Police Registration Scheme Abolished for Foreign Nationals
On 4 August 2022, the Police Registration Scheme was fully abolished for foreign nationals.
The suspension of the outdated scheme will be welcome news for many.
The scheme previously required certain foreign nationals to visit in person at a police station for strict police checks which required a £34 fee; they would also need to notify of any change to their address, visa, or job at the police station. Those who were required to register as a condition of their visa would normally be aged 16 or over and be a national of one of 44 specified countries. The list of countries were geographically wide-ranging and included China, Cuba, Brazil, Egypt, Moldova, Qatar, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.
The information previously collected by the police is now routinely collected when individuals apply for their UK biometric residence permit. Introduced in 2015, biometric residence permits are required by a large proportion of UK visa applicants. Any changes to the BRP holder’s personal details, such as a change of address, are to be reported online.
As a result of the biometric system, police registration became largely redundant.
Those that have already registered no longer need to report changes at a police station; instead, updates should be reported on the Home Office website www.gov.uk/chnage-circumstances-visa-brp. They do not need to retain their “police registration certificate” since they will not be required to produce the certificate to a police or immigration officer. Anyone that has been issued a visa with a requirement to register, but who are yet to travel, will have their visa re-issued, where possible (with the condition removed), or will be notified of the changes prior to travel.
The abolishment of the Police Registration Scheme provides a more streamlined process for foreign nationals and forms part of UK Immigration’s digitalization strategy. This also includes moving applications online, collecting biometric data via smartphones and from 2023, the introduction of the electronic travel authorisation (ETA) for all visitors to the UK.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your sponsorship or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at [email protected] today. We’re here to help!
UKVI PRIORITY AND SUPER PRIORITY SERVICES RESUMED GLOBALLY FOR SPONSORED WORK AND GLOBAL TALENT VISA APPLICATIONS
From 12th August 2022, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) priority services have been reinstated for new overseas customers applying for sponsored work and global talent visas.
Work visas normally take 15 working days to be processed, under the standard route. This timeframe has recently been extended due to the impact of the Ukraine crisis, with some applications even taking months to be decided. In fact, the impact on processing times during the Ukraine crisis has been so severe, that the Priority and Super Priority services for work visas had been suspended earlier in the year, as the Home Office re-directed resources to deal with applications from and for Ukrainian nationals.
The re-introduction of these services is great news for employers and applicants who require a quicker decision on their work visa application. Expedited services help immensely with employers’ recruitment planning and allow visa applicants to travel at much shorter notice than if they were using the standard service.
The priority service costs £250 per person (this increased from £220 on 10 May 2022) and the Super Priority service is a whopping £956 per person. Under the Priority Service, the visa application would be placed “at the front of the queue”, with a decision normally issued within 5 working days of a visa appointment. The Super Priority Service normally results in a decision being issued within 24 working hours of the biometric appointment.
For applications submitted from 12 August 2022 onwards, an applicant who wishes to use these services will need to purchase them online during the appointment booking process.
Note that these services cannot be purchased at the Visa Application Centre, nor can they be purchased retrospectively.
Someone who already submitted their application through the standard service cannot retrospectively make use of the Priority Services.
Priority services for family applications (for example spouse visa applications) are still suspended. The UKVI is continuing to monitor this.
Priority services are currently available for Visit visa applications.
It should be noted that processing times are never fully guaranteed, and, if the application is not straightforward, the decision could take longer. Applicants are normally advised by UKVI to avoid booking flights until their visa is in hand.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm, with extensive experience in overseas visa applications, including Priority and Super Priority applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your sponsorship or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at [email protected] today. We’re here to help!
Expert says new High Potential Visa is ‘doomed to failure’ because it ‘discounts half the globe’ [sell] The government’s new graduate visa is short sighted, says a law expert, because it excludes individuals from India, Africa, South America and the Middle East
The government has now launched its new post-Brexit High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, a scheme designed to attract top graduate students from the best universities around the world.
