We are receiving a number of enquires from businesses about frequent short visits to Europe to conduct business or EU colleagues visiting the UK for the same purpose. Thus far we can provide the following information.

 With both the UK and EU committing to citizens’ rights of those EU nationals already settled in the UK and UK nationals settled in the 27 EU Member States the Withdrawal Agreement sets out that British Nationals will not require visas to travel for short stays to the 22 EU member counties that are members of the Schengen area and four Schengen- associated states. It will also apply to Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. Short stays have been defined as up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This is likely to include travellers for the purpose of business visits, leisure and family visits but not for work.

There is at this stage uncertainty as to whether British travellers will need to apply for electronic travel authorisation (Etias – the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System) which is modelled on the US ESTA and is being introduced by the EU for security grounds for all countries outside the bloc, even if they are visa-exempt. However, what is clear is that the European Health Insurance Card will no longer give British citizens rights to reciprocal healthcare meaning that arrangements should be made for travel insurance.

The UK Government has also declared its intention of EU 27 Member State Citizens not requiring visas for short stay visits (likely to be 6 months as is the case currently with non-EU Nationals) for the purposes of leisure and business.

The European Commission has also said that that this may also be the position i.e. that British Nationals will not require visas for visits in the event of a no-deal.

Areas that we still require clarification include the position of non-EU colleagues that are employed in a multi-national company either in the UK or in a sister company in Europe being transferred for a period of time to work for the same Group. Currently this possible under the Vander Elst visa but this right to travel currently derives from EU law.

UK Leaving EU - BrexitBy Thalej Vasishta:

 It has been a busy and uncertain 24 hours in politics and what appears below is the text of my commentary in the media yesterday, following confirmation that Teresa May had negotiated a transition deal and was putting it to her cabinet. In the last 12 hours I have had the chance to read (quickly!) the 500-page negotiated draft Withdrawal Agreement. The document is a huge step forward in what is a difficult situation for any leader or Government in trying to please all sides of the division. The document in my view makes it clear that transition and the backstop are not intended to be a permanent solution but sets the scene for a future deal and gives some certainty to businesses, is a step towards frictionless trade and the first steps to avoid the perils of a no deal and the years of unravelling that would cause.

My expertise is UK immigration law and policy. This is what I will focus on in the remaining part of this article. When reading the Withdrawal Agreement, it is clear that negotiators had the outcome of the Brexit referendum result in mind which was primarily based on two factors. Immigration, taking back control of our borders and secondly taking back control of our laws. The document achieves this.

Deal or no deal, the Government has given certainty as to the position of EU Nationals currently residing and working in the UK; and a degree of certainty as to how future immigration law and policy will be framed.

Therefore, whilst there remains uncertainty in respect of trade, customs etc. business should however be in a better position to plan to protect their existing EU workforce and consider their strategy in terms of meeting future labour shortages once the UK leaves the EU.

EU Nationals who are already here or continue to arrive in the UK up until 31 December 2020 (end of the transition period) will be entitled to apply up until June 2021 for settled status if they have been in the UK for 5 years by the time they apply, or pre-settled status if they have been here for less than 5 years allowing them to upgrade to settled status later.

This scheme will benefit 3m EU Nationals currently in the UK but it is important that employers keep an eye on when the scheme is opened up to their EU colleagues, encourage them to apply and once the colleague receives their new digital status document to obtain a copy of this status to confirm their continued right to work in the UK. By 28 November the scheme will have opened to colleagues working in higher education institutions, NHS and other related health and social care professions and then the scheme will be open to all by April 2019.

The Home Secretary confirmed at the Conservative Party conference that after the end of the transition period free movement for European Nationals will end. It would appear that little research has been carried out by the Government on the impact this will have to businesses that depend on skilled and unskilled workers from Europe. However, past experience dictates that successive Governments have not been able to get a handle of migration to the UK and therefore any Government that can finally promise the end of free movement will be hoping to have the support of the electorate at large.

Whilst we are waiting for the much-anticipated Government Whitepaper on the future of immigration law and policy, what we can be certain of is that the Rules will be a skills-based, single system for EU and non-EU Nationals meaning that EU Nationals and their employers will have to satisfy the requirements of the existing Tiers of the points-based system for skilled EU workers to work in the UK. This will further mean that businesses that depend on workers from the EU will need to register as sponsors with the Home Office.

