European Commission takes Britain to EU court over benefits for immigrants

In another row with Europe, the European Commission is taking Britain to court because it says it is denying EU immigrants their right to claim unemployment and family welfare benefits, the Telegraph reports.

Unelected commissioners in Brussels object to the UK Government’s extra and “discriminatory” residency test that has stopped eligible migrants from EU countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, getting benefits to which they are entitled under European free movement legislation.

Commission officials told the Telegraph that repeated meetings with the Government, including “informal contacts, had failed to bridge the impasse leading to the court challenge to British law.

“The commission believes that the UK’s so-called ‘right to reside’ test fails the EU legal ‘habitual residence’ requirement. As a result of this discriminatory test EU citizens cannot receive social security benefits, such as child benefit, to which they are entitled under European law,” said an official.

“The commission asked Britain to end this discrimination against EU nationals in September 2011 but no measures have been notified to us.”

The commission will argue that welfare benefits “unfairly and illegally” denied to EU migrants include, child benefit, child tax credit, income based jobseeker’s allowance, state pension credit and income based employment and support allowances.

Commission lawyers are acting on complaints made by EU nationals living in Britain and there are a number of petitions complaining about discrimination lodged in the European Parliament.

The case comes despite David Cameron’s recent efforts to stop immigrants “abusing” the NHS and other public services in a practice known as “benefit tourism”.

The Prime Minister launched a crackdown under pressure from his eurosceptic backbenchers. The UK Independence Party, which is surging in the polls, has raised fears of a new wave of immigrants claiming benefits when restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants are lifted early next year.

Peter Lilley, a Conservative MP and former Social Security Secretary, said the European Commission’s intervention would be “costly, unwelcome and undemocratic”.

He told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme it was an example of Brussels trying to “extend its powers” and strengthens the case for Mr Cameron trying to renegotiate the relationship.

Britain is not the only country unhappy with the current rules. Earlier this year, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, gained support from Germany, Austria and Holland in a letter to the European Commission demanding tighter restrictions on access to welfare benefits.

The four countries wrote to the commission demanding a review of the 2004 EU directive that sets out free movement rights allowing migrants from European countries, such as Romania or Bulgaria, to establish residency and to claim welfare benefits.

“The European Commission has thrown a hand grenade into an already intense debate about the UK’s continued EU membership. At a time when public support for both the EU and immigration are wafer thin, this is the worst possible issue the Commission could have sought to challenge, at the worst possible time,” said Stephen Booth of the Open Europe think tanbk.

“This is legally complex but the Government has no option but to fight this case all the way. It should also seek the help of other countries which have expressed similar concerns in order to rewrite EU rules to reflect the UK’s universal welfare system.”

Diplomats have suggested that the commission court case against Britain is motivated by “nipping in the bud” moves by increasing numbers of government to make it more difficult establish residency in order to claim benefits.

One of the cases taken up by the commission as part of its legal challenge involves a woman who had lived in Italy for 18 years before coming to Britain to work for an Italian company. She then worked in the UK from April 2007 until April 2009 when she was made redundant.

“Throughout her employment in the UK, she paid taxes and national insurance contributions, yet her claim for income-based jobseekers’ allowance was refused on the grounds that she did not have a right to reside in the UK,” a commission document argues.

“If the UK had applied EU social security coordination rules, those citizens confirmed as habitually resident in the UK would enjoy the same protection as habitual residents in other EU member states.”

The commission’s legal case will centre on the “habitual residence” test that is currently criticised as too weak by Britain, Germany, Holland and Austria.

The “thorough and strict application” of the test is seen, by the commission, as a “a powerful tool for member states to make sure that these social security benefits are only granted to those genuinely residing habitually within their territory”.

The commission regards Britain additional “right to reside” test as “imposed unilaterally by the UK” and a measure that only British nationals can qualify for “solely on the basis of their UK citizenship, whereas other EU nationals have to meet additional conditions in order to pass”.

“This means that the UK discriminates unfairly against nationals from other member states. This contravenes EU rules on the coordination of social security systems which outlaw direct and indirect discrimination in the field of access to social security benefits,” the commission’s legal case argues.

New Brussels proposals tabled last month ignored the British, German, Dutch and Austrain protests over benefits tourism by making it easier for migrants to move to Britain including “redress against any breach of rights”.

Laszlo Andor, the EU commissioner for “employment, social affairs and inclusion”, has dismissed the concerns and accused the Government of scaremongering with claims “inflated because of domestic political reasons”.

“We have been requesting figures from the administration and we have never been given them,” he said. It has been proven on a number of occasions that financial implications and estimates of EU migration have been significantly inflated,” he said last month. Source: The Telegraph.

Bulgarians and Romanians who migrate to the UK find it hard enough to obtain an NI number to study and work, yet alone benefits.

If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk for free immigration news updates.

Would you like to become an Immigration Adviser or learn more about UK/EU Immigration Rules?

