Wednesday, 28 July 2010

UKBA inspection into Pakistan Visa Applications

Recently an inspection on Visa applications from Pakistan into the UK has shown major errors on the part of the UKBA. It has become apparent that many cases that should have been refused were in fact granted approvals, the UKBA's chief inspector claimed that a lack of scrutiny was to blame these mistakes.

In some of these cases the relevant employment references contained conflicting information, spelling errors and many of the bank statements used displayed large, unexplained cash deposits.

The Independent Chief Inspector was reported to say that the visa section in this area lacked any strategic direction, management and clear communication.

I have some personal experience in dealing with a number of the embassies and visa sections in different locations across the globe and can confirm that the services provided to applicants often is really poor and leaves room for plenty of improvements.

One major reason for the service level being remarkably so low is the fact there are constantly changes being implemented to the rules and procedures and these changes and related information is not filtered to these offices properly.

When the points based system was introduced for example one of my contacts in one of the embassies was sent for training for 5 days only, and she admitted that this was not nearly sufficient enough training and further confirmed that the internal system at her disposal for finding out pertinent information was just as equally poor.

Another organization named world-bridge that works in conjunction with the UKBA and embassies was meant to provide support services to the embassies in dealing with specific public inquiries. I have attempted to use this service to find out specific details not found in the Immigration Rules,UKBA website or Visa Guidance notes and not even once have I received any response that actually addresses the specific question asked. They always send back a generic and general response that is not helpful in the slightest.

Now understandably it is not a simple task to provide a system for the public to get up to date visa information BUT some major improvements are urgently needed.

The best that any person applying for any UK visa is to personally find out as much of the information for the specific application required and to consider using a professional that has a track record with successful applications.

In my business the recommendations and referrals that I receive are extremely valuable, I place high importance on creating a comfortable and friendly atmosphere with each client, no matter if it's a High Level executive applying for a Tier 1 Visa or a young Student applying for their Tier 4 Visa.

On many occasions I have asked potential clients to contact my previous clients for a recommendation or an assessment on my service and level of commitment to each client.

Monday, 26 July 2010

English Test for Partners More Info

In June the UK Govt Announced a mandatory new rule for migrants (non EU) who will be making applications to join/marry/stay with their UK settled partner.

The UKBA announced that these rules will be implemented from 29 November 2010, this new rule is for all applicants as husband, wife, Unmarried partner, civil partner fiance, or proposed civil partner of a British citizen or person settled in the UK.

This new language test applies both to people applying from inside the UK and those applying for Entry Clearance to enter the UK in one of the categories listed above.

Maintenance Refusals Review of Cases

After the judgments in the recent cases of Secretary of State for the Home Department V Pankina the UKBA have put transitional arrangements in place for migrants that submitted ENTRY CLEARANCE applications between 23 June and 22 July 2010 or submitted LEAVE TO REMAIN applications on or before 22 July 2010.

So if you had an application refused and were denied permission to enter or remain in the UK only on the basis of MAINTENANCE you are able to request a review for your case.

The regular rules and procedures apply for this review and it should be noted that any applicant that is submitting a review should not include any additional information to support the claim for the MANDATORY MAINTENANCE, the decision will be based on the ORIGINAL EVIDENCE submitted with the initial application.

All the Tiers of the Points Based System are covered in this update and applies to BOTH the main applicants and Dependent applications.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Tier 4 UK Student Visa Changes

Once again the UKBA is making a series changes to the Tier 4 student visa.

The Level of English Language Study: from the 23rd of July 2010 the minimum level of English language course that will be allowed under Tier 4 will be LEVEL B2 of the Common European Framework of Referencee. The previous exceptions to this level which previously applied to government sponsored language students and those students studying a pre-sessional English Language course before studying a degree STILL REMAIN IN PLACE.

Students Applying to Change to a different education institute
: From the 23rd July 2010 existing Tier 4 students who want to change to a Highly Trusted Sponsor will be able to begin their studies while they are waiting for the UK Border Agency to process their application to change sponsor.

Students that are applying to change to an A or B rated sponsor will NOT be allowed to start studying at the institution until they receive a positive answer from the UK Border Agency BUT the UKBA has put some procedures in place that should help avoid delays in students beginning there studies at A or B rated sponsors.

US Student Loans: Recent changes to the way the USA Govt processes Student Loans, From 1 July 2010, UK Institutions participating in the William D Ford Federal Direct Loan Program will be authorized to give Federal Direct Loans to students from the USA wishing to Study in the UK.

This change also affects applicants wishing to study under the Tier 4 route, and the UKBA has drafted a template letter for use under the Tier 4. All UK sponsors should use this letter when accepting prospective students with loans from the USA.

English Language Tests On the 12 August 2010 the requirement for sponsors to assess potential students' level of English will change.

