Category Archives: UK Visas

UK Visitor Visa | Streamlining

The UK visitor visa system will be streamlined to attract more business and leisure visitors. The new rules, which will reduce the number of visitor visa categories from 15 to four, will come into effect in April 2015.

The proposed new visa types are:
– visitor (standard)
– visitor (to hold marriage or civil partnership)
– visitor undertaking permitted paid engagements and
– visitor transiting the UK

The new visas will be more flexible, allowing visitors to carry out a greater range of activities under one visa instead of having to apply for separate ones e.g. to take a holiday along with a business meeting. To make it easier for visitors to understand immigration the rules and guidance will be shortened and written in plain English.

The Home Office said it had drawn up the reforms after consulting with more than 100 organisations, including business groups, tourism bodies and representatives from the worlds of science and technology. Outlining the changes at a Confederation of British Industry meeting, Home Secretary Theresa May said “These further reforms to the immigration system are part of our work to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Britain remains open for business and that visitors are always welcome in the UK, whether they come for leisure or work.”

The business community lobbied the government for a number of years to simplify the visa application process, especially for emerging markets like China, India and Latin America, which benefit Britain through mutual trade and inward investment.

Welcoming the news, Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation, said “The new measures demonstrate that the government is listening to the concerns voiced by firms across a range of different industries, and match the aspiration of “open for business” with action. London cannot afford to fall behind other global financial hubs such as Singapore and New York, which have continued to show foresight by simplifying their visa processes. That is why our visa regime needs to react quickly to the realities of a fast changing global economic landscape.”

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Tier 2 Visa

At Commonwealth Contractors we specialise in the Tier 2 Visa (General) process. Acquiring this visa is largely the main route for highly skilled professionals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to work in the UK. It replaced the former UK work permit and allows a Tier 2 Licensed Employer to recruit a non-EEA national where it has not been possible to fill the position with a resident UK worker.

We partner with Licensed Employers & Consultancies who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor a highly skilled Individual on this visa.

Eligibility for Tier 2 Visa

Qualifying for a Tier 2 Visa is a two stage process. First the Licensed Employer must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to an individual and then the individual must submit a qualifying application fulfilling the criteria of appropriate salary, English language and maintenance requirements on-a-points based system. Read more . . .

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Tier 2 Visa General

Tier 2 Visa General is available to Non EEA nationals who are coming to the UK to fill a vacant position that cannot be filled by a UK citizen and who have confirmed sponsorship from a licensed UK employer. The application process is an “out of country” for applicants who do not have existing status within the UK.

ICT (Inter Company Transfer)

Tier 2 ICT (Intra Company Transfer) Visa is designed to allow multi-national companies to transfer overseas employees to the UK to fill specific roles which they have not been able to fill with resident workers. Read more . . .

Tier 2 Visa Extensions

A Tier 2 Visa Extension of 2 years can be granted following on from the initial Tier 2 General Visa period of 3 years. The application process is normally straightforward since an individual will simply be applying to extend their leave with an established Tier 2 Sponsor.  Read more . . .

Switching to a Tier 2 Visa

You can apply for a Tier 2 Visa ‘In Country’ where an applicant is either switching immigration category, or changing employment from one Tier 2 sponsor to another, or extending existing Tier 2 leave with the same employer. Read more . . .

Tier 2 Dependents

If you hold a Tier 2 General Visa you can bring your dependents with you while you work in the UK so long as you do not require access to public funds. Read more . . .    

Tier 2 Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

After completing 5 full years in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) so long as you have not spent any more than 90 days outside the country in any one year. Read more . . .    

Minister of Religion

Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visas are for those who have been offered employment or a post as a minister of religion, a missionary or a member of a religious order in the United Kingdom. Read more . . .

Sportsperson Visa

The Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa allows UK based sporting organisations to employ elite sports people and coaches who are internationally established at the highest level. Read more . . .

                                                                                            

Are you a highly skilled IT, Engineering, or Financial Services Professional? Do you need a Tier 2 Visa to work in the UK? If so Commonwealth Contractors can help! To find out more about securing Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you.

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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

A Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa may be possible If you’re internationally recognised as a ‘world leader’ or potential world leader in the fields of science and the arts.

This  Visa is a new status visa which has been designed to attract the very best in the fields of science and the arts to the United Kingdom.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Immigration Cap

The UK government has limited the number of applications that can be made under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent). Between the 9 August 2011 and 5 April 2012 the limit has been set at 1,000. The limit may be revised for the financial year 6 April 2012 – 5 April 2013.

Points Required

In order to secure a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa you will need to score a total of 75 points. You will score the required 75 points if you have an endorsement from a ‘designated competent body’.

Tier 1 Designated Competent Body (75 Points Required)

A ‘designated competent body’ is an organisation that can judge whether you are internationally recognised in your field as a world-leading talent, or have demonstrated exceptional promise and are likely to become a world-leading talent in the future.

