American Elections – Trumpquake

This morning we woke up to another political earthquake, a Trumpquake as one paper called it.

Like Brexit, the polls did not predict the outcome that has occurred but at the end of the day it seems Donald Trump’s foes took him literally but not seriously, his supporters took him seriously, not literally.

He is now the 45th President of the United States and the only one who has never held public office or serviced in the US military.

 

tremors

Tremors ahead?

Trump’s immigration policies

Like Brexit, one of the major deciding policies of this bitter election campaign was immigration. And Donald Trump never once held back on his determination to reform immigration during his speeches, which offended most and terrified many.

His proposed policies on controlling immigration include:

  • building a wall on the border between the US and Mexico and making the Mexican Government pay for it
  • mass deportation of all people living in the US illegally (he has since softened his position)
  • calling for “extreme vetting” of refugees seeking asylum and at one stage stated he would put a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the country

How likely is it that Mr Trump will be able to enact these policies? He will enjoy a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Early this morning, shortly after Clinton conceded to Trump, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement, “We are eager to work hand-in-hand with the new administration to advance an agenda to improve the lives of the American people.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also a Republican, said in a guarded and similarly timed statement, “The American people have chosen a new direction for our nation.”

The controlling of Trump

Fortunately, the Founding Fathers foresaw the possibility of a less than level-headed person gaining entry into the White House one day; therefore, they created a robust Constitution that will provide plenty of checks and balances on the so-called, “leader of the free world”. However, as the Chicago Tribune pessimistically put it, “our Republic has never been tested as it will be when Donald Trump is sworn into office. He lacks not only ability and virtue, but he also lacks a fundamental respect for the Constitution (aside from the Second Amendment), he lacks an understanding of the fine points of domestic and foreign policy and he lacks the cool temperament necessary to guide the most important nation on Earth through perilous times”.

Many Americans are concerned about the future of their country, to the point that leaving the US is seen by many as a viable option.

Americans immigrating to the UK – the basics

As soon as the election result was announced, immigration firms across the UK were being contacted by American citizens wanting information regarding moving to the UK.

The UK operates a points-based immigration system.

Points are awarded for the following:

  • Qualifications (this ranges from GCSE A-Level equivalents to PHD’s);
  • Future Expected Earnings (the salary that is received by the applicant);
  • Sponsorship (the type of sponsorship you are applying under);
  • English language skills;
  • Available maintenance (funds used to support yourself)

There are a number of visa options American citizens can explore which will allow them entry into the UK. They include:

  1. Tier 2 Visa (sometimes known as a work visa)
  2. Tier 1 (Investor) Visa
  3. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa
  4. Tier 4 (Student) Visa

If you are in a relationship or married to a person who has permanent leave to remain in the UK, you can also apply for immigration under one of the family visas.

In Summary

The election result has shocked many of us this morning. As we digest the news and contemplate what it means for America and the rest of the world, it is understandable that many families will be considering whether the US is the best place for them now and in the near future.

With offices in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. If you require any advice on immigration law matters, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration lawyers.

Will Employers be able to Recruit the Staff They Need Following a Brexit?

Last week, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson gave the first clear picture of the Leave campaigns strategy on immigration following a Brexit.

If Britain leaves the European Union then, “the automatic right of all EU citizens to come and live and work in the UK will end”.

They followed on by adding that in the event of a Brexit, they would introduce a, “genuine Australian-style points-based immigration system” before the next general election.

Naturally, this has workers and employers worried. Although, it must be pointed out, if Gove and Johnson think they can end the free movement of EU citizens in Britain on 24th June 2016, if the Leave camp wins, then they are off in cloud cuckoo land.

Negotiations are likely to take months, if not years. Free movement is a cornerstone EU principle, and one that both France and Germany, Europe’s powerhouses, view as non-negotiable. Swiss citizens voted in a 2014 referendum to have the right to limit EU migration into the country – and two years later, negotiations are in deadlock, with Brussels unable to see how limiting free movement can be done without breaching the bi-lateral agreements Switzerland has with the EU.

We must also remember that any changes to the rights of EU citizens entering the UK made by the British Government are likely to be met in equal measure by other European States, something that makes the 1.2 million British Citizens who reside in them very nervous.

The current rules surrounding the recruiting of EU and non-EU workers

Currently, British employers can freely recruit workers from any of the 28 EU countries. EU nationals do not require visas and can stay in the country as long as they are exercising their Treaty rights, i.e. they are in employment.