But the new visa has been criticised, as it limits applications to a heavily Western-biased list of countries – with no option for the brightest students from India, Africa, South America or the Middle East to apply at all.
Legal expert Yash Dubal, Managing Director of A J & Y Solicitors, says: ‘The catchment area to apply for the government’s new graduate visa scheme is so limited that it will mean only a trickle of candidates will apply, and this could mean it will be doomed to failure. The new visa has been created with an inherent western elitism baked into it, and it discounts half of the globe. 37 universities are on the approved list, with 24 of them based in the US, Canada or Australia, and most of the rest European.
‘While there are a few universities from China, Japan and Singapore on the list, there none at all from the Middle East, India, Africa or South America – and that’s incredibly short sighted by the British government.’
It’s not just the limited amount of countries that the visa will allow applicants from that’s the issue – Mr Dubal also comments that it’s the short length of time that the visa allows candidates to stay that will be off-putting.
‘The new visa is only temporary, and this will also be a drawback for graduates,” says Mr Dubal. “While applicants will be able to work, study or become self-employed in the UK when they’re granted the visa, and can bring with them partners and children under 18, this will only be for up to three years, depending on their qualification. Once the visa expires, applicants will have to switch to another visa route – or leave the country.
‘The UK government needs to have a think about whether this will potentially stop people applying, when there are more favourable visa conditions in other nations. For example, in the US, a group of former Homeland Security and Defence officials is lobbying Congress to allow migrants with STEM degrees an exemption from visa restrictions – so that the US maintains an edge over China in attracting the brightest and best graduates.’
In 2021, the UK government launched another ‘elite’ visa route, the Global Talent visa, which aimed to attract winners of top international awards in science, arts, film and theatre, such as the Nobel Prize and the Turing Award. However, six months after it launched, in November 2021, the government was forced to admit that there had been a huge lack of interest in the visa, and there hadn’t been a single applicant from science, engineering, humanities or medicine.
‘By limiting the time visa holders can stay in the UK, the government has shown an inability to understand the mindset of a migrant and a lack of awareness of the migrant experience,” said Mr Dubal. ‘Migration is not easy. It is also costly. Migrants uproot themselves from their homes and their communities. Migration isn’t something people choose to do frequently. It is usually a one-way trip. Migrants want security, not uncertainty. On the one hand the government is saying “we want you” but on the other it is saying “just not for long”.’
Warning: Emails misusing the name of A & Y Law Limited
Emails have been sent claiming to be from A & Y Law Limited in relation to an immigration matter.
What is the scam?
Emails have been sent claiming to be from two individual called ‘Govind Raj’ and ‘Bhaskar’ claiming to be ‘Tier 2 General Visa Consultant’ at a genuine firm of solicitors in relation to an immigration application.
The emails misuse the name, contact details and a former postal address of a genuine firm of solicitors (see below).
Any business or transactions through the above email addresses and telephone number are not undertaken by an authorised solicitor’s practice or by an individual authorised and regulated by the SRA.
Is there a genuine firm or person?
The SRA authorised and regulated a genuine firm of solicitors called A & Y Law Limited trading as A Y & J Solicitors. The firm is based at 5 Chancery Lane London WC2A 1LG. The firm previous address was 53-64 Chancery Lane London WC2A 1QS until 3 March 2021. The telephone contact number is 02074047933.
The genuine firm A & Y Law Limited has confirmed that they do not have any connection to the alert referred to above.
What should I do?
When a firm’s or individual’s identity has been copied exactly (or cloned), due diligence is necessary. If you receive correspondence claiming to be from the above firm(s) or individual(s), or information of a similar nature to that described, you should conduct your own due diligence by checking the authenticity of the correspondence by contacting the law firm directly by reliable and established means. You can contact the SRA to find out if individuals or firms are regulated and authorised by the SRA and verify an individual’s or firm’s practising details. Other verification methods, such as checking public records (e.g. telephone directories and company records) may be required in other circumstances.
