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All posts by Lauren

Beginning at Westkin in 2020, Lauren is our Content Writer who regularly updates our blog and website with the latest news in immigration and politics. Lauren studied English at university in 2013 before progressing into a career in Copywriting and Digital Marketing within the social enterprise sector.

What would a no-deal Brexit cost the UK?

 

When the debate on whether the United Kingdom would leave the EU started in 2016, one of the biggest talking points, and a big argument for team ‘remain’ was that in their efforts to leave the EU, the UK would probably end up spending more than we had actually paid the EU in our 47 years of being members. This argument developed a lot of speed, especially with one of the ‘vote leave’ campaign points being the need for the UK to leave the EU in order to save money.

Four years down the road in 2020, Brexit is still casting its shadow over us, and many are questioning when we’ll finally be able to put it behind us. As estimated, the  economic cost of Brexit so far has been put at £130 billion, which now exceeds what the UK have paid the EU in the last 47 years of membership. Some argue that these figures are incorrect and that we have in fact paid more to the EU than this 130 billion amount comes close to, but most agree that if our expenditures haven’t yet exceeded what we were paying to the EU, they will soon.

In fact, many are predicting that the UK’s no-deal Brexit, which is an option that still lies in the air for the country if the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is unable to secure an approved deal, could end up costing more than the UK has paid out to combat the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020. If the UK are unable to agree on a deal by the end of December 2020, the current final date that the Brexit transition period ends, the country risks leaving without a deal, which will cause substantial issues to cross-border trade.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak spoke out this week in an attempt to restore some calm, assuring Brits that it was important that the UK government spent the necessary time securing a good deal, rather than accepting any terms the EU offered. He suggested that COVID-19 poses a much greater threat to the UK economy than a no-deal Brexit would. However, the question does remain: could the UK cope with both at the same time? The effects look very likely to bring further economic shocks to the country, with economists suggesting that a no-deal Brexit could cause economic shocks two or three times worse than the current pandemic has.

The predictions from economists are that we’re yet to even see the economic shocks that a no-deal Brexit could bring to the UK, with expected consequences of the scenario rolling out over a long-term period. A researcher from the London School of Economics suggests “It takes a much longer period of time for the real side of the economy to adjust to the change in openness and change in the profile of trade.” These shocks would appear on top of what is already one of the deepest recession’s Britain’s economy has seen due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

It is our opinion that a deal should be made, and that a no deal Brexit would cause a wealth of damage to the country. 

The current immigration rules for entering the UK are set to change when the Brexit transition period ends on 1st January 2021. If you are worried about your visa or want to discuss how to get a visa under the new immigration system, please do get in touch and a member of our team of immigration lawyers will be able to assist you.

 

UK Employers Given Extra Guidance On Worker Sponsorship

 

As the majority of people will be aware of by now, especially those who work with individuals on overseas worker visas, there are to be new rules coming into effect in the United Kingdom from 1st January 2021 regarding the current immigration system. The immigration system as we currently know it in the UK is set to change, with new rules coming into place for how the visa systems will work and the new, much discussed, points-based application system coming into place. In this blog post, we will discuss the new rules which have been outlined under this system for employers in the United Kingdom hiring foreign workers.

Under the new systems coming into effect in 2021, EU citizens coming to the United Kingdom to work will, under the majority of circumstances, require sponsorship for a visa, from their employer, in order to take up a role in the UK. The new immigration system has not made this process much smoother for businesses looking to hire individuals from overseas, and there are still a number of complexities to the process of sponsorship under the new system. Here is what we currently know about the new process set to roll out for hiring foreign workers after the new changes come into effect from January. 

At Westkin, our team of lawyers have a wealth of experience in helping businesses to sponsor and hire overseas workers, as well as helping individuals to get sponsorship for a new role in the UK. If you would like our assistance with this process, please do get in touch.

Changes to Certificates of Sponsorship

Under the current process for sponsoring workers from overseas (pre-January 2021), Certificates of Sponsorship are split into restricted Certificates of Sponsorship and unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship. The main difference between these two being that the first is restricted because of an annual cap of numbers, and the second is not). Under the new rules set to be laid out from January, the new titles will be Defined Certificates of Sponsorship and Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship. What’s the difference between these and the current system? A defined Certificate of Sponsorship is still one which is restricted, but not by an annual cap, but because businesses will have to request a defined Certificate of Sponsorship from the Home Office, and this can be refused.

New duties required of sponsors

The requirements that sponsors of workers from overseas must fulfil are to be extended under the new system, with a large increase on those which are required under the current rules. Most significantly, sponsors will need to provide the Home Office with more updates than currently required, in instances such as termination of the workers employment, changes to their salary and changes to the duties of their role. This, on the surface, does not seem like that great of a demand, however concerns have been raised about this point for companies who hire hundreds of overseas workers at any one period. Keeping on top of such an abundance of paperwork could prove difficult, and it would be easy to imagine updates being lost or not communicated. This brings us on to our next change:

Mistakes in documentation are likely to be penalised

There is the underlying warning throughout the Home Office’s documentation on these changes to the system for hiring foreign workers that any mistakes from sponsors who are seen as not following the rules, could result in their sponsorship license being revoked. This poses issues for both the employee and the business, with the worker having to immediately stop working for the company, and the business being stopped from hiring any more overseas workers in the future. As we’ve seen from some of the rules of sponsorship outlined above, making mistakes could easily happen for large businesses who hire hundreds of foreign workers at a time. 

Hiring workers from overseas can offer businesses in the United Kingdom with a number of benefits and can provide workers with opportunities for growth and the chance to be a part of the UK work force. It is an essential for most businesses. Despite the new changes coming into effect, the process is one which can be navigated if sponsors are prudent of the rules and regulations which they are required to follow. Often, legal assistance can be the best way to assure that your business is fully compliant. 

If you would like assistance in hiring overseas workers for your business and finding out how you can continue to do so when the new regulations come into place from January 2021 under the United Kingdom’s new immigration system, please do get in touch. One of our immigration lawyers will be happy to assist you.

 

In The News: An Enquiry Into Patel and Other Top Stories

 

A number of scathing reports have been made in the news this week regarding the UK government with multiple stories circulating about the treatment of asylum seekers as well as groups who are settled in the United Kingdom. In this blog post, we round up some of the immigration news talking points of the week. 

The EU Settlement Scheme May Discriminate Some Groups

Earlier this month, we posted on our blog about the EU Settlement Scheme  a new scheme which has been rolled out for individuals who are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK who want to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. Successful applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme will be able to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021. Successful applicants will either qualify for settled status or pre-settled status. This depends on how long you’ve been living in the UK. This week however, an update has come out after an investigation into the EU Settlement Scheme which suggests that the current process may discriminate against vulnerable groups such as women and individuals with disabilities. The UK government have not refuted these claims suggesting that although they do not feel that the scheme is unlawful, it may be discriminatory to some groups.