To hire an employee from outside the EU, an employer must have a sponsorship licence before they can recruit an applicant on a Tier 2 (General) Visa. The employer will be responsible for maintaining compliance with the responsibilities of the sponsorship licence. Responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that they are licensed to hire migrants and comply with current immigration regulations.
  • Issuing certificates to foreign workers to allow the worker to apply for entry clearance to the UK.
  • Ensuring that any foreign workers employed by the business are fully compliant with UK immigration law.

Even if you obtain a sponsorship licence, you can only employ non-EU citizens for certain positions. If the job you have available is on the Shortage Occupation List, then you can automatically recruit a non-EU national to fill it.

If the position you wish to fill is not on the Shortage Occupation List, then you must perform a, ‘Resident Labour Market Test’ and advertise the position. You must provide evidence that you were unable to find a suitable person in the UK before you apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship.

In addition, a non-EU employee who wishes to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after his or her Tier 2 Visa expires will have to earn a minimum of £35,000 per annum. Employers need to take this into account when strategising for their workforce needs and pay scales. If time and money are going to be invested into training a non-EU employee, it would not make sense to lose them after five years, simply because they are not being paid enough.

The effect of an Australian-style points based system on UK employers

An Australian style points-based system could make it difficult for employers to recruit the staff they need, especially those who require low-skilled workers in sectors such as manufacturing, hospitality, construction and seasonal agriculture. Not only would the employer have to qualify for a sponsorship licence, but if a good knowledge of English and certain academic qualifications are demanded under a new system, many potential EU applicants will fail to accrue enough points to gain entry into the country.

And let us not forget, the higher skills equal higher wages – great for employees, but what about SMEs already struggling with staffing costs?

The impact of a possible Brexit on the UK labour market could be severe. However, the Government would be required to jump through some enormous diplomatic hoops to convince Brussels that free trade without free movement is possible within the EU without compromising everything the institution stands for.

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premiere immigration law firms. If you have any concerns or questions about how the EU Referendum could affect your ability to recruit foreign-born workers, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

EU Referendum – The Essentials of Both Sides of the Debate

Last week two events dominated the EU In/Out Campaign. One involved Emily Wood, a music producer from Poole, who furiously revealed her mother had been shunted down the housing list by officials who prioritise immigrants, demanding: “Where are we going to put them all?” 

The second development which was hijacked by Leave campaigners was the release of figures from the Office of National Statistics which showed net migration to the UK rose to 333,000 in 2015, the second highest figure on record.

Immigration has been the most hotly debated topic surrounding the EU Referendum, which is to be held in less than a month.

In a passionate response to Miss Wood, Alex Salmond, former leader of the Scottish National Party, stated, “If we have a housing shortage we should build more houses, not kick people out of the country”.

Responding to the news that net migration has increased, Leave supporter and London Mayor, Boris Johnson, stepped up his bitter war of words with Prime Minister David Cameron, stating that the Government was cynical to claim it could control immigration while inside the EU and the new figures exposed the “scandal” of Cameron’s broken election pledge to slash numbers.

With the pressure mounting, it can be hard to see the wood from the trees when it comes to viewing both sides of the In/Out Referendum arguments. Here is our best shot at laying down each sides’ claims in an objective manner, so you can make up your own mind on how to use your vote on 23rd June 2016.

