Our last two blogs talked about travelling to the UK, but what about the other way around?

We take you through the key points for residents wishing to travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for business, to study or for a holiday.

First things first

Regardless of your reasons for travelling, you will still need a valid passport, travel insurance that covers healthcare and, if you intend to drive, the correct documents. You will also need to make arrangements if you want to take pets with you as pet passports are no longer in use.

To be deemed valid, your passport will need to be less than 10 years old and have more than six months left before expiry, unless you are travelling to Ireland where you can continue to use your passport as long as it is valid for the length of your stay.

Burgundy-coloured EU passports are still acceptable but, when you come to renew it, you will be issued with a dark blue UK passport.

Healthcare entitlement for emergencies and pre-existing conditions varies.  Although no replacement for taking out the correct insurance, having a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC – being phased out) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC – replacing EHIC) allows you to get free or reduced cost medical care in some countries.

  • GHIC and EHIC can be used in most EU countries
  • GHIC and EHIC cannot be used in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland
  • You can access treatment in Norway using a valid UK passport

We advise thoroughly checking the latest advice for the country you need to travel to HERE before you travel.

Travelling for business

There are a few extra things you will need to do if you are travelling for work, but there are no hard and fast rules as the documentation you need depends on the nature and length of your visit, and where you are travelling to.

Attending meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), touring for art or music and taking goods to sell (even if they are a small amount or you are selling them to someone you know or are related to) are all classed as business travel. Generally speaking:

  • If you are staying for fewer than 90 days in a 180-day period, you may be able to do some things without getting a visa or work permit
  • If you are staying for more than 90 days in a 180-day period, you are likely to need a visa, work permit or other documentation

You may also need a visa, work permit or other documentation if you are:

  • Transferring from the UK branch of a company to a branch in a different country even for a short period of time. This is called an intra-corporate transfer
  • Carrying out contracts to provide a service to a client in another country in which your employer has no presence
  • Providing services in another country as a self-employed person

Other points to consider if you are planning to work abroad

  • Your qualifications may not be recognised outside of the UK
  • You may need to tell the HMRC about your change of circumstances
  • You may need to pay social security contributions in the country you are working in
  • You may need indemnity insurance
  • You will need to declare if you are taking £10,000 or more in cash with you

Travelling to study

There are plenty of personal and academic reasons to study abroad, including possible reduced costs, high-quality provision (six out of the top ten worldwide ranked universities are abroad) and making your CV stand out from the crowd.

Like travelling for business, what you need to do varies greatly. There are also different procedures for those planning to travel to do part of a course with a UK higher education provider and those doing a whole course at higher education with a provider in the EU.

Here are a few points to consider:

  • You will need a valid passport as described previously
  • You may need a visa and, for some countries, a residence permit
  • You may need to open a local bank account or set up online and telephone banking with a UK-based bank. If you choose to stay with your current bank, check their charges
  • Look into pre-loaded currency cards
  • Don’t get caught out by roaming charges on your mobile phone
  • You may need to let authorities in your chosen country know that you intend to study there, and you will need to be mindful that there are strict timescales for doing so. They are likely to ask you for your passport, a valid health insurance certificate and proof of enrolment at your host course provider
  • If you are enrolling on a course abroad, you will need to have even more documents in place in addition to those listed above. This may include notification of admission or the offer letter, original (or copies) of your entry qualification certificates, including any language exams you may have had to take
  • Do some research on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website to find out about vaccinations, health issues and safety precautions

Going on holiday

COVID aside, there are just a few changes to face when travelling to the EU for a holiday or short break.

When you arrive at your destination, you may be asked to produce your return ticket and proof that you have enough money to last your holiday. You may also need to use a different lane when queuing.

The amount of duty-free goods you are able to buy for personal use or gifts has increased.

If you need help with any matter relating to immigration or travel, get in touch and our friendly, experienced team will be happy to help. You can call us on 0116 340 0094 or email hello@agrlaw.co.uk

The UK officially left the EU on 01 January 2021, meaning non-UK and non-Irish citizens no longer have automatic right to work in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Although some business travel has been permitted during lockdown, with restrictions being relaxed we wanted to tell you more about what you need to do if you want to visit or relocate to the UK for work.

We talked about the new points-based system in our blog Brexit transition – changes to the immigration system earlier in the year, and below we will go into the various routes to gaining a visa in more detail.