Immigration Matters have teamed up with leading training providers to run Level 1 Immigration Adviser Courses in London on:

08 and 09 June – London

22 and 23 June – London

06 and 07 July – Portsmouth

20 and 21 July – Luton

Immigration Adviser Courses will be run in small groups for new OISC registered immigration advisers or those thinking about becoming an immigration adviser.

Course syllabus includes:

Points Based System Level’s 1 to 5
Right of Abode, British Nationality and Citizenship and UK Residency
New Rules on Family Migration, Children and Dependants
Civil partners and Unmarried Partners
Entry Clearance, Visas and Leave to Remain
EEA/European Law, Yellow Card, Asylum and Human Rights

Two day course costs just £199 (£149 if booked before 03 June 2013).

COURSE NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE!

If you are interested in further information on Immigration Adviser Courses email: training@bisonmanagement.com

http://bisonmanagement.com/courses.html

Related immigration blogs:

Restrict UK benefits for EU immigrants, says pro-Europe group

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage wants to stop EU immigration to UK and warns of ‘Romanian criminals’ in London

New Questions on BR1 Form could trip up overstaying Romanians and Bulgarians applying for Yellow Cards

Work restrictions on migrant workers from Romania ‘leads them to stay longer in UK and bring families’, survey reveals

Switzerland to close door on immigration from EU states

79% want to ban EU migrants from UK, poll suggests

Romanian and Bulgarian immigration – UK Government strategy ‘farcical’, MP says

MP calls for variation of free movement treaty and limits on EU Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria

EEA National’s right of residence in the UK

Romanian and Bulgarian influx will cause housing shortage

UK to impose work restrictions on Croatians when they join EU on 1 July 2013

Yellow or Blue Card Refused – Appeal or Reapply?

Romanian Family wins UK Immigration Appeal against Yellow Card and Blue Card Refusal

Free Movement of EU nationals explained

Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

European Commission warning to UK on Free Movement rights and Comprehensive Sickness Insurance remains unanswered

Employment restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians extended until end of 2013

How Romanians and Bulgarians working illegally without Yellow Card or papers can legalise their status in the UK

UK cannot stop Romanians and Bulgarians say EU Justice Commissioner

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for care workers and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 or email: info@majesticcollege.org


Government Minister criticises Home Office immigration policies and visa controls

A member of the Cabinet, or executive, has openly criticised his own Government’s immigration policy, warning that public “panic” over immigration is causing economic harm to the UK, the Independent reports today.

Business Secretary and Liberal Democrat MP said overseas students were being deterred from studying at British institutions and tight visa controls were causing difficulties for foreign experts working in the country.

Wow, really? These Ministers are very intelligent!

The outspoken Minister said foreign students were being caught up in the “very torrid and emotional” argument about the number of immigrants in the UK.

Cable insisted there was no cap on the number of overseas students but there was a problem of perception.

Addressing the Global Universities Summit in Westminster, he said the debate over immigration “does incubate these very deep emotional feelings about foreigners”.

Highlighting problems with the visa regime, he said: “I was at one of our leading engineering companies a few months ago.

“I was introduced to the chief engineer, who was making the most sophisticated engines for Formula 1 cars and he happened to be Indian, and he was coming to the end of his visa and under the existing rules he was going to have to go back to India and reapply for admission to the UK, right in the middle of a high-pressure contract. It was completely absurd.

“But that is the kind of restriction that is introduced in order to placate public panic that does create an economic harm.”

Migrants will be saying: “Welcome to the real world Mr Cable!”

Unfortunately for the UK flat lining economy, Cable is a lone voice in the wilderness. Prime Minister David Cameron wants net migration fall to the “tens of thousands” by 2015 – at any cost, as this is about the only thing, other than the economy being turned around, which will get the Conservatives get re-elected.

Official figures released last week showed that in the year to September 2012 net migration fell, with a 22% decrease in the number of valuable fee paying foreign students and a loss of billions to the UK economy.

Due to the fact that overseas students were counted as ‘immigrants’ under international rules, Mr Cable said their number was “easily translated into a flood of immigrants”.

He added: “When, last week, the number declines, this is a great triumph for immigration control, which is quite absurd and unfortunately is seriously distorting the debate on sensible university policy and, indeed, sensible immigration policy.

“I just want to make absolutely clear, as far as the Government is concerned we have no cap on the number of overseas students, we don’t propose to introduce one.”

He acknowledged there was a “serious problem” of “perception” which had been caused by the Government’s immigration restrictions, particularly in India.

“In India there has been a quite vigorous criticism of the UK, largely I think following the debate in British newspapers and treating that as if it was objective reality, which it isn’t necessarily,” Mr Cable said.

“In some of the Indian vernacular newspapers the message has gone out that the British no longer want Indian students, which is wrong but that’s the message that has gone out.”

There had been a “substantial” reduction in the number of Indian students as a result, he added.

Mr Cable’s concerns about a reduction in foreign students were echoed by London Mayor Boris Johnson at the same event.

