How To Claim Asylum In The UK

How To Claim Asylum In The UK

A sure-fire way to ensure the media heat moves off any political failures by the British government, such as a lack of progress when it comes to Brexit negotiations and an appalling response to the Coronavirus pandemic, is to shift the public’s focus onto migrants. Suddenly this summer, the papers were full of stories involving British shores being "swamped" by ‘illegal’ migrants.

Contrary to the rhetoric espoused continuously by the right-wing press, it is perfectly legal to travel across the English Channel and seek asylum (although people smuggling is illegal).

Britain is home to a minuscule 1% of the world’s 29.6 million refugees, and asylum seekers make up a tiny proportion of UK migrants. Most people come to Britain for work, study, or family life.

There is significant confusion regarding claiming asylum in the UK. This article answers some of the questions our immigration lawyers are commonly asked.

What are the laws governing the right to seek asylum?

Article 31 of the UN Refugee Convention states that:

The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

There is no rule in international law that people fleeing persecution must claim asylum in the first safe country they enter. In 1999 Lord Justice Simon Brown ruled in R v Uxbridge Magistrates Court (ex parte Adimi) [1999] Imm AR 560 that "some element of choice is indeed open to refugees as to where they may properly claim asylum". The judge stated that "any merely short-term stopover en route" to another country should not forfeit the individual’s right to claim refugee status elsewhere.

Most people seeking asylum in the UK do so because they speak English and/or have family members already in the country.

What is a screening interview?

A screening interview will take place between one to five days after you arrive in the UK. It usually be conducted at Lunar House in Croydon. You should take your passport as proof of identity and if possible, proof of your accommodation, for example, a utility bill.

At the interview, your biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph) will be collected and you will be issued with an Application Registration Card.

The immigration officer at the screening interview will ask several questions, including:

  • What is your nationality?
  • Do you feel safe at your current accommodation?
  • What is your main language?
  • Why have you come to the UK, and how did you get here?
What is a substantive interview?

The second interview you must attend if you are claiming asylum in the UK is called a substantive interview. It is a face to face interview, and you will be asked questions about why you fled your home country and your grounds for seeking asylum in Britain. If you cannot speak sufficient English, an interpreter will be provided via video link.

Be prepared for this interview to be intense. Take advantage of any breaks that are offered. If you feel tired, confused, or emotional, it is best to ask for a break to collect yourself. You may have an immigration solicitor with you, but they may only intervene if there is a risk of a misunderstanding between you and the caseworker occurring.

An immigration solicitor can provide invaluable help in preparing for the substantive interview. You will be asked hundreds of questions, and the caseworker will be looking for any inconsistencies. An immigration law specialist can conduct mock interviews with you, ensuring you feel confident and sure of your answers when you finally meet with your caseworker.

Once the interview is over, you and your solicitor will receive a written record. Your solicitor will review the document and quickly contact the Home Office if any mistakes are present. There is a five-day window for you to submit any new evidence that you believe may assist in your claim for asylum in the UK.

You should receive a decision within six months of claiming asylum. If your claim is successful, you will be granted five years’ refugee status.

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 Employ Overseas Talent, You Need A Sponsor Licence

If You Employ Overseas Talent, You Need A Sponsor Licence

When the UK fully leaves the EU at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, EU/EEA nationals will need to obtain a visa to live and work in Britain. This constitutes a major change for employers, many of whom are facing a skill shortage once freedom of movement ends.

If you are an employer and rely on overseas talent to run and grow your business, you need to apply for a Sponsor Licence. It is best to do this sooner rather than later, as there is likely to be a rush of applications filed at the start of 2021.

Sponsor Licence eligibility requirements

To be eligible for a Sponsor Licence, your business must provide documents to show:

  • it is a genuine commercial entity and operating and trading in the UK
  • the human resources (HR) systems can meet the stringent compliance requirements, including record keeping and reporting duties
  • it can offer genuine employment in the categories it is applying to be licensed under
  • no director has a criminal record or previously breached any immigration laws

It will take up to eight weeks to be approved for a Sponsor Licence, and there is no fast-track. And several factors could lead to a delay:

  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) decide that a pre-licence visit is required. This is common in industries considered high-risk, such as catering, hospitality, and IT.
  • Collating the necessary documents and putting them in the correct order can take some time. Not sending your supporting documents to UKVI within five days of the application being submitted will result in a refusal; therefore, it is best practice to collate all the documentation before sending in the application.
  • Difficulty appointing key personnel (see below) to perform the required compliance roles. If you are having difficulty, you can instruct an immigration lawyer to take over many (but not all) of the compliance requirements for you.

