Successful Skilled worker Application
Mrs X is an experienced retail manager, with experience in her field and a bachelor’s level qualification in Pharmacy.
Her future employer had experienced a lot of difficulty recruiting a senior level shop manager for his small local Kent-based convenience store. His efforts to staff the business had been undermined by unreliable recruits.
Mrs X was known to the employer as she was his sister-in-law. Based on this informal introduction, the employer took detailed steps to interview Mrs X and check out her references before even considering making a job offer for the business.
Having received stunning references from her current employer, Mrs X was successful in her job application.
In order to make a successful application, Mrs X sought support from A Y & J Solicitors to guide through the process.
How did A Y & J Solicitors help the Shop Manager?
A Y & J Solicitors’ team of UK immigration lawyers advised Mrs X’s sponsor on making sure that he had the correct evidence of Mrs X’s recruitment on file, ready for any request or inspection.
The employer was keen to run a further recruitment drive, to rule out any possibility that there might be someone available from the domestic labour market, before he proceeded with the time consuming and expensive process of sponsorship.
Having placed an advert in his shop window (the traditional method of recruiting shop staff) and also having placed an advert online, the employer was satisfied that he was not going to find anyone locally who fit the role. He received a couple of applications from overseas, but these candidates were by no means a better fit.
Having proceeded with an official job offer to Mrs X, the employer then instructed A Y & J Solicitors to act as legal representatives and “level 1 users” of his sponsor management system (SMS) online sponsor portal.
Our level 1 user was able to login and request a certificate of sponsorship, which was happily approved within 1 working day of the request being submitted online.
A Y & J Solicitors also worked closely with Mrs X to complete her online form and to check that her evidence was correct for the application, including having obtained a valid tuberculosis test and UK NARIC/ECCTIS certificate for her overseas bachelor’s degree, which she was to use to meet the English language requirement.
During the course of preparing the application, A Y & J Solicitors were advised that Mrs X’s husband would prefer to apply (for a dependant visa) with a view to travelling with Mrs X to the UK at the same time. Therefore, we quickly onboarded the dependant and assessed the application before proceeding with the case.
It came to our attention that Mrs X and her husband appeared, from their documentation, to live at different addresses. We checked in to find out more details, as this discrepancy, in itself, would have been a risk factor for the application.
Having established that the couple lived together in rented accommodation (their registered addresses were their respective family homes), we arranged additional evidence to ensure this did not cause any problems for the application, including reference letters in support of the couple’s genuiness.
Once Mrs X’s CoS had been assigned, we assisted with submitting the visa applications online and booking the necessary biometric appointment at the couple’s preferred location.
Having submitted the application, we were informed that, the application would take longer than the usual 15 working days to be approved.
This was somewhat expected, due to the family relationship between the sponsor and applicant – as a “high risk” application, we helped the sponsor and Mrs X to prepare for what was ahead (interview).
Indeed, Mrs X was called for an interview, which she attended, in person at the visa application centre.
A Y J Solicitors had met with Mrs X and her sponsor remotely on a call to go through the possible questions and also help alleviate some of the stress associated with a Home Office interview.
By the time A Y & J Solicitors had gone through what was required, Mrs X and her sponsor were ready to face the questions from the Home Office.
Mrs X and her sponsor were both interviewed separately. Mrs X attended an in-person interview at the Visa Application Centre and the sponsor was interviewed over the phone. The interviews were lengthy and intense, involving a lot of detailed questions about the business and the owner’s recruitment practices.
Having completed the interviews everyone was happy that they had done their very best and had been well prepared.
After the interview, the Home Office indicated that a decision would be issued in a few days, however, weeks later, Mrs X was still waiting for an update.
A Y J Solicitors again stepped in to help chase up the result both with the Home Office and the Visa Application Centre.
Further to our follow up, the application was approved by the Home Office and Mrs X received her and her husband’s passports containing her visa vignettes and approval letters by courier from the visa application centre.
Thankful for all the support, Mrs X is now planning her move to the UK with her husband and is looking forward to taking up the new opportunity and starting a new life in the UK.
Successful Sponsor Licence Application for a Fish and Chip Shop
Mr X is the Director of a group of food businesses in Leicester. He has over a decade’s experience in management and having worked for a large global chain in management decided to start his own project.
Mr X runs a restaurant which incorporates a “fast food” pizza menu. He also bought up a Fish and Chip shop which, due to covid pandemic, has had a slow start to business, but is quickly picking up.
Mr X had recruited a student who was working part time in the fish and chip shop and chef/manager. Having proven himself worthy of a job offer, Mr X decided that now was the time to proceed with sponsorship – with business gathering momentum, this was likely to be only one instance where a sponsor licence would be elementary to his meeting his recruitment aims.