Mr Johnson said: “I looked at the recent figures for foreign students coming to this country and I do not regard what seemed to me to be a reduction in those numbers as necessarily a positive economic indicator. (In plain English, Boris is saying that reducing student numbers is a bad thing).

“I think we need to push higher education as a great, great international export and we need to be even more open in our dealings with other HE institutions around the world.”

Immigration Matters Comment

Vince Cable is on the right track in saying that people are being put off from coming to the UK to study or work, but his remarks insult the intelligence of Indian and other foreign students.

There is no misguided ‘perception’ that Indian students are not as welcome as they have been in the past, it is perfectly clear from the evidence that the UK does not want them! It is his perception which is clearly wrong.

You only have to look at they way Indian, as well as Pakistani and Bangladeshi, students are being treated by Entry Clearance Officers (ECO’s) when applying for a ‘POINTS BASED’ Tier 4 student visa. The idea of a points based system was to remove subjective decision making by ECO’s and for applications to be decided on the basis on the number of points scored.

However, under instruction from the Home Office, ECO’s are ignoring British Council English test results and instead running their own unqualified English assessments – firing off incomprehensible questions through a plate glass window in a regional accent – which inevitably leads to a high refusal rate in those countries.

Student loses money, travels hundreds of miles back to their town or village and tells everyone exactly how they have been treated.

Perception or fact and actual experience?

Migrants and students around the world have also witnessed a torrent of Immigration Rule changes and action designed to deter immigration and students:

  • Abolition post study work visa
  • Abolition of overseas Highly Skilled Tier 1 visa
  • Tier 2 reforms making it almost impossible for graduates to find an employer
  • Hundreds of private colleges closed by UK Border Agency
  • Revocation of London Metropolitan University Tier 4 Licence by UKBA
  • Suspension of Government run universities and colleges
  • Students refused visa extensions after college closed down
  • No work allowed for students at private colleges
  • Students losing thousands of pounds
  • Students being deported
  • Students paying for a new visa just to move college (e.g. licence revoked)
  • Students refused visa extensions for the slightest reason or error in application
  • Reforms to family migration splitting families apart
  • Government policy to slash net migration from hundreds to tens of thousands
  • Removal of appeal rights against refusal
  • Endless immigration ‘crackdowns’ and anti-immigration rhetoric by Home Secretary Theresa May
  • And so on….

Before the last election Mr Cables own Liberal Democrat party campaigned for a more open immigration policy, but this was quietly dropped when Nick Clegg got into bed with David Cameron and formed the coalition Government.

To their credit, Vince Cable and Mayor Boris Johnson are not afraid to speak their mind, but the Home Office is not listening.

If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk for free immigration news updates.

Would you like to become an Immigration Adviser or learn more about UK/EU Immigration Rules?

Immigration Matters have teamed up with leading training providers to run Level 1 Immigration Adviser Courses in London on:

08 and 09 June – London

22 and 23 June – London

06 and 07 July – Portsmouth

20 and 21 July – Luton

Immigration Adviser Courses will be run in small groups for new OISC registered immigration advisers or those thinking about becoming an immigration adviser.

Course syllabus includes:

Points Based System Level’s 1 to 5
Right of Abode, British Nationality and Citizenship and UK Residency
New Rules on Family Migration, Children and Dependants
Civil partners and Unmarried Partners
Entry Clearance, Visas and Leave to Remain
EEA/European Law, Yellow Card, Asylum and Human Rights

Two day course costs just £199 (£149 if booked before 03 June 2013).

COURSE NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE!

If you are interested in further information on Immigration Adviser Courses email: training@bisonmanagement.com

http://bisonmanagement.com/courses.html


UK’s immigration crackdown is working but at a huge cost to international student numbers

The UK Government is making progress towards its target of slashing net migration to the to less than 100,000 per year by the next election. Figures published by the Home Office last week showed that estimated net migration had fallen to 153,000 in the year ending September 2012 from 242,000 in the previous year.

But this has come at a cost – the loss of international students who bring huge economic and cultural benefits to the UK. To achieve the sharp fall in non-EU immigration, the Home Office has used a blunt instrument to deter thousands of fee paying international students, who are not even immigrants.

The Home Office has focused on students because they are the largest single group arriving in any given year (around 60% of non-EU immigration). As long as international students are included in the net migration target, the quickest and easiest way for the Government to reach its targets is to ruthlessly cull student numbers at all costs.

In the past the Tier 4 student visa system has been abused by some private colleges, branded “bogus colleges” by former Home Secretary Alan Johnson,

Education is one of the UK’s most successful ‘exports’, which like tourism works by bringing customers (students) to the UK rather than sending goods abroad.

According to the think tank ippr, international students contribute an estimated £8bn to the UK economy every year paying tuition fees to universities and colleges and making a valuable contribution to local economies. The students turned away, refused visa extensions or just scared off from studying in the UK would have been customers for landlords, bars, shops and restaurants, as well as for colleges, at a time when sources of economic growth are desperately needed.