The main complaints from campaigners against the scheme suggest that it does not cater to people protected by the 2010 Equality Act, and that the specific needs of underprivileged groups may be being widely ignored. Complaints include that individuals with some disabilities may find the online nature of the application process for the EU Settlement Scheme difficult to navigate, and some of the online checks of finances do not take into account some of the support which many women receive, such as child support.

United Kingdom Racing to Deport Asylum Seekers Before Brexit is Finalised?

New reports are suggesting that the amount of asylum seekers being deported from the United Kingdom is seeing a huge increase as we get nearer to the date when the UK officially leaves the EU.

Under the Dublin Regulation, it is a known rule that EU member states are within their rights to return asylum seekers who have entered their country to the first EU country where they first arrived. A huge increase has been seen in the number of EU countries utilising this rule, many seeing up to a 154% increase since 2019. This increase is harmful for asylum seekers who were already in an extremely vulnerable position, with their safety being put at increased risk due to the acceleration of the process. However, the Dublin Regulation seems to remain an easy option for EU states to remove large numbers of asylum seekers from their ground. In 2019, the UK accepted 714 asylum seekers through the agreement, the same year returning 263 to other EU states.

It seem though, that the UK are now rushing to deport asylum seekers, with the number of individuals being deported throughout 2020 rising, as is the case in a number of other EU countries. The speeding up of the process can cause exceeding danger for asylum seekers in vulnerable positions, and the process should be widely considered before any irreparable damage is done.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, found to have broken rules

The United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has received much media attention and many complaints from immigration lawyers this year for the policy changes which she has instigated within the UK government regarding migration. This week, Patel hit the news again, this time after an inquiry into her found that she had broken behaviour rules.

Claims from individuals within the government stated that Patel had created fear amongst those she worked with, with allegations of bullying put to her. The report found that Patel has allegedly not treated civil servants with the deserved level of consideration and respect. It has been suggested that the Home Secretary broke ministerial code, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson assisted in burying this. Today, Patel acknowledged her actions, issuing a public apology.

 

Windrush Compensation Scheme Failing A Generation?

 

Many individuals of the Windrush generation have been forced into vulnerable financial situations in the United Kingdom, after long waits for compensation payouts they were promised over two years ago. Applicants to the Windrush compensation scheme have spoken out against the Home Office in the United Kingdom, many claiming that they’ve faced long waits for payments, with little other funds to rely on. Others have said that the repayments that they have received have done little to help them, with the amount not providing them with the compensation they felt they were promised. Many complaints have been filed against the Home Office team in charge of the Windrush repayments scheme, suggesting internal racism and discrimination.

Many applicants feel as though they have not been compensated for fees which they have paid throughout the scheme. From the beginning, there seemed to be issues with the application process for the Windrush Compensation scheme. The government website assured applicants that the application process would be an easy one, writing that “legal advice is not necessary in making a legal application”, and thus suggesting that individuals would not need to consult the assistance of immigration lawyers throughout the process. The legal system in the United Kingdom when it comes to immigration laws is notoriously very difficult to navigate, and it should be recommended that individuals who are not familiar with the system utilise the assistance of an immigration lawyer to help them in navigating the process. Stopping people from benefiting from this guidance may have set individuals up for unsuccessful applications to the scheme from the beginning.

The application process to the Windrush Compensation Scheme required individuals to gather and present much evidence to back their application, which the assistance of an immigration lawyer would greatly benefit. Documents such as a valid postal address, the signature of an identified individual and clear evidence of an offer of unemployment were amongst evidence requested by the Home Office as part of the application. For some applicants, much of this evidence may have been decades old and in some cases in different formats to what the Home Office requests, potentially making it difficult or near impossible for applicants to successfully gather all of the required information. This makes the application process extremely difficult for individuals to find success in, especially without legal guidance.

If applicants are successful in their application to the Windrush Compensation Scheme, the amount of compensation which individuals can receive differs greatly depending on the individual’s situation. After the application process, many have little way of knowing how much they will be entitled to receive. This has only added to the feeling of being failed by the scheme which many individuals are now experiencing.

Earler this year, the Windrush Head of Policy and former senior Home Office employee, Alexandra Ankrah, quit, stating that the scheme was “racist” and “unfit for purpose”. Ankrah reportedly lost confidence in the scheme, stating that it was “not supportive of people who have been victims” and “doesn’t acknowledge their trauma”. She also noted that many of the individuals working on the scheme within the Home Office were the same individuals who had previously worked to implement hostile environment policies within the United Kingdom, putting many in vulnerable positions. 

Almost two years since its role out, the Windrush Compensation Scheme still seems to be having teething issues, with the entire process not running nearly as smoothly as the Home Office had previously alluded. Individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to get the compensation which they were promised, and which they deserve.

 

Visa Rules Putting Migrants At Risk During Second Wave?

England is currently in it’s second lockdown of the year, with the second wave of Coronavirus hitting the nation. The country is in the second week of its four week lockdown, which is intended to act as a  pre-christmas ‘circuit breaker’ in an attempt to stop the current rapidly increasing spread of COVID-19. People across the country are hopeful that the current lockdown will end on its intended date of 2nd December, but it will ultimately be up to the UK Prime Minister and MP’s on wether Lockdown 2.0 will be extended.

Like the first UK lockdown, the current lockdown in England is putting many individuals at risk, including those who have had to shut businesses, are out of work and receiving lower wages on furlough, those who are in difficult positions at home, or those who are sleeping rough on the streets. The first UK lockdown caused significant issues for many individuals living in the UK under visas, who faced the deadline of their visa expiring before the lockdown ended, and before borders opened again. In these instances earlier in the year, we saw individuals being granted a grace period after their visas had expired, allowing them the safety of being able to stay in the United Kingdom, without the risk of crossing borders when COVID-19 levels were so high across the world.

In lockdown two, however, the visa rules for individuals on immigration visas have not been quite so lenient. With no grace period, many individuals who are struggling to renew their visas due to delays and a significant backlog of requests, are having to either overstay their visas, scoring their records and risking their ability to renew their visas further down the line, or return back to their home countries, uprooting their lives in the UK and risking travelling while many borders are closed and a global pandemic continues. This visa rule is forcing migrants from all sectors to return to their home countries, notably also those working in the healthcare industry. Many charities have already pointed out that the UK government are forcing healthcare workers out of the UK at a time when the country may need them most, whilst also stopping new trained healthcare workers from entering the country.