Arguments for Leaving the EU
  • Trade – Europe is our biggest trading partner, with around 30% of Britain’s total GDP coming from importing and exporting goods and services to the Continent. Negotiations for new bi-lateral trade agreements could take many years, and during this time, exporters especially, could suffer major losses; due to investment in trade-related activities being put on hold and fluctuations in the value of the pound.
  • Immigration – Remain campaigners argue that EU migrants contribute millions of pounds to the UK economy. Not only do they provide valuable labour in industries such as agriculture and construction, where margins are tight and keeping wages low is imperative for business survival, but they staff hospitals and schools. Migrants also start new ventures which create jobs for British people (according to statistics, migrants set up one in seven new companies launched in the UK).
  • UK Citizens Living Abroad – Free movement works both ways. Approximately 1.4 million UK citizens reside in the EU and enjoy access to healthcare and other public services. Leaving the EU could put in jeopardy the rights of British citizens who have made new lives for themselves in Spain, France or Italy.
  • Easy Extraditions – The European Arrest Warrant replaced long extradition procedures and enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice criminals wanted in the UK who are hiding in other EU countries.
  • Cheap Plonk – Leaving the EU would be catastrophic for those who enjoy a glass of Spanish red or Burgundy white. On leaving the EU, the price of imported wine could jump by a third. Imported cars, mobile phone roaming fees and flights are also likely to increase.
Arguments for Leaving the EU
  • The Ability to Create New Trade Agreements – Trying to balance the needs and desired of 28 separate countries with vastly different cultures can make it slow and difficult to negotiate new trade agreements. Outside the EU, Britain would be free to work out deals with Canada, Australia, China, and other emerging markets such as Brazil, on its own terms, quickly and efficiently.
  • Controlling our Borders – Outside of the EU and its principle of free movement, Britain could control the number of EU citizens coming to the UK to find employment by introducing work permits and setting minimum requirements that must be met (such as a good knowledge of English) before a visa is granted.
  • Sovereignty – Leave campaigners argue that leaving the EU will allow Britain to regain its sovereignty. Far from being right-winged hooey, they state that the European Commission, which is unelected, has the monopoly of proposing all EU legislation which it does in secret. It also has the power to issue regulations which are automatically binding in all member states.
  • Saving money – Leaving the EU would mean Britain would not have to pay a membership fee. In 2015, the UK paid a net sum of £8.5bn to Brussels, equivalent to 7% of the NHS budget.
  • Brussels is a bureaucratic basket-case – From wasting £760,000 for a "gender equal" cultural centre which was never built, to a complete inability to manage the migrant crisis, those who want to leave the EU state that Britain needs to control how it makes its own decisions. As the crisis in Greece clearly highlighted, monetary union without political union is destined to fail – meaning for the EU to work, closer integration between countries is required, something the Leave camp is completely horrified by.

How will the vote go? Polls show support for remaining in the EU is ahead….but only just.

We will keep you posted.

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premiere immigration law firms. If you have any concerns or questions about how the EU Referendum could affect your immigration status, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

Investor Visa Route to End December 2017
Investors Encouraged to Apply Now

In December 2017, the Tier 1 Investor Visa will be withdrawn as a means to enter and reside in the UK. This will be a blow, not only to foreign investors who want to extend their portfolio to the UK market, but for UK businesses who rely on foreign capital to grow.

The Investor Visa, as it is now, provides a wealth of advantages to applicants who have £2 million to invest in Britain’s stable and robust markets. Unique benefits include:

  • there is no need to meet English language requirements, provide business plans, be a certain age or have a certain level of education
  • dependents (a spouse or children under 18 years) can enter and reside in the UK
  • travel in and out of the country is unrestricted
  • an applicant’s spouse is able to seek employment
  • property can be purchased immediately
  • applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years (or less depending on the amount invested)
  • applicants can apply for British Citizenship one year after being granted ILR

For high-net-worth individuals, the Tier 1 Investor Visa is the most flexible, expedient way to conduct business in the UK.

If the Investor Visa is working so well, why withdraw it?

Fear of allowing in those whose wealth was obtained by dubious means seems to be the driving factor for ending the Investor route, along with the visa developing a reputation as being a way for the super-rich to ‘buy a European passport’.

In 2014, the Investor Visa was subjected to significant reform; the most important being the requirement of £1 million in investment funds being raised to £2 million.

Other changes included:

  • a requirement that all £2 million had to be invested (previously 25 percent of the funds could be put into UK property in which the applicant could reside)
  • applicants can no longer borrow any of the funds
  • applicants can now be refused if immigration officers have reasonable grounds to believe the funds were obtained unlawfully or if they have concerns about the character and conduct of the party “providing the funds”

These reforms saw a substantial drop in the number of high-net-worth individuals applying for an Investor Visa, and we believe that there are enough safeguards in place to prevent ‘dirty money’ coming into the UK via the Investor route.

A vast majority of enquiries we receive regarding the Investor Visa are from people who see opportunities, not just to expand their investment portfolio, but to take advantage of the first-class education, cultural opportunities and stable political and economic environment that the UK is renowned for.

The need for fast action

Wealth managers, advisors and other high-net-worth intermediaries need to act now and advise their clients on the withdrawal of the Investor Visa in a mere 19 months’ time.

The required £2 million may take some time to accrue as all funds must be owned and not borrowed. Clients also need to be advised that at the time of application these funds must have been in the applicant’s account for 90 days which brings the deadline much closer. Any investigations by the UK Border Agency may also prolong the process.

Expert legal advice

The withdrawal of the Tier 1 Investor Visa has raised a sense of urgency among investors. The downturn in emerging markets has forced high-net-worth individuals to return to the more stable UK and US markets. Britain is predicted to become the world’s fourth largest economy over the next two decades, and the European Union generates a GDP of around €14.3 trillion (2014). This figures, taken together with the advantages a Tier 1 Investor Visa has to offer applicants, means advisors should be informing their clients of the changes as soon as possible. This will allow time for successful applications to be made.