AT a time when higher education facing drastic funding cuts and higher fees for local students, universities were relying on growth in the international student market to fill the gaps in their finances. UK universities are still concerned as the previous trend of growth has been abruptly halted. With a substantial number of international university students coming via the UK FE sector, which has seen numbers fall by almost 50%, the full impacts of the new visa rules on universities have yet to be seen.

“Cuts to foreign student numbers mean a future Indian prime minister might end up studying in Sydney rather than Sussex”. Sarah Mulley, The Guardian.

More worrying is the fact that many strategically important Stem (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) departments depend heavily on international students for their very existence. The student unable to get a visa to study at a UK FE or private college this year might have been the star student in a university maths department in 2015.

In addition to the obviously direct economic benefits, foreign students bring dynamism, innovation, and international connections which can benefit the UK in the long term. Fewer Indian students now (down 38% in the year to March 2013) might mean that 2015′s IT entrepreneur finds herself graduating from Stanford, handily located for Silicon Valley, rather than from Imperial, handily located for Silicon Roundabout. Or that 2020′s industrial magnate finds himself fondly remembering student days in Toronto, rather than Manchester, when making his investment decisions. Or even that India’s prime minister in 2030 finds that she has a greater affinity with Australia, the country where she completed her graduate studies, than with the ever-more-distant former colonial power of the UK.

Sarah Mulley, writing for the Guardian added:

“None of this is to say that there are not difficult trade-offs here. Taking steps to reduce abuse in the visa system, for example, will always lead to some genuine applicants being turned away. But in their rush to meet an arbitrary net migration target, the Government is making bad decisions; decisions that will, in the long-term, do more harm than good.”

Meanwhile other countries are stepping up efforts to attract more lucrative international students. Last week the French Parliament held a debate on how to increase its share of the foreign student market and earn more revenue for their universities. Measures given the green light by French MP’s last Thursday include running degree courses in English, but France will also need to reform strict student visa rules.

If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk for free immigration news updates.

Would you like to become an Immigration Adviser or learn more about UK/EU Immigration Rules?

Immigration Matters have teamed up with leading training providers to run Level 1 Immigration Adviser Courses in London on:

08 and 09 June – London (last few places remaining)

22 and 23 June – London

06 and 07 July – Portsmouth

20 and 21 July – Luton

Immigration Adviser Courses will be run in small groups for new OISC registered immigration advisers or those thinking about becoming an immigration adviser.

Course syllabus includes:

Points Based System Level’s 1 to 5
Right of Abode, British Nationality and Citizenship and UK Residency
New Rules on Family Migration, Children and Dependants
Civil partners and Unmarried Partners
Entry Clearance, Visas and Leave to Remain
EEA/European Law, Yellow Card, Asylum and Human Rights

Two day course costs just £199 (£149 if booked before 03 June 2013).

If you are interested in further information on Immigration Adviser Courses email: training@bisonmanagement.com


FLR (O) FORM NOW INCLUDES PRIVATE LIFE IN THE UK AND FAMILY LIFE AS A PARENT

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has recently updated the FLR (O), or further leave to remain ‘Other’, form to include reference to human rights applications on the basis of ‘private life in the UK’ and ‘family life as a parent’.

Although the FLR (O) was already widely used for human rights applications, the new UKBA FLR (O) form (04/2013) now specifies the categories.

The form states:

‘In accordance with paragraph 34 of the Immigration Rules, this is a specified form for the purpose of the Immigration Rules as of 6 April 2013 and must be used for all applications made on or after that date for the purposes stated on this page and listed in section 3.’

Section 3 of the new FLR (O) form refers to two categories related to private and family life:

  1. Private Life in the UK
  2. Family Life as a Parent

 

The FLR (O) (‘APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO REMAIN IN THE UK IN A CATEGORY NOT COVERED BY OTHER APPLICATION FORMS AND FOR A BIOMETRIC IMMIGRATION DOCUMENT’) looks like a short and simple document compared to other further leave to remain forms.

But do not be lulled into a false sense of confidence by the seemingly straightforward FLO (O). Whilst the questions are short and further information boxes are limited, care must be taken to present your case in the best light possible.

A good immigration adviser will spend many hours crafting a detailed covering report to accompany the further leave form.

Cynthia Barker of immigration adviser’s Bison Management UK believes that ‘presentation is key’ to the success of any immigration application, let alone an ‘outside the rules’ type case.

“Clients do not always appreciate that applying for further leave to remain or a visa extension is more than just filling in a form.

“Our advisers have worked all night on the more complex human rights cases, for instance involving an overstayer in a relationship or with a child.

“We include a detailed covering letters as well as reference to relevant human rights case law.”

Applicants often slip up by failing to ‘declare’ certain facts, such as criminal convictions or civil actions (County Court Judgments/CCJ’s), almost as if they are hoping it will not be noticed by the UKBA caseworkers.