Current designated competent bodies include:

  • The Royal Society
  • The Arts Council England
  • The British Academy
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering

Please note that before you obtain the endorsement you need to request a Unique Reference Number from the UKBA. Please see below for further details.

Tier 1 Unique Reference Number

You MUST apply for a Unique Reference Number from the UKBA before applying for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. If you do not do this your visa application will be refused.

Unique Reference Numbers are valid for 10 working days from the date of issue, so you must apply for your visa within 10 working days of the date when the unique reference number is issued. You can only use the unique reference number for 1 application.

To request a Unique Reference Number email Tier1ExTalentEoI@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk the following information;

  • Your full name as it appears on your passport, AND
  • Your current passport number, AND
  • The name of the designated competent body that you want to endorse your application

On supplying the information the UKBA will respond to your request within 5 working days and so long as the designated competent body has not reached its limit for endorsements the UKBA will issue a Unique Reference Number to you.

If the UKBA receive your request after the limit has been reached you will be placed on a waiting list for that body. Please note that holding a valid unique reference number does not guarantee that you will be granted a Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visa.

How long can you stay?

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas are initially approved for 3 years and 4 months however they may be extended for a further 2 years.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Time spent on Tier 1 Exceptional Talent DOES count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain (also known as Permanent Residence). You can apply for ILR so long as:

  • You are still economically active in your field of expertise, AND
  • Your application for settlement is not opposed by the designated competent body that endorsed your initial application, AND
  • You have spent all 5 years of the qualifying period in the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category, and not in any other immigration category

You may like to read Contracting after ILR

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To find out more about applying for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa call now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!

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Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa | Contract / Consulting Business with £50K

Would you like to apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa ? Do you have £50,000 and a viable business plan? If so Commonwealth Contractors may be able to help.

The UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is focused on those who want to set up a business in which they will invest at least £200,000 and employ 2 local people (settled workers). For many this £200,000 hurdle is simply too steep to clear.

However if you have at least £50,000 there may be another option. At Commonwealth Contractors we work with experienced partners and sponsors who may be able to help you. You will need to secure the other £150,000 in the form of a loan and to get such backing you will need a detailed and viable plan, ideally with key clients and fee-earners already identified. If other key fee earners are also expats, then this need not be a problem.

You may like to read the following:

To discuss your situation and options with an experienced professional call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!

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Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship

A Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is used in the most part for ‘out of country’ applications which are subject to the Immigration Cap. Unrestricted CoS’s are used in the case of ‘In Country’ extension or switching applications which do not have any effect on the Immigration Cap.

To apply for a restricted CoS a Sponsor must submit an application to the UKBA by the 5th of the month and then wait for approval before assigning the CoS to a prospective employee.

In the current financial year the Immigration Cap has been set to 20,700 with the total number of available certificates divided up each month. The Cap may change after the 5th April 2014.  Points are awarded based on the following:

      • Priority is given to those roles detailed on the Shortage Occupation List, THEN
      • Those who apply to work in a role which requires a PhD and is in the research field, THEN
      • Those who have carried out a Resident Labour Market Test with higher level salaries attracting more points.

Croatian citizens don’t need a restricted certificate.

Further reading on CoS

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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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Certificate of Sponsorship

A valid Certificate of Sponsorship from a Tier 2 Licensed Employer is required in order to apply for a Tier 2 General Visa. If you do not have a CoS you will NOT be able to apply for a Tier 2 General Visa.

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a database record in the UK Border Agency’s Sponsor Management System. Once a Sponsor has passed all mandatory Tier 2 employment processes it can assign a live CoS to a migrant worker. The CoS takes the form of a 10 digit Certificate of Sponsorship reference number which the individual must use when applying for the visa.

Are you a highly skilled IT, Engineering, Medical or Financial Services Professional? Do you need a Tier 2 General visa for the UK? If so Commonwealth Contractors may be able to help! We partner with Tier 2 Licensed employers and consultancies who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor an individual under Tier 2 General.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a ‘virtual document’ which effectively forms the basis of a sponsors right to employ an individual on a Tier 2 General Visa. It is very important that a sponsor issues a CoS correctly and accurately as errors may be picked up at an annual UKBA compliance audit and repercussions can be costly (the UKBA may fine a sponsor for non compliance and downgrade or revoke a license where required).

There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship (as detailed below);

  • ’Restricted’ Certificates of Sponsorship , AND
  • ‘Unrestricted’ Certificates of Sponsorship

Restricted CoS’s are used in the case of most ‘out of country’ applications which are subject to the Immigration Cap. Unrestricted CoS’s are used in the case of ‘In Country’ extension or switching applications which do not have any effect on the Immigration Cap.

What are Un-Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship?

