News

Keep up to date with changes in visa regulations and processes, and Brexit.

Brexit

25 April 2018

The rights enjoyed by British and Irish citizens under the Common Travel Area are protected after the UK leaves the EU. This means that, if you're an Irish national, you won't need to apply for settled status in the UK to protect your entitlements in Ireland. The rights to work, study, and access social security and public services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals.  There'll be also be full protection and maintenance of the current arrangements for journeys between the UK and Ireland, including movement across the land border with Northern Ireland.

4 April 2018

Further policy announcements were made in early April. You can download Freeths' advice note below.

27 March 2018

Further details of the Withdrawal Agreement have been agreed at negotiator level, including the rights of EU citizens arriving into the UK during the transition period. Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors gives her view here.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

Updates to the Immigration Rules (6 July 2018)

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - 180 day rule

The 180 day rule which came into effect in January 2018 (see below) will not apply to absences taken before 11th Jan 2018. Absences before this time are subject to previous rule of no more than 180 days during each consecutive 12 month period (ending on the same date of the year as the date of the application for indefinite leave to remain).

Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa route

This route is widened to include a new scheme for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and research organisations endorsed by UKRI. Guidance is due to be issued by UKVI shortly.

Doctors and nurses to be exempt from Tier 2 cap

The Home Office has announced that it plans to exempt doctors and nurses from the restriction on the number of visa nationals entering the UK under Tier 2 stating that there will be "no restriction on the numbers of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route". The current 'cap' is 20,700 per year which is split into a monthly allocation; this allocation has been exceeded every month since December 2017, leading to visa refusals for doctors, nurses and IT professionals.

The changes are intended to take effect from 6 July 2018, when the Home Office plans to publish detailed guidance.

Undocumented Commonwealth citizens

The Home Office has launched the Windrush Scheme to allow it to start to process applications for British citizenship.  A guidance document and application form have also been published; the page also has contact information for the team established to help - you can read about its scope and remit here. Commonwealth citizens can now register for an email update service.

Citizenship application fees

The Home Office has published revised guidance on fees for applications for British citizenship with effect from 6 April 2018.

Restrictions on Croatian workers

The current registration requirements for Croatian workers will expire on 30 June 2018, after which they'll have the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens. 

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - 180 day rule

If you plan at any point to apply for ILR in the UK, you need to be aware that UKVI has changed the way it calculates the amount of time you can spend outside the UK during the five years before you apply.

You used to have to show that you had been absent from the UK for 180 days or less in each of the five consecutive years counting backwards from the date of your ILR application.

However, on 11 January 2018 UKVI changed this rule. Rather than calculating absence against fixed 12 month periods, the 180 day limit now applies to any rolling 12 month period during the previous five years (or 3 years if you're in the UK on a Tier 1 accelerated visa). This rule applies to all ILR applications going forward, even though the rule has only just changed.

Visa fees change

With effect from 6 April 2018, visa costs will change. You can download a full list below but, in summary:

Applications made within the UK
Visa type Current fee Fee from 6 Apr 2018
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - application £293 £152
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - approval letter from Competent Body (see note 2) £292 £456
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of 3 years or less £677 £704
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of more than 3 years £1,354 £1,408
Tier 5 (see note 1) £235 £244
Indefinite leave to remain £2,297 £2,389


Applications made outside the UK
Visa type Current fee Fee from 6 Apr 2018
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - application £585 £608
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - approval letter from Competent Body (see note 2) £292 £456
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of 3 years or less £587 £610
Tier 2 (General) with a CoS of more than 3 years £1,174 £1,220
Tier 5 (see note 1) £235 £244

Notes:

1. A Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC) discount of £55 applies for the main applicant.

2. Not required for accelerated route

Access UK - new visa application system

The Home Office is rolling out a new visa application system to replace Visa4UK and paper application forms. The system can be used to apply for visas from outside the UK, and visa extension/changes from within the UK. It's mobile friendly, quicker to complete and you can use it to book your Visa Application Centre appointment to give your biometrics. You can also save partly completed applications to finish later on.

You can download information about Access UK below.

Page last updated: 18 June 2018