Mr X contacted A Y & J Solicitors for assistance to obtain the sponsor licence and sponsor his preferred candidate under the skilled worker route.
How did A Y & J Solicitors help food shop owner?
A Y & J Solicitors helped Mr X to identify which of his businesses could and should be included as part of the sponsor licence application.
Mr X had previously operated his food business as a sole trade, but recently incorporated a new limited company, through which his three businesses would operate. Two of the businesses ran from the same address (a restaurant and a fast-food business) and the other was a newly acquired Fish and Chip shop, purchased from an owner who was due to retire.
We assisted Mr X in understanding how to apply for a licence to reflect the structure of his business and recruitment requirements and make sure that the licence application best reflected the business’ genuine needs and plans.
Having submitted the sponsor licence application, Mr X received a “further information request” from the Home Office.
We stepped in to support Mr X with quickly collating the relevant responses. Our advice was critical, for example helping to ensure he took clear and relevant screenshots of his various HR documentation to prove his undeniable adherence to sponsor duties, particularly with regard to right to work checks on his current workforce.
As part of our service, A Y & J Solicitors delivered comprehensive HR compliance support and carefully prepared the sponsor licence application form and documents, to ensure all documentation and information was correct.
With all this in place, Mr X was confident of a positive result.
Ms X’s sponsor licence application was approved within the stated service standards and the limited company is now an A-Rated sponsor and able to recruit staff for the three businesses.
Mr X is now working with A Y & J solicitors to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship and submit his candidate’s visa application without delay.
Successful application for Entry Clearance as an opposite-sex proposed civil partner
Our client, Miss C met her partner, Mr B on an online dating app and officially established their relationship soon after they met. The couple did not want to get married; instead, they wanted to enter into a civil partnership. Therefore, Mr B found us online and instructed us to assist with his partner’s application to enable Miss C to come to the UK, and they can register their civil partnership in the UK.
How we helped
According to the Appendix FM of Immigration Rules, ‘partner’ means the applicant’s spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner or unmarried partner. The civil partner can be a same-sex or an opposite-sex civil partner because Section 2 of the Civil Partnership Act required the Secretary of State to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 by 31 December 2019 so that people of the opposite sex could enter into civil partnerships. The regulations came into effect on 2 December 2019, the date upon which opposite-sex couples could register their intent to form a civil partnership.
Compared to the standard spouse visa, the applicant under this visa route needs to approve that the applicant and their partner intend to entry to the UK to enable their civil partnership to take place in the United Kingdom. We helped Miss C to gather several documents proving that Mr B proposed to her, and they intended to register their civil partnership in the UK, such as evidence of the proposal. (Though it is not provided in this application, if you plan to have a ceremony to celebrate with your family and friends, you can also include the booking confirmation or the communication with a venue in the UK, which is helpful as well.) We also provided other documents showing the genuineness of their relationship.
In terms of financial requirements, we helped Mr B to obtain a letter from his employer confirming the certain points required by the Home Office. Along with Mr B’s payslips and bank statements, it shows that Miss C can meet the financial requirements.
We helped Miss C to book her appointment to enrol biometrics and uploaded all the documents beforehand. Miss C’s application was approved within 3 months. The couple is living in the UK happily and preparing for their civil partnership.
Successful Settlement Application as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant
Our client, Mr G, was an Indian national residing in the UK as a Tier 2 migrant with his family members. We were instructed by his employer to prepare for the extension application for Mr G and his dependants.
As with our standard practice, a Client Care Letter was sent to Mr G to confirm his instructions, our advice and the application process. Once this was received, a questionnaire and documents checklist were sent to him to prepare for his application.
How A Y & J helped the family with their settlement application
Upon reviewing his supporting documents, it came to our attention that Mr G and his family members first arrived in the UK in February 2016 and had in fact, already completed their 5-year qualifying period for settlement.
Under the Skilled Worker route (including Tier 2 (General) migrants), applicants are eligible for indefinite leave to remain once they have completed a continuous 5 -year qualifying period in the UK, which can be combined with a few other eligible routes, provided the applicant meets the specific settlement requirements.
Requirements for settlement under this route include the residence requirement whereby:
- The applicant must not have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days a year for leave granted before 18 January 2018;
- The applicant must not have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days during any 12-month period for leave granted after 18 January 2018;
We therefore contacted Mr G and his employer to confirm their instruction as we were not sure whether there was a mistake in the client’s instruction or the client was not eligible for indefinite leave to remain due to the residence requirement.
It turned out there was indeed a mistake in the instruction as the employer had not realised Mr G is already eligible for settlement. We therefore revised our templates and documents checklist for Mr G and his family member for indefinite leave to remain instead.
