Author: Adarsh Girijadevi

UK Visa Fees Increase from April 2018

The UK Visas & Immigration announced new fees for immigration and nationality coming into effect on 6 April 2018. The changes include increases to Tier 2 work visa fees, indefinite leave to remain and naturalization applications. We’ve highlighted some of the increases below but a full list can be found here.

TIER 2 VISAS

  • Overseas
    • Tier 2 General, Tier 2 ICT Long Term Staff up to 3 years: £610 (previously £587)
    • Tier 2 General, Tier 2 ICT Long Term Staff over 3 years: £1,220 (previously £1,174)
  • In country
    • Tier 2 General, Tier 2 ICT Long Term Staff up to 3 years: £704 (previously £677)
    • Tier 2 General, Tier 2 ICT Long Term Staff over 3 years: £1,408 (previously £1,354)

TIER 1 VISAS 

  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur overseas: £1,021 (previously £982)
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur in country: £1,277 (previously £1,228)
  • Tier 1 Investor overseas and in country: £1,623 (previously £1,561)
  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur overseas: £363 (previously £349)
  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur in country: £493 (previously £474)

OTHER WORK VISAS 

  • Representative of overseas business (overseas application): £610 (previously £587)
  • Representative of overseas business (in country application): £704 (previously 677)
  • Tier 5 Temporary Worker & Youth Mobility Scheme: £244 (previously £235)

 SETTLEMENT & BRITISH NATIONALITY 

  • Indefinite Leave to Remain: £2,389 (previously £2,297)
  • Naturalisation as a British citizen: £1,250 (previously £1,202)

Please contact us on 020 3695 4626 if you need any assistance on UK immigration.

Owning & Operating a business may amount to private life under Article 8

The court of appeal recently considered the case of  Onwuje v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 331  under Article 8 and Underhill LJ accepted that “an entrepreneur’s ownership of, and involvement in, his or her business may also be regarded as an aspect of their private life for the purpose of article 8”, as stated in Niemietz v Germany (application no. 13710/88).

In Niemietz the European Court of Human Rights accepted that the concept of private life should not be limited to an “inner circle” but should include professional or business activities, “since it is, after all, in the course of their working lives that the majority of people have a significant, if not the greatest, opportunity of developing relationships with the outside world”.

Even though the appeal did not go through in this case, the comment is worth noting for future private life claims involving business aspect.

New Procedure to request personal information held by UK Visas and Immigration

UKVI recently initiated a new procedure to request personal information that is held on the Home Office’s immigration records (this is also known as a ‘subject access request’).

There are 3 types of request you can make:

Basic

Your request will be free of charge and you will receive a response within 20 days of your identity being verified by the Home Office.

You can request a copy of:

  • an electronic summary of your immigration history
  • landing cards we hold electronically
  • an electronic summary of entry clearance records
  • Workers Registration Scheme (WRS) information
  • entry and exit records for the past 5 years

Most people find that this option gives them all the information they need.

Specific

This is a new pilot option, which allows you to request information usually only available through a detailed request. This request is also free of charge and you will receive a response within 20 days of your identity being verified by the Home Office.

You can request copies of up to 5 single documents, including:

  • a list of your visa applications made in the UK
  • a particular decision letter
  • the outcome of an appeal (appeal determination)
  • an individual detention progress report
  • a deportation order
  • a particular interview record

If you need more information than the single documents in this list, you will need to make a detailed request.

Detailed

This allows you to request a copy of your full Home Office file. Your request will cost £10 and you will receive a response within 40 days of your identity being verified by the Home Office.

Initially, you will be sent an electronic summary of your immigration history (as with a basic application) as this gives most people what they need. However, this option allows you to request further information from your Home Office file if you still need it.

You can apply via  the online application and this will reduce the time it takes to respond to your request. If you choose the detailed option, you will also be able to provide payment online using a credit or debit card or PayPal.

You can use the online application form to request access to personal information held by UKVI.

You can still make an application in writing, ensuring that you supply all the supporting documents listed in the ‘evidence to send’ section below and post to:

Subject Access Request Unit
UK Visas and Immigration
Lunar House
40 Wellesley Road
Croydon CR9 2BY

Full details of the process and evidence required can be read here.

Home Office in doubt whether a new immigration system can be created by March 2019

Home Office chiefs fear a new immigration system to track EU citizens for the first time will not be ready by March 2019. The alarm comes after Theresa May overruled officials to insist free movements ends on Brexit Day.

The decision means that after March 29, 2019, the Home Office must be able to both register EU citizens already here for permanent residency and separately track new arrivals during the Brexit transition period. Meanwhile Brussels had demanded anyone who arrives in Britain during the transition period – when free movement will effectively continue – be treated exactly the same as people already here, including gaining rights to stay long term.

In the negotiations, Britain has promised anyone who wants to stay will be allowed, subject to the same offer to Britons in Europe. Last year the Home Office managed to issue 164,000 work visas to non-EU nationals. This figure will have to rise to around 400,000 when EU citizens need visas.

Immigration Health Surcharge paid by migrants to double

Charges paid by temporary migrants in the UK to use the NHS are to double, the government has announced. Ministers said the move would raise around £220m a year for the health service while ensuring that migrants made a “fair contribution” towards its costs.

The increase to the immigration health surcharge – payable by people from outside the European Economic Area staying in the UK for six months or longer – means the main rate will rise from £200 to £400 a year. The discounted rate for students and those on the youth mobility scheme will go up from £150 to £300.

A surcharge was brought in by the government in 2015 in a clampdown on so-called “health tourism”. It has been questioned by some doctors, who have voiced concern that the policy could be discriminatory and result in racial profiling to identify chargeable patients.