The UK healthcare sector currently has 122,000 vacancies in England, many of them in critical NHS positions. Now is not the time to be stopping healthcare workers on immigration visas from entering, or remaining in the UK. Especially when the country is at such a crucial period when it comes to tackling the second wave of COVID-19. Having these additional staff members working within the healthcare sector and filling under filled positions may be the countries best hope in continuing to combat the virus before the peak becomes too high.

Many UK organisations have already called for migrant healthcare workers to be granted indefinite leave to remain, commenting that the delays in visa processing are causing significant problems, not only for the sector, but for individuals. It is noted that currently, 1,660 doctors and other healthcare workers have signed a letter on the subject.

Earlier this year the Home Office announced that NHS and care workers whose visas were due to expire in the next few months would have them extended for a year free of charge so they could “focus on fighting coronavirus”. However, this concession only applied to about 3,000 workers, and left out thousands of care workers and NHS staff including low paid healthcare assistants, hospital cleaners and porters.

During such a crucial period, the United Kingdom and the UK government should be doing more to protect migrant healthcare workers, who are making such a difference in the countries’ crucial fight against COVID-19.

In the news: free movement ends, Trump out & Vaccine in

 

It’s been a busy week in world news, with the usual 2020 spiel of Coronavirus updates being punctuated with some important stories from across the globe. In this blog post, we’ll discuss three of the top stories from the past few days, and what they could mean for the UK and for UK immigration.

 

Bill passes to end free movement

 

Yesterday, Priti Patel took to Twitter to announce that the much discussed Immigration Bill which will end free movement on 31st December has now passed through parliament. The Bill has been highly discussed over recent months, but it has now passed the final challenge and we will see a change in regulations from 1st January 2021.

The tagline for the bill suggests that “people can come here based on their skills, not where they’re from”. It is the introduction of the new points based immigration system which we have covered in many blogs this year. The new rules mean that individuals who want to move to the UK will have to meet a specific set of requirements, each of these having its own points attached to it. People will need to be able to prove that they have a certain number of points before they can apply to live and work in the UK. Most notably, this system will treat EU and non-EU applicants the same.

There has been much outrage over the new immigration bill, especially yesterday once it was officially announced that the bill had passed. Not only does the bill stop others from freely coming to the UK if they are lower skilled workers, it also may have an impact on UK citizens who want the freedom to work or travel freely in the 27 countries throughout Europe which they previously had access to. 

 

Joe Biden named president-elect, as Trump refuses to concede

 

In the US, the presidential election race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has been ongoing for the past week. Due to the sheer number of postal votes sent this year, the results of the 2020 election took days to call, with both candidates pulling ahead in different battleground states, and only a handful of votes between them. Earlier in the week, we wrote about what could happen for the UK if a Biden or Trump presidency was announced. Now, we don’t have to imagine.

As postal votes are often counted last in many states, and Trump spent much of his campaign denouncing mail-in ballots, it is no wonder that as postal votes began to be counted, Biden was handed an overwhelming majority. Enough, in fact, to get him over the 270 electoral vote line and see him named as president-elect. Even now, some states have not finished counting all of their votes, however there is nothing else that Trump can do. He simply doesn’t have enough votes to win. 

In his usual manner, Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden, instead, taking to Twitter to vent his anger and throw unsupported claims that the election was rigged and fraudulent activity was involved. The Trump campaign have already begun suing many states were Trump did not like the results, and his working line is that he “did win” the election. Many news outlets and social media sites have been quick to remind the public that election fraud is very rare, and Trump’s claims are so far completely unfounded. 

In January, Joe Biden will take his position as President of the United States, assisted by Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris. This in itself will be a ground-breaking act, with Harris being the first woman, first South-Asian American and first Black person to be elected as Vice President of America.

 

Pfizer announce Coronavirus vaccine which could prevent 90% of cases

 

Yesterday, news was released that pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech have been trialling a new COVID-19 vaccine. Early data suggests that the vaccine is 90% effective in stopping people from developing coronavirus symptoms.  So far, the vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people without any safety concerns raised.

The first vaccine of its kind to show this much promise, the RNA vaccine is now set to be put forward for emergency approval, with many countries, the UK included, already ordering millions of doses. If the vaccine passes the rest of its test phases, it will be approved for use in people, and will be the first RNA vaccine which is suitable for use on humans. The vaccine would be given to people in two doses through injection, and would prompt the bodies’ immune system to produce antibodies which would destroy infected cells.

Although there is still little public information on the virus, and some uncertainty whether the remaining trials will be a success, it is a huge milestone in our battle against COVID-19. It is impossible to know, yet, whether the vaccine would give lasting protection against coronavirus, or if it would be necessary to have a vaccine every year. It is also unknown whether this specific vaccine would be able to fend off potential future mutations of the virus.

As it stands, the new vaccine looks promising, offering hope to  many who have spent a year without any. Further down the line, it may mean an end to lockdowns, and closed borders opened up once again.

 

What Could The US Election Results Mean For The UK?

 

At the time of writing this piece, US Election Night 2020 has just reached the early hours of the morning, with a small number of states left to count, and millions of postal votes left to decide who will be the next President of the United States, Donald Trump or Joe Biden. 

It has been one of the most heated, and at times unbelievable, presidential races which the United States have seen, and much rests on the democratic decision which will be made in the next hours, days or weeks. With the number of postal votes which have been cast in the United States this year, it’s hard to know when the next President will officially be named. There is much speculation over who will win, and already it seems that Trump is doing better in the swing states than many of the polls predicted.

We know it’s a tight race, and soon we’ll know the direction which American politics will be steering towards for the next 4 years. With such a huge difference in their policies around protection from COVID-19, immigration and many other key areas, Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s presidencies will paint a very different path for America. 

With most countries’, governmental elections are often contained, with little concern from individuals living overseas. The US Election, however, has eyes watching it from all across the world, with many hoping for a Democratic win and a change in control of the Whitehouse. Taking up arguably the most important position in the world, the winner of the US Presidential Election will have a rippling effect on policies and the nature of politics all across the world. It is no wonder then, that many are hopeful for change.

 

How could the winner of the US Election affect the UK?

As with many other countries, the outcomes of this presidential race will affect the politics and policies here in the UK. Already this year, leaks from the Conservative party have expressed fears that if Donald Trump does not win the Presidential Election, this could greatly affect the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit deal or no-deal scenario.

 

Brexit

In fact, since his election, Trump has been very pro-Brexit and has promised the United Kingdom a stronger, “special relationship” with the United States following the countries’ withdrawal from the EU. If Biden is to take on the presidency after this election, it may have affect on the United Kingdom’s trade deals with the US, and may force UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson back to the drawing board when it comes to a post-Brexit plan for the UK. Biden has outwardly spoken about his disapproval of Brexit, expressing specific concerns about how it may affect Ireland and their economy.

