Five Key Documents You Must Have When Applying For A UK Spouse Visa

Five Key Documents You Must Have When Applying For A UK Spouse Visa

It is easy to forget how important supporting documents are when applying for a UK Spouse Visa. But many applications are refused because the correct documents were not included, ordered incorrectly, or contained the wrong information. With the fee for a UK Spouse Visa now at over £1,500, few can afford to make such an error.

The documents you will need to include with your application will depend on your circumstances. This is why investing in advice from an experienced Immigration Solicitor is well worth it. They will take the time to understand you and your spouse’s situation and tailor your application to ensure its strengths are highlighted and any weaknesses explained.

Your included documents are designed to support the fact that you and your spouse meet the eligibility criteria for a UK Sponsor Licence –

UK spouse requirements:

You must be:

  • over 18 years
  • be a British or Irish citizen, or have Indefinite Leave to Remain, or have Pre-Settled or Settled Status, or have refugee or humanitarian status
  • meet the Minimum Income Requirements
  • have suitable accommodation
  • applicant requirements

You must be:

  • over 18 years
  • have met your spouse and have been married in a way recognised by UK law
  • have a good knowledge of English
  • There are five key documents you must include in your UK Spouse Visa application to support the fact that you both meet the above requirements. They are:
  • One – Proof that one spouse has British Citizenship or is a Settled person

    Both of you need to include your current and previously held passports. If the sponsoring spouse has Indefinite Leave to Remain, it will be shown as a vignette in their passport. Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status can be checked online.

    Two – Your marriage certificate

    It is often the most obvious documents that are forgotten. Your marriage certificate is proof that your marriage is lawful. If your marriage certificate is not in English, you need to provide a translation.

    A marriage certificate is not enough to prove your relationship is genuine – after all, anyone can get married for convenience. To increase your chances of a successful application, you should include documents such as emails, messages, and letters that you have sent each other, statements from family and friends, photos of you spending time together, copies of joint bank statements, and proof that you have been living together. There is no set formula for proving your relationship is genuine so include as much information as you can.

    Three – A letter from your employer and payslips

    The sponsoring spouse must be able to prove that they meet the Minimum Income Requirement of £18,600 (this increases if dependent children are included in your application). Therefore, you need to include 12 months’ worth of payslips, bank statements, your employment contract, and a letter from your employer confirming your employment status.

    Four – Evidence that you meet the English language requirement

    If you are not from one of the countries exempt from providing proof you can speak English (these are nations such as New Zealand, America, and Canada where English is the main language) you will need to provide evidence that you have sat an approved English language test.

    For your results to be accepted, your test must:

    • be on the list of approved English language tests
    • have been taken at an approved test location
    • have been awarded in the two years before the date of your application

    Those applying for a UK Spouse Visa only need to take an English language speaking and listening test.

    Five – Proof you have a decent place to live as a married couple

    The person assessing your application must be satisfied that you and your spouse have adequate accommodation. Adequate means that the property is free from overcrowding and does not contravene public health regulations.

    You can live with others; however, you must have space (even if it is just one bedroom) of your own.

    Proof of accommodation can include a letter from your landlord, housing association, mortgage lender, or family or friend with whom you are living with. The letter must confirm how many people are living at the property and that it is not overcrowded.

    To find out more about applying for a UK Spouse Visa, please phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

    Proposed Changes To Nationality Law

    Proposed Changes To Nationality Law

    In March 2021, the British Government published its New Plan for Immigration (the Plan) and called for consultation (which is now closed). According to the Government, the Plans objectives are to:

    • Increase fairness and effectiveness within the immigration system to allow those seeking genuine asylum to be afforded better protection and support.
    • Deter illegal entry into the UK by making the business model used by human traffickers unsustainable.
    • Remove illegal migrants more easily.

    Although the objectives concern asylum seekers, there are also proposed changes to nationality law. These are contained in Chapter Three of the Plan. Below is a breakdown of the Government’s proposals.

    Ending Anomalies in the British Nationality Provisions

    Although a child of a British Citizen could pass on their British Citizenship to their children, mothers were prevented from doing so until 1 January 1983. And until 1 July 2006, children born to British unmarried men could not acquire British nationality through their father. Provisions to rectify this were introduced for British citizens; however, they were not applied to children of British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTC). Under the Plan, eligible children of BOTCs will be able to get British Citizenship and BOTC.

