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The increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit is creating further confusion about EU citizens’ rights after the UK leaves the European Union.

How will a no-deal affect EU citizens in the UK after Brexit?

What has the Government confirmed so far?

Assurances have been made by the Government that EU citizens and their family members that are resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to remain here under the new EU settlement scheme. By applying for settled status, EU citizens in the UK can continue to work, study and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis after Brexit. Those holding the new settled status will also be able to leave the UK for up to five consecutive years without losing their right to return.

The timescales and requirements for applying for settled status however will be determined by whether there is a deal or no deal, with less favourable terms for EU citizens should the UK leave the EU on the basis of a no-deal scenario.

EU Citizens’ Rights if No Deal Brexit

The settlement scheme would continue to be implemented in a no-deal scenario for EU citizens resident in the UK by 29 March 2019.

Where the UK proceeds to exit the EU without a deal, there would be no transition period. Without a transition period, EU citizens and their family members resident by 29 March 2019 would have until 31 December 2020 to apply for settled status, but with no six-month ‘grace period’ beyond this.

You will have until 31 December 2020 to apply for status under the new settlement scheme. Until the end of December 202o, EU citizens will be able to use their passport or national identity card to evidence their right to reside in the UK.

The new UK immigration system is expected to be implemented from 1 January 2021. Details of the new rules are expected to be published by the end of 2018. Guidance to date does not specify provisions for those arriving in the UK after 29 March 2019 or before January 2021.

EU citizens with settled status would be able to be joined in the UK, by 29 March 2022, by existing close family members, such as children, spouses and partners, parents and grandparents living overseas at exit, where the relationship existed by 29 March 2019 (or where a child was born overseas after this date) and continued to exist when the family member applied.

After 29 March 2022, such family members will be able to join EU citizens here by applying through the applicable UK Immigration Rules. EU citizens with settled status will be able to be joined by future spouses and partners (where the relationship was established after exit) and other dependent relatives until 31 December 2020, after which point the UK Immigration Rules would apply to such family reunion. Together this would bring the rights of EU citizens in line with the rights of UK nationals from 30 March 2022

EU Citizens’ Rights under the current Deal

Nationals of EEA countries and Switzerland who are residing in the UK before 1 January 2021 will be able to continue their residence, provided they have applied for, and been granted, settled status.

If an exit deal is agreed by the EU and passed by UK Parliament, under the current terms, settled status would be available to EU citizens who have lived in the UK for more than five years, without the requirement to evidence residency. There will be an implementation period, allowing EU citizens until the end of December 2020 to apply for settled status with a grace period of six months.

To be eligible, you must not have spent over six months out of the country in any 12 month period during the qualifying 5-year period and must not have a serious criminal record. If you have under 5 years’ residency, you will be able to apply for pre-settled status before switching to settled status at the 5-year mark.

The application process will be online, and cost £65 per adult applicant or £32.50 for a child aged under 16. Application processing is expected to take around 3 weeks.

If you already hold permanent residence status, you must apply to switch to settled status. This will be free of charge.

Non-EU family members will also be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status, although the process may take longer and it is expected that passports will need to be submitted.

A pilot scheme is currently in operation, with full implementation due to go live from March 2019.

Post-Brexit Immigration System 

The Government has advised its immigration white paper will be published before the end of the year, setting out the legislative framework for new UK immigration rules governing the rights of EU citizens post-Brexit.

Information about the changes so far released have focused on priority being given to high-skilled workers and EU citizens becoming subject to the UK points-based immigration rules, in the same way as non-EEA nationals, as free movement is ended.

Details of specialist schemes are also expected to be provided, specifically looking at sectors reliant on lower skilled workers where the UK resident labour market does not meet industry recruitment needs, such as agriculture.

Do you have a question about EU citizens’ rights after Brexit?

DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals including EU citizens understand their immigration rights under UK law and support through any Home Office application process. If you have a question about your UK immigration status, please contact us.

The post EU Citizens in UK after Brexit: Deal or No Deal Scenarios appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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Extended family members of EEA nationals are required to hold a UK residence card to prove their immigration status.

A UK residence card is not however a mandatory requirement for direct family members of EEA nationals or Swiss nationals, however, it can help to evidence to employers that you have permission work in the UK, prove you qualify for certain benefits and services and help to speed up the process at the border of gaining entry back into the UK.

Applications are assessed on a cases by case basis against the eligibility criteria and your personal circumstances. There are no guarantees that meeting the eligibility requirements will secure you a UK residence card.

Are you eligible for the UK residence card?

To be eligible for a UK residence card, you need to be a national of a country outside the EEA and be related to an EEA national who holds UK permanent residence or is a ‘qualified person’ – ie, engaged in either:

  • work;
  • looking for work;
  • self employment;
  • self sufficiency; or
  • study

while in the UK.

Those with retained right of residence or making Surinder Singh application may also apply.

