The UK Home Office Sets Out Its Post-Brexit Immigration Stall

For several months, those with an interest in immigration have been waiting for formal proposals from the UK Home Office regarding the future shape of immigration policy after we leave the EU at the end 2020. The plan was formally announced on 19th February 2020.

As EU freedom of movement comes to an end for the UK, the new points-based system announced by the Government is intended to provide a plausible replacement, ensuring that businesses can continue to recruit from overseas. In this article, we will explore the new rules and how these are being received in practice by UK employers and employees.

How will the new UK immigration system work for skilled workers?

The new system announced by the Home Office is a points-based system, whereby applicants score points if they meet specific criteria.

The starting threshold score which must be reached is 70 points.

Non-tradeable characteristics

Anyone who applies under the new points-based system, whether from the EU or outside of the EU, as of 1st January 2021, will need to:

  • Have a job offer from an employer licensed to sponsor individuals from overseas (worth 20 points)
  • Ensure the job meets the skill-level requirement (worth 20 points)
  • Speaks English to a required level (worth 10 points)

These are non-tradeable characteristics which must be met by any applicant.

Tradeable characteristics

In addition to the non-tradeable characteristics, there are a set of attributes which can be traded (e.g. having a PhD can make up for a lower salary), these are as follows:

  • Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 = 0 points
  • Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 = 10 points
  • Salary of £25,600 or above = 20 points
  • Job in a shortage occupation = 20 points
  • PhD in a subject relevant to your job = 10 points
  • PhD is a STEM subject relevant to your job = 20 points

While there are points available for lower salaries, the Home Office says that applicants will need to meet the ‘general salary threshold’ of £25,600, unless they can trade points earned because they work in a shortage occupation or have a PhD. The Home Office provides the example of a university researcher in a STEM subject who wants to come to the UK on a salary of £22,000 (i.e. below the general minimum threshold), who can still apply if they have a relevant PhD in a STEM subject. They also provide the example of a nurse wishing offered a salary of £22,000 who can apply as they work in a shortage occupation.

How will the new system work for highly-skilled workers?

Under the new immigration policy, the existing Global Talent route will be opened up to everyone, including EU workers, allowing those at the top of their profession to come to the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by a ‘relevant and competent body’.

Will the new immigration system alleviate the Brexit concerns of business?

The new Home Office policy has been met with considerable apprehension by some sectors, especially hospitality, social care, farming, and food manufacturing, principally in relation to limits on low-skilled migrants. Speaking for the farming sector, Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, has stated publicly the planned restrictions on low-skilled workers could pose considerable challenges for the sector. Furthermore, businesses may understandably be concerned that an estimated that 70% of the EU workers in Britain under freedom of movement would not qualify for entry into the UK under the new scheme.

The Government has stated its intention to stop low-skilled migration, stating unequivocally, “we will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route. We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation. Employers will need to adjust”.

There are, however, some glimmers of positivity which will allay the concerns of some UK businesses. The £25,600 threshold has now reduced from £30,000 under the existing scheme, in accordance with the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). In addition, the Home Office have stated they will suspend the cap on the number of people who can come to the UK through the skilled worker route, and crucially have removed the need to undertake the resident labour market test (RLMT).

Final words

It remains to be seen how the new immigration policy announced by Home Secretary, Priti Patel, will work in practice. Some may take the view that while the UK Government is desperate to signal its intention to take back control of its own borders, it knows that it has to make some concessions in order not to damage the economy, i.e. by lowering the salary threshold and removing the need to carry out an RLMT.

We are still many months away from seeing the impact of the changes, however, it is difficult to see how particularly vulnerable sectors such as care and hospitality will adapt in that time. We will keep you updated of events as they happen.

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.

Understanding the Spouse Visa Minimum Income Requirements

If you are in the process of (or are planning to) apply for a Spouse Visa to join your partner in the UK, navigating the many immigration rules can seem daunting. One of the most important eligibility requirements which must be satisfied relates to the annual income of you and your partner. In this article, we will outline the key parts of the minimum income rules you need to know, and the documents you will need send to the Home Office.

