United Kingdom’s asylum fast-track system ruled unlawful by courts

The UK High Court has ruled that the government’s appeal system for processing asylum seekers’ applications is unlawful. The ruling relates to the fast-track immigration appeals procedure under which thousands of asylum seekers have been detained each year.

Mr Justice Nichol said the process under which rejected asylum seekers arriving in Britain are detained and given seven days to appeal was “structurally unfair”.

UK reaches its work permit limit for skilled workers

The UK’s cap on Tier 2 work permits, the work permits issued by UK employers when recruiting skilled overseas workers from outside Europe, has been reached for the first time in four years.

As the cap level has been reached, some applications from businesses and the public sector to fill skilled vacancies from overseas have started to be refused, leading to accusations that Britain is now no longer open to the “brightest and best” from around the world.

User Pays Visa Application Centre fee frozen and changes to the network

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) today announced changes to the User Pays Visa Application Centre (VAC) Network which will see the global fee stay at £59 across all locations. The fee was previously due to rise on 6 April to £70.

This change is possible because of the decision to convert a small number of currently free to use application points into User Pay centres in early May. In all these locations (Ikeja, Mirpur, Sylhet) applicants will continue to have access to at least one other free to use application centre in that country. Applicants at these centres will also benefit from service enhancements, including longer opening hours (where there is demand).

The changes that UKVI are now making are part of a longer term strategy to increase the number and range of different ways that people overseas can apply for visas to the UK over the next couple of years.

Changes to biometric collection categories

Changes are being made to the way in which biometric information, including fingerprints and facial images, are being managed from 6 April 2015.

The new rules will mean that anyone registering or naturalising as a British Citizen will need to provide their biometrics as part of their application. Non-EEA nationals applying for a residence card, derivative residence card or permanent residence card will also need to submit their biometrics.

An applicant who is applying in the UK will need to attend a Post Office so their biometrics can be taken. This will be set out in their enrolment letter they will receive after they apply.

Those people applying from overseas to become British Citizens will be required to enrol their biometrics at a biometric enrolment centre, such as a Visa Application Centre. Alternatively if they are travelling to the UK they can enrol their biometrics at a UK Post Office.

Successful applicants will receive a residence card (RC) in a new biometric format. The cards are similar in design to the biometric residence permit (BRP). They are the size of a credit card, and show a person’s personal information e.g. name, date of birth and nationality, status in the UK and a photograph.

New Tier 2 Application Forms

The Home Office has today published new application forms for the following key working visa applications:
• Tier 2 (General)
• Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)

New forms have also been published for Tier 1 Dependants.

New knowledge of language and life requirements

From 28 October 2013, unless they are expressly exempt, all applicants for settlement (eg Indefinite Leave to Remain), or naturalisation as a British citizen, will need to meet the knowledge of language and life requirement by:
• passing the life in the UK test; and
• having a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher, or its equivalent.

In order to avoid these new requirements, applicants must ensure that their applications are received by the Home Office no later than Friday 25 October 2013.

Visitors And NHS Treatment

The UKBA today announced that visitors to the UK who fail to pay off their debts for NHS treatment will soon be denied permission to enter or stay in the UK. Changes to the Immigration Rules were laid in Parliament today. Those subject to immigration control who fail to settle an outstanding bill of £1,000 or more will not be allowed to enter or remain in the UK until the debt is paid off.

Changes To The List Of English Language Tests

The UKBA have today made amendments to the list of approved English language test providers for applications made under Tiers 1, 2 and 4 of the PBS and for spouse or partner applications.

The amendments include:

  1. Three tests awarded by Cambridge ESOL now offer certification at 3 levels of the Common European Framework rather than just 2 levels. The tests include the Cambridge English: Key, Cambridge English: Preliminary and Cambridge English: Business Preliminary.
  2. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) have updated their web address for their test of English for international communication (TOEIC) and test of English as a foreign language (TOEFL)’
  3. Pearson have updated their contact details and clarified that they do not issue paper certificates’
  4. Separate certificate and notification of candidate results sheet are required for speaking part of the City and Guilds English language test’

Taiwan To Join Youth Mobility Scheme

The UKBA today announced that, from January 2012, Taiwanese young people will be eligible to apply for a youth mobility scheme visa for the UK. The announcement comes as UK and Taiwanese authorities agreed to allow 1,000 young Taiwanese each year to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years and the same number of young Britons to come to Taiwan.

David Campbell, director of the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan said:

We are extremely pleased to welcome Taiwanese young people to our youth mobility programme. This is a significant opportunity for both the UKand Taiwan, an opportunity to further strengthen and build on the cultural and economic ties that exist between us and to promote mutual understanding. It gives young Taiwanese the opportunity to experience life in the UKand to improve their English, and for us to benefit from having them live within our communities.

UKBA Ruiz Zambrano Press Release

The UKBA has today issued the following press release in response to the recent landmark Court of Justice of the European Union decision of Case C-34/09 Ruiz Zambrano v Office national de l’emploi:

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) recently handed down judgment in the case of Ruiz Zambrano (C-34/09). This judgement creates a right to reside and work for the sole carer of a dependent British citizen when that carer has no other right of residence in theUKand removing the carer from theUKwould mean the British citizen would have to leave the European Union. The UK Border Agency has been considering the effect of this judgement and whether any changes are required to our policy or the law as a result. Until now, we have not accepted applications we have received on this basis as there is currently no provision within the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (the regulations) to issue documentation on this basis.

We will amend the regulations in due course to enable a person to be issued with a document confirming that they have a right to live in theUKas a result of the Ruiz Zambrano judgement. However, in the meantime, we will issue a certificate of application to those who are able to show:

  • evidence that the dependent national is a British citizen;
  • evidence of the relationship between the applicant and the British citizen; and
  • adequate evidence of dependency between the applicant and the British citizen.

This certificate will enable a person to work in theUK while their application is outstanding. Once changes to the regulations are made, the application will be given full consideration and documentation will be issued under the regulations to those who meet the final agreed policy.

Employers can accept this certificate of application, in combination with a positive verification from our Employer Checking Service, as proof of right to work in the UKfor up to 12 months. This document combination comes under entry 5 of List B within the ‘Comprehensive guidance for employers on preventing illegal working’, and will provide an employer with a statutory excuse against payment of a civil penalty for up to 12 months.
Further information on the scope and processes referred to can be obtained from the Customer Contact Centre on 0845 010 5200.
Further information on the laws on preventing illegal working can be obtained from the Sponsorship and Employers’ Helpline on 0300 123 4699.

How to apply

Applicants wishing to apply to the UK Border Agency in accordance with the Ruiz Zambrano judgment may do so, free of charge, by completing an EEA2 application form and forwarding this to the address included on the form along with a covering letter explaining the reasons for the application.

It is not a requirement that an application form be completed for this purpose, although this may help reduce the need for further enquiries at a later date.