    Furthermore, children entitled to British Citizenship through their biological father (while their mother was married to someone else at the time of their birth) will be able to register for British Citizenship, rather than rely on a discretionary immigration route. In addition, a discretionary adult registration route will be introduced allowing the Home Secretary to grant British Citizenship where there are compelling circumstances. The residence requirements may also be waived in cases where an unfair outcome would be achieved if discretion was not allowed (more on this below)

    Finally, although genuinely stateless children will be able to acquire British Citizenship if they are born in the UK, have lived here for five years, and have never had another nationality, children of parents that fail to register their child in their own (the parents) nationality when they are legally able to do so will not be given British Citizenship. This proposal is concerning as it involves a child suffering the consequences of a parental or in the case where the child has been taken into care, a local authority’s decision. The consequences of statelessness are severe ; therefore, this proposed change is particularly harsh.

    Support for the Windrush generation

    When the Immigration Act 1971 (the 1971 Act) came into force, most of the Windrush generation did not qualify for the right of abode. However, if they lived in the UK on 1 January 1973, they would have acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

    Not only were no documents or records concerning members of the Windrush generation touched by the change kept by the Home Office, the people affected were not given anything to show that they had been granted ILR. Many who went abroad were subsequently denied entry into the UK upon return.

    Following the exposure of the Windrush scandal in 2018, those who had been forced to live abroad due to being denied re-entry were allowed to apply to come back to Britain as a Returned Resident and claim ILR immediately. However, they were not granted immediate entitlement to British Citizenship.

    Because there is a requirement under the British Nationality Act 1981 that anyone applying for British Citizenship must have been in the UK on the date that falls exactly five years before their application was made, members of the Windrush generation who were effectively exiled now have to wait for five years upon returning to the UK for citizenship.

    The Plan proposes that:

    “We will also introduce further flexibility to waive residence requirements for naturalisation in exceptional cases. This will help individuals, including members of the Windrush Generation (who were not able to meet the residence requirements to qualify for British Citizenship through no fault of their own), to obtain British citizenship more quickly.”

    This change will right an historic injustice for a generation of people who were forced to leave their home country and then, upon return, have thus far been denied the right to citizenship.

    Final words

    These proposed changes to British nationality law will affect many people. If any of the above situations apply to you or a member of your family, please seek expert legal advice immediately.

    If you have questions about any of the points mentioned above, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

    Why Are EU/EEA Citizens Still Being Denied Settled Status?

    Why Are EU/EEA Citizens Still Being Denied Settled Status?

    With the Settled Status Scheme (the Scheme) deadline (30 June 2021) fast approaching EU/EEA citizens who have not applied for Settled or Pre-Settled Status must quickly do so. Especially given that, despite the Scheme being up and running since 2019, some EU/EEA citizens are being refused Settled Status despite living and working for years in the UK.

    In April 2021, EU citizens’ rights campaigner Dahaba Ali, aged 27, was shocked to find her application for Settled Status had been rejected. She had been living in the UK since the age of 10 years. Originally from Somalia, Ms Ali and her mother were granted refugee status in the Netherlands before moving to the UK. A campaigner for The3Million, Ms Ali works as a producer at the BBC.

    Following her application for herself and her mother in October 2020, Ms Ali received a letter from the Home Office stating:

    “Your application has been carefully considered but unfortunately from the information available you do not meet the requirements of the scheme. I am sorry to inform you that your application has therefore been refused.”

    It adds that although evidence showed Ms Ali lived in the UK “periodically” between February 2016 and December 2019, this did not meet the five years’ residency requirement.

    Ms Ali’s mother’s Settled Status application was granted.

    What appears to have happened is that Home Office emails to Ms Ali asking her for more information on her application had gone straight to her spam folder. Furthermore, no texts from the department were received.

    A Home Office spokesperson told The Guardian that Ms Ali’s application to the EU Settlement Scheme was refused because she failed to provide evidence of her residence in the UK.

    “She is able to reapply to the scheme by 30 June 2021 and we encourage her to get in touch with the helpline where our dedicated staff can support her to provide the requested evidence.

    “We made several repeated attempts to contact her over a number of weeks – by email, phone and text – but the evidence requested was not provided. We accept a range of evidence and will work with people on a case-by-case basis to consider other evidence if necessary.”

    Ms Ali, who is currently working with an Immigration Solicitor to overturn her Settled Status refusal, shot back:

    “I immediately knew it was a mistake and I got help and took to Twitter. But if the process went wrong for me, then what about the people who are so vulnerable they don’t even know their own rights?”

    “An obvious example is my own mother who can’t read or write. If her application had been denied, how would she have known? What would have happened to her? I just can’t help but think that if the Home Office had wanted to get hold of me, they would have sent a letter and tried a lot harder than they did with me.