If a Tier 4 student will be studyign a course that is below NQF level 6, using a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study issued on or after 12 August 2010, the Tier 4 Sponsor MUST ENSURE that the student has an acceptable level of English- Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference by showing:

:that they are from a Majority English Speaking Country listed below:
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia,the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize,Canada, Dominica,Grenada,Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand,St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States of America

OR that they have completed a course on Tier 4 (child) student which lasted at least 6 months and ended no more than two years before the date on the CAS

OR have passed an English language test with one of the approved English Language Test Providers and received a minimum level of B1 in all four areas (Reading, writing, speaking and listening). You can have a look at the list of approved Test providers by clicking HERE

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Prime Minister speaks at UKTI Business Summit

I found this clip on the UKTI website: The new PM delivering a speech at the UK Trade and Investment Business Summit on the 14 July 2010. Over 100 of the UK's leading investors and business representatives attended the event where these industry leaders were reassured that the UK Govt remains strongly committed to making the UK an attractive investment destination.

UK Tier 2 Limit and Implications for UK Sponsors

As discussed recently the UKBA has introduced an interim limit on the number of applications under Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the UK's Point Based System.

The UKBA has released guidance that sets out the implications of this limit for already existing UK Sponsors and New Sponsors:

The UKBA has reserved a small amount of Certificates of Sponsorship available for cases that are deemed exceptional. As a sponsor you may request a Certificate of Sponsorship from this reserved amount if you are:

A new Sponsor licensed during the interim limit or an existing sponsor that requires more Certificates of Sponsorship in special circumstances during the period of the temporary cap.

Existing Sponsors will all receive a letter informing them of their Certificate Allocation for the period of the Temporary Cap.

The method that the UKBA calculated the limit with was to assess each Sponsor's Usage of the Certificate of Sponsorship system from 19 July 2009 until 31 March 2010. The UKBA then applied a reduction to each sponsor who used 2 or more Certificates during this period. This calculation then leaves a number of unallocated Certificates for New Sponsors and those existing sponsors who may have special requirements.

This means that some sponsors will not be given any number of Certificates for this period, the sponsor remains licensed by the UKBA and are able to continue sponsoring any existing migrants that have a valid leave BUT they will not be able to assign any new Certificates to Migrants or to existing employees that may need an extension.

Any Sponsor that has a zero allocation allowance can apply for exceptional circumstances BUT the number of exceptional Cases will be limited and there is no guarantee that a request for any extra certificates will be approved.

Any existing sponsor that has been downgraded to a B-Rating will automatically receive a zero number of certificates until they make the necessary arrangements to improve their rating. These sponsors will still be licensed and continue employing migrants BUT will not be able to allocate any new Certificates or apply for any extensions.

I will be posting the changes for NEW SPONSORS Shortly.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

UK Temporary Limit on Non EU Immigrants- Tier 2 Changes

The UKBA is introducing a Temporary Limit on the number of Tier 2 applications with a view to reducing the number of applications to 5% of the number from last year (overall including Tier 1 and Tier 2).

Tier 2 limit will be maintained by limiting the the number of Certificates of Sponsorship each UK sponsor can issue.

This limit will include all Certificates of Sponsorship under Tier 2 including certificates used in Tier 2 extension applications.

The limit will NOT include Tier 2 Intra-Company transfers, Ministers of Religion and Sportspeople.

The limit will NOT include applications by Tier 2 Dependents.

All UK sponsors should receive a letter from UKBA that will outline their Certificate of Sponsorship allocation for the period 19 July 2010 to 31 March 2011.

I will be posting further explanation on the specific details for UK sponsors as stated in the most updated Tier 2 Guidance shortly.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Tier 1 Changes July 2010- Points Required Increase

Today the amount of points required to be successfully approved on Tier 1 (General) has been raised from 95 points to 100 points. Also the points awarded to those applicants who have earned over £150,000 has been raised from 75 points to 80 points. The UKBA has also raised the amount of points for those applicants who have an eligible MBA from 75 points to 80 points.

These changes will apply to all applications that are submitted on or after 19 July 2010.

Changes to Tier 1 (General) visa applications- Temporary Limit

Today two vital changes were implemented to the Tier 1 (General) for those migrants applying under this category.

Temporary Limit on the Number of applications until April 2011

The Increase in the number of points required for Tier 1 from 95 to 100

In this post I will outline the details of the temporary limit and procedural changes:

The UKBA is administering the limit of applications under Tier 1 (General) HOWEVER the process remains the same as before. If you submit a Tier 1 (General) Application, meet the requirements and the monthly limit has not been reached you will be issued the visa in the same way.

If you submit a Tier 1 (General), meet all the requirements but the monthly limit has been reached then the UKBA will defer your application to the next month when the limit allocation is open again.

Under the new rules if you submit an application and you do not meet the requirements then your application will be dealt with even if the monthly limit has been reached. It is important to note that you CAN still submit an application when the limit has been reached.

The process will essentially be on a first come first serve basis and applications will be dealt with in the order in which they are received.

The temporary limit will not be applying to people who are already in the UK, dependents of a Tier 1 Visa Holder and Investor, Entrepreneur and Post-study work categories of Tier 1.

