Category Archives: General UK Immigration News

UK Trying to Simplify Visa Access for Chinese Tourists

The government recognised that it could greatly help the economy if the process was made easier for particular groups of people to come here on business, as students or as tourists. At the end of March 2013 the abolition of UKBA was announced. It was replaced with two services one of which is focused on making high-quality decisions about who comes here, with a culture of customer satisfaction for business men and visitors who want to come here legally.

Home Office ministers are to start talks with Chinese tour operators with the aim of setting up an easier visa application system for high spending Asian visitors. Chinese visitors can visit the whole of Europe on a Schengen visa apart from the UK and Ireland. Consideration was given to having one process for both visas but it was reported in the FT yesterday that Mark Harper the immigration minister, had considered this but it was ruled out because of complex issues around IT and data protection. He is keen to make the process as simple as possible for tour operators.The rest of Europe has not got a real vested interest in this issue and the only country that would stand to gain from this is Ireland. Visiting the UK is a bigger draw for the Chinese simply because of London, the Royal Family and it is so much bigger with so many places of historical importance to see. Once they have a visa for here it is very easy to then tag Ireland onto their trip.

In China there are two ‘Golden Weeks’ – Spring Festival Week and National Day Week which is at the beginning of October. During these two weeks, most people go out and enjoy themselves which boosts the economy, hence the nickname ‘Golden Week’. Increasingly Chinese people travel abroad and spend about £2.4 billion on luxury goods such as watches, perfume, handbags, designer clothes, fine wines and cigars. Retailers in the UK would like them to spend more of their money here. Selfridges for example employ Mandarin speaking staff and accept China’s main credit card which is China Union Pay. The last two weeks of July is also a period of high spend here as families and students prepare for graduation ceremonies.

These shopping sprees are important to the West End but also important for designer outlets throughout the country as they are popular too with the Chinese who want luxury Western goods at bargain prices. McArthur Glen is a company heavily involved in the development of these retail outlets and is so keen to encourage the Chinese to visit that it is a founder member of the UK China Visa Alliance which campaigns for the change in the visa application process. The Home Office is to begin publishing visa guidance in Mandarin from next month but the form itself will still be in English. According to a report in CNBC the French culture is something that exports well to China and consumers who are nouveau-riche want to do displays of conspicuous consumption. The Chinese consumers are already big buyers of French luxury products, wines and cheeses. According to Mark Henderson of the UK China Visa Alliance, we need to do more to make these people welcome and not just those who come here on tours but high net worth visitors who may never use a tour company.

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Appointment Fee for UK Visa for a Fairer and Faster System

Overseas business people and students have suffered from long delays in acquiring visas simply because they have not been able to get an appointment. The problem was caused by individuals and organisations booking several appointments at a time which then prevented others from taking up those appointments. 20 to 30% of the appointments were ‘no shows’ and a waste of visa officials time. According to a BBC investigation ‘scammers’ were selling free appointments for as much as £200 to people wanting to process their visas.

A new pre-payment system to help prevent the abuse and increase the efficiency of premium visa appointments was launched on the 8th April 2013 by Immigration Minister, Mark Harper. Visa applicants pay £375 for an appointment and will now have to pay a refundable deposit of £100 when booking an appointment. If they fail to keep it they will not get a refund unless they have cancelled it at least five working days days in advance. The Home Office also plan to launch an online application pre-payment service later in the year as part of its commitment to improving customer service.

Mark Harper said “We are determined to ensure that genuine visa applicants receive the very best visa service possible, and this is just one of the changes that we will be introducing to make sure this is the case.

The new system will help to make more appointments available for genuine applicants and help protect them from paying unnecessary and often unfair fees to agencies or individuals.”

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To find out more about our solutions call now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!

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Abolition of UKBA

Today, in a surprise announcement, Therese May, The Home Secretary, said that the UKBA will be dissolved and replaced with two organisations. The first will be a high volume service focused on making high-quality decisions about who comes here, with a culture of customer satisfaction for business men and visitors who want to come here legally. The second will be an organisation that has law enforcement at its heart and getting tough with those who break the immigration laws.

According to the FT the changes come in the wake of a report published yesterday by MPs on the House of Commons home affairs committee which was highly critical of UKBA’s failings and had calculated that the backlog of 312,000 immigration and asylum cases would take 24 years to clear based on the current rate of progress. Business travellers have continually complained of long delays for visa processing with people waiting for six weeks or more for “super-premium” visa appointments which cost them £6,000.