Even minor criminal convictions, for instance for not paying a train fare, and police cautions stay on your record and could affect your application to remain in the UK, or lead to a refusal for permanent residence (indefinite leave to remain/ILR) and British Citizenship.

Not telling the truth on a further leave or visa form will lead to a refusal and could result in a UK ban.

The UKBA will usually treat non-disclosure as deception, an offence under the Immigration Act 1971, as amended by the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

The declaration you sign states that it is an offence to:

‘Make to a person acting in execution of any of those Acts a statement or representation which I know to be false or do not believe to be true, or to obtain or to seek to obtain leave to remain in the United Kingdom by means which include deception.”

Once you have lied to the UKBA you will have an uphill struggle convincing an Immigration Judge at an appeal tribunal that you should be allowed to stay in the UK.

A number of new immigration forms were published by the UKBA this month. Always check the UKBA website before making any application.

If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk for free immigration news updates.

Immigration blogs:

New UK Immigration application forms – 6 April 2013

Immigration Appeals where UKBA withdraws original decision may not always be good news for appellant

UK Immigration Rules Relaxed for International Students

STUDENTS SHOULD SEEK IMMIGRATION ADVICE EVEN IF THEY HAVE OVERSTAYED THEIR VISA

Deputy Prime Minister Abandons Amnesty Policy and now wants Immigration Bonds for ‘high risk’ Migrants

New Questions on BR1 Form could trip up overstaying Romanians and Bulgarians applying for Yellow Cards

Work restrictions on migrant workers from Romania ‘leads them to stay longer in UK and bring families’, survey reveals

EEA National’s right of residence in the UK

Abu Qatada wins latest deportation appeal

Visa Fee Increase 6 April 2013

UK to toughen benefits rules for Romanians and Bulgarians

Deporting illegal immigrants costs UK £100 million a year

Visa Fee Increase 6 April 2013

‘Not fit for purpose’ UK Border Agency to be scrapped, but same people doing same jobs for the same bosses

Regularise your visa before you get arrested and detained or deported

Have you been detained by immigration border force?

Canadian man age 84 died at Harmondsworth immigration detention centre

UKBA arrest 7 illegal immigrants – 6 to be removed, 1 released on bail

YES, YOU MAY HAVE TO APPEAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS GROUNDS TO REMAIN IN THE UK – EVEN IF YOU HAVE BEEN REFUSED

UK 14 YEAR LONG RESIDENCY RULE HAS BEEN ABOLISHED BUT OTHER ROUTES STILL APPLY

Police and UK Border Agency work together to deport foreign criminals

Visiting the UK – make sure you apply for the correct visit visa

UKBA backlog of 150,000 Tier 4 student notifications of changes allowed thousands to overstay visas says Chief Inspector of Immigration


UKBA changes to restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) application process from 6 March 2013

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) are making changes to the codes of practice for skilled employers, which includes updating the list of skilled occupations to reflect the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2010 system. 

This transition means that we need to adjust the arrangements for restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) in March, April and May 2013. 

Granting a restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) before 6 April 2013

If you are granting a restricted certificate of sponsorship (RCoS) before 6 April 2013, it must be assigned by 5 April 2013, or when the Standard Occupation classification (SOC) system is updated the ‘job type’ details will be lost. If this happens you will need to make a new application for a new restricted certificate of sponsorship. 

Timing of the monthly allocation of restricted certificates of sponsorship

Because of these updates, the UKBA will also be making changes to the timings of the monthly allocation of restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) for April and May 2013. 

April allocation 2013

The UKBA will accept applications for the April allocation period from 6 April to the 17 April 2013. Decisions on these applications will be made on 19 April 2013

May allocation 2013

The UKBA will accept applications for the May allocation period from 18 April to the 5 May 2013. Decisions on these applications will be made on 13 May 2013

The changes are summarised in the time table below.

Allocation period Application dates Original monthly allocation date Revised monthly allocation date
6 March – 5April 2013 6 April – 17 April 2013 11 April 2013 19 April 2013
6 April – 5 May 2013 18 April – 5 May 2013 13 May 2013 13 May 2013
6 May – 5 June 2013 6 May – 5 June 2013 11 June 2013 11 June 2013

Urgent restricted certificates of sponsorship

If you urgently need a restricted certificate of sponsorship between 6 March and 18 April, you must submit an application and request exceptional consideration. To do this you must email the reasons for exceptional consideration to Tier2Limits@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. The request for exceptional consideration must be made on the same day that you submit your application or your application may be rejected.  

Examples of valid reasons for exceptional consideration include: 

  • where the UKBA have caused delays resulting in a newly licensed sponsor needing a CoS for a migrant who is due to start work before the next monthly allocation;
  • a consultant surgeon has been recruited and needs to be appointed immediately because they have patients listed for life-saving surgery before the next monthly allocation.

Last week the UK Border Agency (UKBA) published a ’statement of intent’, to help employers prepare for changes to the points-based system. 

