Category Archives: UK Visas

Tier 2 Visa

What is a Tier 2 Visa?

The Tier 2 Visa  was formerly known as UK Work Permit.. The Tier 2  Visa 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 Certificates 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.

Apply for Tier 2 Visa UK

You can apply for a Tier 2 Visa  ‘In Country’ . Tier 2 General applications are used where an applicant is either; (1) switching immigration category, OR (2) changing employment from one Tier 2 sponsor to another, OR (3) extending existing Tier 2 leave with the same employer.Click on  In Country Tier 2 Applications for further information.

You can apply for a Tier 2 Visa UK ‘Out of Country’ when a UK Employer wishes to employ you if you are a Non EEA national without existing status and the employer will allow you to move to the new visa in country.

The employer must first apply for a ‘restricted’ Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before you  can submit a Tier 2 application overseas since almost all out of country Tier 2 General applications fall under the Immigration Cap. For more information click on Out of Country Tier 2 Applications.

The Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer category is designed to accommodate those who are employed by multinational companies and are being transferred by their employer to a UK branch of an overseas company or organisation.

Other categories of skilled worker visas under the Tier 2 points system include Minister of Religion and Sportsperson.


Here is a list of other links that may be of interest to you:

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 Work Permit Sponsorship call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!


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Tier 1 Investor Visas | Concerns Over Checks on Applications

Tier 1 Investor Visas was introduced in 2008 and in that year 43 foreign nationals succeeded in their applications. In 2012 the number of applications soared and 470 visas were granted. The increase was due to rising demand from people from Russia and China.

According to a report in the FT this week wealth management companies are concerned over Home Office checks into the foreign millionaires’ finances as they feel there is a disconnect between what the companies have to do to establish the source of funds and what are perceived as the less in depth checks carried out by the Home Office. The response from the Home Office is that they are carrying out extensive verification and criminality checks and preventing fraud but these checks are not a substitute for those that financial institutions are legally required to carry out on investors’ funds .

For more information from this site on the this type of visa click on Commonwealth Contractors Tier 1 Visa Information.

If you have not got a million £s in the bank but have exceptional talent then the Tier 1 Exceptional talent route may be for you. Click here.

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

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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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa | London Visa

Last Sunday evening the FT reported on the London mayor, Boris Johnson’s idea for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa /“London Visa”. If adopted would make it easier for talented technologists from around the world to get jobs in tech start ups and fashion studios. The plan to provide City Hall with a yearly allocation of 100 of the government’s existing exceptional talent visas has already been submitted to the Home Office. If granted the mayor’s office in collaboration with Tech City, the Fashion Council and London Design Festival would pick the best applicants, officially endorse them and speed their entry.

Mr Johnson said “It is a clear message to the elite of Silicon Valley or the fashionistas of Beijing that London is the place they should come to in order to develop ideas, build new businnnesses and be part of an epicentre for global talent.”

Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for business and enterprise thought the 100 visas a year was fairly modest and stated that in the fields of technology and design, individual talent really matters. He said ” We only need to find one Steve Jobs and we have an Apple on our hands.”

Fledgling businesses cannot cope with the complications and expense of sponsoring foreign workers. According to an article in Computer Weekly Eric van der Kleij, previously CEO of Tech City, suggested the government could invest money into creating experts to teach young companies how to hire people from outside the UK. He said “You can’t change the robustness of the system or it will be abused, but you should spend the money on helping younger companies use the system.”

A report in today’s Daily Telegraph highlights that the Development Economics study estimated that the technology industry, which employs two million people, needs an extra 750,000 workers by 2017 to ubnlock a £12bn windfall. Britain, especially London, is poised on the brink of becoming one of the power houses of the global dogital economy and a genuine rival to Silicon Valley. According to Jonas Almgren, a Silicon Valley veteran, Britain needs more talent to fuel the latest dotcom boom and that means looking further afield. Like football’s Premier league we need to employ the best the world has to offer if we want to be a global player.

We need Boris Johnson’s idea for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent “London Visa” and more. The scheme has been designed in a way that would not antagonise the government and as a Conservative politician he is under pressure to toe the party line to stem the flow of immigrants. While walking the tightrope he works hard to keep people focused on the fact that we need to keep the door open for business people and students in the long term interests of the economy.

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

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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UK Eases Visa Rules – 1st October 2013

Last Friday, Mark Harper, the immigration minister, announced changes which generally ease visa rules from 1st October 2013. Some of the key changes are:

  • Removal of the English language requirement for intra-company transferees.
  • Tourists and business visitors are allowed to do some study where it is not the main purpose of their visit.
  • Share ownership restrictions waived for senior staff earning £152,100 or more.
  • Artists of exceptional promise enabled to apply under Tier 1.
  • Graduate entrepreneurs will find it easier to switch into Tier 2.
  • New youth mobility scheme quotas set for 2014
  • Hong Kong will be added to the list of participating countries and territories on the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme in order to further strenghten business, trade and cultural ties.
  • Some students will be allowed to work as interns under the Tier 5 government authorised exchange scheme.
  • The removal of the prospective student route.
  • The expansion of checks to ensure applicants for work and student visas are genuine, and that they intend to meet the conditions of leave they apply for.
  • The introducion of  powers to refuse Tier 4 extension applications where the applicant cannot speak English.
  • Dependants in the Points Based System and other work routes will be allowed to apply from within the UK, providing they are not here illegally, as visitors, or on temporary admission or temporary release. They will still need to satisfy all other existing requirements.
  • Special rules for overseas visitors to the Commonwealth Games 2014 were included.
  • With effect from the 28th October 2013 there will be changes to how applicants for indefinite leave to remain are required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK.

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

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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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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