How much income is needed for a UK Spouse Visa?

The financial requirements for individuals applying for a family life with a partner Visa are laid out in Immigration Rules Appendix FM: family members under section E-ECP.3.1, and in more detail in Immigration Directorate Instruction Family Migration: Appendix FM Section 1.7 Appendix Financial Requirement. These can be summarised as follows:

You and your partner

If you are applying for a Spouse Visa to join your UK partner, you will need a combined annual income of £18,600 or more. You can include different forms of income to meet the requirement, including money from employment (whether a fixed salary or variable pay), self-employment, a pension, and outside of employment.

Your children

For those with children (i.e. dependants under the age of 18), the Home Office requires you to have an additional income of £3,800 for the first child and £2,400 for every other child. If your child was born in the UK, has already settled in the UK permanently, or is a national of the EU, this additional income requirement does not apply.

Evidence of meeting minimum income requirements

For income from employment, you will need to provide the following evidence to the Home Office when submitting your application:

  • payslips (six months)
  • bank statements
  • a letter from your employer/employers, clarifying that you and/or your partner are employed, on headed paper showing:
    • the date
    • gross earnings
    • confirmation of employment
    • job title
    • duration of current salary and employment
    • type of employment (e.g. permanent or fixed-term)

The letter provided by the employer/s should also clarify that the payslips provided as proof of income are genuine.

Using savings towards the minimum income requirement

Under the current immigration rules, savings can also be used to add to your income if they exceed £16,000. If your cash savings are sufficiently high, they can reduce or even remove the need for an annual income. To calculate how much cash savings contribute to the minimum income requirements, the Home Office provides a formula. You first need to work out the lowest amount of cash savings you have held in the past six months, then minus £16,000 from that amount and divide the answer by 2.5. Using this formula, we can calculate the following:

  • Savings of £30,000 will contribute £5,600
  • Savings of £40,000 will contribute £9,600
  • Savings of £65,000 will contribute £19,600

As such, savings of £65,000 will more than meet the minimum income requirement (without children) of £18,600.

When submitting your application, as evidence of your cash savings, you will be asked to provide savings account statements showing the money has have been held by you or your partner for at least six months.

Can income from benefits be used towards the minimum income requirement?

Yes, if your UK sponsoring partner is in receipt of benefits, these can be used to contribute towards meeting the financial requirements. These may include one or more of the following:

  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
  • attendance allowance
  • carer’s allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme or
  • Disability living allowance
  • Industrial injury disablement benefit
  • Personal independence payment
  • Police Injury Pension
  • Severe disablement allowance

Can income from self-employment be included?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to use income from self-employment (from you or your partner, or both), whether in whole or part towards meeting the Spouse Visa financial requirement. The Home Office will typically ask for evidence of self-employment income from the last financial year. For company directors, this will mean providing a Company Tax Return (CT600) and company accounts. Those classed as sole-traders and partnerships will be asked to supply HMRC self-assessment statements as proof of income.

Final words

The detailed guidance used by Home Office officials to determine if an applicant for a Spouse Visa meets the financial requirements is 79 pages long. Given the number of rules which apply, it is understandable that some applicants will be unsure if they meet the minimum income threshold. For this reason, if you are unsure, it is highly advisable to seek the advice of an immigration law practitioner who will be able to confirm your exact situation and recommend a solution if any problems are discovered. Doing so will provide considerable peace of mind that when your application is submitted, you have the very best chance of success.

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.

Three Ways EU Immigration Benefits The UK

There, it’s done. As of 11pm on 31 January 2020, the UK left the world’s largest and most successful trading bloc. Whether you feel joyful, miserable, or indifferent to this monumental event (historians will now enjoy decades of analysis), it is undeniable that one of the reasons 51% of British people chose to leave the European Union was immigration. To many, “Take Back Control” specifically referred to taking back control of our borders.

