Saturday, 29 December 2012

English for spouses of UK citizens from October - A1 or B1 Level?

We have seen many people recently approaching us, believing (wrongly) that from October 2012 level of English language proficiency for spouses and partners of UK citizens has gone up from the very basic level of A1 to a higher level of B1. 

Firstly, it is the 'wrong October' - the new level, B1, is proposed to come in force from next October - October 2013. Until then the rules remain the same as now - A1 level in Speaking and Listening.

Proposed change - from October 2013 - is for those spouses/partners who are applying for settlement in the UK. 

The problem (and confusion) here is a word 'settlement'. It has 2 different meanings of 'settlement' when applying for UK visas for spouses and partners. 

Meaning 1: When applying from outside the UK 'settlement' visa means a visa which allows to come to the UK 'with the view of settlement'. In other words, for good, to settle, to stay here and not expected to leave the UK (unless voluntarily). This applies to those applying for a Spouse, Partner and Fiancee visas outside the UK. So, a visa is for a limited period of time (not a permanent visa) but it says 'Settlement'. 

For example, 'Settlement, husband of Sally Smith' and valid for 2 years 9 months. This is not a permanent visa, it is for 2 years 9 months, but it is a visa which would lead to settlement in the future (the applicant is not expected to return to his/her own country after 2 years, unless voluntarily). 

In such cases level of English needed is A1 in Speaking and Listening and there are no proposals to change it (correct at the date of this posting). 

Current list of acceptable English language tests can be found on the UKBA website.

Meaning 2: When applying inside the UK 'settlement' means permanent residency, called an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), on SET (M) form.

This is achieved either after 2 years on Spouse/Partner visas (under the Rules before 9 July 2012) or after 5 years under the Rules from 9 July 2012. 

This 'settlement' would be a permanent visa, not for 2 or 3 years etc but 'Indefinite', ie 'forever'. An 'Indefinite' stamp does not expire when passport expires. Actually, from 29 Feb 2012 an ILR is on a card (not stamp in passport) and the card is for 10 years. What happens after 10 years is yet unknown because the first ILR cards will expire in 2022. The point it that 'settlement' here means permanent residency' and not a Spouse/partner visa.

The proposed change to B1 is for this group (under meaning 2). Plus Knowledge of Life in The UK. It can be achieved by 2 ways at the moment: either a Life in The UK Test (which is already in English) or ESOL with Citizenship course. It cannot be achieved by passing just an English test because of Knowledge of Life component.

There are no current proposals to change a Life in The UK Test but with ESOL with Citizenship course we assume it would mean a higher level of English tuition. Or an English language test at B1 level in addition to The Life in The UK Test, not clear at the moment whether 2 tests will be required (or 1 as at the moment).  

We will keep you posted if the above changes in 2013.

For more detailed advice or for an application contact us: info@1st4immigration.com or visitwww.1st4immigration.com 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

What's next after Post-Study Work and Tier 4 visas?

One of the most common questions at the moment! We have created this training course for immigration advisers (and a general information material for everyone to read), you can read extracts below and contents (list of subjects covered) on our website. For the price of our standard advice session you can download and instantly read it here, in your own time from any computer, and then refer anytime you need. Download now.

Or visit www.1st4immigration.comwww.1st4immigration.com

Extract 1:
Before 6 April 2012 migrants could study in the UK for a degree and then almost automatically switch from a Tier 4 Student visa to a Tier 1 Post-Study Work visa, which was for 2 years (we will call this visa Post-Study Work or PSW in this course). This category, Post-Study Work, is now closed, so the current students find themselves in a position of needing an advice of what other visa options they have after completion of their degree course in order to stay in the UK.
Before 6 April 2011 migrants could study in the UK for a degree and then almost automatically switch from a Tier 4 Student visa to a Tier 1 Post-Study Work visa.

On completion of this course you will be able to advise clients on these 2 commonly asked     immigration questions: What’s next after Tier 1 Post-Study Work visa? and What’s next step after Tier 4 Student visa?

Extract 2: 
OPTION 1: TIER 1 (ENTREPRENEUR) 
For those with entrepreneurial spirit and access to £50,000 in funds, which will be available to invest in a UK-based business. Plus extra £900, held for 3 months, to meet a Maintenance requirement. The £50,000 can be put together with the help of family or friends. It is even possible to apply with ‘just’ £25,000 if you form an Entrepreneurial Team with someone in the same situation as you are and go into this business together as partners.
 
Extract 3:
OPTION 2: TIER 2 (GENERAL) - SPONSORED WORK PERMIT
For those who are lucky to have a job offer from a licensed Sponsor (employer) and a Certificate of Sponsorship plus a minimum offered salary of £20,000.
 
Special arrangements for Post-Study Work visa holders switching to Tier 2 General inside the UK: 
- there is no annual limit on such applications.
- there is no need for employer to advertise the job first, i.e. no need for a Resident Labour Market Test. Certificate of Sponsorship will be on an unrestricted kind.
Extract 4:

                OPTION 3: SPOUSE/PARTNER VISA including the New Rules from 9 July 2012
On the basis of a relationship with a British citizen; or with a person who has a permanent residency in the UK.