Each year Tier 2 Sponsors are asked to request an allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship based on their usage in the previous year and their expectations for the year ahead. The UKBA consider the application and normally credit an allocation of unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship to the sponsor.

Sponsors can assign an unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship in the case of:

  • Intra Company Transfers (where an Tier 2 ICT license is held)
  • Existing migrants who are extending their employment with the same employer
  • New employees who are ‘switching’ their employment
  • Those seeking admission to fill a vacancy attracting a salary of £150,000 or more
  • Tier 2 Sports People or Ministers of Religion

Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship may be allocated by the Sponsor without applying to UKBA as their allocation does not affect the Immigration Cap.

Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship

A Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is used in the most part for ‘out of country’ applications which are subject to the Immigration Cap. Unrestricted CoS’s are used in the case of ‘In Country’ extension or switching applications which do not have any effect on the Immigration Cap.

To apply for a restricted CoS a Sponsor must submit an application to the UKBA by the 5th of the month and then wait for approval before assigning the CoS to a prospective employee.

In the current financial year the Immigration Cap has been set to 20,700 with the total number of available certificates divided up each month. The Cap may change after the 5th April 2014.  Points are awarded based on the following:

      • Priority is given to those roles detailed on the Shortage Occupation List, THEN
      • Those who apply to work in a role which requires a PhD and is in the research field, THEN
      • Those who have carried out a Resident Labour Market Test with higher level salaries attracting more points.

Croatian citizens don’t need a restricted certificate.

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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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Tier 5 Visa

Tier 5 Visa is an International Agreement Visa and is for people who are coming to the UK to do work which is covered by International law.

Points Requirement for a Tier 5 Visa

To qualify for a Tier 5 International Agreement visa you must score 40 points for by passing the Certificate of Sponsorship and Maintenance Requirements.

Certificates of Sponsorship (Maximum 30 Points)

To apply for a Tier 5 Visa you must have been issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship from a licensed organisation.

 

Category

Requirements

Points

General Agreement on Trade in Services Certificate of Sponsorship The employer must guarantee that:

  • You work for an employer or organisation of a country that:
    • Is a member of the World Trade Organisation, OR
    • Has a bilateral agreement with the UK or EU, OR
    • Is a member of the EU
  • You will do work that meets the Ts&Cs of the relevant international agreement
  • You work for an employer that was given the contract or will provide services to the UK client
30 Points
Overseas Government and International Organisation Certificate of Sponsorship The employer must guarantee that:

  • You will be hold a contract of employment with the overseas government / organisation
  • You will only do the job detailed on the CoS
  • You will not change to another International Agreement category.
30 Points
Private servants in diplomatic household Certificate of Sponsorship The employer must guarantee that:

  • You are 18+ years, AND
  • You are employed as a  private servant in the household of:
    • A member of staff of a diplomatic mission who has diplomatic privileges and immunity, OR
    • An official employed by an international organisation with certain privileges and immunities under UK or international law;
  • Are planning to work full-time in domestic employment, AND
  • Will not do any other job for the sponsor other than as a private servant for a named household; AND

Are going to leave the UK when your permission to stay has ended.

30 Points

Maintenance Requirement (Maximum 10 Points)

There are two ways to satisfy the mandatory Maintenance requirement detailed below.

Maintenance Attribute

Points

You have £800+ in personal savings which has been in your account for 90+ days 10
An ‘A-Rated’ Tier 2 Licensed Sponsor is confirming on the Certificate of Sponsorship that it will maintain and accommodate you until the end of you first month of employment where required 10

Please note that if you are applying on the basis of bank statements the balance cannot drop even £1 below the minimum threshold in the qualification period otherwise the application will be refused.

More Tier 5 Information:
Tier 5 Youth Mobility
IT Consulting on Tier 5
Tier 5 Extension to Your Working Holiday
Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Visa

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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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Tier 2 General Visa

What is Tier 2 Visa General ?

The Tier 2 General Visa was formerly known as UK Work Permit.. It is an employer sponsored visa which allow a Tier 2 Licensed Employer to recruit a Non EEA National where it has not been possible to employ a settled (resident worker). Please note that you CANNOT apply for a Tier 2 General Visa if you do not have a Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos) from a Tier 2 Licensed Employer.

Now that the highly popular Tier 1 General Immigration Category (formerly the old Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) has been cancelled Tier 2 General is largely the only way for a highly skilled professional to work in the UK.

At Commonwealth Contractors we partner with Tier 2 Licensed Employers & Consultancies who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor a highly skilled Individual on a Tier 2 General Visa.

Are you a highly skilled IT, Engineering,  or Financial Services Professional? Do you need a Tier 2 General Visa to work in the UK? If so Commonwealth Contractors can help.

More detailed information here in these links:

To find out more about securing Tier 2 Work Permit Sponsorship call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!