The amount of capital involved and the complexities of the UK immigration system make it imperative that experienced legal advice is sought before applying for an Investor Visa. At UK Migration Lawyers, we have years of experience guiding high-net-worth individuals through the application process. We also work with wealth managers, real-estate advisors and other professionals who can assist with school placements and finding domestic help, both in and outside London.

To make an appointment or enquire further phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa – The Essentials

As mentioned in my previous article, the UK (Investor) Visa is going the way of the Dodo – due to become extinct in December 2017. For people who have money to invest and a viable business plan, the Tier One (Entrepreneur) Visa provides an alternative way to successfully enter the UK market.

Migrant entrepreneurs make an overwhelming contribution to the UK economy. As of March 2014 there were nearly 3.2 million companies active in Britain, with migrants as founders or co-founders of 464,527, equivalent to 14.5 percent of the total. Furthermore, migrant entrepreneurs are responsible for creating over 1.1 million jobs in Britain.

The UK has one of the strongest economies in the world. This, along with a thriving tech sector attracts hundreds of dynamic entrepreneurs to the country every year.

However, statistics show that the refusal rate for the entrepreneur route is high. This can be partly explained by the toughening up on requirements and the introduction of the “genuine entrepreneur test”, which is the UK Government’s response to counter abuse under this immigration category.

Eligibility Requirements

Unlike the UK Investor Visa, where the only substantial requirements are;

a) have a lot of money (£2 million or more); and
b) make sure the money is clean

the entrepreneur route is more taxing in its requirements.

To qualify an applicant must show:

  • access to either £50,000 or £200,000 in investment funds held in a regulated financial institution
  • they speak English
  • they are able to support themselves
  • they score at least 95 points on the Points Based System (PBS)
  • they are 16 years or older
Access to £50,000

To apply, the £50,000 must come from one of the following sources:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
  • a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Access to £200,000

Having £200,000 provides more flexibility as to the source of the funds. To apply the money must be either:

  • the applicants own funds
  • made available to the applicant by other people (‘third parties’), eg a husband, wife, partner or investor
  • in a joint account with a spouse or partner but only if they aren’t applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

Applicants must also provide evidence of a clear, comprehensive business plan.

Dependent family members (a spouse and children under 18 years) are entitled to accompany an entrepreneur but they must acquire their own visa if they are from outside the EEA.

The ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test

Introduced in January 2013, the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test is both subjective and strict, making it a challenge to pass. Applicants must prove they can start a sustainable business in the UK by providing a detailed business plan and attending interviews with Home Office staff.

Whilst not quite on par with facing Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, applicants face a challenge in that the interviewing panel are unlikely to know anything about the applicant’s business. Therefore, candidates applying for an Entrepreneur Visa need to:

a) provide clear evidence that they have the knowledge and experience required to run a business in their chosen industry;
b) have a comprehensive business plan, showing that the necessary market research has been done and financial numbers crunched, proving it is a viable venture;
c) explain clearly via the business plan or at an interview that they understand the business, their place within it, the market and how to manage finances;

if you desire any chance of succeeding with your application.

And the application procedure is set to become even tougher. In March 2015, the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (the MAC) to review the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa category.  The MAC made a number of recommendations aimed at making the process for gaining the visa even more stringent.

The recommendations include:

  • allowing third-party endorsements of the applicant and business plan from the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)-approved accelerators to endorse individual applicants
  • the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test should be conducted by industry experts rather than civil servants
  • the £200,000 threshold should continue to apply to deter low-quality applications
  • the £50,000 could be lowered as some start-ups require low capital investment initially
  • the Government could work with UKTI and the UK Business Angels Association to explore the feasibility of approving selected angel investor networks or syndicates to provide third party endorsement
  • a greater emphasis should be placed on the applicant’s track record in business as opposed to the feasibility of the business plan
  • successful applicants should be required to report on the success of their business to the Home Office to show they are actively growing their venture

The Government is currently reviewing these recommendations.

Getting to ‘Go’

People with the tenacity and drive to launch a new venture in a foreign country do not want their plans delayed by Government red tape. Those applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa should seek expert legal advice on the process. Obtaining legal guidance on how to assemble a business plan that will satisfy Home Office staff and getting advice on preparing for interviews help applicants achieve thier commercial goals swiftly.

At UK Migration Lawyers, we have years of experience guiding high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs in successfully applying for a UK Entrepreneur Visa.