The poisonous headlines from right-wing tabloids such as the Daily Mail, Express, and the Telegraph (which still claims to be a broadsheet, but its contents shows otherwise), give the impression that immigration has been the downfall of Britain.

In fact, the opposite is true.

And here are the facts to prove it.

EU Immigrants add to the UK’s economic prosperity

According to some media publications and people on the street, immigrants to Britain somehow manage to steal all the good jobs, whilst simultaneously claiming unemployment benefits. Oh, and they never leave the house they have leapfrogged over the waiting list for, except to visit the GP (meaning there is no doctor’s appointments available for British people) and fill the local school with their 10-plus children family.

This is utter garbage.

According to the paper, The Fiscal Impact of Immigration on the UK, produced by Oxford Economics, European migrants living in the UK contribute £2,300 more to the public purse than the average UK adult, equating to around £78,000 over the average time an EU citizen spends in Britain. EU migrants who arrived in 2016 will make a total net positive contribution of £26.9 billion to the country’s public finances over the entirety of their stay.

EU migrants work hard and are healthy (contrary to some opinions)

Regarding benefits, as of February 2015 (one year before the referendum), EU migrants represented 2.2% of people claiming Work and Pensions benefits. Furthermore, migrants from the Eastern European countries that joined the EU after 2004 are more likely to be working than any other group in Britain.

According to a 2019 Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) study, most EU migrants are young. An estimated 21% of those born in the UK were 65 years or over in 2018, compared with 10% of migrants. Given these statistics, it is difficult to see how young, fit people are clogging up GP services and hospital waiting lists. As we age, our immune system becomes more sluggish and we take longer to bounce back from illness or injury. And the risk of developing a critical illness, such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease increases with age. It is the UK’s ageing population that is stretching the NHS, not EU migrants.

The NHS needs EU migrants (in fact all migrants) to run effectively

Ironically, it is EU migrants (and those from other countries) who prevent the NHS from collapsing under the strain of an ageing population. Of the one million people working full-time in healthcare roles in NHS hospitals in March 2019, 6% were EU nationals and 8% were non-EU nationals. And these figures do not include support staff.

Social care in Britain also massively benefits from our European friends. Around 8% of those who care for our vulnerable and disabled are EU migrants. The MAC has recently warned that the social care sector is already facing major recruitment problems.

It is clear that rather than placing a drain on Britain’s health services, migrants from all over the world selflessly dedicate themselves to helping us all keep well.

In summary

People from other nations have always flocked to Britain. A country that rejects multi-culturalism is a colourless place to live. New immigration routes such as the Global Talent route , the Innovator Visa, and the Startup Visa will provide a way for people from the EU who want to come to Britain to live and work in the country after free movement ends.

“We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic.” – Jimmy Carter

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.

If You Are The Best And Brightest, Britain Wants You

Although the day may have felt normal, British people woke up to a new world on 1 February 2020. Three and a half years after a referendum result that divided a nation, Brexit is done. Although we have now entered a transition period, which lasts until at least December 2020, the UK is officially no longer a member of the European Project.

Immigration law must be overhauled and quickly. Not only will provisions need to be made to accommodate the end of freedom of movement, but the British government must also address the inevitable labour shortages in many sectors who rely on EU/EEA talent.

The latter process has begun, with the government introducing a Statement of Change to the Immigration Rules at the end of January. It introduces a new Global Talent visa category which will replace the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.

Attracting global talent

Britain is in desperate need of science and research talent; especially now it is stepping away from the co-operation and treaties which come with EU membership. The Explanatory Note of the Statement of Change explains:

These reforms follow an announcement by the Prime Minister on 8 August 2019, setting out the Government’s intention to develop a new fast-track immigration offer for the brightest and best within the science and research sector, to ensure the UK is the most attractive country to live in and develop new ideas – which also recognises the importance of science and research to the modern industrial strategy and the Government’s stated objectives to increase GDP to 2.4% by 2027. These changes represent the first phase of reforms to achieve these objectives.