The new organisations will come under direct control of The Home Office and answer to ministers. The IT systems right across immigration will be revamped as the current systems are incompatible and unreliable.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee congratulated May for “delivering the lethal injection” to the organisation.

Commonwealth Contractors is a collection of highly skilled professionals from the Commonwealth and beyond. We partner with OISC Registered Immigration Partners capable of professionally representing a Tier 1 Visa Application / Extension and Tier 2 Licensed Consultancy & Associated Trust Partners who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor a you on a Tier 2 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit).

To find out more call now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!

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Brazil | FIFA World Cup 1 | Olympics 1 | Papa 0

Alas Brazil’s hope of having their cardinal elected as Pope was dashed by Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis of Argentina. Having got the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in Rio in 2016 this would have been the icing on the cake for Brazil. It will continue to thrive regardless.

At the end of September 2012 David Cameron, the Prime Minister, took a 40-strong trade delegation on a two day visit to Sao Paulo to capitalise on the Olympic connection and to foster trade links with one of the world’s emerging economic powerhouses. He opened a JCB digger factory which is expected to produce £100 million a year in orders for components from JCB plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wales. Mr Cameron said: ‘This visit is about British jobs, British growth and the British economy, because I want Britain to be tied up to the fastest growing economies on the planet.’

During the visit it transpired that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, was a hot topic of conversation with the media. Boris’s handing over of the Olympic and Paralympic flags ahead of the Rio Games in 2016 was beamed into millions of Brazilian homes and they wanted to discuss the rivalry between them. It can only be good for business if they are taking such a keen interest in our capital and the country even if  David Cameron had a few moments where his diplomatic skills were put to the test. By all accounts he acquitted himself well.

Till recently we have thought of Brazil as a very poor country without much hope. Brazil is tackling poverty through its Bolsa Família Program and for this they receive technical and financial support from the World Bank. It is a family grant scheme where 13.9 million poor families with children receive an average of R$70.00 (about US$35) in direct transfers. In return, they commit to keeping their children in school and taking them for regular health checks. It is cited as one of the key factors behind the positive social outcomes achieved by Brazil in recent years and their government claims that it has lifted 22 million people from extreme poverty.

According to the FT, this week Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff announced an additional disbursement of R$773 (US$395) million. This is for 2.5 million very poor people and they will receive it on top of their Bolsa Família grant. The aim is to break the cycle of poverty and to give Brazil the educated workforce it needs to forge ahead.

Brazil’s star is in the ascendant and that we need to take advantage of the opportunities it will afford us. Therese May, the Home Secretary, was keen to end the agreement that allows Brazilians up to six months in the UK without a visa over concerns about illegal immigration from that country. Yesterday David Cameron used Prime Minister’s Questions to reject proposals for new regulations for Brazilian visitors to the UK. Therese May has now cancelled the plan following concerns that it would impact business links with the country as well as the UK tourism industry.

According to The Telegraph, Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow and chairman of the all-party group on Brazil, said: “I am delighted it is not going to happen because Brazil is one of the most important nations on earth and we have to build as close relations with them as possible.”

Therese May has changed her mind just in time to save us from an own goal.

Commonwealth Contractors is a collection of highly skilled professionals from the Commonwealth and beyond. We partner with OISC Registered Immigration Partners capable of professionally representing Tier 1 Visa Applications / Extensions and Tier 2 Licensed Consultancy & Associated Trust Partners who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor Information Technology or Engineering Professional on a Tier 2 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit).

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners.

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Wealthy Global Investors Favour Silicon Roundabout

According to a report in the FT entrepreneurs from around the world are attracted to the UK’s fastest growing business sectors including the rapidly expanding IT start-up sector centered around the Silicon Roundabout.

Where is it?

Old Street roundabout in London is referred to as Silicon Roundabout owing to the number of web start-up companies in the area. It sits on the northern fringe of the centuries-old financial hub, the City of London. In September 2011 Google acquired a  building  in the area which has since been transformed into a Google Campus comprised of  seven floors of co-working space, a café and events space for start-up companies and entrepreneurs.

According to  International Law Firm Pinsent Masons the number of wealthy foreign investors issued with specialist ‘investor visas’ allowing these people to stay in the UK has rocketed in the past year. The figure has risen to 462 at the end of a 12 month period ending in June 2012 compared with 199 in the same period a year earlier.