The UK Visa and Immigration Service (UKVI) has announced a rise in application charges
The costs for UK Visas and Immigration applications, as well as nationality applications, are reviewed every year. Different application costs apply to different UK visa categories, depending on whether the application is for entry clearance or in-country processing, as well as the visa’s term in some situations. Before applying, it’s usually a good idea to double-check the costs that will be charged, as well as the visa’s term.
For the past three years, there have been no changes in the Home Office application fees. However, on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, the United Kingdom Visa and Immigration Services announced changes for visa applications, which shows a significant rise in the cost. Several fee alterations have been made for visa applications made both in and outside the UK.
- The cost of visit visas has been increased by £5 to £15 depending on the length of visit.
- Costs for most work visas, including Skilled Worker visas, Start-Up visas, and Global Talent visas, have increased by £15
- Naturalisation fees remain at £1,250 and Nationality registration as an adult British citizen remains at £1,126. However, an £80 charge for the citizenship ceremony will be added to the application fee. This £80 charge will also be applied if a child applicant turns 18 during the application procedure.
- The cost of a sponsor licence and of sponsorship of migrant workers remains the same.
Several other changes have been made to the application expenses, check out the full list of alterations here. Feel free to contact our expert immigration lawyers at A Y & J Solicitors for more information.
Minister for Safe and Legal Migration announces A Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules
A Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules was issued yesterday along with an Explanatory Memorandum. The Minister for Safe and Legal Migration, Kevin Foster MP, announced a statement regarding the amendments which include changes to the Introduction, Part 1, Part 6A, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 13, Appendix AR, Appendix EU, Appendix EU (Family Permit), among other things.
The Statement has brought about a number of developments. The key alterations include:
- The new Global Business Mobility routes:
- A reformed Graduate Trainee route is introduced which will now replace the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route.
- A new path has been introduced for the ‘Secondment Workers’ which benefits the overseas workers who are conducting temporary work assignments in the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their company overseas.
- The Intra-Company transfer route has been replaced as the Senior or Specialist Worker.
- In the Temporary Worker route, the alterations include the International Agreement pathway, Service Provider replaces the Contractual Service Supplier and Independent Professional provisions.
- In the Representative of an Overseas Business route, the UK Expansion Worker replaces the Sole Representative provisions.
- Sole Representative Visa
- The Sole Representative visa (previously part of Appendix Representative of an Overseas Business) will be closing in April
- It is to be replaced by the new UK Expansion Worker Visa
- Initial applications can be made by Media Representatives, and extension and settlement applications can be made by both Media and Sole Representatives.
- The new Appendix High Potential Individual (HPI) route
- This new route will allow graduates from non-UK universities ranked in the top 50 on at least two ranking systems (the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, or The Academic Ranking of World Universities) to come unsponsored for two years if they hold a qualification equivalent to a master’s degree awarded within the previous five years prior to the application date.
- The commencement of a new Appendix Scale-up
- To register for this route, a company will need to demonstrate that they have had an annualized growth of at least 20% in terms of turnover or staffing for the prior 3-year period.
- Companies must also have had at least 10 employees at the start of the three-year term.
- Once a scale-up has received an A-rated licence, they can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship and sponsor migrants for a period of six months in jobs that need at least RFQ level six skills and pay at least £33,000 per year (the market rate for the occupation code) and £10.58 per hour. There is no fee for immigration skills.
- Migrants will initially be given entry clearance or permission to stay for two years.
- In the first six months, scale-up staff can switch to different sponsored roles. They do not need to be sponsored after six months, but to extend their permit for three years, they must have had monthly PAYE wages in the UK of at least £33,000 per year for at least half of their time as a Scale-up worker.
They must have earned this for at least 24 months of the three years immediately before the date of application in order to settle.
- Introduction to the new Appendix Settlement Family Life, Appendix Private Life, and Appendix Partner Relationship:
- Appendix Settlement Family Life aims to make the settlement rules easier for persons with Appendix FM authorisation as a partner or parent and who are able to settle in the UK following a 10-year qualifying period.