The Global Talent category is designed for talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, digital technology, and arts and culture wishing to work in the UK. ‘Talent’ is defined as established leaders in their respective field, while ‘promise’ applicants have shown the potential to become leaders in their sector.

Specific provisions have been made for science and research; however, the category is also aimed at high performers in the technology sector, and arts and culture (such as visual arts, film and television, and fashion design).

Endorsement

Like the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, innovator Visa and Startup Visa, successful applicants in the Global Talent category will need to gain endorsement from a government-approved body. Current endorsing bodies the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Tech Nation, and Arts Council England will be joined by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Those in the scientific community who are being hosted or employed by a UK research organisation deemed acceptable by UKRI will be considered for entry into the UK via the route. To achieve endorsement, applicants must show they have significantly contributed to work supported by a research grant or funding by an approved funder, as listed in the Immigration Rules. To provide flexibility, the Immigration Rules do not set out the types of documents needed to show proof the applicant meets the standards.

The above endorsed funder option will allow qualifying applicants to be fast-tracked to the entry clearance/leave to remain application stage with minimal evidential requirements, if the meet the benchmarks. And to add to the attractiveness of the scheme, people endorsed by the endorsing bodies responsible for science, engineering, humanities, and medicine can apply for settlement after three years regardless of whether the applicant is granted under “promise” criteria, “talent” criteria or the new endorsed funder option. Those endorsed under the “promise” criteria for digital technology, and arts and culture can apply for Settlement after five years.

What will happen to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa?

The Global Talent route will replace the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. At present, applications for the Tier 1 route apply for entry-clearance based on endorsement letters from an endorsing body, which are valid for three months.

Applicants who already hold Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) leave and who wish to extend their leave, will be able to do so under the Global Talent category. As with initial applications, the extension requirements for the Global Talent route do not generally differ from Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).

Applicants with a valid Tier 1 Exceptional Talent endorsement letter will be able to use this to apply for entry clearance or leave under the Global Talent category. Those who entered the UK on the exceptional talent route will have the freedom to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain without having to switch to the Global Talent route.

In summary

We will provide more details on the Global Talent route as they are released. In the meantime, please call our office to discuss any immigration matters.

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 UK Wants Talent

The UK Wants Talent

When Boris Johnson’s government won a clear majority in the December 2019 election, the UK’s direction regarding its place in the world was finally sealed. On 31 January 2020, Britain will leave the world’s largest trading bloc and strike out on its own.

Future generations will see Brexit in two ways; utter madness or a stroke of genius. If it is to be the latter, then the country needs to attract an influx of highly talented people….and fast.

In response to this urgent need, special advisor to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings wrote a blog post in the first week of January calling for new talent to apply for positions in the civil service.

“We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads and perhaps some as officials. If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.

The categories are roughly:

  • Data scientists and software developers
  • Economists
  • Policy experts
  • Project managers
  • Communication experts
  • Junior researchers one of whom will also be my personal assistant
  • Weirdos and misfits with odd skills

If Britain is to not only survive but thrive post-Brexit, highly-talented people will not only be required to operate the civil service, but also to start businesses which will create jobs. And, one fact we know for sure is that people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) have the unique ability to take their knowledge and experience from their culture and use these to take advantage of fresh opportunities in the UK.

If you have an original, credible, and scalable business idea, the UK wants you.

So why are non-EU entrepreneurs finding it difficult to obtain a Startup Visa or Innovator Visa?

The birth of the Startup Visa and Innovator Visa

In 2015, the UK Migration Advisory Board (MAC) conducted a review of the now-defunct Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. MAC criticised the Entrepreneur Visa route, stating it was being used as a low-cost alternative to the Tier 1 Investor Visa (which required investment of £2 million as opposed to £200,000). Research also showed that a proportion of successful applicants were setting up low-worth businesses or claiming to be a director of an existing company but then having nothing to do with the running of the organisation.