    “I think it’s going to be a huge issue after June when employers and landlords start demanding proof of your status. I just didn’t think it would be my case that would highlight it.”

    Why is Settled Status refused?

    The most common reason Settled Status is refused is the applicant fails to prove that they have been a resident in the UK for five years. In such cases, Pre-Settled Status is granted instead. Pre-Settled Status is more precarious than Settled Status, for example, you must not leave the UK for long stretches to ensure you are eligible for Settled Status in the future. If you have been granted the former when you believe you are eligible for the latter, you should contact an experienced Immigration Lawyer immediately.

    What can I do if I have been granted Pre-Settled Status instead of Settled Status?

    Under the Immigration (Citizens’ Rights Appeals) (EU Exit) Regulations, which came into effect after 11pm on 31 January 2020 (EU Exit Day), applicants for the EU Settlement Scheme now have a right of appeal if the decision relating to the appeal was made after EU Exit Day.

    If you received a refusal before EU Exit Day, an Immigration Solicitor can advise you on the best steps to take. Options include resubmitting your application or applying for Administrative Review or Judicial Review.

    Strict time limits apply to lodging an appeal in the First-Tier Tribunal; if you are in the UK, you have 14 days to do so, whilst those lodging from outside the country have 28 days to appeal their Settled Status decision.

    Getting help

    Finding out your Settled Status application has been refused and you have instead been granted Pre-Settled Status is a highly stressful situation, especially as the application deadline nears. Regardless of when you received the decision, contact an experienced Immigration Lawyer straight away. They will advise and represent you and ensure that your application under the Scheme is correctly granted.

    Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s best immigration law firms. If you want more information on the EU Settlement Scheme, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

    Why The Legal Challenge To The ‘Immigration Exemption’ In The DPA 2018 Matters

    Why The Legal Challenge To The ‘Immigration Exemption’ In The DPA 2018 Matters

    Some of the best Immigration Solicitors in the UK, along with Open Rights Group (ORG) and the3million, which represents EU citizens living in the UK have taken a challenge to the ‘immigration exemption’ in the Data Protection Act 2018 to the Court of Appeal.

    In October 2019, the High Court ruled that the ‘immigration exemption’ was lawful. In February 2021, the Court of Appeal hearing took place, and we are currently awaiting the decision.

    Aside from Immigration Lawyers and Home Office officials, few people have heard of the ‘immigration exemption’. So why is it subject to a court challenge?

    What is the ‘immigration exemption’?

    Article 15 of the GDPR outlines the right of data subjects to access their personal information. It states:

    “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning him or her are being processed, and, where that is the case, access to the personal data”.

    When someone requests access to their personal data that is held by a public or private body or

    a charity, it is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR).

    The ‘immigration exemption’ which is contained in schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018, allows the Home Office and other organisations involved in ‘immigration control’ to refuse SARs if providing access to personal data might “prejudice the maintenance of effective immigration control”.

    What was the High Court decision concerning the ‘immigration exemption’?

    The ORG and the3million brought a Judicial Review claiming that the ‘immigration exemption’ was too broad. They argued that the exemption is unlawful because it amounts to unnecessary and disproportionate interference with fundamental data protection rights.

    The High Court rejected the Claimants’ arguments. Mr Justice Supperstone concluded the immigration exemption was a matter of important public interest and pursued a legitimate aim. The issue before the Court was what was legally required where, as with the ‘immigration exemption’, the legislation did not itself interfere with people’s data rights, but instead made abstract provision for an exemption which data controllers could rely on if the circumstances of a particular matter meant it was justifiable to do so. The Court held that the immigration exemption satisfied the requirements for a measure to be “in accordance with law”, given the fact it was non-ambiguous.

    Following the High Court decision, the ORG and the3million said

    “We are disappointed by the judgement in the High Court today and we have applied for permission to appeal.

    “We still believe that the immigration exemption in the Data Protection Act 2018 as it stands breaches fundamental rights. It is a blunt instrument, poorly defined and ripe for abuse. Access to data is key for an accountable system, that corrects errors in an immigration system that occur at an alarming rate. The importance of this can’t be underestimated. Millions of EU citizens must navigate the Home Office application process to stay in the UK. This exemption removes that ability to correct errors, which could prove decisive in immigration decisions whether to allow a person to remain in the United Kingdom.

    “As a result of this litigation we know the exemption is being used and is being used often. Open Rights Group and the3million will continue the fight against the immigration exemption, seeking an immigration system and data protection framework that respects the rights of everyone.”