- It allows you to combine different periods of leave as a spouse, parent, on a private life path, or with leave not covered by the Rules without having to reset the clock.
- If a person did not enter illegally and has permission as a partner or parent under Appendix FM for at least one year, leave via other routes can be counted.
- Persons on Appendix FM leave as parents of a child can also settle once their child reaches the age of 18.
- Appendix Private Life will replace paragraph 276ADE(1).
- Children under the age of 25 who have spent at least half their life continuously resident in the UK and young adults under the age of 25 who have spent at least half their life continuously resident in the UK can now be eligible for settlement after 5 years.
- There are also requirements for private life grants for adults who have lived in the UK for more than 20 years and for those who have lived in the UK for less than 20 years if the applicant’s integration into the country where they would have to live if forced to leave the UK would be extremely difficult.
- Applicants can be granted either 30 or 60 months’ leave.
- Both Appendix Settlement Family Life and Appendix Private Life introduce new tighter validity and mandatory suitability requirements, as paragraph 34 will not apply and it will go beyond the suitability criteria in Appendix FM.
- The Explanatory Memorandum describes Appendix Relationship with a Partner as “a new cross-cutting Appendix that will cover the requirements to show a relationship with a partner.” This Appendix will initially apply solely to proof of relationship with a partner under Appendix Settlement Family Life, but it will be expanded to other ways in the future to provide consistency.”
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and the EUSS family permit:
- Will bring into the Rules the current concession arrangements for an EUSS family permit to be issued (in place of an EEA family permit where one would have been issued before its closure) and will allow those arriving to begin their qualifying period of continuous re-entry immediately.
- Will bring the current concession arrangements for an appropriate letter to be issued by the Secretary of State in place of an EEA residence card (where one would have been issued) to an extended family member into the Rules.
- Will allow dual nationals from the ‘Lounes’ to sponsor relevant family members under the EUSS and the EUSS family permit, despite the fact that they obtained British citizenship without meeting the free movement requirements of having held comprehensive sickness insurance in the UK as a student or self-sufficient person.
- Appendix Continuous Residence changes in connection to absences:
- Appendix Scale-up, Appendix Private Life (settlement only), and Appendix Settlement Family Life will all be affected.
- Absences before 20 June 2022 will not be counted when calculating the continuous residence period for settlement applications under Appendix Settlement Family Life if the applicant was later granted permission as a partner or parent under Appendix FM or under paragraph 276ADE or 276BE(2) after those absences
- Absences for a job, education, or supporting family overseas, so long as the family has maintained a family living in the UK and the UK has remained their place of permanent residence, will not count against the 180-day restriction for an applicant under Appendix Settlement Family Life
There have also been some smaller changes to the Rules, such as:
- Changes to No Recourse to Public Funds as a result of litigation.
- Changes to Appendix Student, Appendix Short-term Student, and Appendix Graduate, including but not limited to changes in work circumstances, financial requirements, work placement requirements, and student academic development.
- Amendment to the Rules for Temporary Work – Provisions for contractual service providers and independent experts will be removed from the international agreement.
- Changes to administrative policy, including fees, numerous applications, and validity of applications for authorisation to stay outside the UK (deletion of paragraph 33A).
- Changes to Appendix Innovator’s settlement requirements.
- Changes to the Hong Kong BN(O) Route settlement rules.
- Changes to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) qualifying requirements, requiring candidates directly employed by or contracted to a UK Government Department or Unit to be refused unless they were fired for a minor reason.
- Modifications to the Skilled Worker route to align minimum income requirements for various health and education occupations with the most recent pay scales.
- Modifications to the Global Talent route’s endorsement criteria and evidence requirements.
- The list of rewards in Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes has been updated to provide a slightly broader range of prizes.
- The Seasonal Worker Route will be expanded and updated to include ornamental horticulture (those growing bulbs and cut flowers; pot plants; hardy decorative nursery stock; trees and forest nurseries), as well as a minimum wage requirement of £10.10 per hour.