 

Climate Change

Notoriously, President Trump has been very vocal on his inactivity around Climate Change, pulling the United States out of the previous Paris climate accord and refusing US financial support. Next year Britain is hosting a big UN summit, COP26, with the aim of countries across the world coming together to agree on new carbon reduction targets. If Trump remains in the presidency, it is unlikely that the United States will offer much help in this deal. By comparison, Biden has promised to rejoin Paris, and offer further assistance in finding solutions to tackle climate change. With the United States being such a huge force and world leader, their assistance is vital in this matter.

 

Immigration

Under Trump’s presidency over the last 4 years, the US have seen their immigration levels slowing, with more individuals being offered temporary visas than permanent ones. Trump has made it so that more individuals have been able to enter the country for temporary work, but has made it more difficult for individuals to seek settlement there. Refugee admissions in the US have also fallen to new lows under Trump’s presidency.

Mr Trump’s hostility to any immigration from Muslim-majority countries is well known – he once pledged to enact a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” – and a reduction in refugee quotas proved easier to implement than an outright ban, which became mired in legal challenges.

As a result, the number of refugees admitted from a number of majority-Muslim countries, including Iraq, Somalia, Iran and Syria, fell almost to zero soon after he took office.

Trump’s presidency has certainly created a fear and resistance to immigration within the US, and this is an issue which could continue to grow and trickle to other countries if the White House does not see a change. Holding one of the most important seats in the world, the president of the United States should be someone who champions migration and freedom of movement, whilst offering support to asylum seekers and those in need. Only then will a more the nation, and world, become a more tolerant place.

 

Trump or Biden?

As election night draws to a close, it may be a few more days before we discover the results of the US Election and find out who will hold the presidency for the next 4 years, Trump or Biden. If Trump is reelected, we may face an uncertain future when it comes to support for COVID-19, immigrants and minorities across the US. If Biden wins, we may see a new, more inclusive change in the White House.

 

 

Statement of Changes Updates: Migrant Rough Sleepers

 

On 22nd October 2020, the Home Office published a new statement of changes to the immigration rules (HC 813) with a number of amendments and appendices added. Changes to Tier 2 visas, Overseas Business visas, general grounds for refusal, visitor rules, English language requirements and BNO visas are amongst those which have been updated.

Within the statement of changes, a notable update is the new focus on migrants in the United Kingdom who are sleeping rough. From the new policy changes, it seems this already vulnerable group will face harsher regulations.

At the start of 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised that all individuals sleeping on the streets in the United Kingdom throughout the Coronavirus outbreak would be provided with safety and shelter. This included migrant rough sleepers in the UK. It is evident that these promises have not been kept, and a range of United Kingdom organisations who including Crisis and Migrants Rights Network have confirmed that no real changes have been made.

Many migrant rough sleepers do remain on the streets, and now new policies are being put in place by the Home Office to hinder them, rather than help them.

 

What are the new rules for migrant rough sleepers?

 

Under new Grounds For Refusal (Part 9 of the statement of changes), rough sleepers can now be refused permission to remain in the UK, or could have their current visa status cancelled. This is highlighted in the statement of changes:

9.21.1. Permission to stay may be refused where the decision maker is satisfied that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK.

9.21.2. Where the decision maker is satisfied that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK any permission held by the person may be cancelled.

These rules seem to cover individuals who are currently sleeping outdoors, or those who have done in the past whilst in the United Kingdom. Currently, it seems as though asylum seekers are not included within these rules.

 

What will the outcomes of this policy be?

 

The new changes for migrant rough sleepers will put several individuals at even more risk than they currently face. Migrant rough sleepers are already in a precarious position, many more hidden away than other rough sleepers in the United Kingdom out of a fear of being found and picked up by immigration enforcement teams. These new changes from the Home Office will bring this fear much closer to reality for many.

We have seen hostile environment policies such as these ones before, even ones which have had the same aim of stopping migrant rough sleepers. In most cases, these policies lead to an increase in fear and hostility. A lack of compassion from individuals and local councils.

Many individuals have been left unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, with no place to turn. Many have been forced to sleep outside, with no help or support from the UK government. In these unsettling times, support should be provided for such vulnerable groups.

It is our opinion that in a time when the UK government are increasing their targeting at vulnerable groups, an approach lacking so much compassion should not be taken towards migrant rough sleepers.

 

Offering Safe Routes For Refugees is Critical For The UK

 

For many years now, discussions have been rife in the United Kingdom on how the country should respond to individuals making precarious journeys across the channel to the hopeful safety of British soil.

Since the body of a young Syrian toddler, Alan Kurdi, was pictured washed up on a Turkish beach after making a precarious journey overseas, many global leaders have made promises to offer more safe and legal routes, but since this shocking event, little change has been made.

Proof of this has been shown just this week, with the death of two young Iranian children, whose lives were lost after the boat they were travelling on in an attempt to reach the UK capsized. The incident is being referred to as one of the worst catastrophe’s of its nature in the Channel.

At this point in time, under the current political climate world wide, it has never been more important to remember this: nobody would put themselves and their children into the precarious and unsafe position of having to make such a dangerous trip, unless they were fleeing a much greater danger in their home country. In these instances, compassion is essential.

As long as there is danger to flee from, individuals will continue to make the decision to make such a dangerous journey, and so it is the duty of world leaders to make the journey less precarious. We believe that offering safe and legal routes for refugees will help to support those who need to seek asylum.

The current UK government, including the Home Secretary and Prime Minister, have been building an increasingly hostile rhetoric around refugees, putting fear into the British public and forcing people to view asylum seekers as “alien” or “other”. To ensure safety for all, this rhetoric must end.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, has called the asylum system “fundamentally broken” and promised new laws to deny asylum to those using illegal routes to enter the UK. We believe this is wrong. Migrants are always going to risk their lives in order to reach the UK. It is our responsibility to assist those who are in need.

 

 

Top Immigration Stories From The Week – 16th-22nd October 2020

 

The top immigration stories and political news of the week, from 16th-22nd October 2020:

 

1.Johnson expected to wait for US Election results before making a final decision on no-deal Brexit.

It is being speculated that Boris Johnson’s final decision on whether the UK will exit the EU with no-deal will hang on the results of the US Election. Earlier this week, many news stories were released in the British press on the panic within Downing Street over a potential Democrat victory in the United States. According to Ivan Rogers, former UK Ambassador to the EU, Johnson will think ‘history was going his way’ if Donald Trump is reelected as president. A no-deal Brexit could be a hard hit for individuals across the UK, and support from the US would be necessary for the country’s survival.

 

2.Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have been called out for their ‘anti-lawyer’ rhetorics. 