It is worth noticed that although the application form still asks for details on how the main applicant meets the English language requirement for indefinite leave to remain, this is no longer required based on the Immigration Rules and policy guidance as this requirement is deemed met in a previous application by a Tier 2/ Skilled Worker migrant. It appears that the Home Office has yet to update their application forms to reflect the changes on this which may cause confusion to some.
Having been satisfied that all supporting documents are in place and all applicants meet the requirements for indefinite leave to remain, the application was submitted with priority service.
With the priority service, the Home Office will aim to make a decision within 5 working days from the date of the biometric appointment. This is beneficial for those who need to travel frequently as you are typically not permitted to leave the UK while your application is pending. With the processing time for standard service being 6 months, we were delighted to find that the Home Office has not reinstated both the priority and super priority service.
Having said that, there is still an approximately 3-week waiting time for biometric appointments. The application was submitted in late February and our client was not able to secure an appointment until late March. Nevertheless, although the application was submitting with the 5 working days service, we received the grant of indefinite leave to remain for Mr G and his family within 1 working day from the date of their appointment.
Successful Sole Representative Entry Clearance Application
Our client, Ms K, instructed us to prepare for his application as a sole representative of an overseas business.
Ms K is a national and resident of India and has been employed by an IT company for 2 years, previously working at a world-leading tech company. The parent company specialises in Data Science and Data Analytics with clients ranging from start-up companies to global organisations.
Having worked with many UK-based clients, the parent company saw an opportunity to expand their business in the UK due to the increasing demand for Data Science related services and decided to open a branch in the UK.
Due to her previous work experience with UK companies and experience in both the technical and managerial aspects of the business, Ms K was nominated as the sole representative of the parent company and instructed us to represent her in her entry clearance application.
How AY & J helped Ms S with her application:
After an initial discussion with our client, it was established that this is a strong application because of a number of factors. Firstly, the company has an active and strong presence in the industry in India, and was able to provide numerous reference letters and evidence of trading activities such as invoices, commercial contracts and tax returns. It was also able to provide evidence of its ability to maintain and generate business in the UK by providing evidence of previous and upcoming projects with their UK clients, which demonstrates the need for them to set up a branch in the UK in order to strengthen their reach to their clients.
Ms S was also able to prove her suitability for this role. Having completed a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in related fields and worked in the industry for over 10 years, Ms S has continued to undertake professional training courses to keep herself up to date with her knowledge.
We reviewed and collated Ms S’ supporting documents to showcase both the strengths and potential of the company and the candidate with a detailed explanation of how each requirement under the sole representative route was met.
Whilst waiting for a decision for visa applications can be nerve-wracking, within 2 weeks of submitting the application, we received good news from Ms K that her application has been successful, and she has been granted leave to enter the UK as the sole representative of her employer.
Successful application for limited leave to remain as a spouse of a British citizen
Mr A came to the UK about 10 years ago to study. However, his visa expired, and his application to extend his visa was refused, and he had been overstaying in the UK since then, during which he met his partner in the UK. Ms A tried a few times to regularise his status, but they all failed. Mr A finally found us and sought our advice in relation to his wife’s immigration issue.
How we helped
During the consultation, Mr A informed us of his immigration history. After careful consideration, we advised him to leave the UK voluntarily and submit his application for entry clearance as a fiancé of a British citizen overseas. Due to his poor immigration history, we disclosed that his application could be refused, which it indeed happened. We represented Mr A and filed an appeal against the refusal. Eventually, the appeal was allowed, and Mr A was granted a 6-month visa to enable him to enter the UK to register the marriage with his partner.
After the registration of their marriage, Mr A instructed us again to submit an application to extend his visa. We issued a checklist outlining the documents required for his application. We helped Mr A to gather documents, fill in the form, submit his application and upload all his supporting documents.
Only 4 weeks after Mr A enrolled on his biometrics; his application was approved without any further enquires from the Home Office.
Successful Application for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence for a Small Restaurant in Cheshire
Our client is a fine dining restaurant located in a remote village in Cheshire. Due to the shortage of staff in the hospitality industry and the remoteness of the restaurant, the Director has been struggling with operating his business since the ease of lockdown and is desperate for staff to join permanently.
Unfortunately, most candidates are either inexperienced and/or unable to commit on a long-term basis. His recruitment attempts within the local area have also not been very successful as the local population is not familiar with the cooking techniques and spices used in the cuisine. In addition to these, the Director is also particularly worried about complying with the Home Office requirements as the Home Office previously raided the restaurant while it was under the ownership of another person, who was later subject to a civil penalty for employing illegal migrant workers.