- Clarification and re-formatting of the Youth Mobility Scheme.
- Clarification of the scope of provisions to treat an administrative review application as withdrawn in paragraph 34X.
- Changes to Appendix AR to include decisions under Appendix Private Life, Appendix Settlement Family Life, and Appendix Settlement Protection in the list of decisions that do not require administrative review, as well as the new Scale-up, HPI, and Global Business Mobility routes in the list of decisions that do.
- The Permit-Free Festival List has been updated.
- Changes to the introduction, including a definition of ‘fee waiver’ and an amendment to the meaning of ‘present and settled’ in regard to Crown Service.
Other than this, several other policy or technical adjustments were made. The various amendments will go into effect on April 6, April 11, May 30, June 20, and August 22 this year.
Take assistance from legal experts
It would be best if you consulted a legal immigration expert before deciding to begin your visa application. A Y & J Solicitors have been immigration experts for over ten years now. Their bespoke advice has benefitted many clients in fulfilling their immigration needs.
Why has the United Kingdom closed the Tier 1 Investor Visa for new applicants?
On 17 February 2022, the Home Office decided to shut the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa route with effect from GMT 16:00 hours, 17 February 2022 for all new applicants. Any new application received after this time will be considered void. This route allowed the applicants to enter, stay in, and eventually settle in the UK with any eligible family members if they invested at least £2 million in shares or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. This route also allowed quick settlement to applicants in just 2 or 3 years for those who invested £10 million or £5 million respectively compared to a 5-year route to settlement for those who invested £2 million. After 12 months from the date of settlement, it was possible to apply for British Citizenship subject to meeting the relevant requirements.
It is standard practice that the Home Office publishes the Statements of Changes to the Immigration Rules before closing any visa route so that immigration law practitioners, prospective applicants, and migrants who are already in the UK under said route can make the necessary arrangements. However, on this occasion, the Home Office took the unprecedented decision to close the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa route without any prior warning.
According to the Home Office’s statement published on 17 February 2022, the route was closed over ‘security concerns. It further states that ‘some cases’ had given rise to such concerns, including people acquiring their wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption. Home Secretary Priti Patel stated:
“I have zero tolerance for abuse of our immigration system. Under my New Plan for Immigration, I want to ensure the British people have confidence in the system, including stopping corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities.”
“Closing this route is just the start of our renewed crackdown on fraud and illicit finance. We will be publishing a fraud action plan, while the forthcoming Economic Crime Bill will crackdown on people abusing our financial institutions and better protect the taxpayer.”
Furthermore, according to the statement, the route, which was introduced in 2008, was under constant review of the Home Office, who further referred to the findings of their review of all Tier 1 Investor visas granted from 2008 to 5 April 2015 which will be published in due course.
It is clear that the purpose of the closure of the route is concern over national security, abuses of the route, and particularly, stopping corrupt people who bring dirty money to the UK. However, similar routes are still available in other countries of the world. Most importantly, such routes have always been criticised as it allows millionaires to buy citizenship, and there has been always concern regarding the sources of such funds of nationals of certain countries. However, it took over 13 years for the UK to close the route since its introduction in 2008 – although Sir David Metcalf, the chairman of the UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee, described the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa as ‘not fit for purpose’ in 2015. Even after closing the route, the government has been heavily criticised for closing the route without prior warning. The Immigration Law Practitioner’s Association (ILPA) has accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of ‘undermining democratic procedures of accountability and any sense of legal certainty, stability and predictability’ and called for a 21-day grace period to avoid any unfairness to the applicants who were close to submission at the time of the route’s closure. ILPA member and Director of A Y & J Solicitors Yash Dubal told investment migration knowledge platform, Invest Migration Insider (IMI):
“…Genuine investors who planned their move many months in advance now face a hard stop through no fault on their own. The decision to close the route without any consultation, warning or notice is autocratic.”