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The Single Market is Not a Swiss Cheese

“The single market is not a Swiss cheese. You cannot have a single market with holes in it.” said Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission,  when speaking to the FT

An historic vote in the Swiss cantons is sending ripples of surprise throughout the EU. Switzerland is not part of the EU but it has bilateral agreements that give it access to the single European market. The Swiss Peoples Party (SVP) led a campaign where a 50.3% majority of voters agreed with the need for immigration quotas on EU citizens. This directly contravenes their agreement on  one of the four EU fundamental freedoms – free movement. The others are capital and services and all four are part of a package and are not separable.

The Swiss government will now have to enforce the wishes of the electorate within the next three years.The voting reflects a growing hostility to immigrants across Europe’s big economies, with calls for tighter immigration curbs and a repatriation of powers from the EU.  Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the Austria’s far right freedom Party, welcomed the decision, claiming that citizens in every other west European state would vote the same way if they were given the opportunity.

Net immigration levels in Switzerland have risen between 60,000-80,000 per annum for the last seven years and this equates to roughly 1% of the population. The immigrants hail mainly from Italy and Germany.

The SVP blame a host of ills on this immigration; higher rents, increased levels of crime and overcrowded trains. The election result has been celebrated as a display of Swiss power in the face of over-bearing EU pressure.

“This vote says that Switzerland is a deeply divided country” says Patrick Emmenegger,  Professor of Comparative Political Economy and Public Policy at the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Gallen.

Others feel there will be a real economic cost to this vote. Brussels has already warned Switzerland that its access to the EU’s single market for goods and services could be under threat. The EU is the destination for 56% of Swiss exports and 80% of Swiss imports.

The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) along with other businesses has been quick to urge the government to act in a concillatory fashion to the EU and so minimise any backlash. As well as the EU being the most important market for Swiss banks the SBA has fears over the supply of qualified staff in Switzerland with 25% currently coming from the EU. Financial services groups are some of their biggest exports and major Swiss outposts in London such as credit Suisse and UBS may be undermined.

Also like any uncertainty it leads to indecision with companies not willing to invest until there is a clearer picture. There are already rumblings in Brussels of cancelled deals with the €80 Billion EU Horizon 2020 research and development programme mentioned. Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen, a European Commission spokesperson, said Sundays vote had “not set the right tone for the beginning of an institutional agreement governing the relations between the EU and Switzerland”. However, she added, “it’s still too early in the day for Brussels to decide how to respond…. the ball is now in Switzerland’s court”.

This gives hope to the integrationists and some business people who think that with a three year period for implementation into law the quotas can be set at such a level that the EU does not feel compelled to cancel its accords.

Could the Swexit influence the Brexit?

The events in Switzerland are already referred to as the Swexit while the UK coming out of the EU is referred to as the Brexit. Banks, asset managers and insurers have lobbied the UK government over the importance of the single market to the City of London. The EU is the biggest single market for UK exports of financial services and generates a trade surplus of £15.2bn. Watching how Switzerland discusses and manages its situation with the EU may inform people in the UK of the correlation between EU membership and the prosperity of the UK.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, or Finance then Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

To find out more about our solutions call now on 0800 294 4388 or Send us some details now and we will get right back to you!

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Pilot Plan for £3,000 Visa Bonds Scrapped

The pilot plan for the Home Office to introduce £3,000 visa bonds on visitors from countries in Africa and Asia has been scrapped according to a report published today in The Sunday Times. Nick Clegg threatened to block the policy and David Cameron backed off from a full-scale confrontation with the Liberal Democrat leader.

The countries labelled “high risk” were India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana. From this month visitors from these countries would have had to pay a £3,000 cash bond before arrival in the UK. The cash bond would have been forfeited if they failed make the return trip home on time. If there had not been a U turn, India, Nigeria and Ghana, countries with some of the fastest growing economies, might well have retaliated with their own visa bonds for visitors from the UK. The £3,000 bonds would also have had social implications for those already living in the UK.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, raised his concerns on the BBC Today Programme in mid-September when he said “I mean certainly the reaction to it from our friends in India and elsewhere, where we’re trying to build up a lot of trade and have very good relationships is one of outrage and I think we’re going to have to do this in a much more sensible way.”

The official line is that Theresa May’s immigration bill is already introducing measures to tackle illegal immigrants e.g changes to the appeal rights of foreign criminals; requiring landlords to check the immigration status of tenants; and preventing illegal migrants from getting access to driving licences and bank accounts. Plans too for a nationwide deployment of vans emblazoned with the message “go home or face arrest” were condemned as racist and unworkable and were cancelled last month.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance then Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

To find out more about our solutions call now on 0800 294 4388 or contact_us_tinyractors.com/contact-us/”>Send us some details now and we will get right back to you!

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