Who qualifies as a family member?

A ‘relation’ can be a direct or extended family member.

Direct family members

Direct family members include spouses and civil partners of EEA nationals. It also includes dependent children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents of the EEA national or their spouse and civil partner.

Children must be dependent and under 21.

For EEA students, direct family members are limited to spouses, civil partners and dependent children.

Extended family members

Extended family members must have a valid EEA permit or residence card to be in the UK.

To qualify as an extended family member for the UK residence card, you must be:

  • The unmarried partner of, and in a qualifying lasting relationship with, an EEA national
  • A relative of the EEA national (or of their spouse or civil partner) that does not otherwise qualify as a direct family member, such as siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews.
  • A relative of an EEA national studying in the UK.

In addition, one of the following must apply:

  • You are dependent on the EEA national or are a member of their household, and prior to coming to the UK you were dependent on the EEA national or a member of their household; or
  • Due to medical reasons you rely on the care of the EEA national, their spouse or civil partner.

Applying under retained rights of residence

It may also be possible to apply for a UK residence card on the basis of a previous personal or family relationship with a UK permanent resident or qualified person.

This applies if:

  • Following the death of an EEA national relative, and you lived in the UK as their family member for at least one year before their death.
  • You are divorced from an EEA national, or where there has been an annulment or dissolution.
  • You are the child or an EEA national or their current or former spouse or civil partner who has died or left the UK, and you are in education.
  • Your child qualifies for retained right of residence because they’re in education in the UK.

You must hold a valid residence card as the extended family member of an EEA national and you meet all of the relevant conditions.

You cannot retain your right of residence if you were the unmarried partner of the EEA national and that relationship has broken down.

How long does a residence card last?

UK residence cards are generally issued for a period of up to 5 years, but will become invalid after 31 December 2020.

After this date, EU citizens and their family members are to have applied for settled status.  once the scheme opens in March 2019.

What if your UK residence card is due to expire? 

If your card is due to expire before the settlement scheme opens up in March 2019, you should apply for a new card.

How much does a UK residence card cost? 

A card costs £65 per person, plus £19.20 to submit your biometric information.

Can I work with a UK residence card?

Yes, it is possible to work and live in the UK with a residence card.

What is the EEA Family Permit?

The EEA Family Permit applies to non-EEA family members or ‘extended’ family members of an EEA national. They are applied for from outside the UK and allow a stay in the UK for up to six months.

What is derivative right of residence?

You would apply for a derivative right of residence card if you are one of the following:

  • Carer of a UK or EEA national
  • Carer’s child
  • Child of an EEA former worker and currently in education

You must apply for a derivative right of residence card

Do you have a question about the UK residence card? DavidsonMorris can help!

DavidsonMorris are experienced in all aspects of Home Office EEA applications, including UK residence card applications. If you have any queries or require guidance, contact our immigration specialists.

The post Residence Card UK – What Applicants Need to Know appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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The Tier 1 Investor Visa has been temporarily suspended with effect from Friday 7th December.

The Home Office has announced it will be halting investor visa applications while an audit is carried out into current eligibility requirements.

The Tier 1 investor visa permits non-EEA nationals to come to the UK where they have invested a minimum of £2million, with fast-tracked qualification for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Why has the Government suspended the route? 

Introduced in 2008, the intention behind the investor visa was to attract investment from foreign nationals, while offering fast-tracked eligibility for British citizenship – acting as a so-called ‘Golden Visa’.

To qualify, the investment must be made in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.

In 2017, more than 1,000 investor visas were issued. The first half of 2018 saw a 17% increase in applications against the same period in 2017. The majority of applicants were Chinese and Russian nationals, with visas also granted to investors from Australia, Hong Kong and the US.

Concerns have since been made that the route may be being used to launder money into the UK.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: “The UK will always be open to legitimate and genuine investors who are committed to helping our economy and businesses grow.

“However, I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system.

“That is why I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”

It is not a wholly surprising move, given events earlier this year when Roman Abramovich withdrew his Tier 1 investor extension application, in response to the heightened scrutiny facing the visa applicants.

Will the investor visa rules be changed?

The Home Office has advised there will be an audit of the current investor visa route, with a view to tightening the eligibility requirements.

We expect the route will be re-opened following the introduction of revised rules. Specifically, we predict changes to be made affecting:

  • The types of investments permitted under the route – guilts to be removed from the permissible list and likely replaced with an Irish-style programme of investment directing funds to pooled, government-backed investments with clear economic benefit to the UK.
  • Who is responsible for scrutinising funds – independent, regulated auditors will assess applicants’ financial and business interests, rather than Home Office case workers.
  • More transparency of source of funds – applicants to provide comprehensive audits of all financial and business interests.
  • Extending the required period of control of funds  – applicants to show control of the funds for at least two years, extending the current 90 day requirement.