    Wrapping up

    The ‘immigration exemption’ has been a contentious provision ever since it was inserted into the Data Protection Act 2018, especially given that it was not present in the 1998 version of the Act. It was noted in the judgment that of around 18,000 SAR’ received in the first year following the coming into force of the Data Protection Act 2018, the ‘immigration exemption’ was depended on to avoid disclosure in 59% of cases. Therefore, a decision to rule it unlawful could result in many immigration decisions needing to be reviewed and possible grounds for thousands of pounds in compensation claims.

    We will update you as soon as the Court of Appeal decision becomes available.

    Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of the best Immigration Solicitors in Britain. If you have any concerns or questions regarding the ‘immigration exemption’ in relation to data protection, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

    Your Essential Guide To Applying For A Hong Kong BNO Visa

    Your Essential Guide To Applying For A Hong Kong BNO Visa

    Two weeks after the Hong Kong BNO Visa opened, The Times reported that over 5,000 applications have already been received. The immigration route for British Overseas Nationals (BNO) offers up to 5.4 million Hongkongers a five-year visa and a path to full British citizenship. It is predicted that around 300,000 people will apply for the visa within the next five years.

    Lord Patten of Barnes, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, commented:

    “One of the most positive things that any government has done has been to offer a route to safety and citizenship in Britain to those for whom we have in the past borne some responsibility. I think the home secretary and the foreign secretary have been admirably swift.

    “The fact that the number is already 5,000 gives some indication of the concern felt by people in Hong Kong that their freedoms have been taken away and this comes of course at a time when the trial has opened for a number of those who have been regarded as moderate founders of democracy campaigns in Hong Kong. I’m sure that many of the talented people who come from Hong Kong will be made very welcome here and will make a huge contribution to our country.”

    Below is a quick guide to applying for a Hong Kong BNO Visa. Our Immigration Solicitors in London and Birmingham can provide expert advice on making an application, giving you the best chance of having you and your family members’ visas approved.

    Who is eligible for the Hong Kong BNO Visa?

    British Overseas Territories citizens from Hong Kong who did not register as British nationals (overseas) and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997 became British overseas citizens on 1 July 1997.

    If you are over the age of 24, you are likely to have BNO status.

    You can apply for a Hong Kong BNO Visa from outside the country or within the UK (almost half of the current applicants are already in Britain, having been granted leave via another immigration route).

    If you are applying from outside the UK, your permanent home must be in Hong Kong. If you are making an in-country application, your permanent home must be in the UK, Hong Kong, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. You will need to include up to three documents to prove your address: for example, a utility bill, bank statements, or a letter from a local authority.

    Can I bring my family with me?

    Your dependent family members may also be eligible to apply for a BNO Visa with you. Dependent family members are:

    • Your spouse or partner
    • Children or grandchildren under 18 years
    • Adult dependent relatives who live with you and need you for their day-to-day care

    Documents such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, and/or evidence that adult family member applicants live with you will need to be included in your application.

    How much money will I need to apply for a Hong Kong BNO Visa?

    Unless you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more, you will need to show you have enough money to support yourself and any dependent family members for six months.

    The amounts required are:

    • £2,000 as a single adult
    • £3,100 as a couple with a child
    • £4,600 as a couple with 3 children
    • £9,200 as a couple with 2 parents and 2 adult children

    All applicants will need to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is as follows:

    • £1,560 if you are staying for 2 years and 6 months
    • £3,120 if you are staying for 5 years

    The healthcare surcharge for children is:

    • £1,175 if you are staying for 2 years and 6 months
    • £2,350 if you are staying for 5 years
    How do I apply to stay permanently in the UK?

    The Hong Kong BNO Visa initially allows you to stay in the UK for five years. After this time, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. To be eligible, you and any family members applying will need to pass the English language test and the Life in the UK test.

    Your immigration lawyer will assist you with making your application and stay in contact over the five-year period to ensure that when it comes time to apply for Settlement, you and your family have taken the steps required to be eligible.

    Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration lawyers to discuss how we can help you with your Hong Kong BNO Visa application.

    How To Get British Citizenship Through Naturalisation

    How To Get British Citizenship Through Naturalisation

    Obtaining British Citizenship is a long-held dream for many people. Our Birmingham and London based Immigration Solicitors take great pride in helping our clients achieve their dream. For most people, once they have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Settled Status (SS), obtaining British Citizenship is straightforward. However, a sizable number of citizenship applications are refused.

    In this article, we discuss the eligibility requirements for British Citizenship and look in detail at some of the common reasons for refusal, many of which fall under the ‘good character’ requirement.

