Friday, 25 January 2013

New Testimonial on EEA Family Permit application from Australia

"1st 4Immigration was a huge help to us and really made the application a lot easier". This came from Connal, an Australian national. He applied for an EEA Family Permit in Australia with our help from the UK with checking all the documents, forms and drafting letters.

Our client applied on the basis of being married to an Italian citizen, they were both living in Melbourne.
Our initial advice was that Connal did not need a visa to come to the UK. As a spouse of an EU citizen he would gain his rights automatically from the European law, without having to apply for a ‘visa stamp’. Australian nationals are known as non-visa nationals, ie they do not need a visitor visa to come in the UK, so this is sufficient for an airline to let one on a plane. Once in the UK, border control officers know the European immigration law and would allow a spouse of an EU citizen in (providing they are travelling together or EU spouse is already in the UK).

However, in this case our client had a job offer in the UK and wanted to have a 'visa stamp' which would allow to work right away when he and his spouse arrive in the UK. A ‘visa stamp’, an EEA Family Permit in this case, is for the re-assurance of the client’s employer, rather than something required by the immigration law.
So, in this case application was made for an EEA Family Permit, which took approx 2 weeks or so to process. An EEA Family Permit is for 6 months, after that one can apply for a Residence Card, which will be for 5 years.

For an advice or to make your application as successful please email us: or visit

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

It's time! 2013 is when Bulgarian/Romanian nationals can start applying for British Citizenship

This is for those who are looking to apply using European regulations. Those who had UK visas issued before 2007 under the Immigration Rules should read below.

Citizenship rules are the same, in general, for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals as for other European nationals. However, 2013 is the first year they can apply because Bulgaria and Romania joined EU on 1st January 2007. This is if they want to use their rights under European law.
So, one of the conditions is to have a status of a permanent resident, which Bulgarian/Romanian nationals can achieve after 5 years of exercising European Treaty rights in the UK, such as working, being self-employed, studying, being self-sufficient etc.

Bulgarian/Romanian nationals do not have to apply for permanent residency (unless they want to, voluntarily). They ‘achieve’ this status automatically after 5 years of exercising Treaty rights in the UK. So, the first time Bulgarian/Romanian nationals could qualify for permanent residency  was on 1 January 2012 not earlier), ie 5 years after these 2 countries joined the EU.

Romanian/ Bulgarian nationals do have some restrictions on working in UK but not on qualifying for permanent residency.

Another general rule for Citizenship is to wait for 12 months after permanent residency, which means waiting for a 6th year. This in turn means the first applications for British Citizenship can be submitted from 1 January 2013 (not earlier), ie 6 years since Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU.

Bulgarian and Romanian nationals who had UK visas before 2007 under the Immigration Rules:

If you had a UK visa (work permit, spouse, student etc) issued before 1 January 2007 those visas would be under the UK Immigration Rules and not under the European Regulations. You cannot combine time spent on UK visas under the Immigration Rules with the time spent under European Regulations when counting ‘your’ 6 years (5 years for permanent residency plus 6th year).

Instead you can either continue under the Immigration Rules and obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the same way as non-EU nationals. This is quite rare from our experience. Most of Bulgarian/Romanian nationals who worked here before 2007 simply had a sigh of relief that they didn’t have to do anything and EU membership was good enough they already worked here (many could have a Blue certificate), so many did not continue with visas under the Immigration Rules. However, now 6  years later, they are beginning to wonder and many decide to sort their British citizenship out.

If you are from the above you can only count residency since 1 January 2007 which would be under the European regulations, which means you cannot apply for Citizenship before 2013 (or late when you qualify if you came to the UK after 1 January 2007).

To sum up, rules for Bulgarian/ Romanian citizens are no different from those for other EU nationals. Bulgarian/Romanian nationals do have different rules on working in UK but not on obtaining permanent residency or Citizenship.

Did you know there is no obligation to apply for Permanent Residency?

On one hand, this status comes automatically, after exercising European Treaty rights in the UK for 5 years. There is no 'visa stamp' which comes automatically but status gets achieved without having to apply for a 'visa stamp'.

On the other hand, 1 more year later it is possible to apply straight for British Citizenship, even without applying for a Permanent Residency first. Applications for Permanent Residency under European law would take up to 6 months and it is only postal (there is no same- day service) and original passport would be led by the UK Border Agency. Applications for British Citizenship do not require original passports, so you could submit your application and travel while it is being considered.

For more advice or to make an application email: or visit  

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

New absences limit for ILR – as good as it sounds?

Yes and No.  Yes, because a new limit is more generous than the old one: new limit is 180 days outside the UK in EACH year. Old limit was 180 days in the wole 5 years.

