Saturday, 28 September 2013

English for a spouse/partner/fiancée visa: A1 or B1 level from 28 Oct 2013? Stop the confusion!

This seems to be the most confusing subject at the moment – which level of English language is needed from 28 Oct 2013 for those applying for a Spouse/Partner/Fiancee visa? The short answer is “Still the same – A1 level in Listening and Speaking”. Yet why is there such confusion?

First of all, this article only relates to spouses/partners of British citizens and spouses/partners of permanent residents (or ILR holders). This article is not applicable to partners of Points-Based System Migrants and to partners of EU (non-UK) nationals.
I had already written in this blog, back in December 2012, about 2 meanings of a term ‘Settlement’ when it comes to the UK visas, so this is what has created the current confusion. The Rules on English are changing indeed from 28 October 2013, however, the new Rules will apply to those applying for ‘Settlement and Citizenship’. The term ‘Settlement’ here represents ‘Permanent Residency’ in the UK, known as an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). So, those spouses and partners who are applying for Permanent Residency from 28 Oct 2013 will need to demonstrate English at a B1 level (not A1) as well as pass a Life in the UK Test. Until then, only a Life in the UK Test is sufficient, or just an ESOL with Citizenship course, which is taught at an A2 level of English (this is why we are so busy with SET(M) applications now!).

There is another meaning of a term ‘settlement’: when spouses, partners and fiancées are applying from outside the UK, such applications are also called ‘Settlement’. It does not mean these are applications for Permanent Residency but means that the applicant (a foreign partner) is planning to come to the UK with the view of settling here, ie ‘for settlement’.  There is no such term when switching from a Spouse/Partner visa inside the UK, for example, from a Tier 4 to a Spouse visa. Yes this 2nd meaning of a ‘Settlement’ term is used for applications outside the UK.
Here confusion is made worse by the fact that many couples look for a lawyer in the country of application – and finding one who is only familiar with the applications from outside the UK (ie with only one type of a ‘Settlement’ application). In addition, such lawyers won’t be regulated by the OISC, a UK regulator. A particular individual may happen to be accredited by the OISC from the previous work in the UK, or being a ‘branch’ of a British company, but his/her activity outside the UK won’t be regulated. This is because the OISC regulates only the UK-based businesses providing immigration advice, so a lawyer in, say, the Philippines, won’t be regulated. Or rather will probably be regulated under the local rules, to advise on the Filipino law in our example, ie on the visas to live in the Philippines, which is completely the opposite to the purpose of getting a visa to live in the UK.

It’s worth remembering that the Rules are exactly the same for all non-EU nationals who are spouses/partners or fiancées of British citizens (except some have to do a Tuberculosis Test). So, all the Rules are coming from the UK government and they are all the same whether your partner is from the USA or the Philippines, from Australia or Pakistan. No ‘special relationship’ for American applicants and no hostility for, say, Russian applicants. Our company advises on such applications regardless of where the applicant is based. As the Rules are the same, we prepare the application, check all the documents (in case of documents being outside the UK we check the scanned copies), write a cover letter and generally, guide throughout the process. At the end the applicant is submitting, ie handing over, the documents in the Philippines, Russia, Colombia, the USA,  Australia, South Africa, Nigeria etc. It is not difficult to hand over a few papers (even many papers), the challenge is to submit the right documents and this is where we help.
So, spouses, partners and fiancées who are applying for a visa to come to the UK, or switching inside the UK, will still need only A1 level of English. However, when later applying for Permanent Residency, they will be expected to improve their English to a B1 level. Sounds quite reasonable from the point of view of the government (and good for the test providers’ profit).

Examples of those who are affected:
-           Those who had to take an English language test in the past and only scored A1 or A2 level.
-           Those who managed to get an ILR under the current Rules but will be applying for Citizenship under the New rules.
-    Those who think they qualify automatically because of their nationality, yet they don't. Example is South African nationals who all speak English as native while South Africa is not on the list of majority English-speaking countries.  

For an individual advice or to make an application please contact us: or visit 
If you are an Immigration Adviser or a Solicitor please visit our immigration Training and CDP website:

Same-day Premium service for UK visas - the benefits

It is useful if you need to travel abroad and cannot be without your passport. But the main benefit in our opinion is, although more expensive, it allows the applicant to know result right on the day, including if there are any problems, rather than waiting for 3-4 months postal service and then possibly being told there is a problem or even that application has been refused.

We at 1st 4Immigration are authorised by The UK Border Agency to submit clients' visa applications using this service in Croydon, south London.

Same-day service is available for applications:
- Indefinite Leave to Remain for those holding Tier 1 General, Tier 2 General, Work Permit, Ancestral visas - SET (O) form.
- Indefinite Leave to Remain for those holding a Spouse/Partner visa - SET (M) form.
- Tier 1 General extensions.
- Tier 2 General and Intra-Company Transfer.
- Tier 4 Student.
- Extensions for domestic workers.
- Ancestral visa extension.
- Visas for dependants of Points-Based System migrants, such as for a child born in the UK whose parents are here on Tier 1 visa or Work Permit.