Once the route resumes, tier 1 investor visa applicants should expect new rules that place considerably more burden on evidentiary requirements and tighter restrictions on the type of investment activity that qualifies under the route.

We will continue to keep you updated of changes to the rules once confirmed by the Government.

Concerned about your Tier 1 investor extension application?

If you are concerned about the impact of the suspension on your initial or extension application, contact our Tier 1 specialists. We can advise on the current status of applications and the requirements for eligibility.

The post UK Tier 1 Investor Visa Suspended appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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Having been granted a sponsorship licence by the Home Office to hire non-EEA workers in qualifying roles, you will be given access to the sponsor management system (SMS) and assume duties to use and update the system with required information within strict timeframes.

Below we guide you through the key functions of the SMS, including who should use it and for what purpose, as well as the consequences for your business of non-compliance.

What is the sponsor management system?

The sponsor management system is the Home Office’s online tool that is to be used to administer your day-to-day sponsorship activities, such as assigning certificates of sponsorship (CoS) to PBS (points-based system) visa applicants you are looking to employ.

As a licensed sponsor you have a number of strict duties so as to ensure compliance with the immigration rules and prevent abuse of the immigration rules.

These duties include monitoring and reporting certain activities about the migrant workers  that you sponsor, such as non-attendance, non-compliance or disappearance. The SMS enables you for example to report to the Home Office any changes in a migrant’s circumstances.

The Home Office relies on the information in the SMS to ensure that you are meeting your compliance duties as a PBS licence holder, and as such, requires that the information is at any one time an up to date reflection of your business and your PBS employees.

Who uses the sponsor management system?

As a licensed sponsor you are required to allocate certain responsibilities to key personnel within your organisation, some or all of whom will have access to the sponsor management system once your licence has been granted.

There are 4 key personnel roles, namely:

  • Authorising officer – this is the person responsible for the recruitment of migrant workers and ensuring that all of your sponsorship duties are met.
  • Key contact – this is the person who acts as the main contact with the Home Office.
  • Level 1 user – this is the person who will carry out your day-to-day sponsorship activities using the sponsor management system.
  • Level 2 user – this is the person who will carry out certain activities on the sponsor management system but who has fewer permissions than the level 1 user.

You must name your authorising officer, key contact and level 1 user on your licence application form. As a level 2 user can only be appointed by a level 1 user, you can only add a level 2 user after your licence has been granted.

There can only be one authorising officer and one key contact, but you can use the sponsor management system to request additional level 1 users, and add level 2 users, once you have been granted a licence.

You can appoint as many level 1 users as you think you will need based on the structure of your organisation and your business needs. However, as the authorising officer is responsible for the actions of all system users, it is advisable to keep the number of level 1 users to the minimum necessary for the effective maintenance of your sponsor licence.

You can appoint as many level 2 users as you need, although level 2 users have a restricted range of permissions when using the sponsor management system.

Only level 1 and level 2 users will have access to the system, so if the authorising officer or key contact require access, they must be set up as a level 1 or 2 user. As key personnel roles can be filled by the same person or combination of different people, this can be done by naming either one of them as the level 1 user on your licence application, or adding them as an additional level 1 or 2 user.

What is the sponsor management system used for?       

The sponsor management system is designed to allow your level 1 and level 2 users, on your behalf, to perform various sponsorship activities online. The primary functions available on this online system include the following:

  • Managing your key personnel and licence details – the level 1 user can access all applicable functions on the sponsor management system and perform a wide range of actions including requesting additional level 1 users, or adding or removing level 2 users.
  • Creating, assigning and withdrawing CoS/CAS – these are not paper certificates, but virtual documents, like a database record. Each migrant will need to be assigned a CoS/CAS via your sponsor management system account. Both level 1 and level 2 users can assign these virtual documents.
  • Applying for an increase in the number of CoS/CAS you can assign – if your licence application is approved, the Home Office will set a limit on the number of CoS/CAS you can assign annually. However, your level 1 user can request an increase using the sponsor management system.
  • Tracking licence renewal applications – the status of your licence can affect your access to the sponsor management system. If your licence has expired or been revoked you will no longer be able to log in. Your level 1 user will be responsible for renewing your sponsor licence and tracking the progress of any such application.
  • View the Home Office message board – only the level 1 user will be able to access key messages posted by the Home Office, targeted by tier and category. The sponsor management system will also notify the level 1 user of important events during the lifespan of your licence including, for example, when your sponsor licence is due to expire.
  • Reporting activities relating to your sponsored workers and/or students – both level 1 and level 2 workers can report migrant activity to the Home Office, for example, where a worker fails to turn up for work or a student completes their studies early. However, a level 2 user can only do so on CoS/CAS that they have personally created and assigned.
  • Pay for and track the progress of action plans – in the event that you fail to comply with your sponsorship duties, the Home Office may decide to downgrade your sponsor licence rating from an A to a B. The level 1 user will need to pay for and monitor the progress of any time-limited action plan to correct any breach(es).
What are consequences of non-compliance?

