Monday, 17 October 2011

No VAT on service fees until November!

Until 1st November 2011 we do not have to charge VAT (government tax 20%) on our service fees. If you are thinking of applying for a visa or British Citizenship soon and would like to save money then you should apply now! Or at least to make a payment of our service fees before November and then submit documents later, when you are ready. Apply now to save 20% on VAT!
This tax, VAT of 20% on top of our service fees, applies only when we receive payments of our service fees from the UK or the EU. If you are arranging a payment from outside the EU, such as from India or Canada, then this tax does not apply.
Generally, businesses have to charge clients this tax when business turnover reaches a certain amount, ie when the business has grown substantially. For us it is a good news that business is growing, especially in this economic times. However, the sad fact is that we are obliged by law to add 20% to our fees and pass it on to the government. This is not an increase in our fees.  

Friday, 14 October 2011

About those 'new visa rules'

Every day I am now asked by the concerned customers about the proposed 'new rules' on UK visas, especially settlement rights. I have spent a few hours carefully reading a 42-page consultation paper and here are the main points:

1) Main misunderstanding is that Tier 1 General (HSMP) visa holders will not be allowed to apply for an ILR (Permanent visa, Indefinite Leave to Remain). Wrong! All proposals are covering Tier 1 migrants who ENTERED Tier 1 since April 2011 (and does not cover those who entered it before that). This by definition excludes all Tier 1 General migrants because this category was closed altogether before April 2011 and no one entered it since then. Tier 1 General (HSMP) migrants should be able to apply for permanent residency (ILR) in the same as now (if proposals are not changed later).

2) Changes referring to 'Tier 1 migrants' cover those under the remaining sub-categories of Tier 1: Investor, Entrepreneur and Exceptional Talent. It does not refer to 'General' at all and Post-Study work will be closed in April 2012.

The proposals do not prevent Investors etc from applying for Settlement. They simply propose to limit those visas to total of 5 years. After that a person has to either apply for Settlement (ILR) if he/she qualifies - or leave the UK altogether. Maybe re-apply again from abroad and start 5 years all over again. This is in contrast with the current possibility of extending again and again without applying for settlement. Most people would find it strange but they are reasons for extending instead of applying for an ILR: one hasn't passed a Life in The UK Test or has accumulated too many absences or has an unspent conviction.

3) Note for nationals of  BULGARIA and ROMANIA applying under the old HSMP category (under the rules which were in place before November 2007 and which are still available to nationals of Bulgaria/Romania): the "new rules" proposals do not apply to you at all, the rules for European workers remain the same and are protected by the European law.

4) TIER 2 VISA HOLDERS. Tier 2 ICT does not lead to permanent residency already for those who entered it from April 2010.

However, major changes are proposed to stop Tier 2 (General) visa holders from settling in the UK. These proposals ask in the consultation whether the whole Tier 2 category should be made temporary (not leading to permanent residency status) and whether to allow some Tier 2 General migrants to switch to a "special" Tier 2 category which will be leading to settlement. Decision remains to be seen. 

5) To add to p4), the proposed changes also ask whether an employer should play a more active role in a settlement application for a Tier 2 migrant. Currently, Tier 2 General (work permit) migrants simply need a letter from employer (who sponsored them) to confirm they are still required for the job. However, nothing is stopping a worker to leave this job once an ILR has been granted. So, the new rules propose to involve employers more and in short, make sure employees do not leave the job that soon.

6) ANCESTRAL VISA holders: no changes proposed.

7) DOMESTIC WORKERS: this route is proposed to be closed altogether. Or to be reduced to a 6 months stay similar to a visitor visa.

8) SPOUSES/PARTNERS of British citizens: we will make a separate posting on that issue, there are going to be big changes comparing to the current system. In short: if eligible, apply now before it becomes way more complicated!

9) FINALLY, these are only proposals and we will only know for sure once the rules are formally introduced.

