay in the UK. (See Identity Cards for more info)

Click here to find the locations of the Home Office Biometric Enrollment centres

Click here to find the Post Office enrollment locations

Here is the map and a PDF on the process. from the UKBA

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

UK Govt responds to Intra Company Transfer policy failure claims

08 December 2009 The UK govt has announced that from the beginning of next year workers in this category will have to posses 12 months experience instead of the current 6 months and the intra company transfer will be closed to permanent residency/settlement in the United Kingdom.

With the intra company transfer employers can fill positions in the UK by applying for existing foreign employers to join the UK based operations. There have been some claims that this facilitates jobs in the IT and various other industries to be taken up by workers and getting paid less than resident workers.

UK Govt responds to media on Tier 4 abuse

08 Dec 2009. The British Government answered to accusations by UK Media that the Tier 4 of the points based system is being abused by foreigners not really studying.

The UKBA answered by saying that they still have the ability and training to pick up forged documents and phony applications and that anyone found do so can be banned from making future applications for 10 years.

They then went on to reiterate that any institute on the Tier 4 sponsor found enrolling migrants that do not intend on studying will have their license revoked as quickly as possible.

Monday, 7 December 2009

UKBA responds to media on education providers

The UKBA replies to media reports that some educational providers may be stopped from enrolling foreign students.

This came after the MAC report on Tier 1 of the points based system. Tier 1 (post study work), allows migrants to to extend their stay and work inside the UK if they have completed a course of study in the country. The MAC report suggested that the UK Govt should re-assess whether some students enrolled in certain UK education providers' courses should still be allowed to remain in the UK on the post study work category, but the report did not suggest that these education providers or the students enrolled in these institutions were not legitamate.

Tier 4 of the UKBA points system puts responsibility on the Education Providers and ensures greater control of these educational institutions and the students enrolling in courses. The UKBA did confirm that any education provider on the list will still be able to register foreign students.

The UKBA will consider the MAC report on Tier 1 and should announce whether they will accept the changes in early 2010.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Migration Advisory Committee reviews immigration to the UK for Highly Skilled Migrants

4 December 2009- The UK Govt requested that MAC consider whether the criteria for Tier 1 applications should be changed in 2010 in light of the current Economic situation. The report published states that the Tier 1 is operating well but also recommends the following changes:

  • the salary multipliers for each country code needs to be changed
  • migrant's with Bachelor degree's but no Master degree's should be allowed to come into the UK if their previous earnings are high enough
  • professional qualifications should be considered as equal to masters (in say law or accounting).
  • the pay threshold should be increased to 24,000 GBP
  • Migrants with 150,000 GMP or over should not need the qualification requirements
  • Applicants should receive points for their age if they are under 39
  • the period of leave initially granted should be changed to two years and not three
  • Post study work visa should be assessed and check if every field should be included in this category of Tier 1

Points System Pilot Process Evaluation

This report presents results from extensive research into Highly Skilled Migrants who applied to work in the United Kingdom under Tier 1 of the Points Based System.

-There was a high level of satisfaction with the points based application process with about 82% claiming they were very or basically satisfied. Majority of applicants seem to find the information on the Tier 1 and process easy to follow and transparent and applicants that had previously applied to the UK under the previous routes would most likely see the Points Based System as a better option.

The report found that the guidance notes on the application process generally were found to be useful however there was dissatisfaction with the length of time it took to receive assistance and the usefulness of this assistance provided. Although most applicants found supporting evidence easy to submit, except some people found the previous earnings proofs difficult to produce and comments suggest that greater flexibility would be welcomed in this regard.

There was some demand to track the application via an online tool. A large percentage of in country applications would prefer to submit their applications online, which is not currently offered at all.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

EEA Family Permit

1 December 2009- Recently I have received a number of inquiries on the issuing of an EEA Family Permit and the related issues with this type of Visa for the United Kingdom.

So I think it would be useful to list some of the key points with this visa and explain a little more on the rules and procedures in place for this type of visa.

An EEA family permit is a form of entry clearance/Visa issued to the non-EEA (Non EU Citizen) natonal family members of an EEA national who is in or intends to move to the UK in order to be with their EEA national.

Key Points of EEA Family Permit

  • EEA Family Permits can be obtained from any British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate abroad
  • It is not necessary for an applicant to travel to his/her country of origin to apply.
  • EEA Family Permits are issued free of charge
  • EEA FAmily Permits are valid for six months from the date of issue and may be used for multiple entries
  • EEA Family Permit applications are given priority treatment by posts abroad.
  • Family members are defined as a spouse, civil partner, child under 21 or dependent children over 21.
Permanent Residence

An EEA national (and his/her family members) normally receive permanent residence after 5 years exercising treaty rights in the UK.

Treaty Rights

This refers to the Treaty that established the European Community. The rights apply to citizens of the European Economic Area and enable them to live and work in the United Kingdom provided they will be self-sufficient (not a burden on the social assistance system).

Family Permit Procedures

Under European Community Law, EEA Family Permits must be given priority and when assessing an EEA Family Permit the UKBA needs to be satisfied that applicants meet the following:

Applicants claiming to be Direct Family members need to show that they are related as claimed to the EEA National who is exercising treaty rights in the UK or who intends to do so. If they can show this they have a right to an EEA Family Permit unless they potentially could be excluded onthe grounds of public security or public health.

Criteria for non-EEA national family members:

  • Holds a valid passport
  • Has evidence that they are related as claimed e.g. marriage certificate or birth certificate
    AND also
  • the EEA National:
  • Is residing in the United Kingdom and the non-EEA national is joining them or
  • intends to travel to the UK within 6 months and will be joining or accompanying the EEA National
  • For dependent family members financial dependency is defined as a family member that needs the financial support of the EEA national or his/her spouse/civil partner. The applicant should be financially dependent on the EEA national