No, or rather ‘not always’ or ‘not for all’ or ‘not necessarily’. This new limit on absences came in force on 13 December 2012 and perhaps, like with all new rules, the UKBA will soon find they had not covered all situations.
Business absences: OK if within the limit of 6 months in each year, some applicants need a letter from employer(s), though we advise all our clients to provide such letters.

Holidays: OK if within the limit and it is clear that the main residency remained the UK, including between the jobs. The rules don’t say how to evidence that the main home remained in the UK (such as when travelling between 2 jobs, or having left one job and before starting/looking for another one), so we advise each client individually based on our vast experience of applications under the old rules when the limit was much more restrictive.
Compassionate family reasons: OK if within the limit and evidence if required, such as hospital records etc. We believe the UKBA were meant to say at which point (how many days abroad) it becomes compulsory to provide evidence, so perhaps this would be clarified in the further rules updates. For now, the rules ask for evidence of all compassionate absences.

Working abroad: if it is a posting from a UK employer, ie a part of working in the UK, then it is OK if within the limit of 180 days in each year. If it is working for a non-UK employer, such as unable to find a job in the UK and leaving for Australia/Dubai/Russia/India, then it becomes tricky. The current rules mean working abroad breaks the residency, though again the UKBA did not specify at which point it becomes a break (under the old rules it was 90 days in a single absence). So, in this case it depends on how long you have worked abroad, whether it was short assignment and how you remained ‘tied’ to the UK.  
Absences over the limit of 180 days in each year are not allowed (or rather will be at discretion of the UKBA and at the applicant’s own risk).

For more advice or to make an application please email: or visit

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Another successful case for UK Spouse Visa from abroad, with exemption from the Financial Requirement (£18,600)

“Huge thank you for all your help and patience". This testimonial came from Tracey who we helped secure a visa for her husband, they applied in Nicaragua. In this case we claimed exemption from the Financial Requirement (£18,600) because the Sponsor, a British spouse, was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. Receiving disability-related benefits makes a Sponsor exempt, she/he only needs to meet the old requirement of ‘adequate maintenance’.
In this case Sponsor’s income, including DLA, was sufficient to meet the Maintenance rule, and accommodation was provided by Sponsor’s father.

For an advice or to make your application as successful please contact us: or visit

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Passport has expired, do I have to transfer my visa to a new passport?

One of the most commonly asked question! Variation includes 'Do I have to transfer my ILR to a new passport?' Or 'Do I have to do anything with my Biometric Residence Permit (visa card) if my passport has expired?'.

The short answer would be 'No, you don't have to. You can travel with both passports'. UK visas don't expire if passport has expired (bar one exception I can think of, below).

If your passport has expired but you have an ILR stamp in the old one (Indefinite Leave to Remain, permanent residency), then you don't have to do anything. You can just travel with both passports. Or you can transfer an ILR to a new passport if you want to, though now it will be a visa card and not a stamp in the passport.

If your passport has expired but you have a limited leave to remain (visa but not a permanent one) in the old passport, then again you don't have to do anything. You can just travel with both passports. Or you can transfer to a new passport if you want to, though now it will be a visa card and not a stamp in the passport. This applies to all visa categories, such as if you have Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4, Tier 5 visas, for example, or Spouse/Partner visa, or Ancestral etc. There is no obligation to do anything.

If your passport has expired but you have a Biometric Residence Permit (visa card, not a stamp in the passport), connected to the old passport, then again you don't have to do anything.

In all the above cases you can apply to transfer a visa, if you wish so. In most cases it will be a visa card (except European applications and those on humanitarian or discretionary grounds).

There is no particular benefit in doing so, except if you lost your passport and a visa with it; or except when an ILR stamp is an old ink stamp issued many years ago and you get asked about it every time at the airport or have to carry too many old passports.

Different rules apply if you lost your passport but it is not a subject of this post.

If you have a visa under European law, such as an EEA Residence Card (5 years) or Permanent Residency under the European law, then you don't have to do anything at all when your passport expires. There is no procedure to transfer a visa stamp, it would also be like a new application but there is no need to do so, instead you can travel with both passports.

Documents like Blue, Yellow etc certificates of Bulgarian/Romanian citizens are in a separate booklet, not in the passport. They don't need to be replaced when passport changes.

Exception: as above, UK visas don't expire when passports expire. However, I can think of one exception: a 'visa', stamp in the passport, called Certificate of Entitlement to a Right of Abode. This one is issued for the duration of the passport only and needs to be replaced every time a new passport is issued.
For more advice or visa applications contact us on or visit