UNITED KINGDOM VISA AND IMMIGRATION NEWS
Table of Contents
5 May 2023
Thinking of working in the UK, as an Australian Citizen?
- A historic free trade agreement between Australia and Britain will come into force at the end of the month after an extended process pushed back by leadership instability in London.
Under the deal, there will be no tariffs on almost all Australian goods exported to the United Kingdom and more Australians will be eligible for lengthier working holidays in the country.
In two years' time, the agreement will also relax working holiday visas for Australian and British citizens working across the two countries.
This will include raising the age limit for the visas from 30 to 35 years, and extending opportunities to stay up to three years.
The agreement following Brexit will strip taxes on billions of dollars worth of goods, including beef, sheep meat, dairy and sugar. It will come into effect on 31 May.
After a two-year period, there would be no tariffs on 99 per cent of Australian exports to the UK, which are worth some $9.2 billion. The same would apply to UK products arriving in Australia.
10 April 2023
India-UK young professional scheme: How can you apply
- On February 28, 2023, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) launched the Young Professionals Scheme (YPS), a part of the India-UK Migration and Mobility Partnership.
Under the YPS the UK offers Indian nationals between the age of 18 and 30 years to live and work in the UK for a maximum period of two years. India also offers a similar facility to British nationals under the YPS.
According to the UK Home Office’s data for the period of 12 months ending June 2022, India surpassed China as country that sends the largest number of students to the UK. This shows that young Indians are eager to pursue education and opportunities in the UK.
Under the YPS, the UK will issue 3000 visas each year to qualified Indian nationals who have at least a bachelor’s degree. To apply under the scheme from India, the applicants need to enter a ballot. The first ballot was held by the British High Commission, New Delhi on February 28, 2023, when they made available the first set of 2400 visas to Indian nationals.
To qualify for the ballot, the applicant specifically:needs to be an Indian national between the age of 18 and 30 years, has a qualification equivalent to a bachelor’s degree level or above, has £2,530 (approximately INR 2,50,000) in savings held for at least 28 consecutive days in the past 31 days before the date of application.
24 March 2023
Climate visas could give victims of natural disasters safe route to UK, says thinktank
- New climate visas should be created to allow victims of natural disasters to come to the UK, and to bring in skilled workers needed for the transition to net zero, a Conservative thinktank has argued.
Onward, whose co-founder Will Tanner recently became Rishi Sunak’s deputy chief of staff, is urging the government to prepare for the likely increase in global migration as a result of the climate crisis.
The authors of the report call for the government to prioritise financial support for climate adaptation in developing countries, but also to open up new legal migration routes.
"We cannot allow climate-related migration to become the defining crisis of the 21st century. The government needs to act now to build climate resilience in the most vulnerable regions on the planet and open up safe and legal visa routes for those fleeing environmental disasters," said the report’s co-author, Ted Christie-Miller.
The United Nations high commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported that an average of 21.5 million people were forcibly displaced each year by sudden onset extreme weather events between 2008 and 2016.
9 January 2023
India, U.K sign and exchange letters for Young Professionals Scheme
- The governments of India and the U.K. marked Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on January 9, 2023 by kicking off the Young Professionals Scheme, which will permit up to 3,000 of their degree-holding citizens aged between 18 and 30 to live and work in each other’s countries for a period of two years.
The launch of the scheme, which was conceived as part of an India-U.K. Migration and Mobility MoU signed in May 2021, was announced in November at the G20 summit in Bali, where U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Speaking at the High Commission of India in London, after a ceremony where letters were signed and exchanged between the two countries, High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami, said the scheme, which will run for a period of three years initially, would hopefully be "up and running in March".
Young Indians and Britons would be able to travel to each other’s countries and either work, study, or visit, for two years. The scheme allows for exchange visas for up to 3,000 individuals per year.
"It isn’t even necessary for you to have a job in hand, when you do this [ apply for the visa], Mr. Doraiswami said. Successful candidates could look for a job, educational or cultural opportunity once they arrived in their host country. Or they could just visit." That will give you a chance to study,
to work ... to experience a country, essentially,” he said.
3 December 2022
UK's Migration Surge, in 2022
- Migration to the UK has reached "the highest figure ever recorded", said Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. The Office for National Statistics estimates that, in the year to June, 1.1 million people legally migrated to the UK, while some 560,000 left, leaving total net migration at a record 504,000.
