We support the visa needs of individuals who wish to travel from the US to the UK for extended personal stays and who are migrating to the UK for settlement as spouses or fiancés or other close family members. We assist in the preparation of the application packet, and locate a visa service that provides a short turn-around at the New York British Consulate General, which is the only British Consulate in the US currently processing visas to the UK. We also work with our liaison office in London to provide counsel and support for UK work visas.
On 11 June 2012 the UK 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. Most of these changes went into effect on 9 July 2012.
The changes include:
- Introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for sponsoring the settlement in the UK of a spouse or partner, or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationality, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored; £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child;
- Extending the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners from two years to five years, to test the genuineness of the relationship;
- Abolishing immediate settlement for the migrant spouses and partner where a couple have been living together overseas for at least 4 years, and requiring them to complete a 5 year probationary period;
- From October 2013, requiring all applicants for settlement to pass the Life in the UK Test and present an English language speaking and listening qualification at B1 level or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless they are exempt;
- Allowing adult and elderly dependents to settle in the UK only where they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK, and requiring them to apply from overseas rather than switch in the UK from another category, for example as a visitor; and
- Restricting family visit visa appeals, initially by narrowing the current definitions of family and sponsor for appeal purposes, and then, subject to the passage of the Crime and Courts Bill, which was published on 11 May 2012, removing the full right of appeal against refusal of a family visit visa.
Working in the UK
Certain immigration categories exist for non-European migrants who want to work in the UK. Each category has different requirements.
Most of the UK’s work-based categories are part of the UK’s points-based system for immigration.
If you want to visit the UK for a short time as a businessperson, sportsperson or entertainer, you may be able to come here as a visitor. Nationals of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, are subject to different rules for living and working in the UK.
Investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented people can apply to enter or stay in the UK without needing a job offer – but you will need to pass a points-based assessment.
If you have been offered a skilled job in the UK and your prospective employer is willing to sponsor you, you can apply to come or remain here to do that job.
If an employer in the UK is willing to sponsor you, or if you are a national of a country that participates in the youth mobility scheme, you may be eligible to go and work in the UK for a short period.
You can also apply to work in the UK as a domestic worker; as the sole representative of an overseas firm; or as a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organization.
We are often asked to assist US citizens to register their British citizenship through descent. In most cases it is for individuals born prior to 1983, whose mothers were born in the UK and have the right of abode in the UK. Often such individuals seek UK citizenship in order to live and work in the UK and in other countries of the EU. A few years ago we assisted a young marketing executive register her UK citizenship so she could work for a prominent US company with offices in Zurich.
We suggest you contact our office as soon as you begin to think about UK visas so that we can address any criminal issues early on, and make sure that you are seeking the correct documents to prove your case.