    How do I apply for British Citizenship?

    To be eligible to apply for British Citizenship via naturalisation, you must show you:

    • are 18 years or older
    • have had ILR or SS for at least one year
    • have passed the English language test (if required) and the Life In The UK test
    • intend to live permanently in the UK
    • be of good character

    There is also a requirement of ‘continuous residence’ which means you should not have:

    • spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the relevant five-year period
    • spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months

    If you have had leave to remain in the UK under a business immigration route such as the Skilled Worker Visa, Investor Visa, or Innovator Visa it is imperative that you work with an Immigration Solicitor throughout the visa period to ensure you receive the best advice on meeting the ‘continuous residency’ requirements should you have to frequently travel for business.

    What is meant by ‘good character’?

    Although the British Nationality Act 1981 does not define ‘good character’, the immigration guidance states that any of the following indicates a lack of good character:

    • conviction of a crime or being suspected of participating in a crime
    • connection or participation in war crimes
    • financial issues, such as not paying taxes and/or bankruptcy
    • notorious activities
    • dishonest or deceptive conduct towards the UK government
    • being denied citizenship in the past
    • aiding someone with avoiding immigration control
    • any other suggestions that would cast doubts on an applicant’s character

    The guidance asserts:

    “Each application must be carefully considered on an individual basis on its own merits. You must be satisfied that an applicant is of good character on the balance of probabilities. To facilitate this, applicants must answer all questions asked of them during the application process honestly and in full. They must also inform the Home Office of any significant event (such as a criminal conviction or a pending prosecution) or any mitigating factors that could have a bearing on the good character assessment.”

    If you have a criminal record you will normally be denied citizenship if you have been sentenced to four or more years for a crime, regardless of how long ago the offence was committed. You are also unlikely to be granted citizenship if you have committed a sexual offence or an offence that has caused serious harm, and /or you are a persistent offender.

    Applicants must declare any fines they have received as they count as a criminal conviction. Failure to mention that you have received a fine could result in your British Citizenship application being refused on the grounds of deception.

    What is meant by notoriety?

    A person is notorious if they have become well-known for bad behaviour or qualities and/or immoral deeds. For example, Imelda Marcos gained notoriety for her extravagance whilst the people of the Philippines experienced terrible poverty.

    The guidance provides other examples of notorious behaviour, including:

    • publicly expressing unsavoury views on a subject such as race, religion or sexuality which do not fall within the definition of extremism
    • persistent anti-social behaviour such as public drug use or excessive noise pollution
    • persistently and deliberately flouting the law
    What is dishonesty or deceit against Her Majesty’s government?

    If you have been dishonest or deceptive in your dealings with a government department there is a high chance you will be refused British Citizenship. Dishonest or deceptive behaviour could include:

    • fraudulently claiming benefits
    • using false documentation or deception to access housing or healthcare
    • providing misleading or false information to UK Visas and Immigration

    If you made a genuine mistake and there was no intention to mislead officials, your application will not be refused on the grounds of dishonesty or deceit. However, it can be difficult to prove a lack of intention.

    How an Immigration Solicitor can help

    The best way to ensure your British Citizenship application is processed smoothly and successfully is to instruct an immigration lawyer. If you are concerned that you may not meet the ‘good character’ requirement, an Immigration Solicitor, who will know how immigration caseworkers make their decisions, will examine your situation and advise you on how to best prepare your application.

    Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors to discuss how we can help you with your British Citizenship application or refusal.

    Three Fast Facts About The New UK Points-Based Immigration System

    Three Fast Facts About The New UK Points-Based Immigration System

    On 1 January 2021, a new Points-Based-System (PBS) came into play. It dramatically affects both employers and people who want to come and work in the UK. By introducing a new Skilled Worker Visa to replace the Tier 2 (General) Visa, the British government wants, according to its policy paper, to reduce the “reliance on cheap labour from Europe”. For many employers, the new PBS will result in them having to acquire a Sponsor Licence for the first time. And those who want to work in the UK will have to meet strict criteria. The best way for both groups to successfully achieve the immigration status they need, be it a Sponsor Licence or a Skilled Worker Visa, is to seek expert advice from an immigration lawyer.

    Below are three facts you need to know about the new PBS.

    One – It applies to people from inside the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) and those outside it (for example America, Australia, and India).

    Before the transition period relating to the UK leaving the EU ended at 11pm on 31 December 2020, citizens of both countries benefitted from freedom of movement. This meant that as long as they were exercising their Treaty rights (either by being employed, self-employed, self-sufficient, or studying) they could live and work free from visa restrictions in any Member State (which included the UK).