Your organisation will also need to provide information regarding the following:

  • Why it is applying for a Sponsor Licence.
  • The sector it operates in.
  • Its opening and operating hours during the week.
  • An up to date hierarchy chart detailing any owners, directors, and board members.
  • If the organisation has 50 employees or fewer, a list of all employees and their job titles.
  • The names of all of the people who have access to the email address supplied with the online Sponsor Licence application.
  • A landline telephone number
Proof that you can meet compliance requirements

You must have a system in place that allows you to monitor migrant workers’ immigration status to ensure they do not continue working for you after their leave to remain has expired. Putting diarised reminders relating to employees’ visa expiry dates in at least two staff members calendars will mitigate the risk of a right to work follow up check being missed.

The key personnel roles and requirements

The three key personnel roles UKVI require you to have in place are:

  • Authorising Officer – this must be a senior person in the organisation. They should be responsible for recruiting migrants and ensuring Sponsor Licence compliance is met.
  • Key Contact – acts as the main point of contact between the business and UKVI. This role is often performed by an immigration lawyer.
  • Level 1 User – has full access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS) and is accountable for the day-to-day operation of the licence. They can perform several tasks, including changing details of the organisation on the licence summary, and applying for and assigning Certificates of Sponsorship.

It is advisable to have a back-up Level 1 user to provide cover in case of illness or holidays being taken.

How an immigration solicitor can assist

If you have never applied for a Sponsor Licence before, investing in experienced legal advice can make a significant difference in your chance of submitting a successful application. Your solicitor will visit your business premises in person, examine your HR systems and discuss any weaknesses that need addressing. They will also advise you on the documentation you need to collate and ensure it is presented in the correct order. Furthermore, they can run your SMS for you, ensuring it is always up to date and advise you of any changes to immigration law that may affect your compliance duties and responsibilities.

With the right professional support, applying for a Sponsor Licence is a straightforward process. Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors.

A Place of Safety

Discarded Toy Bear

If you or your children are in immediate danger, please call 999 and ask for the police. You can also call the 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

It is hard to imagine the terror of being in a foreign country with no friends or family and suffering domestic violence from your partner and/or their family. However, help is available (see details at the bottom of this page). Furthermore, victims of domestic abuse who are in the UK on a Spouse Visa, Unmarried Partner Visa or Civil Partnership Visa can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This ensures they can stay in the UK free from visa restrictions if their relationship breaks down due to domestic violence.

Domestic violence/abuse includes an occurrence or series of occurrences of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading, and/or violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in most cases by a partner, ex-partner, family member or carer. Both men and women can be victims.

It can include, but is not limited to:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional and mental abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Economic abuse (withholding money or refusing to allow you to work)
  • Coercive control
  • Online or digital abuse
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Forced marriage and female genital mutilation
How can I apply for ILR if my relationship has broken down because of domestic violence?

Many migrant victims of domestic violence flee the family home utterly destitute. If you manage to escape to a refuge or a friend’s house, you can apply for a Destitute Domestic Violence Concession. This will not only ensure you have limited leave to remain in the UK regardless of your visa situation but that you can access public funds so you can pay for food, housing etc.

Eligibility for the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession depends on you proving:

  • you entered the UK on a Spouse, Civil Partnership or Unmarried Partner Visa,
  • your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence,
  • you need access to public funds to get away from your abuser, and
  • you intend to apply for ILR as a victim of domestic violence.

If your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence, you can apply for ILR immediately. You do not have to wait five years. To qualify, you need to meet the following eligibility criteria. You must:

  • have been given permission to remain in the UK as the spouse, civil partner or unmarried
  • partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK
  • have evidence to show that during your time in the UK on one of the above visas, your relationship broke down because of domestic violence.

  • meet the suitability criteria, for example, you have not committed any criminal offences whilst in the UK or submitted any false information in any visa applications
Providing evidence of domestic violence

Evidence that can show a caseworker at UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) that you have suffered from domestic violence include:

  • an application for or the granting of a Non-Molestation Order and/or Occupation Order
  • a police report showing that they have visited your address because of a domestic violence incident
  • your spouse/partner has spent time in prison for abusing you
  • medical reports detailing that your injuries are consistent with those caused by domestic violence
  • a letter from a refuge stating that they believe you have been subjected to domestic violence
Getting legal support

If your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence and you want to apply for ILR so you can remain in the UK, legal help is available. Victims of domestic abuse can apply for legal aid, and you may be exempted from paying the ILR fee. An experienced immigration lawyer who is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can provide you with the advice you need and represent you in making your application. You must contact an immigration Solicitor as soon as possible.