The statement announces changes to the codes of practice for skilled migrant workers from outside the European Economic Area. These will come into effect on 6 April 2013 and will also affect the timing of the applications for restricted ‘certificates of sponsorship’ (CoS) in March and April. Source: UK Border Agency.

The Codes of Practice salary levels could affect a work permit holder’s chances of qualifying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or permanent residence in the UK.

Cynthia Barker said:

“After 5 years continuous work, work permit holders should be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, but many are being refused ILR because their employer has not played by the rules.

“When you apply for ILR, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) will dig into every aspect of your work history and conduct in the UK, looking for any excuse to deny you and your family the right to settle here.

“On 6 April 2011, the Government introduced a change to the settlement rules for work permit holders who came in prior to the points based system. You must be paid a certain salary in order to qualify for indefinite leave, as specified in the Tier 2 Codes of Practice.”

In one recent case, appeal specialist managed to overturn a refusal on appeal after the UKBA refused a Senior Care Worker ILR because her employer had not paid the correct salary and had used her to do domestic work.

In another case where a Filipina was refused for failing to declare a conviction, which she thought was just a fine for travelling on a train without the correct ticket. Immigration application forms ask specific questions about criminal convictions and civil judgments, such as County Court Judgments (CCJ’s), which can lead to a mandatory refusal. Others slip up because they have claimed benefits whilst on a work permit, which is not allowed.

If your application gets refused, consult a qualified immigration adviser to look at all your options. You may have to appeal against the refusal or use Article 8 ‘right to a family life’ human rights grounds, as a reapplication will contain the same information. 

The good news is that the appeal tribunals have ruled against the Government. In a case involving a work permit holding care worker, the Judge allowed an appeal against a refusal and ordered the UKBA to grant her Indefinite Leave to Remain. 

If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk for free immigration news updates.

See also:

UKBA update Codes of Practice rules for work permit holders and Tier 2 employers

UK refuses to remove overseas students from immigration targets, despite losing millions in revenue

Immigration fees to rise again

UK net migration falls by a third as international students sacrificed to meet targets

YES, EMPLOYERS CAN RUIN YOUR CHANCES OF INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN

YES, YOU MAY HAVE TO APPEAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS GROUNDS TO REMAIN IN THE UK – EVEN IF YOU HAVE BEEN REFUSED

How Romanians and Bulgarians working illegally without Yellow Card or papers can legalise their status in the UK

UK 14 YEAR LONG RESIDENCY RULE HAS BEEN ABOLISHED BUT OTHER ROUTES STILL APPLY

New Immigration Rules split non-EEA families apart

JCWI to focus on fighting unfair family migration Rules

UK net migration falls by a third as international students sacrificed to meet targets

UKBA backlog of 150,000 Tier 4 student notifications of changes allowed thousands to overstay visas says Chief Inspector of Immigration


Proxy Skype weddings allow immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship

Are proxy ‘Skype weddings’, which allow immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship a cause for concern or just a sign of the technological age?

Skype weddings are enabling immigrants to legally gain American citizenship after exchanging vows online from opposite ends of the globe, the Daily Mail revealed this week.

Some fear that proxy online marriages, which allow a couple to wed in the absence of one or both spouses, could help facilitate sham marriage scams, as well as see an increase in the number of sex trafficking victims.

Immigration authorities are yet to provide any additional inspections to ensure video chat marriages are not misused.

U.S. states which allow webcam proxy marriages include: Colorado, Texas, Montana, Alabama, Missouri, and California. In all other American states, the process is illegal unless one partner is in the U.S. military.

In other countries such as India, England, and Israel, proxy marriages via Skype are legally-binding. Because the U.S. recognizes a legal overseas wedding between an American and their foreign fiancé, many are saying ‘I do’ via Skype and registering the wedding on foreign soil so that the marriage is considered legal.

Punam Chowdhury, an American citizen, married her Bangladesh-based fiancé, Tanvir Ahmmed, via Skype last month from a mosque in Jackson Heights, Queens, according to The New York Times.

In order for the wedding to be recognized in the U.S., their Indian marriage certificate simply states it ‘took place’ in Bangladesh, where it was legally registered, instead of New York, where the practice is illegal.

Hypothetically, if Miss Chowdhury was a Californian resident who wanted to live in California with her new husband, the proxy marriage would have been able to be legally registered in California.

George Andrews, the operations manager for North Carolina company, Proxy Marriage Now, helps to facilitate online global unions – the first step in attaining a U.S. visa or U.S. citizenship for a spouse, he told the New York Times.

His company performs approximately 500 video chat weddings per year, with 60per cent of those marriages not involving a military spouse.

But as this seemingly innocent convenience becomes more widespread, with a lack of red-tape in many countries, it has raised concerns by officials, and even those who conduct or arrange these ceremonies.

A. Uddin, a community activist from Queens, said she stopped helping others officiate proxy weddings after several deceitful foreigners had blindsided lonely Americans to obtain a green card, rather than a partnership.

