A new fact-track visa offer to cement the UK as a science superpower

The Home Office will launch a new fast-track immigration offer for selected individuals with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, building on the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa route. The new scheme will provide eligible individuals with a three-year visa, during which they can come and go from the UK at will. At the end of three years, those on the scheme would be able apply for indefinite leave to remain (giving a permanent right to reside in the UK and access to benefits and healthcare on the same basis as
British citizens). There will be no minimum salary requirement and individuals do not need to secure a job before arriving in the UK (unlike the existing Tier 2 route for skilled workers). Individuals will be able to bring dependants (spouses/partners and children), with adult dependants having full access to the labour market. This initiative will ensure that those with specialist skills in STEM subjects can come to the UK and make an important contribution to leading science and research sector, significantly enhancing the intellectual and knowledge base of the UK. The Home Office, together with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the scientific community, facilitate access for this specialist and skilled cohort of individuals to come and work, study and live in the UK.

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This new offer will ensure that those with specialist skills in STEM subjects can come to the UK and make an important contribution to our leading science and research sectors, significantly enhancing the intellectual and knowledge base of the UK. They propose to do this by substantially and radically expanding the operation of the existing Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route. This will include:

  • Reviewing the existing Exceptional Talent selection criteria to open it up to individuals who are integral to scientific / research teams;
  • Removing the requirement for those endorsed as Exceptional Promise to have been awarded a prestigious Research Fellowship;
  • Opening up the route to those who have received European research funding;
  • Re-branding the route to recognise the country’s desire to attract global talent; and
  • Uncapping the route, to ensure that those with the required skill-set would be able to secure places.

A new start-up visa has been announced

The Innovator Route

“The UK can be proud that we are a leading nation when it comes to tech and innovation, but we want to do more to attract businesses to the UK and our migration system plays a key part in that. That is why I am pleased to announce a new visa for people wanting to start a business in the UK. This will help to ensure we continue to attract the best global talent and maintain the UK’s position as a world-leading destination for innovation and entrepreneurs.”

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid, has announced that the Tier 1 (entrepreneur) category is to be closed and replaced by a new innovator category from Spring 2019, further details will be announced in due course.  He expects that this new change will open the route up to wider pool of talented entrepreneurs.

The innovator route will have a similar emphasis on endorsement by a business sponsor, who will assess applicants’ business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability. This shows the government’s commitment and determination to creating the UK a dynamic, open and globally-trading nation.

The statement only refers to ‘Spring 2019’. Based on experience, home office usually makes major changes on immigration rules after April each year, however we will wait to see what the statement of changes states for an implementation date. We hope that the Statement of Intent will be released with sufficient detail and enough time to allow potential applicants to make a formal decision about their applications.

How we can help

There is limited information released about the new category and uncleared position, as a result it is difficult to determine which route will be ultimately better for visa applicants. In the mean time, we strongly advise those who are able to meet the entrepreneur requirements and are seeking to apply for this category, prepare your application as soon as possible to ensure that you can make the application before the category closes.

To review an official press release, please find further information via Gov. UK  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-start-up-visa-route-announced-by-the-home-secretary

For further information and expert advice in relation to an application for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, contact our immigration advisors in London on +44(0)2072536888  or via http://www.ukvisapartners.com/.

Undocumented Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK

Recent changes to the law mean that if you wish to work, rent property or have access to benefits and services in the UK then you will need documents to demonstrate your right to be in the UK. The government believes this is a proportionate measure to maintain effective immigration control.

The UK government recognise that this is causing problems for some people who lived in the UK for most of their lives. The government has stated the following:

“…If you have lived in the UK permanently since before 1973 and have not been away for long periods in the last 30 years, you have the right to be here… If you came to the UK during the 1970s but after 1 January 1973 then you are not likely to have an automatic right to be here. However, you may be allowed to stay here permanently.”

Please get in contact with us so we can help you with your documents and with applying for a permit card which proves your status in the UK.

Update for EU citizens living in the UK


As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am proud that more than three million EU citizens have chosen to make your homes and livelihoods here in our country. I greatly value the depth of the contributions you make – enriching every part of our economy, our society, our culture and our national life. I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay.

So from the very beginning of the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union I have consistently said that protecting your rights – together with the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries – has been my first priority.

You made your decision to live here without any expectation that the UK would leave the EU. So I have said that I want you to be able carry on living your lives as before.

But I know that on an issue of such significance for you and your families, there has been an underlying anxiety which could only be addressed when the fine details of some very complex and technical issues had been worked through and the foundations for a formal agreement secured.

So I am delighted that in concluding the first phase of the negotiations that is exactly what we have achieved.

The details are set out in the Joint Report on progress published on Friday by the UK government and the European Commission.

When we leave the European Union, you will have your rights written into UK law. This will be done through the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill which we will bring forward after we have completed negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement itself.