Although the authorising officer is responsible for the activities of all sponsor management system users, as a licensed sponsor you retain overall responsibility for ensuring compliance with your sponsorship duties.

As such, if either the authorising officer, or any system user, fails in their duties, you will be strictly accountable to the Home Office.

You should, therefore, always exercise a degree of caution and carry out any necessary background checks to ensure that the individuals who you chose to appoint as your key personnel are suitable to undertake those designated roles.

In the event that you fail to comply with your sponsorship duties, you are at risk of action being taken against you by the Home Office. There are various measures that may be taken, including but not limited to downgrading your sponsor licence rating.

Where there has been a significant or systematic failing, and you pose a serious threat to immigration control, you are at risk of your licence being suspended or revoked. Where migrants are found to be working illegally, you may also be at risk of a civil penalty, or even criminal prosecution.

Do you need help with the SMS or sponsor licence compliance?

Full guidance on the sponsor management system can be found in the various manuals published by UK Visas and Immigration. The information can be challenging to navigate, given the volume of material and the frequent changes to rules. Taking professional advice can ensure you are working to the most up to date guidance and rules to ensure compliance with your licence duties.

DavidsonMorris are specialists in UK business immigration and talent mobility. We work closely with HR and company owners to support with sponsor licence compliance, including use on the sponsor management system.

Failure to comply with your duties under a PBS licence leaves you at risk of Home Office penalties, such as suspension or even revocation of your licence.

We also deliver training on how to use the SMS for effective and compliant HR.

For guidance on use of the sponsor management system, or a wider immigration compliance issue, or if you are interested in SMS training, contact us.

The post Sponsor Management System: User Guide appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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For individuals who do not automatically hold British nationality by birth or descent, the most common route to getting British citizenship is through naturalisation.

Naturalisation is a Home Office application process requiring applicants to evidence that they meet the British citizenship eligibility criteria. 

British citizenship application process

To apply to naturalise as a British citizen, you will need to complete Form AN. For children, the form to use is form MN1.

In addition to completing the form, you will also need to compile and submit extensive documentary evidence proving your eligibility.

The application is then submitted to UK Visas & Immigration for processing.

You will also need to submit your biometric information and pay the current application fee.

Check you’re eligible!

Before starting your naturalisation application, you should first check that you are eligible:

  • You must be at least 18 years old (see below for applications for children).
  • You must have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years and held a permanent residence card if an EEA national or indefinite leave to remain if a non-EEA national for at least 12 months prior to making your application.
  • You must not have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK during the 5-year qualifying period.
  • You musy not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12 month period immediatly preceding your application.
  • You must meet the ‘good character’ requirement. Factors such as criminal history, financial affairs (eg paying taxes) and whether you have breached any immigration laws will be examined.
  • You must intend to continue your residence in the UK.
  • You meet the English language standard and have passed the Life in the UK test.
What is the Life in the UK test?

This is a computer-based exam taken at an approved test centre. You will have to pay the fee to sit the test. The questions are multiple choice and you must score 75% to pass.

It is possible to resit if you fail, but you will have to wait 7 days to take the test again.

If you passed this test as part of your ILR application, you will not have to resit the test provided you can show your pass certificate.

Exempt from the test are applicants who are under 18 or over the age of 65, or where have applied for exemption due to a long-term physical or mental condition.

How to get British citizenship for children

Children must also meet the main eligibility criteria, including being of good character where they are aged over 10. They will not however need to sit the Life in the UK test.

How to get British citizenship as the spouse of a British national

If you marry a British national, you will not automatically attain British citizenship. You will need to make an application to naturalise.

As the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen, provided you satisfy the general eligibility requirements, you can apply for British citizenship as soon as you are granted indefinite leave to remain, or permanent residence if you are an EEA national. This means you do not have to wait a further 12 months before becoming eligible to get British citizenship.

You will also have to have lived in the UK for a minimum of 3 years prior to making your application. During this qualifying period, you must not have been out of the country for more than 270 days, or 90 days in the 12 months prior to your application.

How long does it take to get British citizenship?

Naturalisation applications can take up to 6 months in total to process, or longer if there are complications with your application, such as requests for additional information – making it even more important to ensure your initial application and supporting documents are comprehensive.

You may also be asked to attend an interview, where you will be asked questions about your application.

British citizenship ceremony

If your application is successful, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony, organised by your local council. There is a fee to pay for the ceremony.

During the ceremony, you will make an oath of allegiance, promising to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the United Kingdom and you will receive your certificate of British citizenship.

Once you have received your certificate, you will have 5 days to send your biometric residence permit back to the Home Office.

How to get a British passport

Once you have received your certificate of naturalisation, you can use this to apply for your first British passport.

If you intend to apply for a British passport straight after naturalising, you may want to consider using the Nationality Checking Service.