Visiting the UK for a short business trip or meeting

You can visit the UK for up to six months with a standard visitor visa if you meet the eligibility criteria for what you want to do. This includes showing that you will leave the UK at the end of your visit, not making the UK your main home or living here for extended periods, proving that you are able to support yourself (or have somebody to provide for you) and that you have plans to pay for your onward journey.

Specifically for business, the general permitted activity criteria states that you can as a visitor:

  • Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, and interviews
  • Give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser
  • Negotiate and sign deals and contracts
  • Attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling
  • Carry out site visits and inspections
  • Gather information for your employment overseas
  • Be briefed on the requirements of a UK-based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK

There is also specific criteria relating to:

  • Intra-corporate activities for employees of overseas based companies
  • Manufacture and supply of goods to the UK
  • Clients of UK export companies
  • Other roles requiring travel to the UK including translators/interpreters, bodyguards and PAs, tour guides, journalists, researchers, and academics

For more information about activities permitted on a standard visitor visa, click HERE

Visiting the UK as a temporary worker

Short-term visas range from six to 24 months and are categorised according to the role the applicant will be working in. They are:

  • Charity worker for unpaid, voluntary work
  • Creative and sporting if you have been offered work in the UK as a sportsperson or creative worker such as an actor, dancer, musician or film crew member
  • Government authorised exchange for people who want to do work experience or training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, or research or a fellowship through an approved government authorised exchange scheme
  • International agreement worker if you are contracted to do work covered by international law or treaty. This includes working for a foreign government or as a private servant in a diplomatic household
  • Religious worker if you want to do religious work in a non-pastoral role or religious order
  • Seasonal worker for farm workers
  • Youth mobility scheme for those with £2,530 in savings, aged 18-30 and from one of eight named countries and territories

Visiting the UK as a long-term worker

Long-term visas are typically around five years in length. Some, but not all, allow you to apply to bring partners and children, travel abroad and return to the UK and apply to live permanently in the UK.

Eligibility criteria for each visa is complex and typically states the need for sponsorship, the minimum and maximum you can earn, how much money you must have in savings and the knowledge of English to the required level.

Types of visas currently available for long-term workers are:

  • Skilled worker for people doing a job on a list of eligible occupations for an employer approved by the Home Office. You need to have a certificate of sponsorship and be paid a minimum salary
  • Health and care worker for medical professionals coming to do an eligible job with the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care
  • Intra-company visas for people coming to the UK for an eligible job at their employer’s UK branch
  • Minister of Religion for people who have been offered a job within a faith community
  • Sportsperson for elite sportspeople or qualified coaches recognised by their sport’s governing body as international professionals. You require endorsement from the governing body and proof that your employment will develop your sport in the UK at the highest level

Our tips for international workers coming to the UK

  • If you are applying to extend or switch your visa from within the UK, you may have the option of paying more to get a priority or super-priority decision made to quicken the process
  • Carefully plan when you need to apply for visas to be switched or extended
  • When budgeting, make sure you take into account any extra costs such as the healthcare surcharge
  • Carefully read what you can and cannot do under the conditions of the visa. Criteria sometimes relates to taking on additional work, both paid and voluntary, so you must understand the rules
  • Do not book any travel or accommodation before you hear the outcome of your application, otherwise you could lose your (or your employer’s) money
  • Talk to us! Visa documents are lengthy and legally binding, so we always recommend getting help from law professionals especially as visas are refused more often than most people think

Want to know more about how our expert team can help you? Call us on 0116 340 0094 or email hello@agrlaw.co.uk

When the UK left the EU on 01 January 2021, the rights of non-UK and non-Irish citizens wishing to come to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales changed.

As we mentioned in our blog ‘Brexit transition – changes to the immigration system’ anyone wishing to relocate to the UK will need to have a valid immigration status.

With lockdown easing, but travel for leisure purposes still restricted, we thought it might be helpful to talk in more detail about travelling to the UK to study.

Studying in the UK after 01 January 2021

The following information applies to students from the EU, EEA-EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland.

You will hear the term ‘accredited institutions’ in this section of the blog. They are providers listed on the register of institutions licensed to sponsor migrant students under the student and child student routes.

For courses up to 6 months long at an accredited institution, you may need a standard visitor visa. English language courses are included.