The Government is likely to follow the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee that there should not be any special schemes or provision for low skilled workers from the EU. The Government instead will be encouraging businesses to align with their industrial strategy and to automate these processes, to increase wages and train UK workers for these jobs. Whilst this is commendable the concern I have is that these initiatives will not alleviate the immediate short-term pressures that businesses will face in recruitment and nor am I convinced that the Government have a handle on the longer-term pressures of an ageing population which will require hundreds of thousands of jobs to be filled in the coming decades.

The Government is however introducing a pilot seasonal workers scheme for 2 years next March, which will allow 2500 workers from outside the EU to work in the UK for up to 6 months to fill labour shortages during peak production periods. My view is that the Government may be forced to consider similar schemes when shortages become apparent in other sectors such as hospitality and care workers in nursing homes if there is enough pressure from industry to do so. It is important that businesses continue to have a dialogue with Government in order to shape future immigration laws which work for UK PLC.

With both the UK and EU committing to citizens rights of those EU nationals already settled in the UK and UK nationals settled in the 27 EU Member States the Withdrawal Agreement sets out that British Nationals will not require visas to travel for short stays to the 22 EU member counties that are members of the Schengen area and four Schengen- associated states. It will also apply to Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. Short stays have been defined as up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This is likely to include travellers for the purpose of business visits, leisure and family visits but not for work.

There is at this stage uncertainty as to whether British travellers will need to apply for electronic travel authorisation (Etias – the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System) which is modelled on the US ESTA and is being introduced by the EU for security grounds for all countries outside the bloc, even if they are visa-exempt. However, what is clear is that the European Health Insurance Card will no longer give British citizens rights to reciprocal healthcare meaning that arrangements should be made for travel insurance.

The UK Government has also declared its intention of EU 27 Member State Citizens not requiring visas for short stay visits (likely to be 6 months as is the case currently with non-EU Nationals) for the purposes of leisure and business.

All is still up for negotiation but that said, short of us deciding to stay in the EU this is the shape of the UK immigration policy – deal or no deal.

 

The Immigration Health Surcharge is currently £200 per year for most migrants. Those on student visas pay a reduced rate of £150 per year.

 

The Government has announced that they plan to double the Immigration Health Surcharge in December 2018. However, they have not set a specific date in December.

This means that, as of December, those applying for new visas will have to pay £400 per year for the duration of their visa in addition to their visa application fee. Tier 4 students and those entering on the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) will have to pay £300 per year. All dependants will also have to pay the same amount as the main applicant.

We advise that applicants should try to submit applications before December 2018 where possible, in order to avoid this significant increase. In particular, you should consider if you or your Tier 2 employee will need to make an extension application in the near future and progress this as soon as you can. The Immigration Rules allow applicants to submit an extension application up to three months before their current leave expires.

In respect of Tier 2 Sponsors you should also make sure that you have sufficient certificates of sponsorship available for all employees who will need them. If you are hoping to sponsor new recruits, you should start running any mandatory advertising now if you have not already done so to allow the 28-day period to run. It will be even more important to ensure that the advertising meets all of the Home Office stipulations as making corrections will cause delay.

If you require further advice or assistance with your application then please get in touch with your usual Paragon Law contact or email enquires@paragonlaw.co.uk or call 0115 9644123.

As we have previously written about here, it is going to be necessary for EEA nationals to make an application for settled status to continue to remain and work in the UK after the transition period which ends 31 December 2020.

Those EEA nationals who qualify to apply in Phase 2 must do so by 21st December 2018.

Who can apply?

  • You are an EU national with a valid passport; or
  • You are a non-EU family member of an EU national and you have a biometric residence card; and
  • You or your family member are employed in an occupation or are part of a group which has been announced in Phase 2.

What occupations and groups fall within Phase 2

From 15 November 2018 those employed at a higher education institution which is on the Tier 4 Register of Licensed Sponsors will be able to apply. Also included are looked after children in participating local authorities and EEA nationals receiving support from specified community organisations.

From 29 November 2018 those employed in the health sector which has been defined broadly under the pilot and includes amongst others, those who are registered with the General Optical Council and the General Pharmaceutical Council.

For a complete list of all the Applicants who will be able to make an application please click here

Right to Work Checks

After the transition period, an employer will no longer be able to rely on right to work documents that they have currently checked and retained for EU colleagues.