Delivered by local authorities, the service allows you to apply for citizenship and a passport at the same time.

The process is to prepare your application, attend a local authority centre and pay the application fee. Not all authorities offer this service however, so you would need to confirm availability in your area.

Final considerations!

Dual citizenship is allowed in the UK, meaning you will not under British law be required to relinquish your original nationality once you attain British citizenship.

However, you would need to check the position in your home country, as not all countries permit their citizens to hold dual nationalities.

Do you need help applying to get British citizenship?

Attaining British citizenship is a life-changing process. You gain the right to vote and access public services and funds and also to apply for a British passport.

With so much at stake, and given the cost of making a naturalisation application, ensuring your submission is complete, comprehensive and accurate will be critical to avoiding delays or even refusal. A common area of confusion for example is the supporting evidence that should be submitted.

DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals through the naturalisation process and provide guidance on completing the form and compiling supporting documentation. If you have a question about an application for British citizenship, please contact us.

The post How to Get British Citizenship appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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A mandatory requirement when applying to naturalise as a British citizen is that applicants pass the British citizenship test.

Is the British citizenship test different to the Life in the UK test?

The British citizenship test and the Life in the UK test are the same; they both refer to the mandatory assessment of the applicant’s knowledge of British culture, geography, history and politics.

What is the British citizenship handbook?

You will be tested on information in the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test.

The handbook has information about:

  • UK history
  • The British government
  • UK geography
  • Local culture

All questions in the test are taken at random from the handbook. It also contains sample questions and answers, as well as study guides that can help you pass the test. Practising questions from the handbook is effective in improving pass rates.

British citizenship test practice questions are widely available online and you are encouraged to practise to prepare for the test.

How many questions are on the British citizenship test?

There are 24 multiple choice questions about British customs, traditions, laws and the political system.

What percentage do you need to pass the British citizenship test?

You have to answer at least 18 questions correctly to pass – ie you will need to score at least 75% to pass the test.

What are the British citizenship test exemptions?

Anyone applying for British citizenship or to settle in the UK must take the Life in the UK test, unless you qualify under one of the following exemptions:

  • You are under 18 or over 65
  • You have a long-term physical or mental condition, which you must confirm with a letter from a doctor.
How much is the British citizenship test?

The current fee as at December 2018 is £50.

This fee is non-refundable if you fail, or if you attempt to book at a test centre that is not local to your home address.

Where do I take the British citizenship test?

There are around 60 test centres in the UK. You are able to select one of the five closest to where you live. You must bring proof of your address to the test.

If the centre is not close to where you live, you will not be allowed to sit the test and you will not get a refund.

How do I book my British citizenship test?

Book the test online at least 3 days in advance of the date you want to take it. In order to book, you will need to provide a valid email address, debit or credit card and an acceptable form of id, ie:

  • passport – it can be out of date
  • UK photocard driving licence – full or provisional
  • convention travel document (CTD), certificate of identity document (CID) or stateless person document (SPD)
  • EU identity card
  • immigration status document endorsed with a UK residence permit that has a photo – it can be out of date
  • biometric residence permit
What happens if I pass the test?

If you pass, you will be able to use your Life in the UK certificate to proceed with your application for ILR or citizenship. This certificate has no expiry date, and can be used for all future applications.

Can I retake the British citizenship test?

Yes, if you fail the test you will be permitted to resit. You will need to wait seven days to take the test again, and you will have to pay the fee each time you sit the test. There is no limit to how many times you can resit the test.

Do ILR holders have to sit the British citizenship test?

If you passed the Life in the UK test as part of your ILR application, it won’t be necessary to take the test again for your citizenship application.

You will instead submit your Life in the UK test certificate as proof you have satisfied the mandatory requirement.

How long does the test last?

You’ll have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about British traditions and customs. You should allow two hours for being at the test centre, to allow time to arrive, verify your ID documents, to sit the test, await the results and receive your pass/fail certificate.

You will find out the result after the test and will be issued either a pass or fail certificate.

In total, you should allow 2 hours for the entire process, including identity checks on arrival and 45 minutes for the test itself.

Does the British citizenship test certificate expire?

No, the certificate does not expire. Keep the certificate in a safe. If lost or misplaced, you may have to take the test again if your application requires.

Do you need help applying to get British citizenship?

DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals through the naturalisation process and provide guidance on completing the form and compiling supporting documentation. If you have a question about an application for British citizenship, please contact us.

The post British Citizenship Test – FAQs appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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EU nationals looking to apply to naturalise as British citizens must be able to provide documentary proof that they have attained permanent residency status in the UK. This is evidenced with a permanent residence card.

If you are an EEA national and have lived in the UK continuously and lawfully while  exercising your Treaty rights for a period of 5 years, you may apply for a permanent residence card to confirm your status in the UK as a permanent resident.

You may also be eligible for a UK permanent residence card if you have lived with a qualifying EEA national continuously for 5 years in this country.

