In March 2011, the UK Border Agency released a statement outlining significant changes to their existing UK immigration policies and procedures. This statement aimed to change the way in which overseas migrants can qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (also known as settlement).
The proposed changes came into effect on 6th April 2011. A summary of these changes are as follows:
• Convictions -All applicants must be free of unspent convictions at the time of application (both within the UK and overseas). A conviction becomes ‘spent’ after a specified rehabilitation period. The exact period depends on the sentence imposed and the age of the offender at the time of conviction (whether under 18 or not). Receiving a fixed penalty notice (FPN), penalty charge notice (PCN) or penalty notices for disorder (PND) should be disregarded as they do not form part of a person’s criminal record.
• Income requirement – All applicants for Indefinite Leave to Remain made on the basis of Tier 1 (General), Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Inter Company Transfer) or UK Work Permit arrangements must provide evidence of earnings at the time of application. Tier 1 (General) applicants must provide two independent forms of corroborating evidence for the past 12 months earnings. For those applicants who were sponsored by a UK employer under a UK Work Permit or Tier 2 will need to have written confirmation that they are being paid on or above the specified rate as per the Tier 2 codes of practice.
It is also worth mentioning that the salaries displayed in the Codes of Practice may well have increased since the original tier 2 visa application was made, meaning that if an immigrant is looking to extend their stay in the United Kingdom, they may well need a pay rise in order to meet these new salary requirements and qualify for ILR. You should seek the advice of your employer if you find yourself in this situation.
• English Language – This was amended, requiring certain applicants to have successfully passed the Life in the UK test rather than an ESOL with citizenship course.
If you are planning to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, then you need to ensure your compliance with the revised criteria. For many immigrants working as a skilled worker or under the business visa category, the ILR requires the migrant to have lived in the UK for at least five years. To qualify, immigrants are also required to ensure they spend no more than 180 days outside of the UK during the 5 year period and no single trip away should exceed a 90 day period.
These changes were designed to make it tougher to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This has left some families unable to apply at the same time, bringing additional time and costs to the application process.
With the cost of submission fees running into thousands of pounds for a small family; it has become more important than ever, to make sure that professional advice is sought at an early stage, before an application is made.