If an Applicant is granted settled status or pre-settled status, they will be issued with a new form of ‘digital’ status. Therefore, we advise:

  • Retain a copy of the new digital status once received by the colleague confirming their settled or pre-settled status; or
  • If the application has not been decided prior to the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) then obtain confirmation of the application having been submitted on-line and obtain a copy of the digital status once received; and
  • If the colleague is given pre-settled status this may be time-limited (to be confirmed) to allow for a subsequent application for settled status. Therefore, you must carry out follow-up checks and retain a copy of the new digital status document.

What Steps to take NOW

  1. Assess which of your colleagues qualify to apply when Phase 2 opens and encourage them to do so; and
  2. Set-up a process to ensure that colleagues move forward with their application as and when it is opened to them; and
  3. Set-up a process that allows you to update your right to work documents as and when received by colleagues.

How Paragon Law Can

Paragon Law has a dedicated Brexit Group which has been advising businesses, universities and individuals since the outcome of the Brexit referendum. We have supported organisations in the following ways:

  • Workshops supporting EU colleagues and HR staff – Subjects covered include the criteria for applying, the application process, and what documents or other evidence will be needed to make an application; and
  • Surgeries – we guide EU colleagues through the digital application process, deal with complicated applications or advise on alternative immigration routes which may be better suited.

“The sessions provided by Paragon Law were well attended and covered the key issues of interest to staff, in an accessible and easy to understand way.  The sessions generated lots of questions from staff concerned about their own circumstances and these were handled confidently and sensitively.  The firm was selected because of their specific expertise in immigration law and this expert knowledge came across during the sessions. We were happy to allow Paragon Law access to our staff to deliver these sessions and would be happy to use them again in the future. They have since also provided some follow up FAQs for staff on the current Brexit position which we have published on our staff intranet.”

Rebecca Gott, HR Policy and Strategy Manager, De Montfort University  

 

If you would like to know further details of how Paragon Law can support your business or EU employees, please email corporate@paragonlaw.co.uk.

small businessAs of 18th July, sponsors must report to UKVI if the size of their business changes from small to medium/large or vice versa. This does not apply to charities.

Why do I have to report this?

The Immigration Skills Charge was introduced in April 2017.Sponsors pay a set amount for each year that they sponsor a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (ICT- long term) migrant.

Small companies pay a reduced rate, currently £356 per year of sponsorship. Medium and large companies pay a higher rate of £1000 per year.

UKVI record the size of the business when they first grant a licence, because small businesses also pay a lower application fee. However, some sponsors will move from being ‘small’ businesses to being ‘medium’ or ‘large’ businesses during the life of their licence (or vice versa). UKVI therefore need to know this in order to charge the correct rate of Immigration Skills Charge.

How do I know if I am a ‘small’ business?

A small company must meet at least two of the following conditions:

  • annual turnover must be not more than £10.2 million
  • the balance sheet total must be not more than £5.1 million
  • the average number of employees must be not more than 50

The definition of a ‘small company’ for this purposes is the same as the definition of a ‘small company’ for the filing of small company accounts. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, when your business starts having to file accounts according to the rules for medium or large companies, then you must make the report. UKVI does not draw any distinction between a medium and large business, so this change does not have to be reported.

When must the report be made?

The report must be mad within 10 days of it taking place. Therefore, the Authorising Officer should be mindful of this duty when the annual accounts are being collated, so that the report can be made in a timely manner.

Therefore, you should also consider whether you are still a small business when you assign a certificate of sponsorship and pay the Immigration Skills Charge.

However, if you do realise that you forgot to report in time m you should make the report as soon as you realise that it is due. You may then have to pay the extra Immigration Skills Charge for certificates assigned after the change.

How do I make the report?

The report must be made through the Sponsorship Management System by a level one user. If you require help with this, please contact your usual Paragon Law contact or Lydia Watkinson at Lydiaw@paragonlaw.co.uk

The UK Government has released a toolkit aimed at assisting employers who are employing EU Nationals, or who employ family members of EU nationals. This toolkit will be very useful for any employers who currently rely upon employing EU nationals or their family members, or who may wish to do so in the future.

One of the negotiation items which has been agreed between the UK and the EU is that all EU nationals and their family members who currently reside in the UK, or who arrive in the UK before the end of December 2020, will need to apply for ‘settled status’.