A permanent residence card is not mandatory to prove your residence status in the UK, unless you intend to apply for British citizenship, wish to sponsor your partner’s visa application or are an extended family member of an EEA national. However, having a UK permanent residence card can prove useful for employment purposes or to gain access to certain UK social benefits.

Treaty Rights

Eligibility for UK permanent residence and the corresponding permanent residence card is reliant on an EEA national, that is, you or your family member, having lived continuously in this country for 5 years while exercising Treaty rights.

Treaty rights cover the following categories:

  • Worker
  • Job seeker
  • Self employed
  • Self sufficient
  • Student

Worker

You satisfy this Treaty right category if you have been employed by a business or organisation in the UK, or have become unemployed but meet certain requirements, for 5 continuous years.

Job seeker

A job seeker is actively looking for employment in the UK and likely to gain such employment.

Self employed

A self-employed person works for themselves, whether on a sole trader basis, freelance, or through owning a company or being involved in a corporate partnership.

Self sufficient

To meet the requirements of this category, you must have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents without help from the UK benefits system.

Student

In this context, a student must be enrolled in an educational course with an establishment that is registered on the DFES Register of Education and Training Providers.

Supporting evidence

It is not enough to claim that you have been lawfully and continuously resident in the UK for the qualifying 5 year period. Evidence will be required to support your application for a permanent residence card.

Identification

Photographs must be provided of you and any family member included in your application, along with a valid passport, national identity card or travel document for each person.

Non-EEA national family members will also have to provide biometric data in the form of fingerprints, photograph and signature.

Proof of the exercising of Treaty rights

Whichever Treaty right has been exercised by the qualifying EEA national must be evidenced, for instance in the form of:

  • for a worker, a signed contract of employment, P45s and payslips
  • for a job seeker, interview letters and communications from the Jobcentre Plus
  • for a self employed person, P60s, business accounts and proof of self-assessment with HMRC
  • for a self sufficient person, bank accounts and other proof of income
  • for a student, proof of enrolment on an approved educational course, bank statements showing payment of a grant or sponsorship, and evidence of any scholarship

Any periods of time during the qualifying 5 years when you were not exercising a Treaty right must be outlined and explained in your application.

Other supporting documents

Depending on your individual circumstances, there may be other supporting documents that you are required to provide.

It may be necessary to prove your relationship to the qualifying EEA national, for instance, by providing a marriage certificate or your child’s birth certificate.

Where the EEA national has died, you will need to provide a death certificate.

Similarly, evidence of retirement will be required such as proof from your employer and details of your pension.

Absences from the UK

Should you or anyone included in your application have spent more than 2 years outside the UK during the qualifying 5 year period, you will probably not be eligible for a permanent residence card.

Any absences from the UK of more than 6 months in total in any 12 month period must be entered on your application form if they were during the 5 year qualifying period.

Criminal records

Any criminal convictions, whether deemed to be ‘spent’ or not, must be disclosed on your application form under the Personal History section.

Along with other information gathered under this section, these questions are asked so that the Home Office may decide whether the applicant is of ‘good character’.

Failure to disclose criminal convictions, or to answer any other questions untruthfully will result in your application being refused.

Surinder Singh applications

You may be eligible for a UK permanent residence card if you qualify under this category.

To take the Surinder Singh route to permanent resident status, you must be a family member of a British citizen, where you have both lived in an EEA country outside the UK.

Permanent residence before 5 years?

You may be eligible for permanent residence and the related card before you have lived in the UK for 5 years if:

  • you are forced to stop work on a permanent basis due to a work-related illness or accident (permanent incapacity) which thus entitles you to a UK pension
  • you have resided continuously in the UK for at least 2 years and have been forced to stop work permanently because of a work-related illness or accident (permanent incapacity)
  • you have resided continuously in the UK for at least 3 years and have reached State Pension age after having been self employed or worked continuously in the UK for at least 1 year before that
  • you took early retirement having worked continuously in the UK for at least 1 year before that
  • you took up work or self employment in an EEA country outside the UK or Switzerland, returning to your UK home at least once a week, and have previously worked or been self-employed for at least 3 years continuously in the UK
Derivative right to reside

Persons with a derivative right of residence are not permitted to count time spent in the UK under this status towards the qualifying period for permanent residence.

They have ‘derived’ a right to reside in the UK through a qualifying person by generally being their primary carer or legal guardian with primary or shared responsibility for that person.

For instance, where they are the primary carer of an EEA national, where that EEA national is under 18 years of age, lives in the UK as a self-sufficient person and would not be able to remain in the UK if their primary carer left the UK indefinitely.

Do you need help applying for a permanent residence card?

You can apply for a permanent residence card through the online application process or by using a paper copy of the form. The completed form is forwarded to the Home Office with required supporting documents and the relevant fee for each person who is included in the application.