All people using marriage to apply for American citizenship are first interviewed by Homeland Security or State Department officials, in case of fraud, or even human trafficking.

Even though officials ask newlyweds the details of their wedding during immigration interviews, they generally do not seek specifics on whether it occurred via Skype, which if revealed, would raise a ‘red-flag,’ they said.

Adam Candeub, a professor at Michigan State University College of Law who has studied proxy marriage, said: ‘Part of the reason for having the two people come and appear before a priest or a judge is to make sure it is a freely chosen thing.

‘There are some problems with willy-nilly allowing anyone around the world to marry.’

Some cases involving proxy marriages have enabled vulnerable women to be brought to the U.S., who then find themselves threatened into sex work by traffickers.

Archi Pyati, the deputy director of the Immigration Intervention Project at the Sanctuary for Families, said he has helped many women from West Africa who were married by proxy without their consent, or as children.

However some couples, worried about leaving loved ones without benefits, say the technologically-advanced custom can be helpful.

British-born Sean Murtagh, 24, and Australian Natalie Mead, 30, said ‘I do’ using Skype in 2011, after Volcanic ash in Iceland thwarted plans for their London wedding.

Skype allowed the wedding to be broadcast to family and friends in London – where the marriage was registered.

American’s Samuel Kim and Helen Oh, both 27, also married via Skype in 2011, the O.C. Journal Register reported.

After Mr Kim became ill with a lung infection, he married his finance using a webcam from his California hospital.

Skype commented at the time: ‘While we’d never wish any couple to be apart for their own wedding, we are sure glad that Skype could play such a big role in the wedding of Samiel Kim and Helen Oh from Southern California, who couldn’t be together on their wedding day.

‘Unfortunately, Samiel was in the hospital, but that did not deter Helen from her big wedding day plans with 500 guests. The show must go on, and it did! — thanks to a Skype video call connecting Helen and her soon to be husband, Samiel, while he was at the hospital.’

Proxy marriages are not new. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were first married in her native Austria in his absence, before she met him for the first time in France, and proxy marriages via telephone and telegraph have also been documented.

With the growth in technology, immigrant communities are increasingly using the process, where first or second generation U.S. citizens, such as Miss Chowdhury, are able to marry a partner from their homelands.

And it’s not just U.S. citizens choosing to tie the knot with their physically absent spouses using video chat instead of an alter.

Many use webcam weddings to circumvent restrictive local laws, like those in Israel and other countries, which generally recognize mixed-religion marriages but refuse to perform them.

Israel, for example, recognizes proxy marriages registered abroad between Israelis who were not permitted to marry in Israel.

Others may use proxy marriages to get around the problem of obtaining Fiancé visas or visit visas to meet their partners. People arriving at Heathrow airport on a UK tourist visa are treated with suspicion by immigration officers if they have a partner or fiancé in the country.

EEA national sham marriages have become a major immigration racket, with migrants being charged thousands for pounds for the privilege of Indefinite Leave to Remain and eventually UK naturalisation with no guarantee of success.

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UK Immigration Rule changes announced by Government

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VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CAN APPLY FOR RESIDENCY

During the last 15 years I have seen countless cases where Filipino wives and husbands on dependant visas put up with abuse in their marriage because their UK partner knows they cannot stay in the UK if they are no longer living together. In other words, they are trapped and at their partner’s mercy.

But all is not lost and there is hope for victims if they seek advice. In our recent case involving a Filipina suffering from ‘domestic violence’, an abusive British husband was punishing her and her son by refusing to sign their form for permanent residence, the UKBA not only approved her application without his consent, but approved the application in just four weeks.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, has lived in the UK with her child for 3 years on a spouse visa, and wanted to apply for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). 

The couple have a child together, who is British. Despite the fact that the young mother’s spouse visa was about to expire, her husband kept delaying her application. When we dug a little deeper, we discovered that she had been in an abusive relationship for years. 

Once she started to open up about the history of their marriage, the whole case unfolded in a flood of tears. She had been in a physically, mentally and emotionally abusive marriage, but her husband’s threat of taking their children away from her imprisoned her in fear of revealing the truth. 

He was deliberately playing with her life and holding her to ransom. He even suggested that she should go back to the Philippines and apply from there all over again when he is ready.  She strongly suspected that he was secretly planning to dump her there and take her children back to the UK. We then laid out the facts to the UKBA who sympathetically approved her application.

She was so happy when her application was quickly approved as she is now free from his ‘power’.  She can now continue to live in the UK and get on with her life without any fear.

If you are suffering from any form of domestic violence or mental and emotional torture, consult an adviser, even if you have overstayed your visa or broken the rules.

Finally, the UKBA are getting tougher on migrants with minor convictions, police cautions and County Court Judgements (CCJ’s). Your ILR application could be affected for almost any reason they find, for instance if you fail to declare convictions or cautions, even if it was not paying your fare on the train.

Cynthia Barker writes for Planet Philippines.

If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: 

info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk for free immigration news updates.