There will be a need to make an application for all EU nationals, regardless of whether they have already been issued with documents by the government proving their right to stay.

If any EU nationals do not make an application before June 2021, other than Irish nationals, who are a special category and will not need to apply, then they will no longer have a right to remain in the UK and they will no longer have a right to work.

This places the employee at risk of breaching criminal laws by working without permission, and places employers at risk of civil fines for employing people where they do not have a right to work.

There are approximately 3 million people in the UK who must make an application to avoid becoming unlawfully present. Whilst the Home Office will have discretion to allow applicants in special circumstances to apply after the cut-off date, there is a high risk that any out of time application will be automatically rejected.

The government have released a toolkit for Employers as part of their information campaign to spread awareness of the need for employees to make an application and to avoid finding themselves unlawfully in the UK.

The toolkit that has been released consists of:

  • Key things that Employers need to know
  • Key Information that can be used for ‘presentations’ or ‘face-to-face events’ or ‘webinars’ with EU Citizen Employees
  • Information Videos
  • Leaflets which can be provided to EU Citizen employees
  • Posters which can be placed in communal areas spreading information

The information has been provided in a way that allows employers to pass on the relevant information without needing to interpret it. The information has been summarised to highlight the key points without going into the nitty gritty. A more detailed statement of intent provides much more information over what the settled status scheme will involve.

There is no legal obligation for employers to provide information to their employees, and, although employers may contribute towards the costs of employees making applications, there is no requirement for them to do so. It is however important that employers do not provide immigration advice to employees as this is not permitted without the necessary accreditation.

To access the governments toolkit click here.

Paragon Law have delivered seminars, workshops and one-to-one advice for EU employees and their family members to provide assistance in light of Brexit. If you are concerned about the potential negative impacts on your workforce, and you employ EU nationals or their family members, please get in touch with your usual Paragon Law contact or contact us at enquiries@paragonlaw.co.uk

to see what support we may be able to provide you.

NHS nursesNHS Overseas Visitor Charges

 

Concerns over so called health tourism in in the UK has led the government to introduce changes to treatment provided to overseas visitors. The government’s aim is to recoup as much as £500 million a year by 2017-2018 from overseas visitors’ and migrants’ use of the UK National Health Service (NHS).  Consequently, in April 2015, the first of these changes were made to the way the UK National Health Service (NHS) charges overseas visitors for NHS hospital care. These regulations were amended most recently on 23rd October 2017 by the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations. This Article provides an overview of the circumstances in which a person may be subject to NHS charges.

 

Who is an overseas visitor?

Within the UK free NHS treatment is provided on the basis of an individual being ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. It is not dependent on one’s nationality, payment of UK taxes, national insurance contributions, having an NHS number or owning property in the UK.

A person is said to be ordinarily resident in the UK when their ‘residence is lawful, adopted voluntarily, and for settled purposes as part of the regular order of their life for the time being whether of short or long duration’.

In practice, one is ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK if they are living and working in the UK and are:

  • A British citizen
  • Naturalised within the UK
  • Settled within the UK i.e. holding Indefinite Leave to Remain.

The Charging Regulations place a legal obligation on any provider of relevant service including non-NHS organisations such as private and voluntary providers supplying NHS services to establish whether a person is an overseas visitor to whom charges apply or whether they are exempt from charges.

How will this change affect NHS users?

From 23rd October 2017, overseas visitors requiring treatment will be told upfront if their care/treatment is chargeable before treatment begins. Providers of relevant care are required to recover these charges in full in advance of providing them unless to do so would prevent or delay provision of urgent or emergency care. All treatment received at an NHS facility will be chargeable unless it is an exempt service such as:

  • Treatment at GP surgeries
  • Accident and emergency (A & E) services (whether provided at an A & E department or similar e.g. at an urgent care centre, minor injuries unit, walk-in centre etc.) This does not include A & E services provided after an overseas visitor has been admitted as an in-patient or at a follow-up outpatient appointment.
  • Family planning services – this excludes termination of an established pregnancy as this is not considered to be a method of contraception or family planning and also excludes infertility treatment.
  • Services provided as part of the NHS 111 telephone advice line
  • Treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence or sexual violence -except where the overseas visitor has travelled to the UK for the purpose of seeking that treatment

 

Exempt Categories of person- who will not be charged for NHS hospital treatment?