A collective of Barristers, solicitors, legal academics and retired judges have issued calls for Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to apologise for hostile language and aggressive remarks which have been made towards lawyers seeking to hold the government to the law. The group have issued a statement urging Patel and Johnson to stop endangering the safety of lawyers with vicious attacks made towards them. The group have expressed that the wish the Home Secretary and Prime Minster to “behave honourably by apologising for their display of hostility, and to refrain from such attacks in the future”.

 

3.Courts rule Home Office policy on deportation as unlawful.

A Home Office policy which gives people 72 hours notice that they could face deportation has been ruled as unlawful by courts in the United Kingdom. The process has been found to prevent access to justice and leave individuals in vulnerable positions. More than 4,000 individuals have been removed from the UK under this policy, including members of the Windrush generation. The very short time-frame between individuals being given notice and being deported has left individuals without the necessary time to fight their case. The decision that the policy was unlawful was passed unanimously by the Court of Appeal last week.

 

4. Many individuals unable to get a National Insurance number in the United Kingdom.

Thousands of individuals who have a right to work in the UK who have arrived in the United Kingdom since March 2020 have been unable to get a National Insurance number, because the government have stopped issuing them during the Covid-19 outbreak. Without an NI number, many individuals may be unable to prove that they have the right to work in the UK, and could face being put onto a higher emergency tax code. Individuals without an NI number may also struggle to open a UK bank account, which could cause further issues in getting paid by employers.

 

How will visa applications look under the UK’s new points-based immigration system?

 

The new points based immigration system is due to roll out in the United Kingdom from 1st January 2021, following the UK’s exit from the European Union. This will change the way that free travel works in and out of the UK, and may also affect the way that visa applications are made.

The new points based immigration system puts an end to free movement as we know it, instead, implementing new rules which put into consideration an individuals skills and talent. This means that individuals will need to meet a new set of requirements if they wish to move to the UK to live, work or study. Individuals will also need to pass a number of checks, including criminal checks.

The new page on the government website outlines a number of new changes to the visa system, with new rules for students, graduates and those working in the UK as skilled workers or under health care visas.

It also provides details on changes to how people will be expected to apply for their visas under the new rules. One big change is that the majority of individuals will be able to apply through their phones, arguably streamlining the application process:

Most people will be able to complete their [visa] application, including identity verification, using a smartphone app. Some applicants may need to attend a Visa Application Centre depending on the route they are applying for and whether they have a biometric passport or are unable to use the app.

Some of the current rules are still in place, for example, individuals are still required to pay a number of fees in the application process:

You will need to pay an application fee and, if you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months, you may have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which will enable you to access the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

With many changes coming to the UK visa system, you may have questions or concerns as to what this means for you and your family, either if you’re already in the UK, or thinking of migrating. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team are on hand to offer the best immigration advice.

Unpacking the UK’s potential ‘Australia style’ Brexit deal.

With the Coronavirus pandemic overshadowing the world’s news this year, updates on Brexit and the UK’s exit deal have been somewhat cast aside from public view.

However, news was released last week that in Boris Johnson’s ongoing negotiations for a UK exit deal, the EU refused to agree on his proposed ‘Canada style’ trade deal. Now, the proposed deal will be ‘more like Australia’s’.

But what does this mean for the UK? In 2017, Australia signed a deal with the EU which outlines their cooperation agreement when it comes to trade, foreign policy and security, development and humanitarian issues. This means that Australia’s deal with the EU is not a simple trade agreement, but is a number of terms which acts as a “statement of intent”, rather than a concrete deal.

With this in mind, the UK’s intended Australia style deal can be seen as a slightly more sweetened term for what it possible is: no deal.

An Australia style deal for the UK would be one which did not offer a free trade agreement with the EU. Trade would still be possible with the EU, but with tariffs. Under the current rules, there are no tariffs when it comes to transferring goods between the UK and EU.

With tariffs, that would mean there would be 10% additional costs on cars and up to 30% on milk, cheese and some meat. These extra costs would most likely be paid by the customer, meaning with this deal, prices of essential and non-essential items in the UK could see a rise.

If a Canada style deal with the EU could have been secured, the UK may have been able to benefit from reduced tariffs. In Canada, 98% of the items imported from the EU are tariff free. It seems, however, that this deal could not be agreed by the EU and Boris Johnson.

According to Johnson, the EU are providing less generous terms, which, under the circumstances, seems to be expected.

Have you heard of the EU Settlement Scheme?

 

40% of EU migrant workers don’t know the EU Settlement Scheme exists.

A new survey of EU citizens in Cambridge has shown that almost half of Eastern European migrant workers don’t know that the EU Settlement Scheme exists. This extended to individuals planning on staying in the UK longterm who would be required to make a settlement application.

The report concludes that “the EU Settlement Scheme is still unknown to many migrants, and poorly understood by users”.

Without awareness of this scheme, many EU migrants may miss their application deadlines for settlement and could end up being classified as unlawful residents in the UK. There are many factors which could contribute to this such as individuals having poor English and not understanding the full terms of their visa.

The Home Office is likely to face issues with this matter going forward, as although it is evident that 3.9 million people have already applied for the settlement scheme, there is no way of telling how many have not applied for it. This is because individuals who entered the UK before the Coronavirus lockdowns had come into effect may not have originally been counted as long-term migrants who planned to stay in the UK.

 

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU settlement scheme is for individuals who are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK who want to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. This route does not apply to people who have already been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Successful applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme will be able to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021. Successful applicants will either qualify for settled status or pre-settled status. This depends on how long you’ve been living in the UK.

 

How do you get settled status?

  • started living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (known as ‘continuous residence’)

 

How do you get pre-settled status?

If you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when you apply, you’ll usually get pre-settled status. You must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

What can you do while living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status?

  • work in the UK
  • use the NHS for free
  • enrol in education or continue studying
  • access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them
  • travel in and out of the UK

How can you apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU settlement scheme is already open and the deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. It is free to apply to the scheme and applications can be done online through the government website.

You will not be asked to choose which you’re applying for. Which status you get depends on how long you’ve been living in the UK when you apply. Your rights will be different depending on which status you get.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that if individuals miss the deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme and become unlawful citizens in the UK without a valid visa, they could be lawfully removed from the UK by the government. This is an easily avoidable issue if individuals ensure that they have applied for the scheme.

If you would like assistance with your application for the EU settlement scheme or any other Visa needs, please get in touch with Westkin today, and a member of our specialist team of immigration lawyers will be happy to assist you.