I can foresee many operational issues with the way the UKBA has approached this process, for example when you submit the application you need to submit your passport and many people who will be applying need to travel and now need to take into account the possibility of delays and when considering travel plans it is very hard to confirm any time frames.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Further discussion on Cap on UK Immigration

I found this illustration on the guardian website in an article on the cap on Non EU Workers being introduced soon to the UK immigration system. This proposed cap once again has come under heavy criticism by businesses in the UK who claim it will have a negative affect on economic growth. The British Chamber of commerce have said that this cap will stop UK companies from hiring the specialist and highly skilled workers they need and have become reliant on.

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC, said: "Firms really need to be able to employ the right people to drive the recovery and we can't be held back by arbitrary limits."

Marshall will appear in front of the home affairs select committee on Tuesday this coming week. Senior Researcher Sarah Mulley of the Institute for Public Policy Research was reported t have said that the highly skilled people were not the demographic that the public should be concerned about and she also maintains that this sector of highly skilled individuals pay a large amount of Tax in the United Kingdom and by reducing the number of skilled immigrants could adversely affect the UK public finances.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Tier 4 Changes 13 July 2010 Further Explained

Arrangements For International Baccalaureate Students With Awards Issued On 5 July 2010

This week the UKBA announced some further changes to the Tier 4 Policy Guidance. The changes will affect any Tier 4 Student that has been accepted on a course of study in the UK on the basis of an International Bachelor award and has not yet been issued with a certificate.

In this case any Tier 4 Applicant should include a printout from the UCAS or International Baccalaureate Office online checking service that confirms their results. The Tier 4 Sponsor should also include confirmation that they have checked the Tier 4 Applicant's International Bachelor Award online in the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies). If the Tier 4 sponsor does not confirm this information the UKBA will NOT approve the Tier 4 Application. Where a Tier 4 student has been offered a course place on the basis of their International Baccalaureate award and they have received their award certificate they should include this with their application.

All Tier 4 Students may apply using this allowance from 5 July 2010 until 29 October 2010.

Changes to the conditions placed on loan letters used as evidence of maintenance

The current Tier 4 Guidance states that For students applying from overseas, the loan funds must be available to the student before he/she travels to the United Kingdom... This has been replaced with before he/she travels to the United Kingdom, unless that loan will be an academic/student loan from his/her countries national government and the loan will be released to the student by his/her national government or via his/her Tier 4 sponsor on arrival in the UK.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

New Changes to Tier 4 Student Visa Policy

12 July 2010

The UKBA has published an addendum to their policy guidance for applicants applying to study in the United Kingdom on a Tier 4 Study Visa. The changes are for those students who are applying with a loan letter in support of their finances and those students with an international bachelor qualification awarded on the 5 July 2010.

Student Loan Changes will affect the date that the money (Maintenance as it is known) is available to the student.

International Bachelor Qualification changes will affect those students using the qualification as supporting evidence. The UKBA is aware that these students will not receive the official transcripts or certificate and therefore will not be able to apply for Courses starting in September of 2010.

As soon as I am able to get further confirmation from the UKBA I will be posting the relevant updates to the blog. If you have any questions or comments on Tier 4 or any any other UK Visa please feel free to send them and I will do my best to answer you

Thursday, 8 July 2010

UK Home Secretary on UK Immigration Cap

The UK Home Secretary briefly discusses the Cap on Non EU Workers entering the UK and she also touches on the consultation being carried out by the Migration Advisory Committee on how the limit should be operated and what levels of limits should be set at. She also confirms that the temporary cap being introduced later this month will be set at 5% lower than the levels from last year.

The way in which the UK Govt has approached the Limits intended on being set has been accused of being short sighted and not necessarily the best way to reduce immigration BUT at least they are consulting with many UK businesses and industry leaders, who will be given the chance to voice their concerns and make suggestions.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

UK Immigration Minister discussing Cap on Immigration

Interesting video that discusses some of the issues the New UK Govt is facing with their intended Immigration Cap that is being introduced this month. There is clearly still some issues fort he consultation to work out and lets hope that these caps will not affect too many of the legitimate people who need to work in the United Kingdom and bring their professional skills and experience to the UK. I do not think that the cap on immigration is necessarily a bad thing provided that the systems the UK Govt intend on using to implement this cap are fully explained and transparent.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Tier 2 Limit Further explained

From the 19th July 2010 an interm limit on the number of applications under Tier 2 will be introduced, this means that the number of certificates of sponsorship that an employer can issue ill be limited.

Prioroity will be given to the extension applications and shortage occupations.

Applicant's in the UK in another immigration category and want to switch into Tier 2 (General) WILL BE INCLUDED in the limit.

Intra Company Transfer, Minister of Religion and Sportspeople applications will not be included in the limits.

UK Licensed Sponsors may request extra/additional certificates of sponsorship using the existing online system BUT the UKBA will only most likely approve these in exceptional circumstances

Tier 1 Immigration Limit Further explained

From the 19th July the UKBA will be introducing the limit on the number of Tier 1 applications that they will consider in 1 month. The points needed have also been raised from 95 to 100. The UKBA has announced that all application will be treated on a first come first serve basis, meaning that if you apply once the limit has already reached for that month your application will only be considered in the next month's limit.

The limit does not affect those in the UK already under Tier 1 (General) and are applying for an extension or those that are in the United Kingdom under one of the other immigration categories and switch into Tier 1 (General).