There are also some special groups who will not have to pay for NHS treatment

  1. Those who have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge
  2. Those with an enforceable EU right to free health care
  1. Vulnerable patients (including refugees and asylum seekers) and those detained

Evidencing your entitlement to NHS treatment

NHS providers have a duty to check evidence of entitlement from those patients who assert that they qualify for NHS treatment under a specified exemption. It is imperative that NHS users have the correct documentary evidence to avoid being charged for NHS treatment received. The NHS provider may ask for both evidence of immigration status and address. For applicants whose immigration status documents have expired but they have submitted an in time application for further leave to remain, the NHS providers’ Overseas Visitor Managers (OVMs) are authorised to make enquiries about a patient’s immigration status. Such enquiries are sent via email to the Home Office’s Evidence and Enquiry Unit who will respond to such enquiries within 5 working days. OVMs are not required to obtain a patient’s consent before sharing non-clinical data with the Home Office for purposes of determining the patient’s immigration status. However, the patient must be notified that their data is being shared and how this data may or will be used

Travel and Health insurance

People living outside the EEA including former UK residents are advised to make sure that they are covered by personal health insurance unless an exemption applies to them. The lack of personal health insurance could be very costly as any chargeable treatment received will be charged at 150% of the NHS national tariff. Failure to pay this charge may have an effect on any future immigration applications for entry clearance or leave to remain that an individual makes.

Conclusion

It can be seen from the level of fees generated through the introduction of these provisions, that they are relevant to many coming to the UK. It is important that one does not owe a debt to the NHS as this could impact upon one’s ability to qualify for leave to enter or remain in number of categories such as a spouse. In our experience, people are not always aware that they owe a debt to the NHS as they may not have been advised of the charges at the point of service. Since 6 April 2016, the NHS has an obligation to inform the Home Office of certain debts where they are outstanding for more than two months. As such we would suggest that applicants may wish to make enquiries of the NHS to pre-empt a refusal of leave to enter or remain and to check that why do not have an outstanding debt with the NHS. Where an applicant is unsure whether their immigration status in the past allowed them to access free NHS treatment then we can advise on this prior to contact being made with the relevant NHS body.

 

If you have any queries about this article, please contact Emma Okenyi at emmao@paragonlaw.co.uk

HMT Empire Windrush

An article by Karen Rimmer, Paragon Law

On 22 June 1948 the ship MV Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, as a response to post-war labour shortages in the UK. The ship carried 492 passengers – many of them children.

This now infamous docking has given its name to a generation of people present in the UK who have come to represent the devastating impact that so many recent drastic changes of legislation and Immigration Rules have had on our society.

In 2012, official figures showed that net immigration was still running at about 250,000 a year, well above the “tens of thousands” that the Conservatives promised the Coalition would deliver. In response to this, Theresa May gave a speech in Parliament about her wish to ensure fairness by introducing a new Immigration Bill[1]. At the time, she told the Telegraph newspaper that it was her aim to “to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”. [2] There has been much media coverage of the speech Mrs May gave in parliament that day. She loudly declared:

Part 3 of the Bill is about migrants’ access to services. We want to ensure that only legal migrants have access to the labour market, health services, housing, bank accounts and driving licences. This is not just about making the UK a more hostile place for illegal migrants – it is also about fairness. Those who play by the rules and work hard do not want to see businesses gaining an unfair advantage through the exploitation of illegal labour. They don’t want to see our valuable public services – paid for by the taxpayer – used and abused by illegal migrants.”

The reality is, however, that even those migrants perfectly legally present have been impacted by the measures taken, and found themselves in dire straits. The Windrush generation are a prime example of this.

The Immigration Act 1971 allowed for those who came from Commonwealth countries to remain in the UK indefinitely and to be exempt from deportation in certain circumstances. However, recent changes in the law have meant that gradually more and more responsibility for immigration control has been delegated to every day service providers.

The hostile environment created by government changes have resulted in the need to present valid ID and proof of immigration status for tenancies, bank accounts, a driving licence, employment opportunities and access to benefits, access to NHS care and financial support. It is also important, as legal professionals have discovered, that the proof of status, is in the correct format. In the current climate, those immigrants who entered the UK prior to the introduction of the new-style biometric residence permit struggle to convince employers of their right to work.