For English language courses up to 11 months long, you can apply for a short-term study visa if your provider is an accredited institution.

To apply you will need to:

  • Be aged 16 plus
  • Prove that you have been accepted onto an English language course that lasts six to 11 months and includes no other subjects
  • Have enough money to support yourself or proof that relatives and friends can provide for you
  • Be able to pay for your return or onward journey

If you are under 18, you must also:

  • Arrange for your travel and stay in the UK
  • Provide evidence of parental or guardian consent

For courses over 11 months long, you need a visa.

There are three types of visas available to students:

  • Child student visa
  • Student visa
  • Graduate visa

Child student visas are for 4 to 17-year-olds who will be studying at an independent school.

To apply, you will need to:

  • Have an unconditional offer of a place on a course at an accredited institution
  • Be able to show you will have access to enough money to support yourself in the UK and pay for your course
  • Provide evidence of parental or guardian consent

How long you can stay in the UK depends on your age when you apply and how long your course is.

  • If you are under 16, your visa will cover a course of up to six years plus four months
  • If you are 16 or 17, you will be permitted to study for up to three years and stay for four months afterwards

Student visas are for anyone aged over 16 enrolling on a course with an accredited institution.

To apply, you will need to:

  • Have been offered a place on a course
  • Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
  • Speak, read, write, and understand English to the required level
  • Provide evidence of parental or guardian consent if you’re 16 or 17

How long you can stay in the UK depends on the length of your course and whether it is at or below degree level.

  • If you are 18 plus and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay for up to five years
  • If your course is below degree level, you can usually stay for up to two years

Graduate visa applications are opening on 01 July 2021. They are for students who have completed a degree in the UK and wish to stay, either to work at any level for two years after completing their studies or three years for PhD students. You will not need a sponsor to apply and there will be no minimum salary level.

Our tips for international students coming to the UK

  • Research when you need to apply for a visa by and know when any current visas expire. Do not leave anything until the last minute but keep in mind that you cannot apply for some visas more than three months in advance
  • Check how long you can stay in the UK for and whether you need to switch or extend your visa when it is nearing expiry. Overstaying, even by a few days, may mean you are banned from entering the UK in the future, so you need to be careful and plan ahead
  • Check how much you need to pay for visas and whether there are any additional costs such as healthcare surcharges
  • Carefully read the information relating to what you can and cannot do under the rules of the visa you are applying for. This includes any paid work you are permitted to do
  • You will need to show you have planned your travel and accommodation, but do not book anything before a decision is made about your visa
  • Get us to help you! Immigration is a complicated area of law that can be difficult to navigate. Our expert team can advise you on any matters relating to studying in the UK

Give us a call on 0116 340 0094 or email hello@agrlaw.co.uk to find out more.

From 01 January 2021, the automatic right of people from EU countries to work, live or study in the UK ended. This means all non-British and non-Irish citizens who wish to relocate to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales will require a valid immigration status.

Visas will be granted using a new points-based method. This replaces the current Tier 1-5 system.

Points will be awarded for:

  • Having a valid job offer from an employer approved as a sponsor
  • The job being at the appropriate skills level
  • Being able to speak English at required level
  • Earning a minimum salary amount taking into account whether the role is in the shortage occupation list
  • Holding certain qualifications

For employers:

Amongst other factors, employers must note:

  • A sponsorship licence will be required to hire most workers from outside the UK
  • There is no longer the requirement to offer the job to resident labour market
  • Sponsoring foreign workers will require payment of an Immigration Skills Charge and an Immigration Health Surcharge

There are several routes to gaining a visa:

  • Skilled worker – to work in a skilled job you have been offered
  • Global talent – for the most highly-skilled to enter the UK without a job offer
  • Graduate – for international students who have completed a degree or PhD in the UK from summer 2021
  • Intra-company transfer (ICT) – allows organisations to move key personnel into the UK on a temporary basis
  • Start-up and innovator – for individuals or teams setting up an innovative business for the first time (start-up) or with industry experience and at least £50,000 in funding (innovator)
  • Health and care – similar to the skilled work route, but for those with a job offer from the NHS (or those that provide services to the NHS) or social care sector
  • Creative – for creative workers with short-term contracts or engagements up to 12-months in length
  • Sporting – for international sportspeople with a confirmed job offer and a suitable sponsor, plus endorsement from their relevant governing sports body
  • Seasonal workers – this pilot ran until the end of 2020 and is currently under review
  • Youth mobility scheme – for those aged 18-30 from one of eight named countries and territories who want to work in or travel the UK for up to two years

Other immigration routes:

  • Family reunion and asylum will continue outside the points-based system
  • Students will fall under the students points-based system, which mirrors the current Tier-4 route

What if you are a non-British/Irish citizen already living in the UK?