70-day deadline to verify and confirm the identity of individuals alleged by the UK to be illegal migrants

India will commit itself to a 70-day deadline to verify and confirm the identity of individuals alleged by Britain to be illegal migrants, according to a memorandum of understanding to be signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit here in April. The text of the MoU was finalised and initialled by minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju and UK minister for immigration Caroline Nokes in London last week. The sensitive issue is linked to Britain improving its visa offer for Indian nationals, expected to be announced during Modi’s visit.

The issue of repatriating illegal Indians is one of key elements in the bilateral relationship. The returns have so far been plagued by delays in confirming the Indian nationality of suspects, though the 70-day deadline is expected to speed up the process. As Prime Minister Theresa May said during her November 2016 visit to India:  “(The) UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the UK.”

The MoU divides Indian citizens without a legal basis to be in the UK into two categories – those whose passports and other details are available from their applications for British visas, and those whose documents are not available but acknowledge being Indians. The verification process of the first group – after Britain submits documents to India – is to be completed within 15 days, while the identity of individuals in the second group – a more complicated process – will need to be confirmed within 70 days.

No figures for suspected illegal Indians are released but the Home Office assesses that Indian citizens are among the top nationalities remaining in the UK Illegally. A Home Office official said: “A major barrier for removal is the current process for obtaining travel documentation for those without a current passport.” In the past, the verification process in India, after documents are sent from London, took months, but Indian officials hope the speedier timeline in the MoU will enable Britain to consider better visa conditions for legal migration.

Since address verification for Indian passports is usually completed in 21 days, officials believe the 70-day deadline will be sufficient for police authorities to complete the process. “Illegal migration should not be a barrier to legal migration,” said India’s deputy high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik. May had unveiled plans to roll out the “registered traveller scheme” for Indian business leaders during her India visit, but it has not been announced so far. It will enable business travellers expedited clearance at Heathrow and other ports.

There is also a demand that Britain extend to India an ongoing pilot scheme in China offering cheaper and longer duration visas, and Indian representatives hope British authorities will have three months to consider such plans before Modi’s visit in April.

France has vowed not to allow another migrant ‘jungle’ camp to be set up in Calais

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed not to allow another migrant “Jungle” camp to be set up in Calais. The pledge came as he visited the Channel port ahead of Thursday’s UK-France summit where he is expected to try and shake-up Britain’s role in dealing with migrants bidding to come to the UK.

Hundreds of asylum seekers hoping to cross the Channel remain in the area, more than a year after authorities dismantled the town’s sprawling Jungle camp. Mr Macron said Calais had become “a dead end for thousands of women and men who have spent years on the road”. All those arriving in France deserved “dignified and humane” treatment, he said, promising to provide more accommodation and speed up processing of asylum claims.

Paris reportedly wants Britain to boost the amount of cash it pumps into dealing with the Calais migrant camps, where an estimated 700 people are living. Campaigners and senior French politicians are also said to be pressing the UK to receive more refugees from the region, especially lone children.

Banks begin immigration checks on millions of accounts

The new scheme, which will be rolled out this month, requires banks and building societies to check all current account holders against a list of people liable for deportation or wanted by immigration enforcement. If an account holder is found to be in the UK illegally the bank must inform the Home Office, which will instruct on action that may include closing the account.

“These new measures are part of our commitment to make it more difficult for people with no right to live or work in the UK to remain here.  Banks and building societies have been required to check a person’s immigration status before they open a current account since 2014, and a 2016 investigation found 10% of those denied an account after such checks had been refused wrongly.

In a statement, the Home Office said only the details of people who were “liable for removal” or who had “absconded from immigration control” would be shared, and that asylum seekers and others whose applications were being processed would not be affected.

Money will be returned to the account holders unless evidence of criminality is found, in which case an account could be frozen, the Home Office said. Current measures against illegal migrants includes preventing people from working, renting accommodation or getting driving licences, and have seen demands for immigration checks implemented in hospitals and schools.

Caroline Nokes appointed as the new Immigration Minister

The Queen approved the appointment of Caroline Nokes MP as Minister of State for Immigration at the Home Office yesterday.

The new Immigration Minister will be tasked with the responsibility of forthcoming Immigration Bill and separate White Paper, the work on settled status for EU citizens and the implementation of new hostile environment measures.

Responding to her appointment, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:

‘I am honoured to join the Home Office and excited about gripping the challenges ahead in this crucial period as we prepare to leave the European Union.  As Immigration Minister, I am fully committed to ensuring the UK’s borders remain secure and developing an immigration system that works in the national interest, while continuing to attract those who benefit the country. I will also build on the positive work this government has already delivered, resettling thousands of the most vulnerable refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict.’

We wish her all the best in her new role.

Universities pilot plan for easier foreign student visas

Twenty-three universities have joined an extended pilot scheme that aims to make it easier for foreign students to apply for and be granted UK visas or work permits. The scheme is designed to streamline the process of UK visa applications for international students who want to study for courses of 13 months or less.

The Scheme is designed to provide foreign students with greater levels of support if they decide to move from a student visa to a UK work permit, which will allow them to remain in Britain for at least six months following the conclusion of their course.

Other universities added to the extended pilot scheme include Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the University of Edinburgh. Students from countries within the European Union and European Economic Area do not need visas to study in the UK although it is still not clear what position they will be in after Brexit.

The universities taking part are given responsibility for eligibility checks which means that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications. Full list of the new Universities added can be viewed here.

There are also other schemes in place that allows international students to remain in the UK further to their studies to undertake work experience like the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Programme. More details on the scheme can be viewed here.