To make an appointment or enquire further phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

Short Term UK Visas: Legal Changes to Keep in Mind

UK Migration Lawyers are one of the UK’s leading Immigration Solicitors. If you are looking for a short-term visitor visa our team has put together a post that explains what you need to know. When you are ready to arrange your short-term visitor visa get in touch on 0121 777 7715.

Looking for a short-term visitor visa for a UK visit? In the past, there were several separate short-term visit visas that applied to different groups of visitors with differing rules and eligibility criteria. These included:

  • The Standard Visitor visa
  • Marriage Visitor visa
  • Parents of Tier Four Student Visa Holders visa
  • Permitted Paid Short-term Engagement visa
  • Student Visitors visa
  • Visitors in Transit visa

Needless to say, all of these opportunities created much confusion. To make the rules clearer and to simplify the visa application process, the government has now replaced all of the six above-mentioned short-term stay visas with the single Standard Visitor visa. Here’s everything that you need to know about these changes and how they will affect you.

Who can Apply for a Standard Visitor Visa?

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you plan to visit the UK for leisure (ie. tourism and sightseeing, visiting a friend), for business or for another private reason (such as to receive medical treatment).

There are certain categories of visitor who may be exempt from having to apply for a standard visitor visa at all and our expert immigration legal team can advise you if you fall into this category. The specific eligibility requirements for those who do require a Standard Visitor visa, however, differ depending on your circumstances and our expert team can provide comprehensive advice specific to your situation.

In essence, the Standard Visitor visa has replaced all of the six short-term visas mentioned above, as well as a couple of other visas previously available like:

  • Sports Visitor visa
  • Entertainer Visitor visa
  • Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
  • Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa

A general rule of thumb is that if you’re planning to visit the UK for less than six months and you normally reside in a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will likely need a Standard Visitor visa. Rules do vary depending on the country in which you are normally resident and, once again, our expert team can advise you.

Applying for a Standard Visitor Visa

As part of your application, you’ll be required to visit a Visa Application Centre in your country where your photograph, fingerprints and signature will be taken digitally. This biometric process only takes 5 minutes and there is no ink or mess involved.

Our team can help you find the closest Visa Application Centre to you, making it easier for you to plan this hassle free process. People who are already in the UK on a Standard Visitor visa may be eligible to apply for an extension without leaving the country in exceptional circumstances.

Bear in mind that there’s a standard processing fee of £85 (correct at the time of writing) and a further fee if you wish to extend your visa. A decision about your Standard Visitor visa status will usually be made within three weeks of your visit to the Visa Application Centre and the submission of the necessary documents.

In order for your application for a Standard Visitor visa to have the greatest chance of success, it is important that you provide ample supporting documentation with your application that provides comprehensive evidence that you meet the eligibility requirements for this visa. Our expert legal team can guide you through the complex array of documentation that must accompany your application, taking into account your full travel and immigration history.

All of the original documents you provide will be sent back to you after your visa application has been examined. During your visit to the Visa Application Centre, you may also be asked to provide some additional information that isn’t backed up by documents. Some of the additional information could include dates of previous UK entry and departure, where you’ll be staying during this visit, your current address and your current income level.

A Few Additional Factors to Keep in Mind

A Standard Visitor visa allows you to stay in the UK for a period of up to six months. There are options available, however, if you need to visit the UK more frequently and regularly over a longer period without having to apply for a new Standard Visitor visa for each trip. Long-term multiple entry visit visas allow you to make multiple visits to the UK of up to 6 months at a time over a time period of 1, 2, 5 or 10 years.

Successfully applying for a long-term multiple entry Standard Visit visa is complex and our expert legal team will ensure that your application and supporting documentation demonstrate that you have a credible ongoing reason to visit, that your personal and economic situation is unlikely to change and that your travel and immigration history shows previous compliance with immigration rules.

While in the UK on a Standard Visitor visa, you’re not allowed to work or earn an income. You are also ineligible to receive public funds, to marry a partner in the country or or to live in the UK for extended periods of time by acquiring multiple Standard Visitor visas.

If you need to stay in the UK for a longer period of time, you should either apply for a long-term visa or provide information that a medical treatment or another reason why you’re visiting the country will necessitate a state that will exceed six months.

Getting Started

For the best chance of success in your application for a Standard Visitor visa, or even if you just want to know that this is the right visa for you, call our expert immigration legal team today.

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, our expert immigration legal team will simplify every part of the application process and guide you away from the hidden dangers and pitfalls that litter this seemingly simple application. Our success rate is market leading and is why, time after time, our clients come back to us for their immigration needs.

Call our expert immigration legal team today on 0121 777 7715

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