The EEA (PR) application form and the documents to be compiled are notoriously extensive, and the process can be complex, depending on your personal circumstances and the basis of your application.

DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals through the permanent residence process and provide guidance on completing the form and compiling supporting documentation. If you have a question about an application for a permanent residence card UK, please contact us.

The post Permanent Residence Card UK (How to Apply!) appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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If you are applying for British citizenship or Indefinite Leave to Remain, one of the eligibility requirements will that you have passed the Life in the UK test.

Also known as the British Citizenship test, the Life in the UK test was introduced to ensure applicants have a good knowledge of British customs, traditions, laws and the political system, as well as the English language.

You are unable to apply for naturalisation or settlement until you have passed the Life in the UK test.

With so much at stake, the Life in the UK test can be stressful, but preparation is the most effective way to pass the test.

Who has to take the Life in the UK test?

Anyone applying for British citizenship or to settle in the UK must take the Life in the UK test, unless you qualify under one of the following exemptions:

  • You are under 18 or over 65
  • You have a long-term physical or mental condition, which you must confirm with a letter from a doctor.

If you passed the test as part of your ILR application, you will not need to take the test again for your citizenship application. You will instead submit your Life in the UK test certificate as proof you have satisfied the mandatory requirement.

What happens during the test?

The test is computer-based and lasts 45 minutes.

You will have to answer 24 multiple choice questions about British customs, traditions, laws and the political system.

You have to answer at least 18 questions correctly to pass – ie a pass mark of 75%.

You will find out the result after the test and will be issued either a pass or fail certificate.

Remember to take proof of identity and address with you to the test centre.

In total, you should allow 2 hours for the entire process, including identity checks on arrival and 45 minutes for the test itself.

Where can I take the test?

There are around 60 test centres in the UK. You are able to select one of the five closest to where you live. You are not able to take the test outside of these centres.

How can I prepare for the test?

You will be tested on information in the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test.

The handbook has information about:

  • UK history
  • The British government
  • UK geography
  • Local culture

All questions in the test are taken at random from the handbook. It also contains sample questions and answers, as well as study guides that can help you pass the test. Practising questions from the handbook is effective in improving pass rates.

Ensure your technique on the day sees you reading the questions carefully.

What happens if I fail the test?

If you fail the test, you will lose your test fee. You can retake the test after 7 days, and there is no limit on the number of resits you can take.

You will not be able to make an application for naturalisation as a British citizen or for indefinite leave to remain until you pass the Life in the UK test.

If your current leave to remain has expired or is close to expiring and you have yet to pass the test, you may have to seek alternative leave to remain to ensure you remain lawfully present in the UK and avoid overstaying.

What happens if I pass the test?

If you pass, you will be able to use your Life in the UK certificate to proceed with your application for ILR or citizenship. This certificate has no expiry date, and can be used for all future applications.

How much does it cost to take the test?

The Life in the UK test fee is £50 for each attempt (as at Dec 2018).

The fee is non-refundable if you fail the test.

How do I book?

You book the Life in the UK test online.

You must book your Life in the UK Test online at least 3 days in advance.

To book, you will need to confirm your ID using:

  • passport;
  • UK photocard driving licence – full or provisional;
  • convention travel document (CTD), certificate of identity document (CID) or stateless person document (SPD);
  • EU identity card;
  • immigration status document endorsed with a UK residence permit on a passport with a photo; or
  • biometric residence permit
Do you need help applying to get British citizenship?

Attaining British citizenship is a life-changing process. You gain the right to vote and access public services and funds and also to apply for a British passport.

With so much at stake, and given the cost of making a naturalisation application, ensuring your submission is complete, comprehensive and accurate will be critical to avoiding delays or even refusal. A common area of confusion for example is the supporting evidence that should be submitted.

DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals through the naturalisation process and provide guidance on completing the form and compiling supporting documentation. If you have a question about an application for British citizenship, please contact us.

The post Do I Need to Take the Life in the UK Test? appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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If you are a citizen of a non-European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you will need to apply for leave to remain to hold lawful immigration status to enter the UK, remain here and carry out permissible activities.

What is limited leave to remain?

Non-EEA nationals are subject to UK immigration rules. To enter the UK for a limited period of time, you will need to apply for limited leave to remain. Ordinarily, this would be by way of a visa application.

Limited leave to remain requires you to depart the UK at the end of the specified visa period, or to make a further application to the Home Office, through either an extension, further leave or indefinite leave to remain, to ensure you retain lawful immigration status.

Under limited leave to remain, you will have to meet the conditions of your visa and a number of restrictions will apply, such as having no recourse to public funds while in the UK.

What is indefinite leave to remain?

Non-EEA nationals with indefinite leave to remain (often called ‘settled status’) have no time limit and and usually no conditions on their right to stay in the UK. If this is your immigration status, you have broadly the same rights and entitlements to services as UK citizens and can apply for welfare benefits and tax credits.