Further help and support are available from the below organisations.

National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) – 0800 970 20 70
Refuge – 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)
Women’s Aid 0808 200 0247 (24 hours)
ManKind – 01823 334 244
Galop LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428

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.

Is the UK Government Going Far Enough With Appreciating Non-EU/EAA NHS Workers?

NHS Logo

The dedication of frontline health workers during the Coronavirus pandemic has touched the hearts and minds of everyone in the country. And many of those who are risking their lives to help Covid-19 patients are non-EU/EEA migrants.

Out of 1.2 million NHS staff , 52,000 are nationals of Asian nations such as India and Pakistan. A further 18,500 are Filipino, and 6770 are Nigerian. Many of these incredibly talented, selfless doctors, nurses, and carers are in the UK on a visa.

To ensure the UK’s NHS can continue to cope with Covid-19 (it already had 100,000 unfilled positions before the pandemic took hold) the British government has offered to extend the visas of frontline healthcare workers for one year if:

  • they have a visa that’s due to expire before 1 October 2020, and
  • they work for the NHS or an independent healthcare provider in an eligible profession

The list of eligible occupations includes:

  • biochemist
  • biological scientist
  • dental practitioner
  • health professional
  • medical practitioner
  • medical radiographer
  • midwife
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • ophthalmologist
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist
  • psychologist
  • social worker
  • speech and language therapist
  • therapy professional

Your employer will advise you if your visa is due to expire before 1 October. To have your visa extended, you will need to post your and your family’s current biometric residence permits to UK Visas and Immigration. You will not have to pay for the extension or pay the healthcare surcharge.

Is this enough?

Extending the visas of certain healthcare workers and their families free of charge may seem generous, but does it truly acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of these nurses, doctors, and carers? What about those whose visas expire after 1 October? They would have worked through the period when Covid-19 was ravaging the country’s hospitals and care homes, yet their visas and those of their families will not be extended free of charge.

Pressure is growing on the government to do more. One area of contention is the healthcare surcharge, set to increase to £625 per year later in 2020. The healthcare surcharge is a charge that non-EU/EEA migrants must pay upfront when they apply for their visa. The cost is considerable; at the time of writing, a person on a Tier 2 (General) Visa must pay £2,000 to cover them for the five years of the visa. All family members must pay the same amount, so for two adults and two children, the upfront cost is £8,000.

Nurse, Carl Perez, from the Philippines, came to the UK two years ago. He caught Covid-19 in April whilst nursing in a care home where several residents died. He told The Guardian :

“It feels unfair that we are risking out [sic] lives on the frontline, and we are being penalised by having to pay this large sum out of our own pockets. We’re already paying for the NHS through our national insurance and tax,” he said. “It doesn’t leave much left for accommodation and living costs.”


In April 2020, a video with the accompanying hashtag #YouClapForMeNow went viral. It is a tribute to Asian and minority ethnic people, referred to as BAME, who work in the healthcare profession. It sends a message urging British people and the government not to forget the care they gave and the sacrifice they made when the Coronavirus pandemic is over. The video’s content is all the more important, given that nearly three quarters of NHS staff and carers who have died are from a BAME background.

Final words

The UK’s hostile environment to migrants has shifted following the Covid-19 crisis. “In a country where anti-immigrant sentiment gave rise to the Brexit movement, Britain’s healthcare system depends heavily on foreign doctors, who are now on the front lines fighting the epidemic,” says The New York Times . Even traditionally right-leaning papers such as the Daily Mail have applauded the contribution migrants have made during this crisis.

These sentiments may make us all feel like we are honouring the work and sacrifice of non-EU/EEA healthcare workers. However, the real test of appreciation will come when Coronavirus is a distant memory, and many of the migrants who got us through the crisis apply for visa extensions and/or Indefinite Leave to Remain. Will they be treated with sensitivity and respect? Or will there be more refusals on flimsy grounds , causing months, sometimes years of heartbreak and hardship?

Who will clap for them then?

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 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).


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.

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.