The UK Home Office is making it more difficult for non-EU citizens to settle in the UK with a raft of changes designed to curb immigration.
For some, adjustments to the Family Migration Route will put the mockers on love relations, and your bank balance will have to be plumper than before.
Besides being slightly more out of pocket, the changes will have a limited effect on the many Aussies and Kiwis who are working in the capital via the Youth Mobility Scheme, or with a British passport, but it’s still a good idea to swot up.
These updates come on the back of reforms introduced in April 2011.
To refresh, the key ones included: Tier 2 Skilled migrants losing the right to work in Britain if they are earning less than £35,000 a year (unless they have a PhD or work in a shortage occupation); releasing only 1000 high-value Tier 1 Visas for entrepreneurs, investors, sports stars and scientists and the like; the abolition of the Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa that allowed graduates to work in the UK for two years following graduation; the cost of applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain by post raised to £972; and the cost of applying for British citizenship raised to £836.
The latest changes are as follows:
Heart on hold
If you are a non-Brit or not from the European Economic Area (EEA) getting it on long-term with a Brit who earns less than £18,600, you might have to rethink your relationship. The threshold has increased from £5795. If you’ve got a child, your British partner needs to earn £22,400, increasing by £2400 with every other sprog.
Guy Taylor, of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, believes the change is highly discriminatory. The council is currently lobbying parliament to have the laws relaxed.
“Young people, women, disabled and older people are going to be disproportionately affected by this rule,” Taylor says. “UK citizens’ rights to love who they choose to love is being undermined.”
According to The Migration Observatory, 29 per cent of Londoners will not qualify to bring a loved one to the UK due to the rule, and 61 per cent of women will not qualify.
Stop, in the name of love
Another change to the Family Migration Route dictates a minimum probationary period of five years, rather than two years, before settlement is granted to the non-EEA partner of a British citizen.
This is to “test the genuineness of the relationship”, and is also subject to the partner passing the ‘Life In The UK test’ (see box), and an English language test, at intermediate, rather than beginner level.
After October 12, 2012, if you overstay any visa by more than 28 days, you will have to spend at least 12 months outside the UK before you get clearance to reapply.
So, if you have an Ancestral Visa and want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you’ve got another four-year wait before qualifying, if you cheat.
If you plan to stay, or arrive in the UK on a student or working visa, it’ll now cost you more.
Tier 2 (Sponsored), plus Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) migrants will now need to show funds of £900, rather than £800 before getting the all-clear, and applicants for Tier 1 visas will now need to show £3100 for entry clearance (was £2800) or £900 (instead of £800) to apply for leave to remain.
And no shifty bank transfers, either; the dosh has to have been sitting in your account for at least 90 days.
John Dunn, of 1st Contact (1stcontact.com), says the changes are a real blow. “It is sad to see the youth unable to take advantage of experiencing life in the UK like so many before them could,” he says.
“The wider implications are that fewer people will qualify, due to the high-maintenance requirements, and those that do qualify have less room for error once they are on a visa to remain in the UK.”
Just a little brit more
The Life In the United Kingdom test, introduced in 2005 and compulsory for those applying for British citizenship and settlement to sit, will be overhauled.
The revised handbook excises sections heavy on the practicalities of daily living in favour of information on cultural figures like Byron, the Duke of Wellington and Shakespeare.
Not only that, applicants will have to know the first verse of God Save The Queen.
The test takes 45 minutes and can be sat at 60 test centres around the country at a cost of £50 to sit.
For information, see ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk
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