These figures are staggering; it is quite clear to "everyone but our complacent leaders" that immigration on this scale will impose vast and unsustainable pressure on Britain’s public services and housing; a grand total of 38,400 new houses were built in the UK last year. Half a million people, said the Daily Mail: that is equivalent to a city the size of Liverpool.
Let us be clear: migrants make a huge contribution to British society. But “something has to give. No one voted for mass immigration on this scale.” In fact, the Conservatives promised clearly in their 2019 manifesto that "overall numbers will come down".
The headline figures are "deceptive", said Fraser Nelson in The Spectator. This year’s stats were very high because of a “surge” of Ukrainians and Hongkongers arriving via one-off humanitarian schemes. As was expected after Brexit, EU immigration shrank (the net figure actually turned negative). Non-EU migration grew,
boosted by large numbers of students as Covid restrictions were lifted: more than 400,000 student visas were issued in the year to June.
A "confident, successful, open" country would celebrate this, said Ian Dunt in The i Paper. Foreign students contribute nearly £30bn per year to the British economy. After they graduate, most leave, and those who stay get jobs and become taxpayers. Successive governments have tried and failed to restrict immigration, said The Independent.
But ultimately, Britain’s prosperity depends on workers from abroad: immigration is a sign of economic success; there is everything to gain from it. "It may be unpopular in some quarters, but it seems that net migration is set to remain at the average level of around 250,000 indefinitely."
1 September 2022
Planning to study in the UK? Priority, super priority visa services now open
- Good news for students planning to go to the UK for further studies! The country has now opened its priority and super priority visa processing for students. This comes as the waiting period for visas has run into months due to high demand. According to the UK government website, the priority visa will cost the
applicant £500, and the super priority visa will cost the applicant £800, in addition to the application fee.
The priority visa applicant will get a decision within 5 working days from either the day of the appointment or the day after they finish uploading their documents if they use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. The applicant will be told whether they can prove their identity at a UKVCAS centre
or the app when they apply.
The super priority visa applicant will get a decision either by the end of the next working day after the appointment if their appointment is on a weekday, or two working days after the appointment if the appointment is during the weekend or a bank holiday. Applicants of the super priority visa cannot get a decision by the end of the next working day if
they use the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app.
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis said on Tuesday that the country is beating its own records when it comes to issuing visas globally. He said that India is the number one source country of students going to the UK. He urged students to apply with the proper documentation, which includes the
acceptance letter, a TB certificate and proof of funding. Ellis asked students to apply for the priority and super priority visas. "At the moment, we are dealing with student visas in about 15 days. There is a huge demand. So please, Indian students great that want to come to the UK. Apply now, get
the documentation right," he said.
1 August 2022
Report highlights the vulnerability of paid migrant live-in care workers in London to modern slavery
Paid, migrant, live-in care workers in London are at greater risk of falling victim to modern slavery, according to a new report.
Following an 18-month study into their working conditions, the report recommends policy changes to immigration law to reduce workers' vulnerability to labor exploitation, particularly for those with a precarious immigration status. This
included two major policy priorities, six policy options and three proposed sanctions and incentives to reduce vulnerability to labor exploitation. The recommended policy priorities include UK Visas and Immigration removing the obligation for care
workers to update their visas when they move within the sector and the Home Office establishing a Memorandum of Understanding with labor market enforcement bodies to separate immigration control from labor inspection.
Dr Caroline Emberson, Nottingham Research Fellow in the Rights Lab and the Business School at the University of Nottingham, who led the research, said: "Female migrant workers take on live-in care roles often as a first point of entry into the UK labor
market. Favorable exchange rates can make the salaries promised seem highly attractive. However, live-in carers can easily find themselves isolated in their clients' homes and dependent upon agencies to ensure that the conditions of their employment are legal. These
vulnerabilities can make this form of care work a honey-trap where the unscrupulous may entrap workers in exploitative situations."
Meri Ahlberg, from Focus on Labour Exploitation, said: "It is vital for policymakers to listen to the lived experiences of migrant live-in care workers so as to understand and actively mitigate the specific modern slavery risks affecting them. The need for care, including live-in care,
will increase as the UK's population ages, and much of this indispensable work will be done by people coming from outside the UK. It is our duty to ensure they can help fill these roles without compromising on their rights or safety."
3 July 2022
Human traffickers "using UK Universities as cover"
Universities have been urged to be on high alert for human trafficking after suspected victims brought to Britain on student visas vanished from their courses and were found working in exploitative conditions hundreds of miles away.