There is no doubt that firms who received instructions from clients for Tier 1 (Investor) visas and carried out work in light of their instructions potentially could face difficulties if a grace period is not given or a viable transitional arrangement is not announced by the Home Office.
It is still possible to bring family members and to extend one’s stay and settle under this route until 17 February 2026 and 17 February 2028 depending on the amount invested. However, in addition to the closure of the route for the new applicants, the route is also being reformed to prevent abuse, and it has been indicated by the Home Office that settlement will now be ‘conditional’ on ‘genuine job creation’ and other ‘tangible economic impacts’, and investments in UK companies will no longer be enough to obtain settlement. Furthermore, the Home Office plans to make reforms to the Innovator route to provide an investment route.
Trade deal tech boom
Indian tech firms are lining up to get a foothold in the UK as trade talks begin between the two nations.
London immigration firm, A Y & J Solicitors, which specialise in arranging visas for Indian businesses and skilled professionals, has seen a marked increase in interest from tech workers and tech companies in the past six weeks. The rise in inquiries comes in anticipation of new trade initiatives between the UK and India.
The interest in UK visas comes after government trade officials, now in talks with their counterparts in Delhi, appeared to row back on comments made by PM Boris Johnson last month in which he told Parliament that the UK will not consider offering any visa concessions to India in exchange for a free trade deal. The UK’s international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan confirmed this month that “everything is on the table to discuss”. She said her team had “a broad mandate to crack on from cabinet”, including to address India’s demands of easier visa access for students and skilled workers.
Yash Dubal, director of A Y & J Solicitors, said the UK’s new liberalised immigration system, in addition to several new visa routes which are scheduled to be introduced in the spring, will make it easier than ever for qualified Indian tech workers and IT companies to set up shop in Britain.
He said: “There has been a definite increase in inquiries from those in the Indian tech sector looking at UK visa availability. There is a buzz in the industry in apprehension of a trade deal and further changes in the regulations around immigration to the UK.
“There has been a lot of hype and several fresh initiatives designed to woo India’s tech sector. As the pandemic recedes, these developments are beginning to bear fruit and Indian businesses and workers are starting to make plans to come to the UK.”
Immigration measures being introduced this year include a streamlining migrant sponsorship to make it easier for UK firms to hire skilled workers from overseas, introduction of the Scale-up visa that will allow qualifying, fast-growing businesses to hire high-skilled overseas workers, the launch of the Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses wishing to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK and the introduction of the High Potential Individual visa for graduates from top global universities wishing to come to the UK to work.
Mr Dubal continued: “Any fears the tech sector in India had about difficulties accessing the UK through the new points-based immigration system are unfounded. The system is set up to welcome skilled workers and tech companies. Successful businesses wishing to expand to the UK are starting to realise this.”
Other measures that will attract Indian tech expertise to the UK include the Global Talent Network which aims to source science and tech talent from universities, innovation hubs and research institutions overseas. A hub will be established in Bengaluru, India, this year.
The tech partnership between the two nations began in earnest in 2018, two years after the UK voted to leave the EU. At that year’s Commonwealth Summit, the UK and India signed the UK-India Tech Partnership, an agreement designed to nurture relationships between SMEs, VC funds, universities and other investors in both countries. It was estimated the partnership would create thousands of tech jobs in the UK.
A year later, a tech hub funded by UK-India venture capital fund Pontaq opened in London to promote business between the nations. It gave Pontaq’s portfolio of companies access to funding as well as office space and aimed to host 50 businesses. The project promotes cross-border support for early-stage tech firms between the UK and India, focusing on fintech, blockchain and AI as well as smart cities tech. Although it was slowed by the pandemic, it is set to gear-up again this year.
Over 40 percent of Indian companies operating in the UK are technology firms and tech-based trade between the two nations was valued at $25bn last year. Pandemic driven digital transformation has increased this value and several of India’s largest technology companies – including Tata Consultancy Services, HCL Technologies and Infosys – have recently expanded their operational presence in London.