Book our advice session now, email: or visit

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Accredited Continuing Professional Development - for immigration advisers and solicitors

1st 4Immigration is an accredited CPD distance learning provider, our online training courses are accepted by the OISC and SRA, CPD provider ref number EJE/14IM.
Current online courses:
What’s Next after Post-Study Work and Tier 4 Visas? 4.5 hours CPD credit.
British Citizenship - a Dream for Many! 7 hours CPD credit.
OISC Level 1. 16 hours CPD credit
Download from our website, study in your own time on any computer, iPad or iPhone, complete the test and we will award your CPD hours and send you a certificate.

Visit website now:

The courses are offered by our company, 1st 4Immigration Ltd, which is a practising immigration company, registered by The OISC at a highly respectable Level 2, based at the Royal Mint in Central London.

We are also accredited by the UK Border Agency in Croydon and submit applications using Premium service for accredited representatives. We provide biometric appointments every week (ILR, Tier 1, Spouse/Partner etc) and we have permanent slots to submit Settlement (ILR) applications every week without appointments. We’ve had 100% success rate in 2012.
1st 4Immigration Ltd,
OISC no F200800152, SRA ref EJE/14IM.
4 Royal Mint Court, Tower Hill, London, EC3N 4HJ.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Online OISC LEVEL 1 Course. CPD 16 Hours. Including a mock Level 1 Assessment and real case studies from a practicing OISC-accredited immigration company.

The wait is over! This is a most requested training course and you can now download our OISC Level 1 training course to your computer and study in your own time - to prepare for your OISC accreditation and Level 1 Assessment. No need to travel to a classroom, no need to wait for the next date. You can start your immigration training right now!

As we are a practicing OISC-accredited immigration company, we have designed this basic level course to be of practical help for those who are preparing for OISC accreditation at Level 1 (Initial Advice) and for compulsory Level 1 Assessment. Or perhaps to those who are planning to open a UK immigration consultancy based overseas. It would also be of interest for practicing advisers and immigration lawyers as well as for community group advisers, council or Citizens Advice Bureau workers, volunteers etc.

This is not a boring coverage of the Immigration Rules! We tried to keep the language as simple and entertaining as possible. See the Contents and Extracts on our website!

 2)    You can find a detailed Table of Contents on the link above, here are 2 examples (of 20):

2 systems of immigration law: UK law and European law | Types of visas under the UK law | Entry Clearance | Visitor visa | Leave to Remain (also called Residence Permit or Limited Leave to Remain) | Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) | It is possible to lose an ILR, however Indefinite it is | Indefinite Leave to Enter | There is also a Leave to Enter
Settlement’ and 2 confusing meanings of this word | Common question:  Passport has expired, do I have to transfer my visa to a new passport | What is Switching? | Common examples when switching is not allowed even though the migrants are desperate to do so | What is the Date of Application and why it is so important? | When is the Date of Application? | In-time and Out-of-time applications

Each category rules consist of 3 parts | My ‘Other way around’ principle | How to determine if switching is possible?| How to determine if a visa allows to work? | Registration with the police | Tuberculosis test | UKBA Staff Guidance

3)    You can find Extracts on the link above too, here are 2 of them:

Extract from the “IMMIGRATION RULES AND HOW TO USE THEM” section:
No one knows everything and remembers all the rules! The trick is to know how to use the Immigration Rules and where to find  the specific information. The Rules may change anytime, and they do change a lot, but if you know how to use the Rules you could check the requirements or check the changes at any time. For example, things like whether a migrant can switch a visa category while in the UK or whether a migrant can work or whether a particular English test is acceptable are all a matter of the Rules, not a matter of guessing.

My ‘Other way around’ principle:
I call it ‘other way around’ because many people tend to think this way: “I am on a Tier 5 visa and want to know if I can apply for a Spouse visa inside the UK”, then they go on the Immigration Rules webpage for the Tier 5 category and try to read the rules there. Understandably, they only find the rules about how to get a Tier 5 visa, which they already have, and not a Spouse visa.

What you need to do is to act the ‘other way around’, ie to check the rules of the category your client is looking to apply for, not the rules of the category in which he/she already has a visa. In our example of switching from a Tier 5 to a Spouse visa it is the Spouse visa rules that one needs to read – to determine if he/she can qualify.

Extracts from the “CRUCIAL TO GET THE BASICS!” section:

What is Switching?
Switchingis not an official term. Switching simply means changing a visa category while inside the UK, ie switching from one to another, such as from a Tier 4 Student to a Tier 2 General; or from Tier 4 to a Spouse visa. Officially it is called ‘applying for a leave to remain in a Tier 2 General category’ or ‘applying for a leave to remain as a Spouse of a UK citizen’. So, we can simply say ‘Switching from a Student visa to a Spouse visa’.