In a recent case, Indian students at Greenwich, Chester and Teesside universities stopped attending lectures shortly after arriving in the UK, according to a report by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) seen by the Observer.
They were later found in the care sector in Wales, where they were living in squalid conditions with up to 12 people to a three-bed flat, and were working "up to 80 hours a week, sometimes double-shifting", for "way below" minimum wage.
"[The students’] attendance at university was low or nonexistent and in some cases other persons were logging on for them at lectures to give the impression they were in attendance," the report said.
It comes after an Observer investigation uncovered widespread labour exploitation in care homes across Britain, with workers from India, the Philippines and countries in Africa found to have been charged up to £18,000 in illegal recruitment fees, and in some cases forced to work in conditions akin to debt bondage to repay money owed,
with their wages intercepted and passports withheld.
In those cases, many of the suspected victims had come to Britain on legitimate skilled worker visas brought in by the Home Office to help plug shortages
in the care sector.
The new evidence sheds light on other routes being exploited by traffickers and rogue agents in response to increased demand for cheap workers amid a worsening UK
1 April 2022
Unvaccinated UK Travellers Can Now Enter France Under Facilitated Rules
UK nationals who have not been vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease will now be able to enter France under facilitated entry rules as the latter has decided to place the UK on the green list.
Consul General of France in London, Guillaume Bazard said that starting from March 31, the UK will be part of the green list, and thus, UK nationals will be exempt from additional entry measures.
Bazard stated: "On 31/03, the United Kingdom will be placed on the green list. Abolition of compelling reasons for non-vaccinated travellers, who must present a negative test (72 hour PCR or 48 hour TAG) – entry into force upon publication in the Official Journal,".
Under the new rules, UK nationals who have not been vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease will be permitted entry to France as long as they present a negative test result taken recently.
The French Ministry of Interior explains that the country accepts both PCR and rapid antigen tests. This means that unvaccinated Britons can either present a PCR test taken within the last 72 hours or a rapid antigen test taken
within the last 48 hours in order to be permitted entry to France without having to meet any other additional measures.
1 February 2022
Why do migrants try to come to the United Kingdom?
- In recent years more and more migrants have been crossing, or have attempted to cross, the English Channel on small boats. Despite a deadly shipwreck in November that claimed the lives of 27 people, crossing attempts have continued unabated. Why are migrants risking their lives instead of staying in the EU and seeking protection there?
Many people leaving their home countries don't even know where they will end up. They often pay people smugglers or human traffickers the equivalent of their life savings or more just in order to get away from war, persecution or serious hardship. Those who organize clandestine transport for them have limited options and are often involved in rivalries with other criminal gangs.
This means that some of the migrants and refugees embarking on dangerous journeys don't know what exactly the smugglers have planned for them and simply end up being taken across the English Channel after weeks of travel across the European mainland. Reports of dangers at sea might even be downplayed or ignored altogether by smugglers hoping to make money off desperate people and their dreams.
With the United Kingdom having departed from the European Union, many things have changed -- including immigration controls. While there are still changes ahead, one of the most important legal change for migrants and refugees is the fact that the Dublin regulation no longer can be enforced in the United Kingdom.
Under the accords of the EU's Dublin agreement, asylum seekers who already have asylum proceedings pending or closed in one EU nation usually have to be sent back to that country. While the UK is hoping to strike a similar deal with the EU as part as ongoing post-Brexit talks, migrants and refugees reaching the UK now can -- at least in theory -- lodge another asylum application there, which then has to be considered by British authorities.
There are persistent myths saying the UK has a first-class welfare system, which means that migrants and refugees coming to the UK think they will enjoy more economic freedom while their asylum case is being processed. However, asylum seekers are currently eligible to receive only GBP 37.75 each
week as they await the decision on their asylum application -- sometimes for years on end. During this time, they are legally prohibited from seeking work.
2 January 2022
UK keen to ease immigration rules for Indians in exchange for trade access
- UK Ministers are keen to ease immigration restrictions in a bid to make it easier for thousands of Indian citizens to live and work in the country as part of the forthcoming trade talks. The potential offer will be under discussion when International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan travels to Delhi this month, reports the Times UK.
Trevelyan is said to have the backing of the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who is keen to curb China's growing influence in the region. However, they are likely to meet strong resistance from Some Secretary Priti Patel, who opposes the offer.
According to the Times UK, visa relaxation options under consideration include a scheme similar to one agreed with Australia which would allow young Indians the right to live and work in the UK for up to three years.