MAC recommended stricter standards be applied to screening entrepreneur applicants, including having them endorsed by independent third-parties “partnering with reliable organisations in order to select migrant entrepreneurs”, where “the selection of entrepreneurs should be carried out by industry experts where possible”.

Where for art thou entrepreneurs?

From March 2019 to September 2019 there were 18 applications for the Innovator Visa. This compares to 997 applications for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa over the same period in 2018.

Why is the Innovator Visa so unappealing?

The problem is that the UK has set up the new entrepreneur scheme with the attitude of “you need to prove yourself to us” at a time when it is deliberately embarking on an uncertain future course. People who have the brains, energy, and ambition to set up a business and expand it internationally are pretty darned special. They have the luxury of picking any country in the world to expand into. Therefore, it is Britain that has to prove that it is worthy of their skills and talent, rather than the other way around.

So far, precious few of the endorsing bodies provide much information on their websites about the criteria they will use to accept and approve Innovator Visa applications. Furthermore, some admit they are ill-equipped to manage or are not accepting applications at the moment.

Furthermore, to be granted an extension, the visa applicant must provide an endorsement letter from an approved endorsing body that confirms:

  1. The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.
  2. The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.
  3. The business is active and trading.
  4. The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.
  5. The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.
  6. The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on continuing to develop business ventures.

This is if the business is still the same after three years — otherwise, they need to start again (by demonstrating that their business is innovative, viable, and scalable and securing endorsement).

How to increase your chances of a successful application

This paragraph is not a sales pitch. It is simply stating the fact that the chances of a successful visa application are higher if you instruct an experienced immigration Solicitor to advise you. This is no different from having a qualified Accountant do your taxes or an architect to design your house. Sure, you could do your accounts yourself or buy a computer program to create your dream home. But you run a high risk of making mistakes, not to mention the time and energy you must spend learning complex skills that others have spent years acquiring.

Partnering with an immigration lawyer, from application to extension and settlement, means you will have someone guiding you throughout the entire process, ensuring every business decision you make helps achieve not only your commercial ambitions, but the ability to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship.

It is true that the Start-up Visa and Innovator Visa application processes need further refinement. But given the UK is about to reshape its entire immigration system, such action could take years to happen. Rather than miss out on the opportunities the Start-up Visa and Innovator Visa can provide (such as the latter only requiring £50,000 in investment funds), be smarter than your competition and work with an immigration law expert who can make your ambitions become a reality.

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. If you want more information on the UK Innovator Visa, please phone our office on 01217777715.

Innovator Visa: Your 30 Second Guide!!

Innovator Visa

In early 2019, the UK government announced the end of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. These have been replaced by the more flexible and dynamic Innovator Visa and Start-up Visa.

The Innovator Visa is designed for experienced entrepreneurs to come to the UK to set up a new business. As the world’s fifth-largest economy, Britain provides not only access to domestic investors and customers but is ideally placed to provide access to the European Union, a market of 500 million.

At UK Migration Lawyers, our team of immigration Solicitors can provide commercially astute guidance to help you swiftly and successfully gain an Innovator Visa. Furthermore, we will work with you to ensure you are in a position to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as soon as possible.

What are the eligibility requirements for getting an Innovator Visa?

Before applying for an Innovator Visa, it is important to understand that eligibility is partially based on an endorsement.

Every application is measured on:

  • Innovation – is the business idea original and is there a business plan available that shows the venture meets an existing market need or is a legitimate competitor in a particular sector?
  • Viability – does the applicant have the required skills, experience, and knowledge of the UK market to make the business a success?
  • Scalability – is there substantial proof that the proposed business can grow and create genuine employment for UK settled workers?

It is imperative to keep the above in mind in order to structure your application to prove you meet the merits.

To be eligible for an Innovator Visa, you need to have:

  • Endorsement within this category by an approved endorsing body.
  • £50,000 of investment funds available.
  • The ability to speak English to a B2 level
  • A thorough business plan
  • At least £945 in your bank account. These funds must be present for a minimum of 90 days before applying.

