Entry Clearance and Visas – Holding a Work Permit does not necessarily mean you can enter or remain in the UK
Following on from my previous article on obtaining work permits (“Why are Senior Carer Work Permits so Difficult to Obtain?” see www.overseasconsultancy.com), in this edition I will cover Entry Clearance and Visas.
Having obtained a work permit (or In Country Approval) for a foreign nurse or senior carer you could be forgiven for thinking that your job is done and your nurse can simply hop on the next plane, or start work if already in the UK.
Unfortunately, at this stage you, and your prospective employee, have only jumped one of the three “immigration hurdles”. Whilst the work permit application could be considered the “Bechers Brook” of hurdles the second jump, the “Entry Clearance” is just as scary. With the winning post in sight, the third and final hurdle is the Immigration Officer (the welcoming committee!) at the UK airport who can still ask for a “Stewards Enquiry”.
VISAS AND ENTRY CLEARANCE
AT A GLANCE:
· A certificate put into your passport or travel document overseas
· Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) give permission to enter UK
· UKvisas: government organisation which manages visas in UK Missions
· UKvisas works closely with Immigration & Nationality Directorate
· Always check the UKvisas website as rules may change
· People from the new EU countries do not need work permits or visas and can travel freely to the UK.
A visa is a certificate that is put into a passport at a British mission overseas granting the holder permission to enter the UK. Obtaining a visa to enter the UK from countries like The Philippines, China and India can take several weeks and is by no means a formality. Applicants will often have to attend a gruelling “make or break” interview behind a glass counter and refusals are common. British citizens (who do not need a visa to visit most countries) do not always appreciate the difficulty people go through at British Embassies to get permission to enter the UK.
UKvisas was established jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office to manage the UK’s entry clearance (visa) operation. UKvisas manages over 150 visa sections worldwide, and handles more than 2 million entry clearance applications per annum. The visa operation is largely self-funding through the collection of visa fees.
Visa or entry clearance applications are processed by entry clearance officers (ECOs) in UK embassies, high commissions and consulates abroad, collectively known as UK Missions. UKvisas works closely with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) of the Home Office, the Government department responsible for immigration policy and dealing with applications from people already in the UK to extend their stay; or to change their immigration status. Source “How 2 Come to the UK to Live Work Study or Visit” www.overseasconsultancy.com
PREPARATION OF VISA APPLICATIONS
Do not take this process lightly. More often than not candidates are left to their own devices when applying for their visas, having been sent a work permit in the post. At Overseas Consultancy Services we prepare applicants for the visa process (in addition to arranging the work permit) as incorrectly completed forms or missing requirements can lead to a refusal. Forms can be downloaded from the local Embassy website or from www.ukvisas.gov.uk.
WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS LOOK OUT FOR UPON ARRIVAL?
Employers should ensure their employee has the correct visa stamp which matches the work permit. Read the visa (you may need a magnifying glass), check the conditions and remember that the visa and work permit are linked. If a non-EU work permit holder applies for a job at your Nursing Home and has a current visa in their passport, they still need a valid work permit in your establishment’s name in order to work for you. Similarly, if they are in country and you have obtained a work permit approval letter, they must apply for “Leave to Remain”, even if they have remaining time on their previous visa. See previous article: “Are You Employing Staff Legally” for more information.
Entry Clearance is a complex subject and this is intended as a general guide to procedures. Always check the UKvisas website for full details or consult your immigration adviser. If in doubt, seek advice or visit www.overseasconsultancy.com.
Finally, when your candidate lands in the UK, an Immigration Officer will check their papers and may ask them questions, so they need to carry all relevant documents in their hand luggage. Immigration Officers have the powers to refuse entry. In one legendary case, an Immigration Officer was dealing with a group of musicians who had entry clearance to perform at a folk concert in the UK. Pointing to one of the band he asked if the mandolin he was carrying was his instrument. “Yes” came the reply. He then asked the man to play the instrument. When he discovered that he hardly strum a chord, he refused entry and the band were “singing the blues” on the next plane home.
As Immigration Advisers we deal with a number of candidates from India and The Philippines. We have been dealing with a large group of Adaptation Nurses and Senior Carers left stranded after being interviewed and accepted by a nursing home group. The company was bought out and the new owners cancelled the job order, leaving many of the candidates in an extremely difficult position. If any employers are willing to take these candidates, there will be no fees or charges for obtaining the Work Permit, which we will arrange on their behalf. If you are interested, please email us.
If you should have any questions concerning any of the above issues please email Charles Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0870 041 4658