Your rights will then be enforced by UK courts. Where appropriate, our courts will pay due regard to relevant ECJ case law, and we have also agreed that for a period of eight years – where existing case law is not clear – our courts will be able to choose to ask the ECJ for an interpretation prior to reaching their own decision. So as we take back control of our laws, you can be confident not only that your rights will be protected in our courts, but that there will be a consistent interpretation of these rights in the UK and in the European Union.

We have agreed with the European Commission that we will introduce a new settled status scheme under UK law for EU citizens and their family members, covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you already have five years of continuous residence in the UK at the point we leave the EU – on 29 March 2019 – you will be eligible for settled status. And if you have been here for less than five years you will be able to stay until you have reached the five year threshold.

As a result of the agreement we have reached in the negotiations, with settled status, your close family members will be free to join you here in the UK after we have left the EU. This includes existing spouses, unmarried partners, children, dependent parents and grandparents, as well as children born or adopted outside of the UK after 29 March 2019.

Your healthcare rights, pension and other benefit provisions will remain the same as they are today. This means that those of you who have paid into the UK system – and indeed UK nationals who have paid into the system of an EU Member State – can benefit from what you have put in and continue to benefit from existing co-ordination rules for future contributions.

We have also agreed to protect the rights of those who are in a cross-border situation at the point of our withdrawal and entitled to a UK European Health Insurance Card. This includes, for example, tourists for the duration of their stay, students for the duration of their course and UK nationals resident in another EU Member State.

The agreement we have reached includes reciprocal rules to protect existing decisions to recognise professional qualifications – for example for doctors and architects. And it also enables you to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing your settled status – more than double the period allowed under current EU law.

There will be a transparent, smooth and streamlined process to enable you to apply for settled status from the second half of next year. It will cost no more than applying for a passport. And if you already have a valid permanent resident document you will be able to have your status converted to settled status free of charge.

We are also working closely with Switzerland and EEA Member States to ensure their citizens in the UK also benefit from these arrangements.

I have spent many hours discussing these issues with all of the other 27 EU leaders over the last eighteen months as well as with President Juncker, President Tusk and the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier. I am confident that when the European Council meets later this week it will agree to proceed on this basis. And I will do everything I can to ensure that we do.

So right now, you do not have to do anything at all. You can look forward, safe in the knowledge that there is now a detailed agreement on the table in which the UK and the EU have set out how we intend to preserve your rights – as well as the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries. For we have ensured that these negotiations put people first. That is what I promised to do and that is what I will continue to do at every stage of this process.

I wish you and all your families a great Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Yours sincerely

Theresa May, Prime Minister

A Kind Reminder to Home Office Compliance Visits

All business owners, no matter big or small, can expect the Home Office to visit them at some point to conduct an inspection on hiring immigrants with no right to be here. This is what we refer to as a compliance visit.

Purpose of the visit

As a business owner, you are expected to be familiar with this right to work check. The Home Office will be assessing how far the business owner is complying with his obligations. If you hold a sponsor licence under the Tier 2 and 5 category, you can expect a compliance assessment which is even more complex than a right to work check only.

The visit needs to be taken very seriously. If the Home Office are not satisfied with the organisation’s performance, this could lead to not only the migrant being detained or cast out, you can be sent to jail for 5 years as well plus pay an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone didn’t have the right to work in the UK.

The visit can be announced or unannounced. The Home Office may be acting on intelligence they have received, or it may just be that you have been lucky.

The Government will unveil plans to jail illegal workers and launch a new crackdown on companies hiring illegal immigrants.

The Home Office provided this summary of illegal working:

Illegal working is undertaken by individuals who are subject to UK immigration control, and have either entered the UK illegally, overstayed their permission to be here, or have permission to be in the UK but are subject to a condition preventing them from working.

As part of the new measures, off-licences, curry houses, Chinese restaurants and other takeaway firms will face closure if they are found to be employing illegal workers.

The Government will also consider extending these powers to cover minicab firms as per the Home Office.

Preparing for the visit

So how to prepare for the visit and prevent this from happening? Preparing in advance!

Remind yourself of the guidance on preventing illegal working. Be clear what your duties are and how you can meet them. You will need to ensure that your human resources procedures remain robust and have been correctly followed.

In all personnel files, check that correct right to work checks have been carried out. Ensure that copies are available of all sponsored migrants’ files, past and present. Check that all required documents are present in the files and make sure you know your way round the files.

If you need more advice in details or would like to book a mock interview session with us, contact our business immigration lawyer on 0207 2536888 or via email serena@ukvisapartners.com.

Home Office publishes second report on statistics collected under exit checks programme

The Home Office has today published the second report on the data collected on travellers departing and arriving in the UK as part of the exit checks programme.