When applying for an Innovator Visa, you will need to collate a series of documents to send in with the application form. These include:

  • A letter from the endorsing body, stating how your business meets the merits of innovation, viability, and scalability.
  • Bank statements proving you have the required £945 and £50,000 available.
  • Your passport.
  • A business plan.

Please note the above list is not exhaustive. Our team will assist you in applying for endorsement and collating the required documents. We can also assist with putting together a persuasive business plan which shows that you can meet not only realistic sales and financial targets but ongoing immigration criteria. This latter point will be particularly important if your ultimate goal is to apply for UK settlement.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me?

You can bring dependent family members to the UK on an Innovator Visa. Dependent family members are defined as your spouse or partner and any children under 18 years. The visa requirements state that you will need an additional £630 for each dependent in addition to the £945 in maintenance funds. Furthermore, you will need to pay the healthcare surcharge for all of you upfront, so be sure to include this in your budgeting.

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. If you want more information on the UK Innovator Visa, please phone our office on 01217777715.

Startup Visas: A 30 Second Guide!

In early 2019, the UK government replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa with an Innovator Visa and a Startup Visa.

The Startup Visa is designed for people who want to start a business in Britain. It is a one-off, two-year visa aimed at allowing entrepreneurs to develop their business. Unlike the Innovator Visa, no investment funds are required to qualify. Home Secretary, Sajid Javid stated in a press release that the new visa category “…will help to ensure we continue to attract the best global talent and maintain the UK’s position as a world-leading destination for innovation and entrepreneurs.”

If you are currently in the UK on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa, Tier 2 Visa, Tier 4 (General) Student, or Standard Visitor Visa, you may apply to switch to a Startup Visa.

Our team of highly experienced, approachable, and efficient immigration Solicitors can advise you on preparing a Startup Visa application and collating the required documentation to send to UK Visas and Immigration.

How do I apply for a Startup Visa?

Like the Innovator Visa, the Startup Visa is based on the following three merits:

  • Innovation – is the business idea original and is there a business plan available that shows the venture meets an existing market need or is a legitimate competitor in a particular sector?
  • Viability – does the applicant have the required skills, experience, and knowledge of the UK market to make the business a success?
  • calability – is there substantial proof that the proposed business can grow and create genuine employment for UK settled workers?

To be granted a Startup Visa, you must obtain endorsement by an approved endorsing body. They will be looking to see if your start-up has a realistic chance of success and whether you have the knowledge and experience to reach the ambitions set out in your business plan.

Aside from endorsement, you will also need to show:

  • Proof you can speak English to a B2 level.
  • You have at least £945 in your bank account/s for 90 days prior to applying.

Can I bring my family to the UK on a Startup Visa?

You can bring dependent family members (i.e. your spouse/partner and your children if they are under 18 years). You will need to show you have an additional £630 in maintenance funds (on top of the £945) per dependent.

Does a Startup Visa lead to Settlement?

You cannot obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain through a Startup Visa. However, at the end of the two years, you can apply to switch to an Innovator Visa, which provides a path to Settlement. Your endorsing body will be checking every six months to see that your business is progressing. We will also continue to work with you to ensure that you are taking the right steps to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as soon as you are eligible.

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. If you want to apply for a Startup Visa, please phone our office on 0203 733 0744.

A 60 Second Guide To Brexit For EU/EEA Nationals

Brexit Flags

When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, he declared he would rather “die in a ditch” than ask the European Union to extend the 31st October deadline for Brexit. Halloween has come and gone , and Britain is:

  • still a member of the EU, and
  • having an election on 12 December 2019.

For EU/EEA nationals, this new development does nothing but simply equals further ongoing confusion and frustration. Not only must they, along with the rest of the population, try toand keep track of almost daily changes to the political landscape, EU/EEA nationals cannot express their concern through casting a vote in the upcoming election .