WHAT ABOUT NEW RULES FROM 9 JULY 2012?

The new Rules require the show earnings of at least £18,600 to qualify for this visa, it is now known as a Financial Requirement.

Amount gets higher if children are added as dependants: £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400  for each further child. This only covers children who also need a visa, it does not cover, for example, step-children who are British citizens.
 
Whose earnings can be counted? Applying inside the UK, ie switching from a PSW visa to a  Spouse/Partner visa: earnings of either partner can be counted, such as only wife’s or only husband’s, regardless of who is the applicant. For example, it can be only foreign spouse’s earnings from a job in the UK if it is high enough.

Combined earnings of both partners can be counted as well.
 
Important! Applicant’s (who need a visa) income can only be counted if he/she had a visa which  allowed working (or being self-employed) and worked within the imposed conditions. If any of the income was earned when in breach of the Immigration Rules it won’t be counted. For example, if a holder of a Tier 4 Student visa allows to work 20 hours per week during the terms but the applicant worked full-time instead, this will be a breach of Rules and such income won’t be counted.
 
The only exception from the income threshold:
If the Sponsor (partner who is British or settled in the UK) receives the following disability-related benefits then the minimum income the threshold does not apply:

Disability Living Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Attendance Allowance and also a Carer’s Allowance.

HOW TO EVIDENCE INCOME?  Major change from 9 July 2012 – specified documents.
This is indeed a major change in Family Visas category! It may be only noticeable to the immigration professionals but will affect many applicants.

For the 1st time there are requirements for Spouses/Partners to provide specified documents only, in a specified format only and in most cases there will be no chance to provide alternative documents.
 
It means if the Rules say all documents must be provide to evidence income then all documents must be provided and not only some of them. The most common reasoning we hear from clients is “It’s all I have” or “It’s all employer gave me”, with the new Rules of specified documents the only way to get a visa is to produce the evidence, to ask employer for more or to get more bank statements etc. It is the wrong approach to provide just some pieces of evidence and not all.
 
Extract 5:
OPTION 4: SPOUSE/PARTNER VISA
on the basis of a relationship with a European (non-UK) citizen.

This option may sound very similar to the one above but in fact it is very different!
It is an application for an EEA Residence Card. Applications on the basis of a relationship with a European citizen are considered under the European law (not under the UK Immigration Rule under British law) and European law is in general more migrant-friendly.
 
There is no minimum income threshold, no English language requirement, no accommodation or maintenance requirement, no biometrics (no fingerprints) and no UKBA application fee!
 
Moreover, spouses and civil partners can apply long after their current visa has expired! Please see below section Spouses and Civil Partners and explanation of the rights or direct family members.
 
So is there anything to do then?
Well, yes, there are other requirements, they are just very different from the previous OPTION and in most cases can be met with less effort.
Download the course material now.

Or visit www.1st4immigration.com

 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Child born in the UK. Does he/she need a visa? Does he/she become a British Citizen?

Our most popular posting - with almost 1,000 views since the beginning of August 2012:

There are plenty of Rules governing children who are born in the UK, so we'll try to keep the answer simple.
A child born in the UK does NOT automatically become British (unlike in America). Instead, it depends on child's parents status.

1) If child's parent (one or both) is British then the child will be a British citizen too.
2) If child's parent (one or both) is not British but has permanent residency in the UK, ie holds an Indefinite Leave to Remain or Permanent Residency under European law, then the child will be British also (even if both parents aren't British).
 
3) If the child's parents are both not permanent residents and hold visas, such as Tier 1, Tier 2, Work Permit etc, then the child will NOT be British, even though he/she was born in the UK. In such cases a child can be given a dependant visa on his/her parents. This can be done as a separate application, though it's not compulsory and can be done instead at the time of parents' next application, such as at the time of Tier 1 extension.
 
3.1) Once child's parent (one or both) gets an ILR, ie becomes a permanent resident in the UK, then the child can be registered as British straight away, even before parent(s) qualify for Citizenship themselves.
 
For example, mother and father have a Tier 1 General and a dependant visas. They have a child who was just born in the UK. At the time of Tier 1 extension the child gets a Tier 1 dependant visa also while parents get a Tier 1 extension. Later parents apply for an ILR. Once ILR has been granted to the parent(s) this child can be registered as British and then get a UK passport. Parents, however, will be waiting for another year to apply for British Citizenship.
 
3.2) Does the child need to be included in the ILR application? Costing another £689! Answer: no, he/she doesn't need to be included, saving £689 in UKBA official fees. Instead in the above example, parents can apply for an ILR on their own. Once they have an ILR, child can be registered as British, as above.
 
4) What is the difference between 'will be British' and 'can be registered as British'?
 
In points 1) and 2) the child 'will be British' from birth meaning parents can just apply for his/her UK passport, in the same way as British parents apply: sending documents to IPS (Identity and Passport Service), paying a passport fee and getting a passport.
 