Simon Horsfield, the head of Pinsent Masons’ business immigration team says: “The UK, and London in particular, remains hugely attractive to wealthy individuals from around the globe. Foreign nationals still see London as an expat friendly gateway to Europe. London offers both political stability and a very transparent legal system. Investors see prime property in the capital as a very attractive and liquid asset. Prime property prices in London have remained stable or even increased despite the global downturn, which is a real lure for High Net Worths.”

These start-ups will also need talented engineers and other creative people. David Cameron on his visit to India last week announced that there is no cap on foreign students allowed in Britain provided they have basic English and an offer to study at a UK university. It is not just from India that we need them. These entrepreneurs and students will boost our economy through their expertise, innovative ideas and job creation. Making them welcome is the way forward for us.

If you are an expat studying for a PhD or an MBA, we, and our partners can help you

* Obtain a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.

or

* Find an employer able to employ you on a Tier 2 (general) work visa.

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your details now and we will get right back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners.

If you are a Tier 1 Entrepreneur we await your call.

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1 Day Visa for Business People from India

David Cameron is on a three day visit to India with a 100 strong group made up of parliamentarians, business leaders and academics, in a drive to improve our links and trading relationship with a country which has the second fastest growing economy in the world and a population of 1.22 billion. This is one of the biggest trade delegations in British history and according to reports in the FT, Mr Cameron declared Britain could forge one of “the great partnerships of the 21st century” with India.

1 Day Visa for Business People from India

While visiting Mumbai yesterday he declared that he wanted Britain to be India’s partner of choice and announced plans for a one day visa for Indian business people who need to come to Britain at short notice. His vision is that British architects and contractors will play a leading role in developing a corridor of business between Mumbai and Bangalore a distance of 988 km or approximately 614 miles. He urged India to dismantle trade barriers in banking, insurance and retail. India is well known for its expertise in IT and electronics and this morning it was reported on BBC Breakfast that in Delhi he announced the setting up of a joint project to tackle cyber crime.

No Cap on Foreign Students Allowed in Britain

While addressing workers at Hindustan Unilever he stated that there is no cap on the number of foreign students allowed into Britain as long as they have basic English and an offer of a place at a university here. Unfortunately there is an unfair and inaccurate perception that it is not possible to do post study work in Britain and this needs correcting.

Watching the reports here on the news of his cricket playing we are left in no doubt that David Cameron is going all out to bat for Britain.

If you are an expat studying for a PhD or an MBA, we, and our partners can help you

* Obtain a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.

or

* Find an employer able to employ you on a Tier 2 (general) work visa.

Call Commonwealth Contractors on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your details now and we will get right back to you.

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Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant “Genuine Entrepreneur” Test

Why is the Genuine Entrepreneur Test Required?

On the 30th January the Immigration Minister Mr Harper laid before Parliament a written ministerial statement setting out the changes to the Tier 1 (Entrpreneur) Migrant route with effect from the 31st January 2013. Following the tightening of other migration routes the Entrepreneur route is apparently targeted by applicants who are recycling funds amongst different applicants and creating artificial businesses. Mr Harper stated that he was introducing a “genuine entrepreneur” test which will give UK Border Agency caseworkers the ability to test the credibility of suspicious applicants.

One of the main changes is that the UKBA make ask for verification that funds claimed to be available in the application are still available at a later date. The funds can be in the applicant’s own possession or in the financial accounts of an incorporated business of which the applicant is a director or available from the third party or parties named in the application. The viability and credibility of the applicant’s business plans and market research into their chosen business sector will be assessed. Their previous educational and business experience, immigration history and previous activity in the UK will also come under scrutiny. The introduction of these tests will inevitably lead to delays for applicants.

The Immigration Minister Mark Harper is confident that students will still want to come here to study. Figures released by UCAS showed an increase in applications to study at UK universities by non-EEA students. The most significant figures were a 9.9% increase in application from China and a 19.3% from India. He said “This shows that despite rhetoric to the contrary, students continue to want to come to the UK to study in our world class universities.” However, these students had applied before Mr Harper changed the rules.

In the Spectator on January 25th it was reported by Alex Massey that Canada  has just announced a program that will grant immediate permanent residency to qualifying entrepreneurs from 1st April 2013. The Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney plans to recruit the super bright foreign nationals from Asia who are working in technology in the US but may have to leave before they can get the US Green Card.

Barack Obama possibly had this on his mind when, in his Immigration Speech on the 29th January 2013 in Los Vegas as reported in the Washington Post, he said
“Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future. Think about it. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. That’s who we are, in our bones. The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths. It keeps our workforce young. It keeps our country on the cutting edge. And it helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.”

