Category Archives: Information For Individuals

Croatia a Member of the EU from 1st July 2013

The Republic of Croatia became a member of the EU on the 1st July. This means that Croation nationals can now move and live freely in any member state of the EU. Member states may restrict access to the labour market for a transitional period and the UK is taking up the option to do so.

Before a Croation national can start work they may need to apply for worker authorisation also known as purple registration certificate or the purple card. Those qualifying for the purple card will generally be skilled workers who meet the criteria for the issue of a certificate of sponsorship under Tier 2 and Tier 5 of the points based system unless they are going to be employed as a postgraduate doctor/dentist, sole representative of an overseas business, or a domestic servant in a private household.

The complete Sponsor guidance is available here.

Highly Skilled Persons
A Croatian national may apply for a registration certificate confirming the holder
has free access to the labour market (a “blue registration certificate”) on the basis
that they are a highly skilled person. In order to be regarded as highly skilled, the Croatian national will have to either:

  • meet the relevant requirements of the exceptional talent category under
  • Tier 1 of the points-based system by obtaining an endorsement (e.g. a
    letter of recommendation) from a designated competent body. These
    bodies will either be The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of
    Engineering, The British Academy or the Arts Council; or

  •  in the period of 12 months preceding the date of their application for a
  • blue registration certificate, been awarded one of the following from a UK
    higher education institution:

  1. A recognised bachelor, masters or doctoral degree, or
  2.  A Higher National Diploma (HND) by a Scottish higher education

Do you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance?

To find out more about our solutions call now on 0330 390 9021 or Send us some details now and we will get right back to you!

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Got non-EEA Dependents? Money & Not Love Will Conquer All

On 11 June 2012 the Government announced changes to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route. The changes came into effect for new applicants from the 9th July 2012 and were a response to the pressure on the government to reduce the number of immigrants. The expectation of the Home Office was that the changes would significantly reduce the number of family visas. The full details of the changes are available on UKBA’s website.

An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Family Migration enquiry was launched on 20 November 2012 to explore the impact of the new rules and their report was released yesterday. The main focus of the enquiry was on the following point:

The new minimum income requirement of £18,600 for British nationals and permanent residents (‘UK sponsors’) seeking to sponsor a non-EEA spouse or partner, rising to £22,400 to sponsor a child in addition and a further £2,400 for each further child included in the application; and the new rules on sponsorship of non-EEA adult dependents applying to come to the UK.

Over 280 submissions were received by the inquiry committee, including over 175 submissions from families who had been adversly affected by the rules. Charities, lawyers, local authorities, businesses and MPs submitted written evidence.
The key official findings are:

  1. Some British citizens and permanent residents in the UK, including people in full-time employment, have been separated from a non-EEA partner and in some cases their children as a result of the income requirement.
  2. Some British citizens and permanent residents have been prevented from returning to
    the UK with their non-EEA partner and any children as a result of the income requirement.
  3. Some children, including British children, have been indefinitely separated from a non-EEA parent as a result of the income requirement.
  4. The current permitted sources in order to meet the income requirement may not fully
    reflect the resources available to some families.
  5. The adult dependent relative visa category appears in effect to have been closed.

In general it is the rigid enforcement of the rules that is the problem. The proposed migrant’s salary cannot be taken into account when calculating the £18,600 even if they have a high salary. In practical terms it means that people with a right to live here cannot bring their high earning partner to live with them if they themselves are not working. They may be looking after their children and have no plans to work or to become a drain on the public purse. If their children were born in a non-EEA country and require a visa the bar to entry is set even higher. The UK misses out on the skills of the ‘dependent’ migrant and the income tax revenue from their high salary. Some people have had to claim benefits when that was never their plan and their children are then growing up in a low income one parent family. In parts of the UK average income levels are well below £18,600 and so that level of income is then not achievable.

The APPG Migration Group had this to say

We urge Government to consider the emerging evidence about what must be the unintended consequences of these rules, and hope they will agree the need fully to review whether, one year on from their introduction, these rules have struck the right balance between different interests.

Increasingly young people are working abroad as part of their career development and when starting a personal relationship are probably not thinking about the complexities of immigrations systems. It would be odd if they were. In the first flush of romance they are more likely to believe that love conquers all.

Do you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering or Finance?

To find out more about our solutions call now on 0330 390 9021 or Send us some details now and we will get right back to you!