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Vietnamese nail bar sham marriage racket busted

A sham marriage scam run from a Vietnamese nail bar was smashed after a fake bride went on holiday with another man only six days after her wedding to a Vietnamese husband.

Amanda Nolan, 28, was paid £5,000 to enter into a ‘marriage of convenience’ arranged in her local nail salon.

Nolan blew the cash on a two-week holiday in Mexico with her boyfriend John Doyle. But they fell out while away and he told the police the trip had been paid for by the wedding scam.

Doyle’s statement led to Nolan, Kevin Donnelly, Jason Proctor, Denny Wallace and Gemma Nelson all appearing at Preston Crown Court accused of entering into, or witnessing, sham weddings to keep Vietnamese immigrants in the UK on spouse visas.

The court heard that British citizens were offered up to £10,000 to enter into the ‘marriages of convenience’ with the Vietnamese nationals, who were in the UK on temporary visas.

Trang Thi Thuy Luu, known as Louise, was the ‘spider at the centre of a web’, the court was told. The Vietnamese nail bar owner was the chief organiser of a ‘carefully orchestrated operation’ to match British passport holders to her friends and family in bogus ceremonies.

Luu, 24, who is now on the run, used her connections as the manager of three Miss Nails nail bars in Preston, Chorley and Blackburn to entice three Brits into sham weddings between 2008 and 2010.

It enabled her friends and family to successfully apply to the Home Office for spouse visas to remain in the UK.

Elizabeth Nicholls, prosecuting counsel, said: ‘She arranged her own sham marriage and then went on to make arrangements to facilitate the marriages of friends and relatives.’

But Miss Nicholls said ‘the edifice of these marriages came tumbling down’ following the sham wedding of Nolan to Tuan Hoang Lu in October 2010.

Mother-of-one Nolan, a regular at one of the nail bars, had confided in Luu about her financial problems. She was paid £5,000 to marry the Miss Nails employee at Blackburn Register Office. Wallace was a witness.

CCTV footage obtained by police showed several Chinese guests behaving ‘appropriately’ at the reception at a country club.

However, Nolan and her co-defendants were drunk and treated the occasion as ‘a joke and a farce’. Doyle later told police that the scam had paid for the holiday in Mexico.

Nolan was arrested in February 2011 and later that month police raided Luu’s home in Preston and found documents that were ‘stock in trade’ for bogus weddings including passports, birth certificates and wedding photographs.

Donnelly, 34, entered a sham marriage with Luu in October 2008 at Blackburn Register Office, which was witnessed by Nelson. He was said to have received £1,500.

Proctor, 40, was paid around £2,000 to enter into a sham marriage to Vietnamese nail bar worker Le Thi Le Quyen at the register office in May 2010.

He claimed in court that it was a genuine love match. Donnelly was paid £500 as a witness. Nolan, of Blackburn, and Donnelly, of Oswaldtwistle, pleaded guilty to taking part in sham marriages.

Donnelly also admitted to being a witness at a fake ceremony, as did Wallace, 22, and Nelson, 28, both of Blackburn.

Proctor, of Blackburn, denied entering into a sham marriage, but was convicted after a trial. All will be sentenced later this month. Source: Daily Mail.

With options to remain in the UK legally being reduced every year, migrants are often tempted into illegal scams and sham marriages.

UK Immigration authorities have received an increasing number of reports from registrars of suspected sham marriages and civil partnerships in the past two years.

Registrars are required to report their suspicions of a possible sham marriage or civil partnership under Section 24 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

UK Immigration authorities have received an increasing number of reports from registrars of suspected sham civil partnerships in the past two years.

The EEA national sham marriage business has become a major immigration racket, with migrants being charged thousands for pounds for the privilege of Indefinite Leave to Remain and eventually UK naturalisation with no guarantee of success.

Related immigration articles:

Suspected sham civil partnerships cases rise say UKBA

UKBA arrest 17 in EEA national sham marriage raids

UK Immigration Rule changes announced by Government

Visa overstayers arrested in UKBA raids in Crawley

YES, YOU MAY HAVE TO APPEAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS GROUNDS TO REMAIN IN THE UK – EVEN IF YOU HAVE BEEN REFUSED

How Romanians and Bulgarians working illegally without Yellow Card or papers can legalise their status in the UK

UK 14 YEAR LONG RESIDENCY RULE HAS BEEN ABOLISHED BUT OTHER ROUTES STILL APPLY

Don’t let lawbreaking employers ruin your chance of indefinite leave to remain

New Immigration Rules split non-EEA families apart

Malaysian criminal wins Article 8 Human Rights appeal claiming she would be ’shamed’ if she was deported

Assisted Voluntary Return scheme for visa overstayers has a ’sting in its tail’

Filipino students scammed in Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa scam

GUYS, DO YOU HAVE PROBLEMS DATING WOMEN?

Many men find it difficult to find love in their backyard, let alone another country.

Click Here! and discover how you can get a date with the girl of your dreams!


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