For more personal advice please contact us

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Testimonial on British Citizenship application

"This is great news indeed! Thank you for your great support and help. I should certainly recommend you to those seeking a visa or citizenship advice."This is from Vladimir, a national of Russia. Vladimir made an application through us for an Indefinite Leave to Remain in 2009, under HSMP Judicial Review category. This year the time came for him and his family to apply for British Citizenship, so he asked us to help once again. We handled his application and it was approved relatively soon just after 1 month.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

EEA or FLR(M)? Which visa category? Which form?

EEA2 or FLR(M)? Which form to use if you are a spouse/partner of an EU/EEA citizen? FLR(M) form is under British law and should be used by spouses/partners of British citizens; or by spouses/partners of UK permanent residents (ILR holders). It is quicker as Premium service available in Croydon and it leads to Settlement (permanent visa) just after 2 years. The downside is of course a massive UKBA fee of £850 (Premium service). However, 2 days or so and your FLR(M) visa is done.
It's worth remembering that there are proposals to increase the 2 years to 5 years in this category, so spouses/partners of UK citizens and of UK permanent residents will be waiting for 5 years to be eligible for permanent status. Most of such drastic proposals come in force in April, so we suggest to apply now!

EEA2 is for spouses/partners of European citizens (non-UK) and is under the European law. It is free of UK government fees but the downsides are 1) it takes up to 6 months to process it and yours and your partner's passports will be with the UKBA for this period; and 2) the visa (Residence Card) will be for 5 years and you will only get Settlement after 5 years, not 2 as on FLR(M).

To make it more confusing, some people can choose which category is to apply under. Spouses/partners of EU (non-UK) citizens can apply on FLR(M) form if their EU spouse/partner has exercised EU treaty rights in the UK for 5 years. Exercising treaty rights for 5 years gives an EU citizen a status of a permanent resident in the UK (automatically, without having to apply for this status).

Sometimes, it can also be other way around, spouses/partners of UK citizens can apply on EEA2 form if their British partner exercised treaty rights in another EU member state.

You can contact us for more details what exercising treaty rights means as well as other questions. We deal with both categories regularly. For SET(M) we get Premium service appointments every week.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

New Testimonial on a UK Spouse Visa

We have received a very nice feedback from a happy customer, Taressa, Australian lady who we helped with a Spouse visa:
"Dealing with this sort of high level paperwork and strict guidelines to adhere to, can be stressful. After spending some time trying to do this ourselves we decided to leave it in the capable hands of someone who has a lot of experience and is accredited by the Home Office to be dealing with these sorts of applications. As soon as we were in contact with Natalia (at 1st 4Immigration), the stress levels dissolved. She and her assistant Harpreet were there every step of the way. They triple checked our paperwork, made sure we had all of the documentation needed, took us to our appointment at the Home Office and looked after collecting all of our paperwork when the visa was approved. I could not recommend their service more. My husband and I both work full time, so this sort of added stress to an already busy life was well worth paying 1st 4Immigration to take care of." 
From Natalia - Thank you very much for such a testimonial! We are happy to help. We deal with Spouse/Partner visas very frequently and I myself (Natalia) has been through this immigration route Fiancee - Spouse - Permanent Residency - British passport.
We provide Premium service appointments, which we get allocated every week from teh UKBA in Croydon. As an accredited company we are allowed to access separate system of appointments for representatives.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

If I were UK Home Secretary ....

If I were Theresa May I would bring back highly-skilled Tier 1 General visa category tomorrow with immediate effect (well, maybe with some notice to allow for orderly queues at Embassies abroad). I would lower passmark back to 75 for initial entrants and make earnings points lower, like they were before April 2010. However, I would add something in my opinion useful, such as extra points for someone working in an occupation on UK Shortage Occupation List, I mean actually having worked and not 'having a qualification'. I am very concerned that we would not have enough people who have skills, ambition, hunger for money/success and are willing to work, such as Indian IT consultants or Chinese finance professionals, also teachers and doctors, where would we be now without them? Ms May, if you are reading this - please bring back Tier 1 General/HSMP!