In point 3) the child will need to be registered as British first meaning submitting a Registration application to the UK Border Agency, similar to a visa application process, paying a fee (£570 on August 2012), waiting for a decision. Once decision has been made - and decision is positive - then parents can apply for a UK passport for the child to IPS, same process as above.
 
Fore more individual advice book our advice session now, over email or at our office at Tower Hill in Central London, email info@1st4immigration.com or visit www.1st4immigration.com

Monday, 17 December 2012

Part 3 - Once and for all: what is a ‘contractor’? For those applying in Spouse/Partner and Tier 1 General categories

 
More and more clients say “I am working as a contractor for ….” Then usually follows a name of a major bank or an IT company. For example, “I am working as a contractor for Morgan Stanley”. It also often covers teachers and doctors who work as self-employed “through an agency”. These people are self-employed, not employees, even though they use words ‘work for’ and ‘employer’. In other words they are employees in all but name.

There is no legal form of ‘contractor’ as such. The legal form is still the same as for other self-employed people: Sole Trader, Partner, Limited Company owner. As professional immigration advisers we have to establish how exactly our client is working ‘as a contractor’’. For example, we have to see beyond the words ‘Do I need a letter from my employer’ because there is no employer. Or beyond the words ‘I am working for..’.

So, with contractors, we have to establish whether a client has a limited company or working as a Sole Trader/Partner. Then to count a client's income as for other self-employed people, as in our Part 2 posting earlier. For those in Spouse/Partner visa it would be per financial year; for those in Tier 1 General category it will be per 12 months within last 15 months.

For more advice or to make an application contact us info@1st4immigration.com or visit our website www.1st4immigration.com  

 

 

 


 

 

 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Another successful SET (M) application and testimonial

"I want to appreciate you and your team for your excellent services in guiding me through the entire process of packaging my application to meet the requirements drawing my attention to gaps I wouldn't have thought on my own".

This came from Mr Oluwole, a Nigerian national, who applied as a Spouse of a UK citizen. Oluwole completed 2 years on a Spouse visa (which was issued under the old Rules before 9 July 2012) and was eligible for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Despite the new Rules from 9 July 2012 Oluwole could still apply for an ILR under the old Rules.

Besides the general guidance we always do, we were particularly working on  the documents to show 2 years of residency in the UK, they are also known as '6 letters', as on SET (M) form.

We then submitted application using Same-day Premium service in Croydon and the case was approved on the same day without any complications.

To make your application as successful please email info@1st4immigration.com or visit www.1st4immigration.com  

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Part 2 - How to calculate £18,600 income for self-employed for Spouse/Partner visa under the New Rules?


The New Family Rules cover quite well the subject of how to calculate income for employees to meet the Financial Requirement. Every employee has (or should have) payslips and bank statements. However, it is not clear to many applicants how to calculate income of self-employed people. Let us not forget that the UKBA policies are most likely written by their staff who by definition are employees. Our company has extensive experience with assisting with cases for self-employed people (all cases successful). Plus we understand what it means to have a business as we run a business too!

If the applicant’s partner and/or the applicant (if in the UK with permission to work) is in self-employment at the date of application and in the last full financial year received self-employment income it can be used to meet the Financial Requirement.
What’s meant by a ‘full financial year’? If a person is self-employed as a Sole Trader or Partner then their financial year would be a UK tax year, ie for the last period from 6 April to 5 April.

If a person has a limited company then their financial year would be company’s financial year. It is a year for which the company prepares accounts, accounts which get submitted to the HMRC and Companies House. It is also the same period as covered by a form CT600.
During the financial year (tax year or company year respectively) a person can add hid earnings from this limited company (salary, dividends) plus income from renting a property out, plus perhaps part-time job working for someone else etc.

Does one have to be self-employed for a ‘full’ financial year? No, ‘full’ refers to the documents covering a financial year rather than a person working for a full year. With limited companies it would be an accounting year. However, in case of a Sole Trader or Partner he/she needs to show their tax returns showing earnings from self-employment being minimum £18,600 in the respective tax year, regardless of when during the tax year he/she started self-employment. For example, if a person registered as self-employed in August then his/her tax return would still be up to 5 April next year. If that tax return shows earnings of £18,600 from August to 5 April then it would be OK for a visa – since the person managed to earn £18,600 during the period August – 5 April. 
Director’s Salary. Most company owners are paying themselves a ‘salary’ (Director’s salary) and the rest in dividends. Many clients ask us if they could simply provide payslips and matching bank statements for the salary only (without dividends), in other words, salary they paid themselves through PAYE, many are prepared to do so for 6 months to achieve £18,600 annual gross figure. This would simplify their applications a great deal, as they would like to apply under category A or B (employment, not self-employment). We have had a clarification on this from the UKBA policy department and the answer was: No, Director’s salary will be assessed in the same way as ‘self-employed’ and for the same period as company’s financial year (as above).

For a detailed advice or an application please contact us info@1st4immigration.com or visit www.1st4immigration.com