If you are an EU national and live in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales before the end of 2020, you need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021.

There are also some minor changes to the rules for people wishing to visit the UK

Coronavirus permitting, people travelling to the UK who are European Economic Area (EEA), European Union (EU) and Swiss citizens will not see any changes to the rules for holiday and business travel until 01 October 2021. They will be able to continue to travel short-term using a valid passport or national ID card, but after 01 October 2021:

  • Those using a National ID card will need to get a passport unless:
    • They have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
    • They have a frontier worker permit
    • They are an S2 Healthcare Visitor
    • They are a Swiss Service Provider

Need help?

The expert team at AGR Law are up to date with the latest rules and regulations and are happy to advise you with any enquiries relating to immigration and visas, whether you wish to work, study, live in the UK after Brexit, or bring a migrant worker to the UK.

Give us a call on 0116 340 0094 or email hello@agrlaw.co.uk to find out more.

EU nationals and their family members can apply to remain in the UK under the new EU Settlement Scheme.

The scheme will open fully from 30th March 2019 and there will be no fee payable by those who have permanent residence or indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK. One can still make an application now and pay £65, which will be refunded thereafter.

If an application is successful, you will acquire “Settled Status” or “Pre-settled Status”. You will acquire settled status if you have been living in the UK by 31st December 2020 and for a continuous period of 5 years. If you have not been living in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years, you will acquire pre-settled status after which you can apply for “settle status” after you have accumulated a period of 5 years.

It is important that you are aware of the deadline for making an application within the scheme which is 30th June 2021. However, if the UK leave the EU without a deal, the deadline for the application is 31st December 2020.
The application process has been simplified; you will be able to apply online using an Android form, which will allow you to scan documents in support of your case and identity documents.

If you require further information on this process, please contact our office on 0116 340 0094 for further advice.

The number of refused applications for British Citizenship has risen in recent years.  In this post Ruth Goward of AGR Law discusses some of the potential issues around this.

Although the Home Office reported an increase in number of those granted British Citizenship, the number of refused or withdrawn applications rose by 105% (from 7,441 to 14,558.).

The Home Office states an increase in the rate of refusal or withdrawn application is attributable to the introduction of ‘enhanced checks on cases requiring higher levels of assurance in April 2015, e.g. those cases with previous asylum refusals and cases with adverse immigration histories.’ National statistic on citizenship April – June 2016

We also cannot underestimate the decrease in grants of Indefinite Leave to Remain with statistics showing 241,200 grants in 2010, 104,100 in 2014 and 89,900 in 2015, which has consequently reduced the number of people eligible to apply for citizenship.AGR Law - Immigration solicitors in Leicestershire - refused applications for British Citizenship image

Prior to policy guidance on good character which is applicable to all decisions taken on or after 11th December 2014, only serious contraventions such as criminal offences would count towards good character. The scope on good character requirement has widened with the introduction of policy guidance under Chapter 8 Annex D on good character requirement.
Good character is of course not defined within the British Nationality Act 1981, which means there is no statutory guidance as to how this good character requirement should be interpreted or applied.

According to the guidance, the good character requirement will generally apply to anybody over 10 years old who applies for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen. The Home Secretary would not consider a person to be of good character if there is information to suggest; criminality to include involvement in terrorism, war crimes, crime against humanity and so forth, lack of financial soundness, notoriety, deliberate dishonesty or deception in dealings with the UK Government, assisting in the evasion of immigration control, previous deprivation of citizenship and so on.

We have of course encountered various citizenship applications refused on the good character requirement in relation to the applicants’ previous immigration histories; for example, although the applicant may have been residing in the UK lawfully during the qualifying period (for example 5 years of ILR plus a further 12 months), the Home Secretary may refuse to grant the application if the applicant was in contravention of immigration rules within 10 years preceding their application for British Citizenship. The refusal is likely as immigration offences such as working illegally and harbouring other immigration offenders, should be considered under the good character requirement and not residence.