Later he added “We’re giving them all the skills they need to figure that out. But then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else. That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors. That’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform. Now…”

Will the UK match Canada in offering permanent residency to high flyers? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime our partners at Commonwealth Contractors have experience in helping entrepreneurs, both with visa applications and in some cases with funding.

Contact us:

  • for tier 1 entrepreneur visa help
  • if you would like to meet similar individuals to make up an entrepreneurial team
  • for help with funding if you have a proven ability for your business to generate revenues of > £200k pa.

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your details now and we will get right back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners.

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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Expansion | 1000 Extra MBA Places

While most areas of UK visa policy are getting tighter, the red carpet is still rolled out for the world’s high flyers.

In December 2012 Theresa May, UK Home Secretary, announced that

  • Phd students will be given 12 months from completing their course to seek work or  as entrepreneurs to start businesses in the UK
  • An extra 1000 Tier 1 ‘Exceptional Talent’ visas will be for MBA students.

The announcement followed London Mayor Boris Johnson’s public support for expat students coming to learn in the UK, and reports that British business schools thought overseas students had been reluctant to study here for an MBA as a direct result of the tightening on the immigration rules that limit their stay after graduation.

It remains to be seen if these very selective freedoms for top postgraduates will alter the perceptions created by generic UK government and opposition statements that the UK wants fewer immigrants.

Certainly the 28th January 2013 FT Business Education supplement, looking at global MBAs highlighted the extra 1000pa Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas being released from April 2013, and it is to be hoped that prospective MBA students will be able to see that the UK really wants them.

So where in the UK should you study for your MBA?
According to the FT’s MBA 2013 college rankings there are 11 schools in the global top 100 with the London Business School at the top of that 11.

Other interesting points made in the supplement include:

  • People are thinking more carefully about taking two years off work to complete an MBA.
  • Students are not interested in learning about business in isolation. For example at Oxford Said Business School 6% of their 200 students are on their 1 + 1 MBA programme which combines the in-depth study of a specialist masters degree with the breath of a one year MBA.
  • Contacts made through MBA Alumni networks are important for opening doors to the future and networking is often an important factor when decided to study for an MBA.
  • The inclusion of trips immersing students in other cultures are now a key part of an MBA. The FT has teamed up with the Global Fund for Children (GFC) and created a challenge for teams of students where there is an intenational mix i.e. One student has to be studying in Europe, a second in the Americas and a third in Asia and Africa. See link below.

If you are an expat studying for a PhD or an MBA, we, and our partners can help you

* Obtain a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.

or

* Find an employer able to employ you on a Tier 2 (general) work visa.

Call Commonwealth Contractors on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your details now and we will get right back to you. We are ready to help smooth the path to your future.

FT Links: FT Education and FT and Global Fund for Children MBA 2013 Challenge

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London Mayor welcomes Indian students

Mayor Boris, in Delhi to promote London, said he wanted to roll out the red carpet to Indian students

(more…)

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Mahindra Satyam and Tech Mahindra endorse new merger plans

Mahindra Satyam, previously named Satyam Computers, was created following a major stake bought by Tech Mahindra in 2009. This venture occurred due to Mahindra Satyam being involved in one of India’s biggest accounting frauds. Since then, Satyam Computers, renamed Mahindra Satyam, has been trying to rebuild its company and the merger is seen as a major drive in this process.

Ramalinga Raju, Satyam’s founder, admitted in 2009 that the company had been falsifying their accounts for a number of years. The company, however, was given a lifeline following a proposal by Tech Mahindra to purchase a major stake.

A statement from CP Gurnani, CEO of Mahindra Satyam reads:
“The Mahindra Satyam turnaround is a shining story of determination and grit and now comes to its most important chapter, with this merger”. According to latest figures, the company had made a net profit of 3.08 Rupees (£38m, $61m) in the three months before the end of December 2011 – an increase of 424% from a year prior.

Commonwealth Contractors

At Commonwealth Contractors we partner with OISC Registered Private Immigration Firms and Tier 2 Licensed Healthcare and IT Consultancies who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor an individual on a Tier 2 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit). If you are a highly skilled International professional and you would like to work in the UK Commonwealth Contractors can help. Our OISC Registered Partners specialise in Tier 1 General (formerly Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) visa applications and can assist those highly skilled individuals that either wish to apply or extend a Tier 1 General Visa.
For more Information call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you. Please see other areas of the Commonwealth Contractors site for interesting articles on tax, immigration and contracting.

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