 

Top Immigration Stories of the Month – August 2020

 

1. Gary Lineker heads campaign for refugees


Former professional football player and TV personality Gary Lineker made the news last week, putting a celebrity face behind the message that Britain wouldn’t be Britain without refugees. In a video which received a somewhat controversial response from the public on social media, Lineker joined together with Jo Brand and Yasmin Kadi to share the story of Britain’s beloved fish and chip supper came to be. Spoiler alert: both of the essential components of this quintessential British dish were brought to the island by refugees. The video has received thousands of shares across social media with the core message that refugees are essential to our country.

2. Home Office comments on refugees crossing the channel

The Home Office have made comment that, as widely expected, the migrants who have been making the perilous journey across the English channel in previous weeks are “overwhelmingly genuine refugees’. Figures show that the vast majority of the refugees making the crossing over the channel are being granted asylum status immediately, or come from countries where their chances of being granted UK asylum are very high. A senior official at the Home Office has made comment that of the near 5000 asylum seekers who have crossed the channel so far in 2020, “98% have claimed asylum”. Of this number, “0% of those have been granted, 10% have been refused and a further 71% have been refused because we are not the responsible country, i.e., they have travelled through a safe country before they came here.” It is not usual protocol than figures on these boat crossings are published.

3. Tony Blair makes comments on the need to move towards digital ID’s

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said it is “common sense to move in the direction of digital IDs” as part of efforts to fight coronavirus. Mr Blair said there should be a record kept by the government of those vaccinated against the virus. The government recently set out plans to change laws to enable the use of digital identity across the UK. As prime minister, Mr Blair launched a compulsory ID card scheme, but it was scrapped by the coalition government. Blair stated, ”You’ll want a record kept by the government of who’s been vaccinated – this will be essential, again, to restoring confidence.” This isn’t the first time that Blair has championed digital ID’s since leaving office, previously claiming that they would be an essential way to combat illegal immigration in the UK.

4. Brits are realising the true impact of a ‘hostile environment’ in the UK

Back in 2012, Theresa May declared that she wanted to create a “really hostile environment” for irregular migrants in the UK. Since this statement, the government have rolled out a number of measures to create this unfair hostile environment. In the past week, this buzzword has cropped back up with reports agreeing that, as expected from a policy with such a harsh name, the hostile environment created in the UK has had destitute impact on individuals and communities. The Institute for Public Policy Research published a report suggesting that the hostile environment has “contributed to forcing many people into destitution, has helped to foster racism and discrimination, and has erroneously affected people with the legal right to live and work in the UK”.

5. Net migration is now the highest in the UK since March 2016

Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, January 2020-March 2020 saw a net migration to the UK of 313,000. This saw an increase from the 221,000 in the same period the previous year. Throughout the outbreak of COVID-19 and as a result of the UK and countries across the world being under lockdown and travel restrictions, migration dropped following March 2020. However, data shows that the UK is now at its highest level. An ONS report shows that in the 12-months to March 2020, approximately 715,000 people arrived in the UK to live, work or study, while 403,000 left the country. The majority of people arriving in the UK during this period came to study, with 257,000 coming to take courses, while 458,000 came for family, work or other reasons. Data suggests that the arrival of Chinese and Indian students on Tier 4 visas who have entered the UK to study are the driving force in this increase in immigration.

 

 

Advice for Tier 2 migrants facing loss of sponsorship

 

Many Tier 2 migrants who began work in the UK under sponsorship this year have been affected by unemployment due to the COVID-19 outbreak. With a number of industries making cuts, many sponsored workers have faced redundancy and a loss of the sponsorship which is essential to  their right to remain in the UK. Many are now unsure of their options going forward. In order to stay in the UK, Tier 2 migrants must be sponsored, but are facing unprecedented challenge of finding a new role whilst the pandemic is ongoing.

In this article, we will discuss the options for Tier 2 migrants who have found themselves in this situation, and outline the steps that individuals can take to remain in the UK.

What is curtailment?

The rules state that “if a Tier 2 migrant fails to work with their sponsor, [the Home Office] must curtail their leave.” This means that if a Tier 2 migrant stops working, their visa can be cut short, requiring them to leave the UK earlier than the original visa allowed. If you have lost your job as a sponsored migrant, your employer will need to notify the Home Office of this change to your employment and sponsorship status. You will then receive a letter by post or email which gives you 60 days from the date that the letter was sent (not from the date that your employment ended) to either leave the UK, or switch to a different visa category to remain in the UK.

Although 60 days is the official period of time, individuals will often have more time in the UK depending on the length of time taken for the relevant paperwork to be processed. This means that if you are looking to remain in the UK with a new sponsorship opportunity or under a new visa, you will have the necessary time to make new arrangements.

The curtailment process states that the individual’s visa must be cut short unless further leave has been granted. At Westkin Associates, we can help you to switch to a different visa, based on your circumstances, which would allow you to remain in the UK. Below are some of the options which would be viable.

1. Remain on Tier 2 visa: finding a new job and new sponsorship

If you want to remain on a Tier 2 migrant visa, you will need to find a new job and sponsorship in order to do so. This option will be easier for some individuals than others, depending on the industry which you’re working in and how that industry has been affected by the pandemic.

For experienced workers working in shortage occupation roles finding a new job and sponsorship opportunity may be the best option. However, for lower skilled, younger workers who may be working lower paid jobs, finding a new role with sponsorship in the current climate may be more of a challenge. For those who want to remain on a Tier 2 visa, our lawyers can advise on your options and how to take advantage of new sponsorship opportunities.

2. Switch to a student visa: take up university studies

For some individuals, switching from Tier 2 to a student visa and taking up a new university course could be a viable option to remain in the UK. You can apply for a general student visa (tier 4) if you are over 16 and you have been offered a place on a course. Individuals can apply for a student visa up to 3 months before starting a new course, and are permitted to work in the UK alongside their studies.

Individuals can apply for this visa from within the UK, and can extend if necessary. Our lawyers can speak to you about the next steps with moving forward for an application for a student visa to remain in the UK.

3. Switch to a partner visa: prove your relationship is genuine

If you are the spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of a UK or EEA citizen, you may be able to consider applying for a partner visa. The partner visa is available for non-UK citizens who are over the age of 18. If you are granted a partner visa, you will have the right to live and work in the UK with the same rights as a UK citizen.

To qualify, you will need to be able to prove that your relationship is genuine and meet specific objective requirements. Our lawyers can guide you through the process of meeting the financial and relationship requirements if you are interested in switching from your Tier 2 visa to a partner visa.

These aren’t the only options for finding a new visa arrangement which will allow you to continue living in the UK after losing sponsorship. Our expert lawyers are available to offer you advice based on your situation.

If you’re worried about your Tier 2 visa status after loss of sponsorship, get in touch. If you require assistance with applying for your visit visa, please call our offices at 020 7118 4546 or email at: info@westkin.com.