    Freedom of movement now no longer applies to the UK. EU/EEA nationals who came to Britain before 31 December 2020 may be able to get Pre-Settled or Settled Status. However, from 1 January 2021, both EU/EEA nationals and non-EU/EEA nationals must acquire a visa if they want to work in the UK.

    Two – Applicants will need to attain 70 points to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa

    Anyone applying for a Skilled Worker Visa under the new PBS must attain 70 points in order to qualify. To achieve 50 points, applicants must meet three mandatory requirements. These are:

    • • Having an offer of employment from an employer who has a valid Sponsor Licence.
    • • The job is at the appropriate skill level.
    • • Speaking, writing, reading, and understanding English to the required level.

    The remaining 20 points are made up of non-mandatory requirements. The below table sets out how the points are distributed.

    Requirement

    Mandatory

    Points Allocated

    Job offer
    from a Sponsor Licence holder

    Yes

    20

    The job is at the required skill level

    Yes

    20

    The ability to speak, read, write, and
    understand English

    Yes

    10

    Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039

    No

    0

    Salary of £23,040 – £25,599

    No

    10

    Salary of £25,600 or above

    No

    20

    Job in a shortage occupation [C1] 

    No

    20

    Education qualification: eg a PhD in a subject relevant
    to the position

    No

    10

    Three – The skill level has been reduced

    The skill level required for jobs to be included in the Eligible Occupations List has been lowered from the level required for a Tier 2 (General) Visa which was RQF level 6, equivalent to a Bachelor degree. Under the new PBS, the role being filled must be skilled to at least RQF level 3, which is roughly equivalent to A-levels. If you are applying for a Skilled Worker Visa, you do not have to hold a specific qualification to satisfy the skill level requirement. Instead, it is the skill level of the job that will establish whether the position is eligible. For example, the role of ‘chef’ features in the Eligible Occupations List; however, ‘cook’ does not.

    The reduction in skill level has made it easier for people to obtain a PBS visa in order to work in the UK. And if you want to stay in the UK after your visa has expired, you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain .

    Final words

    Although the new PBS immigration system is a significant change in the skilled worker route from what had been in place since 2008, it will result in people who were previously ineligible for a visa being able to live and work in the UK.

    For businesses and visa applicants, getting expert immigration law advice is crucial to successfully applying for a Sponsor Licence or a Skilled Worker Visa. Our immigration Solicitors provide the best advice and representation available in Birmingham and London. To speak to us about any immigration matters, please call 0121 777 7715.

    Top Tips For Meeting Sponsor Licence Compliance

    Top Tips For Meeting Sponsor Licence Compliance

    With the UK-EU transition period ending on the last day of 2020, many UK companies who rely on international talent to grow their business and meet customer and innovative demands have secured a UK Sponsor Licence. This allows them to employ people from outside the UK, including EU/EEA nationals. By instructing an immigration lawyer, organisations applying for a Sponsor Licence can put together the best application. But what happens after the licence is granted? Is this the end of dealing with UK Visas and Immigration? Unfortunately, no. You will need to ensure you comply with Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities. Failure to do so could see your licence suspended or even revoked, the latter meaning not only can you not hire people from abroad, but your existing staff in the country on a Skilled Worker Visa may be sent home.

    To ensure your migrant employees can stay in the UK and you can continue to employ EU and non-EU talent, below are some tips for meeting Sponsor Licence compliance.

    Seek immigration law advice regularly and invest in bi-annual mock audits

    Your best investment regarding your Sponsor Licence compliance is to work with an experienced immigration Solicitor who can advise you of any immigration law changes and review your HR systems regularly.

    The Home Office often introduces immigration law changes by stealth. Busy employers can find themselves suddenly in breach of their compliance duties, having been unaware of a change being made. By working with an immigration lawyer, you can be confident that you will always be kept up to date with regulatory changes.

    It is also important to be aware that UKVI compliance officers can and do make unannounced visits to licence holders’ premises. Therefore, you need to commit to ensuring your recording and reporting duties (see below) and all Sponsor Licence Management (SMS) entries are kept updated. Your HR systems also need to be orderly, so you can quickly access information about your Skilled Worker Visa employees if it is requested.

    Understand the recording and reporting duties you need to comply with

    There are many recording and reporting duties attached to a Sponsor Licence (the Sponsor Licence guidance runs to 246 pages). The below lists are not exhaustive but do set out some of the main responsibilities you have to meet.

    Recording

    You will need to have the following items up to date and readily available to provide to UKVI upon request.