The Director came to A Y & J Solicitors for guidance on how he can employ migrant workers and ensure he does not repeat the footstep of the previous owner.
How A Y & J helped the Restaurant to Obtain a Sponsor Licence
We were instructed that the restaurant was recruiting for a number of positions, including Restaurant Manager, Floor Manager and various chefs. The Director had begun speaking to a few potential candidates before we began the process of the application; however, most candidates are reluctant to move to Cheshire for the roles. The Director had sought to recruit from outside the UK as his business struggles with the shortage of staff.
The application itself was relatively straightaway. Our client’s main concern was their ability to comply with their sponsor duties as the previous raid is still frequently discussed within the local village. We first reviewed the restaurant’s HR system, including how they currently conduct their Right to Work Check and how documents are stored and how to work attendance is monitored.
We could see that the Director had done all he could to comply with the UK employment law before approaching us. However, they did make one common mistake when conducting the Right to Work check. During our compliance reviews, businesses often accept the UK driving licences as a Right to Work check document or are under the impression that if someone is British, you are not required to conduct a Right to Work check for them.
However, my question to these clients is: How do you know someone is British without seeing their proof of identity? Just because a person ‘looks and sounds British’ does not mean they hold British nationality or have the Right to Work in the UK. They may have been living in the UK for a long time and adopted the customs in the country without any status. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to ask for at least one form of proof of identity for all of their prospective employees to establish their Right to Work.
When conducting the check, it is also important to note that UK driving licences are not a form of accepted ID for Right to Work check because whilst it confirms the person’s address, it does not confirm their nationality and/or status in the UK. For information on how to conduct a Right to Work check correctly, we advise referring to the guidance and official checklist on the government websites to ensure the checks are done correctly and properly to avoid landing on the wrong side of the Home Office inadvertently.
We provided extensive advice on revising its current HR system to comply with its sponsor duties fully. Regarding their Right to Work check, we also advised the client to rectify their mistake as soon as possible and ensure the correct ID documents are kept on both a physical and electronic file.
We also shared tips on how to avoid employing overstaying, such as setting up a flagging system to monitor their migrant workers’ visa expiry dates and process on conducting an online Right to Work check on the government website.
We are confident that the company will be fully compliant with their sponsor duties so long as they implement our advice and will be ready for a Home Office with ease.
Successful Application for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence for a Care Home based in Wales
Our client is a care home based in Wales with 4 locations to take care of recently discharged elderly patients.
As you may be aware, care homes have long struggled with recruitment for various reasons. This is especially so with Brexit, as care homes now rely on the settled workforce. The Home Office has relaxed the requirements for sponsorship of care home workers whereby Senior Care Assistants/ Senior Carers are now eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route.
Our client is working closely with the NHS and local council to provide individuals with extensive healthcare and support services. The arrangement they have in place is known as ‘step down beds’, i.e. hospital patients transitioning from full hospital care to residential care before they can go home. The lack of staff meant that the care home had to reduce the places they could offer, potentially affecting the quality of care they could provide to the individuals in need.
How A Y & J helped the Care Home to Obtain a Sponsor Licence
We promptly prepared and submitted the application with the Director of the Care Home. However, the Home Office is still only accepting 10 priority service requests per day for licence applications, and most other applications are taking at least 7 weeks to process.
Having already had to reduce their capacity to provide step down beds to an individual in need before the submission due to the lack of staff, our client informed us that they might have to reduce further their capacity, which in turn will impact the local hospital if they cannot hire any new employees any time soon. We wrote to the Home Office on the client’s behalf and drafted follow-up letters for them to explain the severity and urgency of the delay, hoping the application would be escalated.
Although we did not receive any response from the Home Office regarding the escalation requests, we were soon informed by the Director that the licence had been granted. We are now in the process of submitting the visa application for the individual they have identified to come to the UK as a Senior Care Assistant, with the view of submitting at least 7 more applications soon.
We recently attended a conference with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, where a few practitioners brought up concerns regarding the sponsorship of Senior Carers/ Assistants. We were told that they were experiencing unexplained delays in the Defined CoS requests stage, where a request was delayed for up to 7 weeks before a decision was received. The Home Office was also not able to explain why there is such a delay; however, we were warned by other firms to expect this when sponsoring Senior Care Assistants.
For this particular client, we were able to obtain a Defined CoS within 1 working day. However, please note that it appears any particular timeframe does not bind the Home Office to process Defined CoS requests if they asked for additional information/ documents and have in the past taken more than 5 weeks to reach a decision. Therefore, please ensure this timeframe is taken into account when you recruit from overseas as this is a factor that only the Home Office can manage.