The significance of switching is this: switching means applying inside the UK and it is only allowed if the Rules specifically allow so. If switching is not allowed then the applicant has to return to their country and apply for a visa from there, which means he/she would be applying for an Entry Clearance.

What is the Date of Application and why it is so important?

Imagine this: you are making an application today but tomorrow the Rules are changing, which rules would apply? Or you have made an application a month ago, your visa expires in 2 weeks time and your application is not going to be decided before then, are you going to become an overstayer through no fault of your own?

A Date of Application idea deals with such issues. If the date of your application is before the Rules changed then your application is going to be considered under the Rules in place before the changes. For example, Spouse/Partner visas rules were significantly changed on 9 July 2012, yet those who applied before that, even on 8 July 2012, had their applications considered under the old rules, even if the decision was made a few months after the rules changed.

If the date of your application is before your last visa expired then your status remains the same as it was on the date of application for as long as it takes for a new application to be considered. However long it takes, even if the last visa expired by then. Officially it is extended by virtue of section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971, which automatically extends the ‘last visa’ for as long as it is going to take for a decision on the new application. This means migrants do not become overstayers through no fault of their own?

4) You can read here about the benefits and why our course is different:



Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Property and the Financial Requirement for Spouse/Partner/Fiancée visas (and positive changes from October2013)

When the New Rules were introduced on 9 July 2012 using the value of property was not allowed at all. Rental income from it - Yes, but not the value of a house or a flat. The only way was to sell a property, put the proceeds in a cash account, wait for 6 months and then apply for a visa using a Savings category to meet the Financial Requirement. 

The same was applicable to the funds held in investments (stocks, bonds, funds etc), however, from April 2013 the 6 months period can be combined of the time the funds were held in investments and the time when the money was transferred to a cash account. 

Finally, a similar change in the Rules is coming on 1 October 2013. Instead of waiting for 6 months after selling a property, it will be possible to sell a property, put the proceeds (after mortgage and fees) on a cash account and apply for a visa right away. As long as the last 6 months period can be made up of the time the property was owned by the applicant/Sponsor and the time the proceeds of a sale were held on a cash savings account. 

Although the amount of savings needed is still very high, it is a positive development, especially for the couples where both partners are returning to the UK after living abroad and are planning to sell their property overseas anyway. 

For an individual advice or to make an application please contact us: or visit 

If you are an Immigration Adviser or a Solicitor please visit our immigration Training and CDP website:

Monday, 16 September 2013

New Testimonial on a Spouse visa from Canada with earnings from a limited company used to meet the Financial Requirement.

“Thanks for all you advice and assistance to become successful in my bid to get the spousal visa. I do not believe that the final outcome would have been so quick or so positive without your professional approach to the whole manner. I would not hesitate for a moment to recommend your company to anyone.” Melvin, applied for a Spouse visa from Canada.

Melvin and his British wife lived in Canada for many years and now decided to relocate to the UK. Both the applicant and the sponsor were living/working in Canada, so Melvin’s spouse had to come to the UK and look for a job , to enable them to meet the Financial Requirement. Even though Melvin himself (the applicant) was the main earner, the Rules do not allow to count the earnings of the applicant at Entry Clearance stage (ie for applications outside the UK).
After Melvin’s wife has secured a job in the UK, with a salary over 18,600, the couple were OK on meeting the 2nd part of the Financial Requirement.  However, the 1st part – earnings of £18,600 in Canada – was more difficult. The couple had their own business, a limited company, in Canada, and were both directors. So, the Sponsor was officially falling in the ‘self-employment’ category – as a director of a family company. This is despite the fact that the applicant was the one actually running the business.

Normally, we would be counting Sponsor’s income for the last financial year of the company, in this case it would be a 2012 calendar year. However, the current Rules dictate that directors of limited companies registered outside the UK to use employment and/or non-employment categories, A or B or C, meaning the Sponsor in this case could use her director’s salary as ‘employment salary’. Such an approach worked well in this case, although it would not have been applicable to a director of the company registered in the UK.
To make the matters more complicated, the Sponsor has already started working in the UK (instead of just having a job offer). So, in this case we used an employment Category B:

 – Sponsor working in the UK for less than 6 months , current salary min £18,600; and
-          in the last 12 months before the date of application the Sponsor has earned min £18,600 in a combination of director’s salary from the company in Canada  and 1 month salary from a new job in the UK.
This application was submitted using Premium settlement service (available in Canada, USA and many other countries) and it took less than 2 weeks for the UK Border Agency to approve a visa!

For an individual advice or to make an application please contact us: or visit 
If you are an Immigration Adviser or a Solicitor please visit our immigration Training and CDP website: