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If you’re a visa national and want to visit the UK for up to 6 months, then you’ll have to apply for a visit visa before you leave. Appendix V in the Immigration Rules sets out the rules you need to meet to successfully acquire a visa.

Image of the London Eye, by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Who is a visitor?

Do you want to come visit your family, get married or just ride on the London Eye? Then, you may have to apply for a visit visa. In Appendix V,  ‘A visitor is a person who is coming to the UK, usually for up to six months, for a temporary purpose’. As a visitor, you may not work or study in the UK unless this is allowed under your specific Visitor Rules.

Categories of Visit Visa:

Standard – up to 6 months

Marriage/Civil Partnership Visit – up to 6 months

Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) visit – up to 1 month

Transit Visa – up to 48 hours

Do’s & Don’ts whilst on a visit visa:

Visit visa are relatively restrictive on what activities are permitted; you may not work (apart from permitted paid activities, see below), study, or access public funds (e.g. NHS, benefit system). Work in this sense is defined as, in paragraph V 4.5 – 4.6, ‘taking employing in the UK, doing work for a UK business/organisation, being self-employed, working in a placement/internship or selling goods/services.

There are various permitted paid activities certain visitors may practice in, for instance:

How do I apply?

Applications are submitted exclusively online through the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa/apply. Furthermore, you can also read more about the application process and requirements on the official government website.

In your application you will need to prove that you are a ‘genuine visitor’, by arguing:

  1. That you will leave the UK before your visa expires. For this, you should provide strong reasons for why you will return to your homeland (family life/private life/job).
  2. That you will not settle in the UK. So, you cannot keep visiting the UK on a Visit Visa, as it may appear like you are avoiding applying for a more appropriate visa e.g. Global Talent Visa, Frontier Worker Permit, Skilled Worker Route, Spouse Visa.

Additional Requirements:

If you’re travelling for reasons other than tourism and visiting friends and family, then you will need to meet additional requirements and provide supporting evidence. For instance:

How much does it cost?

To apply for a short-term visit (maximum 6 months) will cost £95. However, there may be additional fees like booking a biometric appointment at a visa application centre (£0 – £120).

How do I extend my visa?

In theory, yes. But visit visa’s can usually only be extended to the point where the total visit equals 6 months. Since most visa’s are issued for 6 months, then there is no scope for extension. Only if the applicant is seeking private medical treatment (no maximum extension) or sitting the Professional Linguistic Assessment Board Test (maximum stay of 18 months) will they be eligible for an extension.

I’ve been refused, what are my options?

You have five options:

  1. Accept defeat, other options can be quite costly and protacted.
  2. Re-apply with improved evidence, information and explanation
  3. Request reconsideration – some visa application centres may simply ignore this request
  4. Human Rights Appeal to the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal
    1. Human rights must be engaged. This usually only occurs if the refusal interferes with your family life (less so your private life).
    1. In general, the Home Office argues that visit visa refusals rarely engage human rights. Applicants usually have other alternatives (having their family and friends visit them in their home country).
  5. Apply for Judicial Review of the refusal to the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Upper Tribunal (England/Wales), the Court of Session (Scotland) or the High Court (Northern Ireland).
    1. This process is very costly and cases rarely succeed.

So, if you’re looking to visit the UK, then get in touch to discuss your application. We look forward to hearing from you.

Picture of boat at Port of Entry, Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay

Overview

If you are looking to enter the UK either temporarily or permanently, you will probably need to make a standard visa application. There is a general process most applicants will go through in order to gain permission to enter the UK (Entry Clearance) and then regularise their immigration status once they are there (Limited Leave to Remain, Indefinite Leave to Remain, Naturalisation/Settlement). To apply for standard visas, applicants generally must apply online with the appropriate form, upload supporting evidence and attend a biometric appointment to provide fingerprints and photos.

This blog will provide an overview of the UK’s general immigration routes.

  1. Entry Clearance
  2. Limited Leave to Remain (LLR or LR)
  3. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Entry Clearance (Visa)

What is ‘Entry Clearance’?

Entry clearance is the official term for ‘visa’, and applies to those making a visa application from outside the UK, hence they have not ‘entered’ the UK yet. Under UK Immigration rules, all nationals (EEA Nationals are no longer completely exempt) coming to the UK as either a visitor, to work, to study or to settle, will usually need to apply for entry clearance in advance of their arrival to the UK.

There are a few exceptions, for instance, EEA Nationals visiting for a short tourist/business trip and they are usually permitted to stay up to 6 months without a visa. However, they will not be automatically granted the right to work, study or access public benefits.

N.B. Entry clearance entitles you to travel to the UK port of entry (airport, port) to seek admission (leave to enter) but does not guarantee entry. The authority to admit someone to the UK ultimately rests with the Immigration Officer (IO) at the border. However, it is exceedingly rare that entry clearance does not translate into leave to enter.

How do I gain ‘Entry Clearance’?

There are several routes to gaining entry clearance (visa), each with different eligibility criteria. You can use the official government website to check whether you need a visa and if so, which one. You can also book a consultation with our experienced immigration lawyer, Matthew Williams, to discuss what route is best for you.

Here are some common entry clearance (visa) routes:

Partner Visas: are you in a relationship with a British National and looking to settle in the UK? If so, this may be the right route for you.

Work Visas: see ‘Commercial Matters’ for an explanation of routes in to the UK for workers and investors.

(Definite) Leave to Remain

What is Leave to Remain?

Leave to remain is when an applicant is permitted to enter and stay in the UK for a limited period of time. After a qualifying period of residency in the UK, an applicant may then become eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The visa holders must continuously meet the conditions of their visa, i.e. having a valid certificate of sponsorship if you have a Skilled Worker Visa. Moreover, most conditions also include meeting a specific financial requirements, not accessing public funds and being able to accommodate yourself and your dependents.

The applicant must either leave the UK before their visa or apply for an extension in the form of ‘Visa Extension’, ‘Further Leave to Remain’ (FLR) or ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR).

How do I gain LR?

There are several immigration routes for LR.

The most common include:

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

ILR, or UK Settlements, indefinitely (with no time limit) grants an applicant the right to live, study, work and access public funds in the UK without immigration restrictions. The applicant is also free from limitations on leaving and entering the UK. However, it does not provide you with the right to vote or apply for a British Passport.

ILR provides these rights indefinitely but not unconditionally. Someone’s ILR can be revoked if they are absent from the UK for more than two years (‘excessive absence’) or if they are facing deportation after a conviction.

ILR is a settlement route for nationals.

How do I gain ILR?

There are strict eligibility criteria for who should be granted ILR which varies according to which visa the applicant holds. Usually, once an applicant has held Limited Leave to Remain for 5 years they are eligible for ILR.

Below is a table shows how long (qualifying period) an applicant must hold each visa in order to become eligible for ILR:

Immigration StatusQualifying Period
Spouse VisaAfter two years for visas issued prior to 9 July 2012, after five or ten years if applied on or after 9 July 2012.
Tier 1 visaAfter five years Tier 1 Investor Visa holders can become eligible for fast-tracked settlement where they make qualified investment in the UK £2 million à ILR after 5 years£5 million à ILR after 3 years£10 million à ILR after 2 years
Tier 2 visaIn limited circumstances only, after five years
UK ancestry visaAfter five years
Retired Person visaAfter five years
Discretionary Leave to RemainSix years
Long residenceAfter ten years continuous legal residency in the UK
Returning residentIf settled in the UK prior to departure and returning to the UK within two years of departure, then may be able to apply immediately on return

What’s after ILR?

To gain the right to vote and apply for a British Passport, you will need to apply for British Citizenship (https://www.gov.uk/apply-citizenship-indefinite-leave-to-remain).

Applicant can apply for citizenship after living in the UK for 5 years and have had one of the following for 12 months:

N.B. There are some exceptions, such as those married to a British national who do not need to wait 12 months.  

How much does citizenship cost?

It costs £1,330 to apply (additional costs apply such as securing a biometric appointment).

See our article commenting on these extortionate fees in respect to Child Citizenship.

Are you looking to apply for a visa or extend your stay in the UK? Our highly experienced immigration team can provide you with the help and guidance you need.

Cartoon of the UK leaving the EU. Image by succo from Pixabay

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) Overview

The main EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) application deadline is 30 June 2021. The Home Office are likely to continue receiving late applications for pre-settled and settled status.

Certain categories of individuals will be allowed access to EUSS later than 30 June. For example people coming from overseas to join loved ones.

Can I apply without a valid passport or identity card?

Applicants should use their passports or national identity documents when applying to the EUSS. Some people have experienced difficulties during Covid-19 getting hold of identity documents from their home nations.

Understandably, people are concerned how this affects their ability to apply before the deadline. Some countries have extended the validity of out-of-date documents and where this is the case an individual might be able to use the document in support an application.

Importantly, where a person is unable to obtain an in-date document due to circumstances beyond their control or due to compelling or compassionate reasons, the Home Office can accept alternative proof of nationality.

What rights do people have whose applications have not been decided by 30 June?

Genuine applicants which remain outstanding on or after 1 July will have their status and rights protected until they receive a final decision.

As proof of application, people could use a Certificate of Application to demonstrate their status and entitlements after 30 June.

The Home Office suggests employers/landlords give people “every opportunity” to demonstrate their eligibility to work/rent whilst their application is under consideration.

..be mindful of avoiding unlawful discrimination!

Will the Home Office accept late applications?

Anyone who is eligible can make a late application if there are reasonable grounds for their failure to apply sooner.

But they will be unlawfully resident in the UK for as long as they do not have a status.

The Home Office’s caseworker guidance provides some examples of scenarios that will normally constitute reasonable grounds for missing the deadline.

Examples include child dependent applications , people with physical or mental capacity needs, or serious medical conditions, and people in abusive relationships

Also, where there are compelling practical or compassionate circumstances for missing the deadline.

The guidance gives examples of circumstances when being unaware of the need to apply could be accepted.

Notably, Caseworkers are instructed to take a “flexible and pragmatic approach” and to give applicants the benefit of any doubt, for the time being.

What are the consequences of missing the application deadline?

From 1 July, people who haven’t applied to the EUSS, and people who have an outstanding late application under consideration, will not have a lawful immigration status in the UK. This will have significant implications for their entitlements in the UK.

Therefore, People without immigration permission will have no right to work, rent, benefits, and bank accounts or driving licence.

There is uncertainty about how authorities will respond to cases involving people who haven’t applied from 1 July in practice.

The Home Office has expressed, if Immigration Enforcement staff encounter people within the scope of the EUSS, they will give them a 28-day opportunity to apply.

People who are refused status or fail to apply will not be covered specifically by the guidance

What about working and renting?

Similarly, the Home Office has yet to confirm its guidance to employers and landlords on right to work/rent checks after 30 June and legal responsibilities in respect of people who haven’t applied to the EUSS.

However, guidance is clear, employers and landlords will not need to conduct retrospective checks on existing employee/tenant with EUSS status.

Currently Williams Charles & Co are helping a steady flow of EU national obtain the correct application forms before the deadline.

There are also other visa routes, see Frontier Worker Permit, Global Talent Visa and Skilled Worker Route.

Children playing. Image by Chris Thornton from Pixabay

By Isabelle Cooper, published 26/04/2021

Overview:

The £1,012 application fee for Child Citizenship has recently bee ruled unlawful by the Courts of Appeal. The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) brought the case against the Home Office in 2019. They argued that the extortionate price literally prices people out of their statutory right to British Citizenship. Furthemore, they pointed out that the application only costs the Home Office £372 to administer, earning them a £640 profit.

The Court ruling orders the Home Office to reconsider the fee and carry out an assessment on the consequences for child welfare. The Courts concluded that if a child is eligible for British citizenship it is in their best interest to register as British. This is something the Home Office previously failed to recognise.

Context:

Year-on-year the Home Office has increased the price of various immigration applications.

Child citizenships fees cost £35 in 1983, £200 in 2005, £699 in 2014 and £1,012 in the present day. Whilst the administrative costs have marginally reduced.

The 2004 Act (Section 42 of the Asylum and Immigration Act) permitted applicantion cost to exceed the administrative fee. This was justified in order to subsidise other areas of the department, and ultimately gave rise to price hikes.

The claimant ‘O’:

PRCBC, the first and only organisation to focus directly on children and young adults and their right to British citizenship, has been supporting the claimant ‘O’. She was born in the UK in 2007 and is a Nigeria citizen via descent.  

Since ‘O’ has never left the UK, when she turned 10 she fulfilled the criteria for British Citizenship (under section 1(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981).

However, her family is destitute and has been financially supported by their local authority since 2015. She is one of three children with their single-parent mother.

Her mother was unable to raise the (then) full registration fee of £973. So, with the assistance of PRCBC, she instead submitted an application paying the (then) administrative fee of £386. However, the Secretary of State refused to process the application. O’s application has been the subject of litigation ever since.  

Case Ruling Specifics:

The case: R (Project for the Registration of Children As British Citizens & Anor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021].

The challenge against the Home Office ultimately succeeded on account of Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. This section states that the Secretary of State has a duty to ensure child safeguarding and welfare standards are met. The Court of Appeal agreed that the Secretary of State had failed to conduct any kind of assessment concerning the best interests of children.

PRCBC made the further argument that the fee was unlawful also because its effect was to deprive many children of their statutory right to British Citizenship. The claimants argued that so long as an unrealistically high registration fee persists, the registration entitlement is effectively null and void. Without the ability to pay the fee, the ability to benefit from the entitlement is lost. Thus the regulation is unlawful because it is ultra vires (Latin: beyond the powers) the fee-setting power conferred by section 68 of the Immigration Act 2014. Due to a previous court decision, the judge had to dismiss this argument. However, it agreed it was very persuasive.

Brief History of British Citizenship:

Before the British Nationality Act 1981, anyone born in the UK was entitled to British Citizenship. As was the case for nine centuries. This new legalisation modified the jus soil approach to citizenship; someone born in the UK is only a British citizen if one of their parents is either a British citizen or is legally settled in the UK.  

Responses

The PRCBC ‘are delighted the courts have yet again held this scandalously high fee unlawful’. It provides hope for those critical of the Home Office, especially in the context of the ‘New Plans for Immigration‘.

However, this does not mark the end of this struggle. PRCBC and Amnesty continue to call upon the Home Secretary to:

We look foward with hope and apprehension to the Home Office’s response to the Court Ruling.

Explanation and discussion of the Home Secretary’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’, with a focus on the changes to the asylum system.

Increasingly hostility towards ‘clandestine’ entry into the UK. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

By Isabelle Cooper

Published 07/04/2021

Overview:

Public consultations for the Home Secretary’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’ have opened. The ‘sweeping reforms’ of the asylum system aim to ‘increase fairness’, deter illegal entry into the UK and expediate deportations. However, there are already fierce voices of criticisms and accusations that the plan breaches the Geneva Convention.

So, what is the ‘New Plan’?

The New plan will ‘increase fairness’ by:

It will deter illegal entry into the UK by:

It will expediate deportations by:

What is the difference between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ entry?

To enter a country ‘legally’ you must have authorisation to do so i.e., obtain a visa. To cross a border without authorisation is ‘illegally’. However, to cross a border unauthorised/illegally in order to claim asylum is not illegal.

There are 3 ways to claim asylum in the UK:

  1. Through resettlement schemes largely organised by the UNHCR.
  2. Obtaining a visa for authorised entry and then claim asylum on or after arrival.
  3. Claim asylum after an authorised entry i.e. via lorries/boat.

In reality, the first two ways are incredibly difficult and rare. The first is modest in scale and is not a scheme someone can ‘apply’ for as such. There is no data on the prevalence of the second route. But for many they have no grounds for obtaining a non-humanitarian visa (see Frontier Worker Permit, Global Talent and Skilled Worker Visa).

Therefore, only the third option remains for asylum seekers.

Commentary:

Breach of Article 31 of the Geneva Convention:

The most major concern from human rights advocates, is that the proposal to punish those for ‘illegal’ entry breaches Article 31 of the Geneva Convention. The article states that ‘“The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened …. , enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence”.

To state the obvious: it is legal to cross a border unauthorised in order to claim asylum. Priti Patel wants to end the waiving of punishment for asylum seekers when they enter a country unauthorised to claim asylum.

Furthermore, the Home Office claims that this is the ‘first time’ illegal entry via a ‘safe third country’, such as France, would have an adverse impact on an asylum claim. In reality this already happens. If an asylum seeker fails to make a claim in a previously visited ‘safe third country’, it will harm the ‘credibility’ of their claim. Moreover, if an asylum seeker already has refugee status in a ‘safe third country’, their claim in the UK will be deemed inadmissable. Consequently, they will be at risk of rapid removal to the relevant ‘safe third country’.

Lack of any serious plan for ‘safe passage’ and ‘integration’:

Despite the Home Secretary paying lip-service to the necessity of ‘safe-passage’ through resettlement schemes, the policy statement does not detail on how such schemes will be expanded and funded.

Furthermore, over the last few years the government has been systematically closing legal routes into the UK pushing more people into the arms of human traffickers and smugglers.

Unsubstantiated claims of abuse of the Modern Slavery System:

Interspersed throughout the ‘new plan’ are unsubstantiated claims that many people are taking advantage of the safeguards introduced in the 2015 Modern Slavery Act. The report claims that there has been an ‘alarming increase in the number of illegal migrants, including Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) and those who pose a national security risk to our country, seeking modern slavery referrals – enabling them to avoid immigration detention and frustrate removal from our country’.

Many charities have objected the conflation of those seeking asylum with offenders. Furthermore, they argue that the claims of rising abuses of the Modern Slavery system are baseless.

Concluding Remarks:

The ‘New Plans for Immigration’ are another manifestation of the Leave Campaigns promise to ‘take back control’ of borders. These plans aim to reduce the amount of people illegally entering the UK whilst protecting the right to claim asylum via resettlement schemes.

However, the achievement of both these aims looks precarious. By increasing the punishment for illegal entry only fuels the smuggler industry which Priti Patel seems so eager to stifle. And, as human rights groups have pointed out, the plans may be in breach of the Genevan Convention.

Anyone, be it a professional or member of the public, can contribute to the public consultations here.


British applications for Irish Citizenship in 2018 increased by 20 fold compared to pre-Brexit levels.

Written by Isabelle Cooper

Published 26/03/2021

Ring of Kerry, a popular natural attraction in Ireland. Image by Howard Walsh from Pixabay

Overview

Before murmurings of Brexit, the numbers of Britons applying for Irish citizenship averaged 60 a year. Since 2016, the numbers have soared, reaching 1,213 in 2018, representing a 20 fold increase. Applications for first time Irish passports have followed a similar trajectory; 650% increase from 2015 to 2019. 10% of Britons are estimated to be eligible for an Irish passport.

To retain the privileges and rights of EU citizenship, many Britons have rushed to secure their Irish citizenship (if eligible). This route offers continued freedom of movement within the EU and the right to work. Whereas, post-Brexit Britons will usually need a visa (e.g. ‘Skilled Worker’ visa) if they wish to stay longer than 3 months in any EU country.

Routes to Citizenship

Irish citizenship is relatively easy to acquire and eligibility guidelines are quite generous. Various channels include place of birth, Irish descent, marriage, adoption or naturalisation.  This article concerns route to citizenship for those who are not automatically entitled to it, and applying through Irish descent.

See here for those who automatically qualify for Irish Citizenship

People who do not automatically qualify for Irish citizenship but are eligible:

In these cases, you can become an Irish citizen through Foreign Birth Registration. However, processing of registration has been paused for the duration of the Irish Covid-19 lockdown.

Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register they are an Irish citizen and entitled to apply for an Irish passport.

There is a different process for adults and minors.

What documents do I need?

From the applicant:

From the applicant/Irish Citizen Parent/ Irish born Grandparent

These are the bare minimum required, see here for the requirements for specific routes.

How long does it usually take?

Foreign Birth Registration takes approximately 12-18 months.

How much does it cost?

Foreign Birth Registration Application:

Adult (18 and over)

Minor (under 18)

Passport Application:

Standard 10-year passport application: €80 (~£68)

Unfortunately, we do not know when the office will re-open to accept new applications for Irish Citizenship. Check here for updates.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Written by Isabelle Cooper

Published 19/03/2021

Overview

Free movement, cheap travel and remote working across the EU fostered the growth of ‘frontier workers’; those who work in one country but reside in another. However, Brexit plunged the future of this working pattern into question.

Would EU citizens who worked in the UK but lived elsewhere, be able to continue working in the UK?

Will there be a mass exodus of EU workers from the UK?

The new ‘Fronter Worker’ permit settles all these concerns. EU citizens who worked in the UK before Brexit (31/12/2020) but reside elsewhere, will be able to continue doing this. We can breathe again.

What is it?

A new permit scheme for ‘Frontier Workers’ opened 10th December 2020. As required by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement , the UK government must protect the immigration rights of EU citizens who commuted to the UK for work before Brexit and need to continue to do so. This also works vice versa: UK ‘frontier workers’ in the EU can apply for a similar document[i].

Permit holders will be able to work, rent and access the welfare state (benefits and NHS) without paying the Immigration Health Surcharge.

The permit is valid for five years for employed workers and 2 years (or less) for self-employed workers.

It is important to note that the permit does not lead to ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (ILR) as it only constitutes ‘right to admission free from immigration control’. It can be extended indefinitely, however. Therefore, some workers may prefer to opt for the ‘Skilled Worker’ or ‘Global Talent‘ Visa which provides a pathway to ILR and British citizenship[ii].

Who is it for?

You can apply if you are:

and

Note: you must have begun working in the UK before 31st December 2020 and have continuing working in this working pattern up to the point of your application. For those hoping to start work after Brexit, you will most likely need to apply for a visa through the new ‘Points-Based System’ https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.

For instance: Hannah is a Swedish citizen who started working in Manchester in February 2020. She will make an application for the ‘Frontier Worker’ Permit in January 2021. Between February 2020 and January 2021, she travelled to Sweden twice between these two dates and therefore qualifies as ‘not primarily resident’ in the UK.

Family members can join you under the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit, however, not directly under the ‘Frontier Worker’ Permit.

How do I apply?

You can apply free of charge and online from either within or outside the UK. You will need your passport/national identity and proof of employment.

To prove your identity, you will need to either;

If your application is refused, you have the right to appeal.

What about Covid-19?

Due to travel restrictions imposed as a Covid-19 response, many ‘Frontier workers’ have been unable to travel to or out of the UK. The Home Office has allowed this, as well as being ill or having to self-isolate, to constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’ for failing to meet the residency requirements. Phew!

Comments:

We can hear a huge sigh of relief from many EU workers and UK employers. The flexibility of the ‘Frontier Worker’ permit will allow much business-as-usual to continue post-Brexit.

Get in touch if you need help applying for yours.


[i] European Labour Authority (2021) Brexit: what consequences for moving and working in the EU or the UK? European Labour Authority, viewed 18/03/2021, available at https://www.ela.europa.eu/news/brexit-what-consequences-moving-and-working-eu-or-uk

[ii] Hunt, J (2021) How to apply for a frontier worker permit, FreeMovement.org, viewed 18/03/2021, available at https://www.freemovement.org.uk/frontier-worker-permit/

Written by Isabelle Cooper

Published 15/03/2021

What is it?

Since February 2020, the Global Talent visa replaced Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Route for leaders and ‘potential’ leaders. It is designed to attract world-leading talent and expertise in the fields of engineering, medicine, humanities, digital technology and arts and culture.

 The new route is much more flexible, does not have a cap on successful applicants, and allows holders to work freely (can be self-employed) and study (full or part time). For many, it is more attractive than the ‘Skilled Worker’ route.

Additionally, it provides a route to ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (ILR) after 3 years (see Appendix Continuous Residence). Applicants must speak proficient English and pass a ‘Life in the UK’ Test.

Who is it for?

The scheme is open for anyone over 18 and who is a leader or ‘potential’ leader in one of the following fields:

There are four available routes to the Global Talent visa for researchers:

  1. Academic and Research Appointments
  2. Individual Fellowships
  3. Endorsed Funders
  4. Peer Review

See the Royal Society’s decision tree to work out which route is right for you.

How do I apply?

There are two stages to the application process.

Stage 1: Endorsement

Firstly, applicants must obtain an endorsement from a Home Office approved endorsing body:

The Home Office has essentially outsourced assessing the eligibility of applicants to these bodies. Each body has varying criteria and different processes.

Stage 2: Visa Application

The final stage is relatively easy. There are no English language or financial requirements. All you need is:

If you’re applying from overseas, you can apply here. This is usually processed within three weeks.

If you’re applying from within the UK, you can apply here. This is usually processed within eight weeks.

There is a different application for extension applications.

How much does it cost?

Total cost (5-year visa): £3,728

Can my family members join me?

Yes – partners and children of the main applicant can apply. It costs £608, excluding the immigration health surcharge.

Get in touch if you would like help with your ‘Global Talent Visa’ Application.

Image by Corinna Behrens from Pixabay

Written by Isabelle Cooper

Published 04/03/2021

Overview

A recently published COI Report on Zimbabwe details the lived realities, discrimination and fear experienced by the Zimbabwean LGBTQ+ community. These reports provide important evidence for asylum claims.

What is a Country of Origin Information (COI) Report?

COI provides information on the countries asylum seekers originate from, and contributes to the asylum decision-making process[i]. They can provide evidence of a general risk of persecution, or alternatively, can demonstrate the country is ‘safe’.

Increasingly, COI report on the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community as the EU has called on asylum authorities to ensure that ‘the legal and social situation of LGBTI persons in countries of origin is documented systematically and that such information is made available to asylum decision-makers as part of COI’ [ii].

In practice, this can prove to be a challenging task as data tends to be scarce, incomplete and general in nature[iii]. The LGBTQ+ situation may be poorly documented due to stigma and lack of monitoring. LGBTQ+ persons are often deterred from reporting abuse to authorities, as these authorities are often complicit in their abuse. Therefore, it is difficult to attain accurate statistics on discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, it may focus exclusively upon the experiences of gay men[iv], and remain especially silent on the experiences of the trans community.

What are the current experiences of LGBTQ+ people in Zimbabwe?

Despite the Zimbabwean constitution guaranteeing equality and non-discrimination, it criminalises male same-sex relations (Article 73 of the Criminal Law Act, 2006) and remains silent on the specific rights of the remaining members of the LGBTQ+ community. There is a general hostile environment for the Zimbabwean LGBTQ+ community. This is further fuelled by prevalent homophobic political and religious rhetoric. More generally, the current human rights landscape is under increasing scrutiny owing to state suppression of protests against corruption and human rights violations perpetrated in the name of COVID-19 response restrictions[v]

This social climate of intimidation, stigma and discrimination has led many LGBTQ+ people to conceal their sexualities and gender identity. This has severe negative effects on the mental health of the LGBTQ+ community, often resulting in depression, anxiety, substance abuse and suicidal ideation[vi]. If someone’s sexuality and/or gender identity is revealed it has reportedly led to job loss, evictions, expulsion from education and at times, violence (corrective rape is ‘rare’[vii]).

Despite few enforcements of the Criminality Act 2006, the police and other authorities are known to harass, intimidate, extort, arbitrarily detain and ill-treat the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, the omission of trans people in law often means transgender women are likely to be persecuted as if there were men. Furthermore, LGBTQ+ activists often face a heightened risk of violence, arbitrary arrests and harassment by state agents. Under the previous Zimbabwean administration, raids of LGBTQ+ gatherings and visibility initiatives were prevalent[viii].

It is important to note that LGBTQ+ people experience persecution and discrimination differently and can be compounded by intersectionality (class/race)[ix], thus it is specific to a particular person’s circumstance.

Does this constitute grounds for asylum?

Someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity can be highly relevant to their claim for asylum. Specifically, if they ‘fear persecutory harm of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity, which does not, or is seen to, conform to prevailing political, cultural or social norms’. It can provide grounds to label someone as a ‘particular social group’ (PSG) based on the common characteristic of sexual orientation. However, simply establishing someone as part of a PSG is not sufficient for them to be recognised as a refugee. The remaining question is whether this particular person faces a risk of persecution on account of their membership of said group.

The UK government published COI report concerning Zimbabwean LGBQT+ persons concludes[x]:

The report concludes: ‘In general, state treatment of LGBTI persons, even when taken cumulatively, is not sufficiently serious by its nature and repetition as to amount to persecution or serious harm.[xi]

Thus, it is not guaranteed that a Zimbabwean LGBTQ+ person will be granted asylum in the UK. Even though the person is ‘likely to face a real risk of persecution/serious harm’ if they were to return to Zimbabwe, the Home Office has deemed it possible for them to flee this persecution by internally relocating or by seeking protection from (quasi-) state agents. Nonetheless, the Home Office has not listed Zimbabwe on its list of safe countries of origin[xii] which increases the chance of a successful asylum claim.

In practice, what happens to the asylum claims of LGBTQ+ Zimbabwean persons in the UK?

The case LZ (homosexuals) Zimbabwe CG [2011] UKUT 00487 (IAC)[xiii] concerns a gay Zimbabwean woman whose claim for asylum was rejected. This case provides an example of the lived realities of LGBTQ+ Zimbabwe asylum seekers.

Specifically, LZ had entered the UK lawfully in the late 90s but overstayed her visa. She proceeded to seek asylum in 2009 based on the risk of her persecution as a lesbian in Zimbabwe.  However, since it was theoretically possible for her to internally relocate to a queer friendly city (Harare), her claim was refused. The courts argued that in Zimbabwe she may face societal disapproval, but this does not amount to persecution.

It is interesting to note that ‘the existence of a law penalising consensual homosexual acts does not itself constitute persecution, however, if such a law is routinely enforced and penalised imposed, that is persecutory’[xiv]. In Zimbabwe, the former is true but not the latter.

Comments:

Throughout the years, Link Law has supported many Zimbabweans in regularising their immigration status in the UK.