Initial experiences of the Windrush generation came in September 2012, when many people were wrongly accused of having overstayed. A variety of methods were used to inform people of this accusation. Initially, letters were sent. The letters indicated that, without evidence of their right to stay, people would be expected to leave the UK immediately or it would be made difficult for them to remain in the UK. This was usually followed up by a barrage of texts, phone calls and even, in extreme circumstances, knocks on the door.

The government’s response to this was to ask people to make an application to prove their right to remain in the UK. This application, at the time, cost £220[3] (currently £229). Unsurprisingly, many people were not aware of this requirement, and those who were did not apply for various reasons, not least because of the fee. The result of not applying was that many people lost their benefits entitlement, were suspended from work, some even losing their jobs because of the risk of prosecution for employers or have been threatened with eviction. It is also impossible to travel to and from the UK without proof of your immigration status and a national passport (something also required for any paid immigration application at present)

As a firm, we have experienced cases where people have been made homeless, those on long-term sick have had to rely on the support of family and friends whilst their benefits were investigated.

The government officially states, in a statement on the Gov website[4], that they recognise that people will not have documents from 40 years ago. They go on to state that the types of documents that can help an application are exam certificates, employment records, your National Insurance number, birth and marriage certificates, bills and letters.

The reality is that they require a much more detailed demonstration of time spent in the UK. They must be satisfied from the evidence that the applicant has not left the UK for more than 2 years at any time during the period that they have lived in the UK. Some applicants are required to provide documentary evidence to cover every single year of over 60 years residence, which amounts to vast swathes of documents. Routinely, legal practitioners find that, despite a consenting signature to a background check of records, such checks are not carried out. If they were, then it would be seen that the generation of Windrush applicants had validly been present for the requisite time, without them having to be threatened with deportation. The onus is placed squarely on the individual to apply with the right documents, and a correctly completed application or it will be rejected as invalid.

Adding to the trauma of attempting to meet the documentary threshold is the fact that, in recent days, it has come to light that thousands of landing cards were destroyed[5], a phenomenon that we as a firm have come across resulting in difficulty for our clients. It is unclear what it was hoped that this action achieved.

Scaremongery and fear tactics have caused anxiety amongst a generation of people who originally only came to the UK to assist with the post-war effort. They legitimately assumed that they were legally present. Indeed, they were, but did not have the proof to show it.

It is important to receive advice and representation as soon as possible when the Secretary of State indicates that she believes that you may not be legally present in the UK. We can assist with document gathering and make representations to demonstrate eligibility to benefit from the concessions that allowed for indefinite stay in the UK for the Windrush generation. Obtaining sound legal advice early in the process can help to prevent the possibility of removal action being taken at all.


 

To find out more on this subject please contact the writer, Karen Rimmer, at karenr@paragonlaw.co.uk

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/speech-by-home-secretary-on-second-reading-of-immigration-bill

[2] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/9291483/Theresa-May-interview-Were-going-to-give-illegal-migrants-a-really-hostile-reception.html

[3] http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121206084216/http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/fees/

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/undocumented-commonwealth-citizens-resident-in-the-uk/undocumented-commonwealth-citizens-resident-in-the-uk

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/17/home-office-destroyed-windrush-landing-cards-says-ex-staffer

Home Office Fees

Every year, the fees that are charged for immigration applications, are reviewed and changed. In the past few years, the increase in fees charged has been dramatic and, on occasion, left Applicants struggling to save the required fees to pay for applications before their leave expired.

 

For example, the cost of a family consisting of two parents and two children applying from within the UK for indefinite leave to remain in 2014 would have been £4,372. The same application made now would cost the same family £9,188.

Another example is an applicant applying for leave to remain as a spouse in 2014, would have paid a fee of £601. Nowadays, taking into account the Immigration Health Surcharge, the same application would cost £1,493.

Traditionally, the Home Office have raised fees on the 6th April each year (although they did catch everyone by surprise by raising the fees on the 18th March in 2016). This year will be no different from the normal however, and the Home Office have confirmed that fees will be raised from the 6th April 2018.

Further, the actual Home Office fee increases have now been announced and are available to view here. Although, as anticipated, the fees have gone upwards, the good news is that the rise is not as meteoric as it has been in previous years. In most application types, the Home Office fees have gone up by 4%.

