Meet Maryam Sufi, our expert solicitor with over 9 years experience working in the immigration legal sector. In this article, she answers immigration questions that our readers and clients have sent in.
With the UK adding and more and more restrictions for visa applicants, it's no surprise that people are full of questions. Whether it's migrant workers seeking UK employment, spouses of British nationals wanting to join their partner, or students intending to pursue further education--all need to go through the same thing: visa application. As straightforward as the process might seem, there's a lot of requirements and rules involved; failure to complete these requirements and comply with these rules can have devastating effects on visa status and residency. This where IANS is ready to step in. Our team of expert solicitors are experienced and adept at addressing immigration-related issues, and they're ready to help.
We recently sat down with Maryam, a member of our immigration team, to and relayed to her questions that prospective clients have sent in. Maryam possesses outstanding academic qualifications and 9 years of professional experience in immigration law, so she knows what she's talking about.
Below, Maryam happily answers our clients' inquiries, using her in depth knowledge and experience.
"British rights which exists across Europe would not belong to someone of ILR status and you can't join the usually faster EU passport line at UK immigration."
STEVE: I am a current international student from the Philippines taking my masters in London. I have a Tier 4 visa, and I am about to finish my program. I want to work into the UK after I graduate and I heard about the tier 2 visa. How can I apply? How can I switch from my current tier-4 visa to a tier-2 visa?
MARYAM: For you as a current student to convert from tier-4 visa category to a tier-2 visa, you need to have a job offer with a company that has a sponsor license. If you are skilled and equipped for the job, the company gives to you what is called certificate of sponsorship (COS). The company will also provide you with information you may need to make your application including your position, your salary, etc.
You must apply 3 months before your proposed employment starts. If time is against you and you need to extend your visa or switch in the U.K, you can pay a for fast-tracked services which could be priority which takes 5 working days or super priority which takes 1 working day. You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge. Once you have a visa, you can decide to also study if it does not affect the job which you are primarily sponsored for.
JENNY: I'm a programmer from South Africa with a great business idea for the UK market, and I want to open my own tech start up in the UK. What do I need to go about this, and what type of visa would I need?
Maryam: For you to start a business in the U.K, you can either apply for an innovator visa or a start-up visa. For start-up visa, you need to be from outside the EEA and Switzerland, you must also be endorsed by a UK higher education institution or a business organisation that is known for backing entrepreneurship. Also, it must be a fresh idea you are launching, not an idea that is already being used, and visible possibility of growth must be evident. You need to be 18 years or older to apply, meet the English Language requirements, and you should be able to prove that you can financially sustain yourself in the U.K. To apply for the innovator visa, however, you must have at least £50,000 investment funds for each member of the investment team, towards starting the business, except it's a business that has already started in which case, you do not need to fulfill this condition. You must have in your account £945 for 90 days before you apply, and this money cannot come from money in your investment funds, or money you have earned illegally while working in the UK.
PRATHEEK: I've been in the UK for three years now under a Tier 2 visa and I would like to permanently settle without needing a sponsor. I heard about getting Indefinite Leave to Remain. Am I eligible? Does this mean I can get citizenship? What is the difference between citizenship and indefinite leave to remain (ILR)?
Maryam: ILR, also called settlement, allows you enter the U.K to live and work as you please and you will no longer be subject to immigration controls when you enter the U.K. You can obtain this once you have lived and worked in the U.K for a period of 5 years, or 2 years if you are married to a British national. You cannot get this if you are a temporary resident. After holding the ILR for a year, you can apply for citizenship. If you possess an ILR and you plan to visit other countries, you will still be treated as a citizen of your native country and you will not be issued a British passport. This means that the British rights which exist across Europe would not belong to someone of ILR status. You won't be able to take advantage of the usually faster EU passport line at UK immigration. If you are married to a British citizen, you can apply for your citizenship as soon as you obtain your ILR status. You won't have to wait a year unlike those who have obtained ILR through other means (work, study, etc).
Naturalization or citizenship, however, gives you the full right of a UK citizen, including all the rights of a citizen of an EU country. You will be issued a British passport and you will undergo a citizenship ceremony.
Did you find the above advice helpful? Perhaps you have some questions you'd like to ask Maryam! If you or any of your friends and family have pressing immigration queries, please don't hesitate to contact IANS solicitors at 02039120581. You're entitled to free initial 15 minute phone call. Appointments start at £120. Schedule one now!
Disclaimer: The above advice should not be substituted for immigration-related legal counseling