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Big Data Scientist | Big Data Specialist is the Hot New Career in IT

Big Data Scientist / Data Specialist is the hot new career in IT. Big Data could add £216bn to the UK economy by 2017, as well as create 58,000 new jobs according to a report released in April 2012 by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) claimed that .

Big data is a broad term for data sets that are too large and complex to manage with conventional database tools. Not long ago computer programmers wrote their code with the cost of memory firmly at the forefront of their minds and data storage was expensive. Now we have the Cloud which gives affordable and easily available data storage and processing power online.

Having this data presents opportunities for business if they can identify growth or savings opportunities. They can even sell their data. According to IBM big data spans four dimensions: Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity. The last one is the most challenging. 1 in 3 business leaders don’t trust the information they use to make decisions. Establishing trust in big data presents a huge challenge as the variety and number of sources grows.

Here are some examples of how big data is used:
(Source: New Scientist Magazine 27th April 2013)

  • There was a 35 minute power outage at this years Superbowl which is the climax of the US footabll season. It has an audience of 100 million and advertisers pay $4 million for a 30 second airtime advertising slot. A big data company called Datashift was giving feedback to the advertisers in real time on how the ads were perceived by extracting information from twitter feeds. The biscuit maker Oreo put an new ad together on the hoof which simply said “Power Outage? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” Oreo’s quick action was actually more successful thant their carefully planned advert. The message was retweeted 14,000 times and increased their Twitter following by 14%.
  • Through store loyalty cards companies can send tailored offers to people depending on what the data says is happening in their lives. In the US a man complained to a company called Target because they sent his teenage daughter vouchers for baby related products and he felt this was inappropriate. It transpired that his daughter was pregnant.
  • A casino thought that the best revenue generators were the ‘hig-rollers’ but data analysis showed that elderly slot players contributed more to their bottom line.

Big Data Employment Opportunities
Data scientist jobs will mention requirements such as experience in working with large data sets and working with distributed computing tools, such as Map/Reduce, Hadoop, Hive, Mahout, Pig, R, Matlab, NumPy SAS Sql and NoSQL. Most big data systems have to be built on top of Hadoop or some distributed environment.  There are very few packaged applications that run on top of Hadoop. Right now the technical jobs outnumber the analysis jobs.

IQWorkforce, a US analytics company, has this to say about employing big data specialists “There are lots of foreign nationals working in big data. If you want to recruit a data scientist, an engineer or a distributed system architect you should be prepared to sponsor a work visa.” Furthermore they say ” If you want a 2-3 year data scientist or a 2-3 year statistical modeler you can either catch lightening in a bottle or sponsor a visa.” It is a similar situation here in the UK. Demand for UK big data specialists will increase by 92% over the next five years and we are already experiencing a skills shortage axccording to SAS, a leading company in analytics software and services.

You might like to read about IT Consulting on Tier 2 General.

If you think you are qualified to fill the gap and need advice on your visa situation call now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!


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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 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!


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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Route | Changes from the 6th April 2013

Changes to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa route will mean that you no longer have to pay the full application fee upfront, before you know whether your designated competent body will recommend your endorsement. They will no longer need to hold onto your passport while the designated competent body is considering your endorsement, allowing you to travel.

The process will be split into two:
Stage 1 will be applying for endorsement by a designated competent body.
Stage 2 will be applying for permission to work in the UK under this route.

Commonwealth Contractors

If you have exceptional talent or if you are a highly skilled International professional and you would like to work in the UK then 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 0330 390 9021 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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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 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!


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Changes to Rules for Some Tier 2 Intra-Company Transferees (ICT)

Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister, has announced that executives known as Tier 2 Intra-Company Transferees (ICT), who are paid more than £152,100 pa, will be exempt from the rule that forces non-Europeans to spend a year outside the UK if they wish to switch between temporary and permanent visas.

In practical terms this rule meant that staff who transferred to the UK headquarters of multi-national companies could not be taken on as permanent employees in Britain at the end of their temporary contract. These executives will be exempt from taking an English test if they want to extend their leave in the UK and the amount of documents they must provide in order to show they have worked for their company for over a year are also being reduced.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills had lobbied the Home Office on this issue after receiving complaints from the business community. It was seen as a bar on highly skilled migrants who have valuable global and UK business experience which we need in order to encourage growth and international trade links.

If you are working in the UK on a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Visa and you would like to ‘switch’ to Tier 2 General 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.

To find out more call now on 0330 390 9021 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 0330 390 9021 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.


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

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 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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