What we do to make sure your UK visit visa is granted

 

The UK visit visa allows you to visit the UK for a specific purpose. The visa can be issued in different lengths, ranging from 6 months to 10 years. In the majority of cases, a visit visa will allow you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months, within a period of 12 months.

Although it’s not a legal requirement to have the assistance of a lawyer when you apply for the visit visa, it can be one of the most difficult visas to get granted, and it is highly advised that applicants seek assistance, especially in cases where you have previously had an application refused. The number of refusals which you’ve had for a visit visa can impact your chances of getting one granted in future.

At Westkin Associates, we work with individuals in guiding you through the application process and aim to increase your chances of having your UK visit visa approved going forward.

 

What process do we go through when helping you with your visit visa?

 

Most countries outside of Europe must apply for a UK visit visa, and there are different visit visas which you can choose to apply for, ranging from a standard visit visa to a marriage visit visa. You should assess your on circumstances to decide which visa is right for you.

The application process for a UK visit visa includes filling in an online application form with personal details and the purpose of your visit. You will then need to attend a biometric appointment to show your documentation, provide fingerprints and have your photo taken. Following this, you’ll wait for a decision on whether your visit visa has been approved.

 

What are the common issues faced when applying for the visit visa?

 

In some instances the application process can be more difficult than others. If you have previously applied for a UK visit visa and have had this refused, or have had a visa refusal from another country, this may affect your chances of being granted a UK visa in future applications.

The more visa refusals you have, the more difficult it may be to get one granted. Because of this, it is not advised that individuals who have had multiple visa requests denied continue to make applications without the help of a lawyer.

The country which you are applying from may also create complications in your application for a UK visit visa, as will having no prior travel history, or a lack of strong connections with your home country (for example, a job to return to). Our lawyers ensure full transparency when helping you with your visit visa application, and will keep you informed on anything which may negatively affect your application.

 

Visa refusal

 

In some cases, your application for the visit visa may be refused. In these cases, you may be able to to either re-apply or submit a pre-action letter before claim. A pre-action letter forces the Home office to review your case, and allows you to take them to court if necessary. At Westkin Associates, our lawyers will assess your situation and help to prepare you for these next steps of the process.

 

Why choose Westkin for your visit visa?

 

Gaining the visit visa is a highly discretionary process and it can be more ambiguous what is expected from applicants. Our lawyers will assess your situation and will guide you through all of the documents which you would be expected to provide within your visit visa application. We can provide you with templates and letters which you may be required to get, ensuring that the process is catered to your individual circumstances.

For more information on the UK visit visa, you can view our full guide here. If you require assistance with applying for your visit visa, please call our offices at 020 7118 4546 or email at: info@westkin.com.

 

Meeting the financial requirement for spouse visa

 

Individuals who are married to, engaged to, or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen can apply for a UK Spouse Visa. The UK Spouse visa, also known as the UK partner visa, is available for non-UK residents who are over 18 years old. Your partner in the UK must also be over 18 years old in order for you to apply. If you are coming to the UK to join your spouse from outside of the EEA, you will need a UK spouse visa. A spouse visa will grant you the right to live and work in the UK like a British citizens.

 

What are the general requirements for a spouse visa?

 

To apply for a spouse visa, you must have all of the required documents, have a demonstrable knowledge of the English language, have suitable accommodation whilst living in the UK, and be able to prove your relationship with your spouse through a ‘Genuine Relationship Test’. The Genuine Relationship Test can include providing evidence such as a shared bank account with your spouse, evidence of children you have together or a joint mortgage or tenancy agreement.

Another requirement for the spouse visa is that you are able to meet the minimum income threshold. This means that you and your partner will need to be able to prove that once living together in the UK, you would both be able to support yourselves financially without the need to claim benefits or receive other financial aid.

 

What are the financial requirements for the UK spouse visa?

 

To prove that you and your partner have the means to support yourselves once living together in the UK, the individual living in the UK, known as your sponsor, will need to show that they have financial income to support the applicant. In this process, only the sponsors finances are considered, and the salary of the applicant can not be taken into account. The sponsor must meet the following criteria:

  • Individuals with no dependent children will need to show an income of at least £18,600 before tax.

  • Individuals with one dependent child will need to show an income of at least £22,400 before tax.
  • Individuals with more than one dependent child will need an extra £2,400 for each child.

In order to meet the financial requirements for the UK spouse visa, your sponsor will need to be able to prove that they are earning the above amounts from a legitimate source. The financial requirements do not need to be earned through an annual salary alone, they can be met with earnings through work, personal savings, pension, sick pay, and maternity or paternity pay.

Sponsors who are on benefits may also meet the income requirements, depending on the benefits they receive. Many individuals rely on a combination of yearly income and savings. Individuals will need to be able to prove that they have enough financial support to cover the entire length of their intended stay in the UK.

 

Why choose Westkin for your spouse visa?

 

Our lawyers have helped a huge number of individuals with their UK spouse visas. We will guide you through the process of being able to meet the accommodation requirements, finance requirements and proof of relationship requirements, and ensuring you have the correct paperwork to meet these requirements. Our lawyers will help to make sure that you have met all of the mandatory requirements for the visa.

If you are looking to apply for the UK spouse visa but you are worried about your finances, there may be special cases where your application could still be granted. Our team can help you through the process. If you require our assistance, please call our offices at 020 7118 4546 or email at: info@westkin.com.

 

Proving your marriage is genuine for a spouse visa

 

If you are married to, engaged to, or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen, you may be looking to apply for a spouse visa to allow you to join them living in the UK. The UK Spouse visa, also known as the UK partner visa, is available for non-UK residents who are over 18 years old.

If you are granted a UK spouse visa, you will have the right to live and work in the UK with the same rights as a UK citizen, for a set period of time.

 

How do you prove your marriage or relationship is genuine?

 

Individuals who apply for the spouse visa will have to meet the general requirements before the visa can be granted. One of the most important requirements for you to consider is being able to prove your relationship with your spouse through a ‘Genuine Relationship Test’. In this process, the applicant and their sponsor who is living in the UK will need to be able to provide evidence that their relationship is real.

There is no exact guidance in the UK immigration rules on how applicants should prove that their relationship is real, however the general guidelines are that evidence should be presented which shows the relationship is ‘genuine and subsiding’. This means that you should be able to provide evidence that the relationship is legitimate and intended to be long-lasting.

For individuals who are married to their partner and need to provide evidence that their marriage is legitimate, they can do so in a number of ways. Often, it is required that you and your partner can provide more than just a marriage certificate to prove that the marriage is genuine. Applications made with just a marriage certificate are often deemed by the Home Office as not having enough substantial evidence of the relationship. This is to stop individuals who have got married only in an attempt to get their visa from qualifying. Below is some further supporting evidence that you can provide to show that your marriage is genuine:

  • Your marriage or civil partnership certificate, or the local equivalent of this document.