    • A full record of current contact details for all migrant employees (including physical and email addresses, and mobile phone numbers) as well as historical contact information.
    • Copies of registration documents, certificates and/or references that show the migrant employee meets the skill requirements of their position.
    • A copy of every migrant workers’ current passport. The back pages, which show the personal identity details and any relevant entry clearances (visas) or permission (leave) to enter stamps must be copied and held on file.
    • Unless the worker is exempt from having one, a copy of their National Insurance (NI) number.
    Reporting

    The SMS is used for reporting information to UKVI. The below must be reported within 10 working days:

    • The sponsored worker does not show up for their first day of work and the reason why, for example, they missed their flight.
    • The employee is absent without permission for more than 10 consecutive working days.
    • There are significant changes in the employee’s employment, for example, they have been promoted or their salary is changed from what was recorded on the Certificate of Sponsorship.

    Significant changes to your business, for example, it is involved in a merger or acquisition or becomes insolvent, must be reported to UKVI via the SMS within 20 working days.

    Do not forget about complying with other UK laws

    Part of your responsibilities as a Sponsor Licence holder is to ensure full compliance with all non-immigration laws in addition to those covering immigration. For example, you must ensure that when it comes to UK employees you are paying the correct minimum wage. Regulations covering health and safety, redundancy, and trade must also be complied with at all times.

    In summary

    Holding a Sponsor Licence so you can employ skilled workers from overseas comes with significant responsibility. Before committing to applying for a licence, you need to ensure you not only have the resources and HR systems in place to meet the compliance requirements, but you have access to an immigration lawyer who can provide you with the best advice and representation throughout the life of your licence. Doing so will result in a smooth, easy Sponsor Licence experience and help protect your best interests and commercial reputation.

    To find out more about Sponsor Licence compliance please call 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors who are based in Birmingham and London.

    Three Facts About The UK Immigration Act 2020

    Three Facts About The UK Immigration Act 2020

    On 11 November, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020, commonly known as the Immigration Act 2020 (the Act), was passed into law. The Act repeals all domestic legislation which provides for freedom of movement and paves the way for a new points-based immigration system, in which EU/EEA and non EU/EEA nationals will be treated the same. However, there are provisions in the Act which deal specifically with Irish citizens, recognising the special relationship between the two countries.

    Below are five key facts everyone needs to know about the changes that will take place at the end of the Brexit transition period (1 January 2021).

    One – The Act repeals all freedom of movement-related legislation

    For many people, the end of freedom of movement was a key factor in voting to leave the EU. In a statement released the day the Act received its Royal Assent, Home Secretary, Priti Patel said:

    “This time last year the government promised to end free movement, take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system.

    Today we have officially delivered on that promise.

    The Act of Parliament which ends free movement has completed its journey through Parliament and today achieved Royal Assent.

    This is an historic day in our new direction outside of the EU – controlling our own borders and delivering on the people’s priorities.”

    The statement went on to say:

    “The points-based immigration system will encourage employers to focus on training and investing in the UK work force, driving productivity and improving opportunities for individuals, especially those impacted by coronavirus.

    Those wanting to come into the UK to work will need to apply for permission in advance. They will be awarded points for a job offer at the appropriate skill level, if they speak English, and for meeting the appropriate salary threshold. Visas will be awarded to those who gain enough points.”

    The Act repeals a raft of legislation which allowed freedom of movement to be integrated into UK law. For example, Article 1 of the Workers Regulation gave EU/EEA nationals the same rights to work in the UK as those enjoyed by British citizens.

    In case any laws have been overlooked, Schedule 1, paragraph 6 of the Act provides:

    Any other EU-derived rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and procedures cease to be recognised and available in domestic law so far as—

    (a) they are inconsistent with, or are otherwise capable of affecting the interpretation, application or operation of, any provision made by or under the Immigration Acts (including, and as amended by, this Act), or

    (b) they are otherwise capable of affecting the exercise of functions in connection with immigration.

    And just to ensure that absolutely nothing gets in the way of ending freedom of movement, the Act provides for open-ended exceptionally broad powers.

    Two- The Act provides for ‘Henry VIII powers’

    One of the most criticised parts of the Act, as it passed through Parliament, was the provisions of Section 5 which states, in relation to freedom of movement:

    “The Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument make such provision as the Secretary of State considers appropriate in consequence of, or in connection with, any provision of this Part.”

    This effectively means that the government can make changes to legislation concerning freedom of movement without “substantive oversight” (i.e. having the changes pass through and be debated in Parliament). Furthermore, the provision has no time limit; therefore, changes could be made many years in the future, and in cases where a subsequent Secretary of State considers amendments are merely ‘appropriate’ as opposed to the usual higher threshold of ‘necessary’.