Here are some examples of what the new fees will look like:

In Country Applications

Application Type Current Fee New Fee from 6th April 2018
Indefinite Leave to Remain £2,297 £2,389
Leave to Remain (example as a family member) £993 £1,033
Tier 2 General £677 £704
Naturalisation Fee £1,282 £1,330
European Residence Card £65 £65 (no change)

 

Entry Clearance Applications

Application Type Current Fee New Fee from 6th April 2018
Visit Visa (< 6 months) £89 £93
Settlement £1,464 £1,523
Adult Dependent Relative £3,250 £3,250

 

As can be seen, a rise of 4% is still pretty significant when you are dealing with large sums in the first place, and Applicants will be trying to get their applications submitted before the 6th April 2018 to avoid the higher fee.

Immigration Health Surcharge

As well as the normal Home Office fee increases, the Home Office have confirmed that the Immigration Health Surcharge, introduced in 2015, will be DOUBLING. This is a significant increase in the cost that Applicants applying for limited leave to remain will have to pay.

For Example, an Applicant who is currently applying for leave to remain as a spouse needs to pay:

Home Office fee – £993

Immigration Health Surcharge – £500

Total Cost – £1,493

However, after the Immigration Health Surcharge fee and Home Office fees go up, the same applicant will need to pay:

Home Office Fee – £1,033

Immigration Health Surcharge – £1,000

Total Cost – £2,033

Official Confirmation has not been provided as to when the Immigration Health Surcharge will go up, but it would be sensible to assume that it will go up from the 6th April 2018 (or even sooner!). Applicants should try and get applications submitted as soon as possible if they have the choice of applying before the fee rises.

When to Submit your Application

It is very important that Applicants who are preparing to make extension applications, submit their applications as soon as possible if they want to avoid the fee increase. This will only be possible if you qualify for an extension of leave before the 6th April 2018. If you have the choice of whether to apply now or later, you may decide you wish to apply now and avoid any additional fees that will otherwise need to be paid.

It is important that if Applicants are trying to avoid the fee rises, they remember the date the application is considered to be made depends on what type of application is being made and how it is submitted.

For non-citizenship postal applications, the date the application is made is the date that the application is posted (always retain proof of postage and used a tracked delivery service).

However, for citizenship postal applications, the date the application is made is the date that it is received by the Home Office.

Tip: Historically, where Applicants have applied to the Home Office using the same day premium service, the Home Office have only charged the fee which is paid by the Applicant when the appointment is booked, even if the appointment takes place after the fee rise. It may be that the Home Office will continue this practice this year and Applicants can avoid paying the higher fees if they book and pay for their same day service prior to the 6th April 2018 even for appointments taking place after that date.

 

 

Paragon Law Managing Director, Thalej, Vasishta, explores the Points Based System immigration law changes which are coming into play in 2018:

 

 

 

 

Tier 4 (General) Switch to Tier 2 (General)

Students who hold a Tier 4 (General) visa no longer have to wait for their final results to be released by their academic institution before switching to the Tier 2 (General) category. Instead, students can now make the application as soon as they have finished their course. This will not, however, apply to individuals on PHD courses.

Family members of points-based system migrants

Dependent partners of applicants in the UK under the points-based system (including Tier 1 and Tier 2) will now also be brought under the same requirements whereby they are not permitted to be out of the country for more than 180 days in any 12-month period during the qualifying period in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain. This change will apply to partners who are granted new periods of leave after 11 January 2018. Therefore, even those partners who have already been granted leave before this date will be subject to the new rules following any grant or extension of leave post 11 January 2018. A further requirement is that dependent family members will have to prove that their relationship to the applicant is “genuine” as part of any applications after 11 January 2018.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

There are two main changes coming into effect in 2018:

  1. The number of visas available for this category will increase from 1,000 to 2,000 per year for the 12 months from 6 April 2018. The additional 1,000 visas will be held separately, in an unallocated pool, which will be distributed on a first come first serve basis; and
  2. “World leaders” in their field of expertise may be able to qualify for accelerated indefinite leave to remain after three years, rather than the usual five years. This will not apply to those holding an “exceptional promise” visa.

Tier 2 visa holders

Tier 2 visa holders who have more than 60 days’ gap between holding Tier 2 jobs will no longer be prevented from applying for indefinite leave to remain when they have accrued five years’ employment in the UK. This means that applicants will no longer have to be employed continuously throughout the five-year qualifying period to be eligible for settlement.

If you have any further queries please contact Thalej Vasishta on 0115 9644 123 or thalejv@paragonlaw.co.uk