As part of legislation introduced through the Immigration Act 2014, carriers and port operators in the aviation, maritime and international rail industries were given the power to carry out embarkation checks. Since 8 April 2015 departure data has been collected on all scheduled commercial services departing the UK from air and sea ports and from international rail stations except those services not within the scope of the exit checks programme.

The analysis in the report focuses on individuals who had both valid leave and were identified as having entered the UK after April 2015, when the exit checks programme was introduced.

Brandon Lewis, Immigration Minister, said:

The Home Office introduced exit checks in 2015 to provide more comprehensive information on travel movements across the UK border.

This information has already been invaluable to the police and security services who have used it to help track known criminals and terrorists, supporting wider work taking place across government and law enforcement.

The report found that among the 1.34 million visas granted to non-EEA nationals which expired in 2016/17, 96.3 per cent departed in time.

Brandon Lewis said:

Today’s report also gives us a more comprehensive picture of the compliance of visa holders, clearly showing that the vast majority of people are following immigration rules and that the action we’re taking to clamp down on illegal immigration is working.

Exit checks is a long-term programme and the data collected will continue to be assessed and analysed to ensure that they become more robust and extensive over time.

Read the second publication into exit checks.

UK Government unveiled offer for EU citizens

Yesterday, the UK Government published a paper outlining their offer for EU citizens in the UK.

The following is quoted from GOV.UK:

“The UK government’s offer for EU citizens is:
-People who have been continuously living here for 5 years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’. That means these citizens will be free to live here, have access to public funds and services and apply for British citizenship.
-People who arrived before the cut-off date, but won’t have been here for 5 years when we leave the EU, will be able to apply to stay until they have reached the 5 year threshold. They can then also apply for settled status.
-People who arrive after the cut-off date will be able to apply for permission to remain after the UK leaves the EU, under the future immigration arrangements for EU citizens.
-Family dependants who are living with or join EU citizens before the UK’s exit will also be able to apply for settled status after 5 years in the UK. In these cases the cut-off date won’t apply.
The cut-off date will be agreed during the negotiations but we are clear that it shouldn’t be earlier than 29 March 2017 (the date Article 50 was triggered) or later than the date the UK leaves the EU.”

Under the proposals all EU citizens and their families in the UK will need to apply to the Home Office for permission to stay. The type of application you will need to make will depend on your circumstances.

Although the UK Government have said that there is no need to do anything now, it is probably wise to start examining your own circumstances and those of your family members to make sure that you are fully prepared for any steps you have to take to secure you legal status in the UK.

Please call us today on 020 7253 6888 to book a consultation for expert advice.

Customer enquiry service changes

How you contact UK Visas and Immigration is changing.

From 1 June, all customer enquiries will be handled by a new commercial partner Sitel UK.

The new contract will see a number of changes for customers. These changes help the government reduce costs and ensure those who benefit directly from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution.

The main changes for customers applying from outside the UK are:

all phone numbers and opening hours will change
the number of languages offered is reducing to 8 including English
customers who contact UK Visas and Immigration by email will be charged £5.48
You will need to pay using a credit or debit card for contacting us by email. The charge includes the first email enquiry you send and any follow-up emails to and from the contact centre relating to the same enquiry.

The way you pay to use the telephone service will remain the same using a credit or debit card.

If you do not have access to a credit or debit card, you may choose to use a trusted 3rd party such as an agent or sponsor.

There are no changes to services if you are contacting us from inside the UK.

Immigration and Nationality (fees) Regulations 2017: changes to come into effect on 6 April 2017 (4 April 2017)

Immigration and Nationality (fees) Regulations 2017: changes to come into effect on 6 April 2017 (4 April 2017)

New fees will take effect from 6 April 2017. These are set out in the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2017, SI 2017/515. There are some very substantial increases, in particular in the case of ILR which will now cost over 2000.


Overseas criminal record certificates

Overseas criminal record certificates

From April 2017, the Government plans to extend the requirement to provide a criminal record certificate to Tier 2 visa applicants coming to work in education, health and social care sectors and to their adult dependants.

The extension of this requirement will strengthen safeguards against those with a criminal history seeking to come to the UK.

Tier 2 visa applicants who are coming to work in an occupation defined by the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code, and their adult dependants, will need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country they have lived for 12 months or more in the past 10 years. The list of relevant SOC codes is attached.

It is the sponsor’s responsibility to inform their prospective employee of the new requirement. Failure to do so may result in refusal of the visa.

We recognise the need to give those affected sufficient time to obtain a criminal record certificate which is why the new requirement will not be implemented before April 2017. It will therefore not affect those required to apply for a visa before then.

To ensure those applying for a visa from April 2017 are made aware of the new requirement, we advise sponsors to inform prospective employees assigned a certificate of sponsorship from January 2017.

The Home Office will contact you to confirm the precise timing of this new requirement.

Further guidance about the requirement is available here