Westkin Associates – Visa Advice for Iranian Nationals
Although the UK Immigration system has been designed to have a universal fit, meaning it should be applied equally to all applicants, regardless of where they are from or where they are applying from. In reality there are some key differences that are critical to ensure a successful application. In this blog we focus on the advice for Iranian nationals.
1. Sanctions, Currency Conversion and Transferring funds
At the time of writing there are no specific sanctions on Iranian nationals transferring funds to the UK, there are only sanctions against specific people and specific banks. As such a UK bank can legally accept funds from Iran as long as you can demonstrate that the funds were legally obtained and did not come from a Iranian Government funds.
The conversion rate for the Rial has been in free-fall since the US decided to pull out of the JCPOA Nuclear deal, as such it is important to know what the accepted conversion rate is. For visit visa applications only, the Home office are currently applying the unofficial “Street rate” which is listed on www.bonbast.com. However for all other visa categories the Home office applies the Official Iranian Government rate using the rate on www.oanda.com. Please note that all calculations should be submitted in Rials and not Toman.
In regards to transferring funds to the UK after obtaining a visa, this can be a difficult task for funds held in Iran due to the lack of normal banking relationships between Iran and the UK, as such it is recommended that Iranian nationals move their funds to either a second country first, such as UAE or Turkey, before moving their funds to the UK. The alternative would be to transfer funds to the UK using an official money exchange service (known as a Sarafi in Iran).
2. Application Location
There are currently three locations where Iranian nationals can apply, they can apply from Turkey, the UAE or the submission office in Tehran, however the office in Tehran sends the application to the UAE where it would be decided.
From our experience we have noted that Iranian nationals have a higher chance of approval when applying from Turkey, compared to the UAE or Tehran, this is because the UAE office and the Tehran office are the same and the UAE office has one of the highest refusal rates of any office around the world. This may be down to the high number of applications that are received but also due to general reported discrimination of Iranian nationals in the UAE.
It is also possible for Iranian nationals to visit turkey without a visa and although most applications are decided within 14 days, applicants can obtain a travel document back to Iran from the Iranian consulate in Turkey, meaning that they do not have to wait in Turkey for the decision.
3. Study Topics
Iranian nationals whom are planning to study in certain sensitive topics which could create expertise for the creation of weapons of mass destruction must at first obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) – full details on the scheme can be found here.
Students whom are studying these sensitive topics such as Nuclear Physics, Chemical, Porcess and Energy Engineering, should provide extra information on their background, including their work and study history, together with explanations of why they are choosing the specific topic. The full list of topics can be found here.
The approval process takes between 20-30 working days.
If you would like to discuss more about applying for a visa and how we help our Iranian clients, then please contact us for more information.
5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
0207 118 4546