Then, of course, there are the ongoing issues with the EU Settlement Scheme, which that may very well turn into another ‘Windrush scandal’ if certain matters are not addressed. More on this later. First, let’s set out the current state of the Brexit saga.

A deal almost done?

In mid-October 2019, Britain and the EU agreed a Brexit deal in principle, known as the Withdrawal Agreement. Note – this is not a trade deal. It is simply a document which sets out how the UK will leave the EU. It deals with certain key issues, namely:

  • The status of EU nationals living in the UK, and UK nationals living in the EU at the time of exit.
  • The transition period, whereby the UK will still be part of the EU trading bloc whilst a formal trade agreement is negotiated (the period can be extended if all parties agree). This avoids the dreaded ‘cliff-edge’ whereby the UK leaves the EU on a specific date with no trade deal in place, a situation likely to cause severe economic damage.
  • How Northern Ireland will be treated following Brexit. A backstop has been created to ensure that regardless of the outcome of any future trade deal, there will not be a border and customs checks on the island of Ireland. This is because a hard border between Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (which is an EU member state) may jeopardise the Good Friday agreement which ended decades of violence and hostility.
  • The financial settlement the UK must pay to the EU upon leaving. This is known as the ‘divorce bill’.
  • Fishing rights. The document says: “The Union and the United Kingdom shall use their best endeavours to conclude and ratify ‘an agreement’ on access to waters and fishing opportunities.”
  • The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice during the transition period and the setting up of a joint UK-EU committee to deal with disputes related to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Although the EU and the British government agreed on a deal, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson had to get it approved by Parliament. And this is where things got rather messy.

Parliament granted preliminary approval to the Withdrawal Agreement. However, a mere 15 minutes later, MPs voted down legislation which would have paved the way for the Prime Minister to ensure Britain left the EU by 31 October 2019.

Following this defeat, rather than try and push through the agreement, the Prime Minister successfully fought for a pre-Christmas election. The EU had granted an extension to 31 January 2020. If the Conservative Party win a majority at the polls, Mr Johnson can push his deal through Parliament and the UK will leave the bloc in the New Year.

The EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme opened fully on 30 March 2019 and will remain live until 30 June 2021. EU/EEA nationals who have lived in the UK for five or more years can apply for Settled Status, which will confirm their right to live and work in the UK without visa restrictions. EU/EEA nationals who have been in the country for less than five years may apply for Pre-Settled Status.

Applications for Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status can be made online. However, newspapers have reported many instances of Settled Status being mistakenly denied. For example, prominent chef and cooking school owner, Richard Bertinet, was granted only Pre-Settled Status , despite having lived in Britain for over three decades. This also happened to the Polish celebrity chef Damian Wawrzyniak , who has prepared banquets for the royal family and was a senior chef at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Mr Bertinet has since been granted Settled Status. In another case, a South Oxfordshire district councillor from Bulgaria was denied Settled Status for not sending in the correct documentation, despite living in the country for almost 20 years.

There are grave concerns that vulnerable EU/EEA citizens, such as those who do not have payslips, are elderly, or have learning disabilities will not apply or be denied Settled Status. And disturbingly, Home Office minister, Brandon Lewis told a German newspaper in October that EU/EEA nationals who did not apply for Settled Status before the deadline would be deported. The Liberal Democrat’s Home Affairs spokeswoman Christine Jardine said she was “absolutely appalled” by Brandon Lewis’s deportation threat and she predicted “thousands” of people would be left undocumented by the “arbitrary” deadline.

Wrapping Up

So, here we are. For the second time in less than four years, Britain will go to the polls. For EU/EEA nationals, it is imperative to secure residency status as quickly as possible. If you are having problems with your Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status application, or your application has been rejected, seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer.

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premier immigration law firms. If you have any concerns or questions regarding Brexit or the EU Settlement Scheme, please phone our Birmingham Office on 0121 777 7715.

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.

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