    Three – Irish Citizens can freely enter or leave the UK without restrictions

    The UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands operate a Common Travel Area which allows citizens from each nation to freely leave and enter each other’s territory. Because Ireland is a member of the EU, the Common Travel Area provisions did not apply because they had leave to enter and remain in the UK under freedom of movement. There were fears that the ‘special relationship’ regarding the right of people from Éire to freely enter and leave the UK would not continue after 1 January 2021. These worries have thankfully been expunged by the provisions of the Act.

    In summary

    The Act does not set out the details of the new points-based system, it simply lays down the essential foundation for it, i.e. ending freedom of movement whilst protecting the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It is a monumental piece of legislation as it sweeps away one of the fundamental anchors of immigration policy that has been part of Britain’s identity for nearly 50 years.

    What matters now, more than ever is for businesses and people who will be affected by the end of freedom of movement to get prepared. For the former, that means obtaining a UK Sponsor Licence; for the latter, Settled or Pre-Settled Status. For advice and representation on these and any other immigration matters, talk to an experienced immigration law Solicitor.

    Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors.

    The Effect of Brexit on EEA Family Permits

    The Effect Of Brexit On EEA Family Permits

    With the transition period between the EU and the UK ending in less than six weeks, many EU/EEA nationals living in the UK are wondering what rights they will have to bring their family members to Britain from 1 January 2021. At present, the existing rules surrounding an EEA Family Permit remain. In brief, these are as follows:

    What is an EEA Family Permit?

    An EEA Family Permit is a document that allows for a non-EU/EEA family member of an EU/EEA national to enter the UK and live and work freely. An example of this includes:

    • An Australian partner of a German national.
    • A Brazilian-born child of a French citizen.
    • A dependent Indian parent of a Dutch national.
    • An Ethiopian mother of a child born in Sweden and now living in the UK (Zambrano carer)

    A full definition of ‘family member’ and ‘extended family member’ can be found below.

    In theory, an EEA Permit is not required, as family members of an EEA national exercising their Treaty rights can apply for entry clearance at the border. However, some airline carriers will not allow people without an EEA Family Permit or some other type of visa board a flight to the UK for fear of being fined. For peace of mind, it is always preferable to apply for a permit before coming to Britain as a family member of an EU/EEA national.

    To qualify for an EEA Family Permit, you must:

    • Be a family member or extended family member of an EEA national who is already in the country or travelling with you to the UK within six months of your application
    • Show evidence that the EU/EEA national who has been living in Britain three months or more is exercising their Treaty rights as an employee, self-employed person, student, or self-sufficient person
    • Prove you will be living in the same house as the EU/EEA national whilst you are in the UK.

    A family member is defined as:

    • a spouse
    • civil partner
    • a partner who you have lived within a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years (this includes same-sex partners), a dependent child or grandchild under 21 years, or a dependent parent or grandparent

    Extended family members are defined as siblings, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and cousins who are dependent on you for their day-to-day care.

    How does Brexit affect applications for an EEA Family Permit?

    Non-EU/EEA family members and extended family members make up a significant, but little talked about group who will be impacted by the end of freedom of movement.

    For those who fall into this category who are already in the UK, an application for Settled or Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme needs to be made. Unfortunately, research shows that refusals for this group are disproportionately high, especially for Zambrano carers. Investing in high-quality legal advice from an experienced immigration law Solicitor can greatly reduce the chances of an application for Settled or Pre-Settled Status being refused.

    Those non-EEA family members or extended family members of EU/EEA nationals who have attained Pre-Settled Status will be able to apply for an EEA Family Permit after 31 December 2020 until 30 June 2021. And even if you miss this deadline, you may still be able to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit if all of the following are true:

    • your family member who you are planning to join in the UK has either Settled or Pre-Settled Status
    • your relationship began before 31 December 2020
    • you remain a close family member, for example, a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, a dependent child or grandchild, or a dependent parent or grandparent

    You must register for Pre-Settled Status within three months of arriving on the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit route. After living in the UK for five years, you can apply for Settled Status.

    Our immigration lawyers can assist you with all aspects of obtaining an EEA Family Permit, EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit, and any matters concerning the EU Settlement Scheme.

    Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors.

    UK Migration Lawyers is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 497640). Accredited immigration Law Solicitors. UK Migration Lawyers Ltd. / All rights reserved. Company Registration No 06702262 / Registered in England and Wales.