The exception is if your right to remain was awarded as a result of another person formally agreeing to maintain and accommodate you. In this case, you will be excluded from some benefits for five years.

While holders of certain visa types, such as visitors or short-term students, will be expected to eventually return home, some categories of limited leave may lead to settled status in the UK. Settled status gives the holder permission to stay in the UK on a permanent basis. This is known as indefinite leave to remain.

What is the difference between limited and indefinite leave to remain?

Limited leave to remain allows you to enter and stay in the UK for a specified period of time, while indefinite leave to remain will provide you with permission to permanently live and work in the UK. There are, however, other differences that go beyond simple timescales.

Limited leave to remain is usually granted on the condition that you maintain and accommodate yourself, and any dependants, without recourse to public funds. This means that for the duration of your stay in the UK you are likely to be excluded from any welfare benefits, as well as most forms of local authority housing and homelessness assistance.

As the holder of limited leave, other conditions may also be imposed as part of your permission to remain in the UK including, for example, a condition restricting your employment or your studies.

In contrast, the holder of indefinite leave to remain will typically be free from immigration restrictions, and will broadly have the same rights and entitlements to services and welfare benefits as a UK citizen.

Furthermore, having held indefinite leave to remain for an additional qualifying period, an applicant with settled status may be eligible to apply for British citizenship by way of naturalisation.

What categories of leave are available?

There are several different categories of leave to remain depending on why you want to come to or stay in the UK. However, the 5-tier points based system is the main UK immigration route for foreign migrants from outside the EEA and Switzerland wanting to work, train or study in the UK.

Tier 1 of the points based system is for high-value migrants such as investors or entrepreneurs, while Tier 2 is the primary immigration route for skilled workers with a job offer in the UK. Tier 4 is for foreign students and Tier 5 enables young overseas nationals to experience life and culture in the UK. It also permits workers to undertake short-term or temporary employment.

Please note that Tier 3, designed for unskilled workers filling temporary labour shortages, is currently suspended. There are, however, several other categories of leave to remain, including applying as a points based system dependant. This can include a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner. 

Am I eligible to apply for leave to remain?

To be eligible to apply for limited leave to remain under the points based system, you must meet the full requirements of the Immigration Rules and accrue a minimum number of points determined by your particular visa category.

In many cases, you will be required to satisfy both an English language and maintenance requirement. These two requirements are explained in further detail below:

  • The English requirement – unless you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, typically you will need to satisfy the Home Office of your knowledge of English. You will either need to provide evidence of an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD, or you will need to pass an approved English test.
  • The maintenance requirement – you will also need to satisfy the Home Office of your ability to accommodate and support yourself on arrival in the UK. Here, you will either need to prove that you have a certain amount of personal savings in your bank account for a specified number of days before you apply, or have your work sponsor guarantee financial support on your behalf.

To be eligible for indefinite leave to remain, applicants must have resided in the UK for a qualifying period of time. This will depend on an applicant’s existing immigration category and ability to meet all other relevant rules in place.

In most cases, applicants will also be required to demonstrate their knowledge of English language and life in the UK, ie; the KoLL requirement.

When can I apply for further leave to remain?

If you are applying for further leave to remain you should do so prior to expiry of your existing permission to stay. It is an offence for any holder of leave to remain to knowingly stay in the UK beyond the time limit permitted by their visa. It is also an offence to fail to comply with a condition or requirement imposed as part of your permission to be in the UK.

By staying beyond the expiry of your visa, or otherwise breaching your leave to remain conditions, you will be at risk of removal from the UK, refusal of further leave or even criminal prosecution. Both these types of offences are punishable by way of a hefty fine and/or a term of imprisonment.

If, on the other hand, you submit a valid application prior to the expiry of your existing leave, the terms and conditions of that leave will continue until a decision is made on your application for further leave to remain.

How do I apply for limited leave to remain?

How you submit your application for leave to remain will depend on whether you are applying from outside or within the UK. You may be able to submit your application online, by post or in person.

If you are applying from within the UK, you can attend a premium service centre where your application may be given same-day consideration. The processing times for leave to remain applications can vary dramatically and guidance should be sought from the Home Office for your specific visa category.

There are a number of practical considerations when applying for leave to remain, from what fee to pay and documents to produce in support, to what questions you may be asked during interview. The purpose of a leave to remain interview is for the Home Office to request further information, verify facts or documentation and/or check that your application is genuine.

When applying for leave to remain, reference should always be made to any specific Home Office guidance relevant to your visa category, in conjunction with the relevant provisions of the Immigration Rules. However, these provisions are subject to constant change and expert legal advice from an immigration specialist may be required.

Do you need advice on your ILR application?

DavidsonMorris are specialists in UK immigration, working closely with individuals to provide guidance and support through Home Office applications including Indefinite Leave to Remain. Contact us for advice on your application.

The post Leave to Remain in the UK (Requirements & Applications) appeared first on DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors.

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