  • If you or your partner have previously been married, you should provide a divorce certificate.

  • Individuals can provide evidence of cohabitation. This can be a bill or a letter in a joint name.

  • Some individuals choose to provide statements from family members or friends who can attest to the fact that the relationship is legitimate.

  • Personal possessions such as travel itineraries showing trips that you and your partner have taken together, and photographs of your relationship showing its chronology and the length of time you have been together will help to support your case.

  • Evidence of ongoing communication between yourself and your partner over a period of time. This can range from emails to call logs, texts or Facebook messages.

 

Why choose Westkin for your spouse visa?

 

Our lawyers have helped a huge number of individuals with their UK spouse visas. We will guide you through the process of being able to meet the accommodation requirements, finance requirements and proof of relationship requirements, and ensuring you have the correct paperwork to meet these requirements. Our lawyers will help to make sure that you have met all of the mandatory requirements for the visa.

Because there are no exact guidelines from the Home Office on the evidence needed to prove a marriage as genuine, many applicants struggle with the process. At Westkin associates, we have helped many people with their spouse visas, from married to unmarried partners. If you require our assistance, please call our offices at 020 7118 4546 or email at: info@westkin.com.

 

Which investments will qualify for the investor visa?

 

This blog post gives information to people who are looking to apply for the investor visa. It gives an overview of what the investor visa is and what you need to invest in to qualify for it.

What is the investor visa?

The investor visa is designed for individuals with high financial wealth who want to make a substantial investment in the UK in order to qualify for residency. To qualify for this visa, applicants must have access to at least £2,000,000 investment funds from a legitimate source, and be able to invest these funds in the UK within three months of their arrival.

There are some other requirements, for example, you must be able to prove that the money belongs to either you or your partner, and you must have opened a UK regulated bank account to use for your funds. Your funds must be disposable and free to spend within the UK.

Which investments qualify for the investor visa?

In theory, an investment will usually meet the requirements of the visa if it is made into a business which is UK registered and fits the below qualifying factors. It is important to ensure that investments do fit all of the criteria, because applicants could risk having their application denied if requirements are not met. The qualifying factors are:

  • investments must be made into a UK registered company which is “active and trading”. This means that your investment must be made into a company which is in action and operating within the UK. The company must be able to prove through a business bank account that they are regularly trading their goods or services.

  • The company which you invest in must be registered with HMRC and be paying corporation tax, and must be registered with Companies House as an operating business.

  • You must make your investment into a company which has a registered office in the UK, with at least two employees who are not directors.

In what instances would your investment not be counted?

If your investment does not follow all of the requirements of the visa or goes against some of the guidelines, you may risk it being rejected. Some reasons your investor visa application may be rejected include:

  • Investments will not qualify for the investor visa if they are made into an offshore company.

  • All funds must be your own, so investments can not be based on leveraged investment funds, ISA’s or premium bonds.

  • Funds can not be invested into open-ended companies as in these instances, it is difficult for the applicant to prove that the investment is in the UK.

  • An important point to consider is that investor visa holders cannot invest in companies engaged in property investment, property management or property development. Investments will not qualify if they are used to increase the value of the property with the aim of making a profit through either rent or sale.

Why choose Westkin for your investor visa?

If you are applying for the investor visa, our lawyers can help you through the process by ensuring you have the correct paperwork to show that your funds are legitimate, and put you in touch with wealth management firms who we work with, to help you to manage your account and investments throughout the course of your visa.

We work with many external wealth management firms who are experienced in working with tier 1 investor portfolios, who can help to manage your investments through the visa. The wealth management firm can also help you to open an investment bank account for your finances.

With many qualifying factors for your investment, our team can help you through the process. If you require our assistance, please call our offices at 020 7118 4546 or email at: info@westkin.com.

 

How to get endorsement for the innovator visa

 

This blog gives an overview of the innovator visa, the requirements of the innovator visa and how to get endorsement for the innovator visa, as well as the common issues which applicants may face through the application process.

Requirements of the innovator visa

The innovator visa is a way for experienced business people to establish their business within the UK. It is a replacement of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa which was phased out in 2019. Applying for this visa is currently only a requirement if you are from outside of the EEA, however from January 2021 it will be needed by anyone looking to move to the UK to launch a new business.

Applicants for the innovator visa will need to meet the eligibility requirements in order for their application to be successful. These requirements include having enough financial savings to support yourself whilst living in the UK, having a proven knowledge of the English language, and the endorsement of your business by an approved body.

How to successfully get endorsed for the innovator visa

There are a number of approved bodies who can endorse you for the innovator visa. These bodies are appointed by the government, and aim to ensure that individuals applying for the visa have a detailed understanding of their business plan, as well as the necessary assets and knowledge to successfully run their business within the UK. You will need to receive a letter of endorsement before you can make your application for an innovator visa, so it is important to make sure that you meet the endorsing bodies’ requirements.

Endorsing bodies will look into key areas of your business before offering their endorsement. Firstly, they will require proof that your business plan has potential for growth, is marketable and that there is not already too much competition within the UK market. Essentially, they will want reassurance that your business is robust and not likely to collapse in the early stages.

Successful applicants for the innovator visa will have a fully-realised business plan with room for growth – one which has the promise of being able to create further business, shows expected profits and may create jobs within the UK. Being able to outline this plan with proof of intended growth and consideration of potential roadblocks will help applicants in achieving success with endorsement for their visa application.

Endorsing bodies also want to know whether applicants have sufficient funds to set up their business within the UK. It doesn’t matter where these funds come from, but you should be able to prove that you have at least £50,000 to invest into your business from a legitimate source. Endorsers will ask you to provide physical proof of this in your application process for the innovator visa, so it is an important roadblock to consider before beginning the application process.

Common reasons to be denied endorsement for the innovator visa

If an endorsing body does not see the merits of your business or you’re unable to prove its credibility, they may refuse to endorse you for your visa application. There are a wide range of issues which may stop you from being viewed as ‘credible’, so it is important that business owners who are considering this visa are prepared and understand the requirements.

Why choose Westkin for your innovator visa?

Our lawyers have worked on a number of innovator visa applications and will prepare your business plan for you to submit to an endorsing body. We will assist you with tailoring your business plan according to the feedback which we receive from endorsing bodies and will apply to the endorsing bodies for you. Our lawyers have worked with a number of endorsing bodies and, knowing the requirements of each and the sectors that they specialise in, are able to advise on which would be right for you and your business.

Gaining an endorsement for your innovator visa can be a difficult and confusing process. If you feel uncertain about your application and need our assistance, please call our offices at 020 7118 4546 or email at: info@westkin.com.

 

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