If you would like support and looking for immigration advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


[i] Country of Original Information (COI) Reports, 2012, EASO,  viewed 03/03/2021, available at https://www.easo.europa.eu/news-events/country-origin-information-coi-reports#:~:text=COI%20refers%20to%20information%20on,as%20such%20can%20enhance%20harmonisation.

[ii] European Parliament resolution of 4 February 2014 on the EU roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity

[iii] EASO (European Asylum Support Office). ‘Researching the situation of lesbian, gay and bisexual persons (LGB) in countries of origin’. 2015, viewed 03/03/2021, available at https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/EASO_LGB_COI_Guide_Apr_2015_EN.pdf

[iv] Ibid

[v] SALC, News release: Out and Proud Project: LGBTI rights in Zimbabwe, 2021, SALC, viewed 02/03/2021, available at www.ein.org.uk

[vi] SALC, News release: Out and Proud Project: LGBTI rights in Zimbabwe, 2021, SALC, viewed 02/03/2021, available at www.ein.org.uk

[vii] Gov.uk, Country Police and Information note. Zimbabwe – Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, 2019, gov.uk. viewed 03/03/2021, available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/775001/CPIN-_ZIM_-_SOGIE._V4.0e__Jan_2019_.pdf

[viii] SALC, News release: Out and Proud Project: LGBTI rights in Zimbabwe, 2021, SALC, viewed 02/03/2021, available at www.ein.org.uk

[ix] Ibid

[x] Gov.uk, Country Police and Information note: Zimbabwe – Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. 2019, gov.uk, viewed 03/03/2021, available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/775001/CPIN-_ZIM_-_SOGIE._V4.0e__Jan_2019_.pdf

[xi] Ibid

[xii] Gov.uk, National, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 Section 94, 2002,  gov.uk, viewed 03/03/2021, available at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/41/section/94

[xiii] Gov.uk, UKUT 487 (IAC), 2011, viewed 03/03/2021, available at https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/IAC/2011/00487_ukut_iac_2011_lz_zimbabwe_cg.html

[xiv] Ibid

Written by Isabelle Cooper

Published 22/02/2021

Overview

EU Citizens freedom of movement in the UK has been stopped since the UK left the European Union (January 2021). In its wake, the UK has adopted an ‘Australian style’ points-based system. This article concerns the new ‘Skilled Worker’ route which replaces the Tier 2 (General) route. This visa allows employers to sponsor visas for international staff members so they can live and work in the UK[1].

Note: EU citizens living in the UK before 1st January 2021 may be eligible to apply for the free ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ (instead of applying for a visa through this new system[2]).

What is the new ‘Skilled Worker’ route?

This visa scheme enables EU citizens to legally live and work in the UK for up to five years before needing to renew their visa. After these fiveyears, some applicants may be eligible to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’, which allows people to permanently settle, live, work, and apply for benefits[3].

To be eligible you must[4]:

Additionally, applicants must achieve 70 points:

How much does is cost?

How do I apply?

There are different online application processes for those outside or inside the UK (extension or visa switch). For more details visit www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa

Changes from the Tier 2 (General) Visa and the ‘Skilled Worker’ Route:

Comments:

The ‘Leave’ Campaign promised to ‘Take back control’ of borders and immigration. The new ‘points-based system’ aims to do just this. It is designed to create a ‘high wage, high skill, high productivity economy’[6] and reduce overall levels of migration.

Nonetheless, this new scheme hardly speeds up or eases the process for ‘skilled workers’. This begs the question; will employers be more deterred from hiring ‘high wage and high skilled’ European employees? . If the government were so intent on their vision, then surely the process would be made easier and cheaper for even the most ‘desirable’ migrants?


[1] Sussex University, 2021, The new Points-Based System and hiring EU nationals, Sussex University, viewed 17/02/2021, http://www.sussex.ac.uk/humanresources/business-services/visa/new-points-based-system

[2] Gov.uk, 2021, Skilled Worker visa, Gov.uk, viewed 18/02/2021, https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa#:~:text=A%20Skilled%20Worker%20visa%20allows,coronavirus%20(COVID%2D19).

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Birketts, 2020, New Points Based Immigration System – Skilled Workers, Birketts, viewed 18/02/2021, https://www.birketts.co.uk/insights/legal-updates/points-based-immigration-system-skilled-workers

[6] Gov.uk, 2021, Policy paper: The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement, Gov.uk, viewed 18/02/2021, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement

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