Another would be to cut visa fees for students and allow them to stay in Britain for a period of time after they graduate.
3 December 2021
The British National (Overseas) or BN(O) route
- On 31 January 2021, the UK launched a bespoke immigration route for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders and their immediate family members.
This route reflects the UK’s historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong who chose to retain their ties to the UK by taking up BN(O) status at the point of Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.
Those with BN(O) status and their eligible family members can apply to come to the UK to live, study and work in virtually any capacity, on a pathway to citizenship. After five years in the UK, BN(O) status holders and their family members will be able to apply for settlement, followed by citizenship after a further twelve months.
13 November 2021
UK migrant crossings hit record daily high
- Nearly 1200 people traversed the English Channel in small boats in one day to reach the UK from France, a new record high for migrant crossings in a single day that British authorities have labeled as "unacceptable."
At least 1185 people reached the UK aboard 33 vessels on Thursday, Britain's Home Office confirmed on Friday. That figure surpasses the previous high of 853 set earlier this month.
Lifeboat crews and Border Force boats were busy well into the evening in the Channel, the busiest shipping lane in the world, after spending hours intercepting boats throughout the day.
Despite their efforts, three people are feared lost at sea after two kayaks were found adrift off Calais in France.
In 2019, Home Secretary Priti Patel promised to make migrant crossings an "infrequent phenomenon" by spring 2020 and then pledged in August last year to "make this route unviable."
During this time, the British government agreed to pay France millions of pounds to increase security on its northern coast.
02 October 2021
UK extends Truck driver Visa Program
- The British government has extended an emergency visa program for truck drivers as fuel shortages showed few signs of abating Saturday, particularly in London and the southeast of England.
In an announcement late Friday, the Conservative government said temporary visas for nearly 5,000 foreign truck drivers it hopes to recruit would run into 2022 instead of expiring on Christmas Eve as originally planned.
The short duration of the program announced last week drew widespread criticism for not being attractive enough to entice foreign drivers.
The government said 300 fuel drivers would be able to come to the U.K. from overseas “immediately” and stay through March. Some 4,700 other visas for foreign food truck drivers will last from late October to the end of February.
In another move intended to ease the pressure at Britain’s pumps, around 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, will be deployed beginning Monday to help to relieve fuel supply shortages that have caused empty pumps and long lines at filling stations.
06 September 2021
Ease Immigration rules to fix jobs squeeze
- Britain must relax its new immigration rules to allow in more foreign workers and ease labour shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, a leading employers group, the Confederation of British Industry, said on 06/09/21.
Since COVID restrictions began to ease earlier this year, allowing the economy to reopen, companies have complained increasingly of a lack of workers especially in hospitality, food processing and logistics which has led to gaps on supermarket shelves and restaurant closures.
A shortage of truck drivers has forced some employers to offer signing-on and retention bonuses of up to 5,000 pounds ($6,900), and official data shows a record number of job vacancies.
The CBI said drivers, welders, butchers and bricklayers should be classed as shortage occupations for immigration purposes. This would allow easier access to visas, but also for the employers sponsoring them to pay salaries below thresholds for migrant workers under Britain's new migration system.
The government has called on employers to train more British people to fill their vacancies but the CBI said that would take up to two years.
01 August 2021
UK population increase by around 7 million
- In just 20 years, the UK population has exploded by around seven million to nearly 70 million. According to a study, 90 per cent of this growth was driven by immigration.
Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel warned that the Great British public had had enough of "uncontrolled migration directed by organised crime gangs". "They’ve had enough of people
being trafficked and sold into modern slavery, of economic migrants pretending to be genuine refugees, of adults pretending to be children to claim asylum,” she told MPs.
"For the first time in decades, we will determine who comes in and out of our country." She then unveiled her new Borders Bill to block both illegals and the shadowy mafia gangs who have made a fortune as their travel agents. Bogus
asylum seekers will be sent back, she promised. Criminals will be rounded up and punished.
05 July 2021
EU Settlement Scheme Closes
- The United Kingdom’s EU Settlement Scheme, which permitted European Union citizens to apply to continue living in the UK in spite of Brexit, has closed for applications on June 30, 2021.
Announcing the closure of the deadline, the Home Office has noted in a press release that as many as six million applications have been received to the scheme, "marking an astonishing success in protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK."
EU and EEA citizens living in the UK, who haven’t applied for the EU settlement scheme on time will now need to apply for valid UK immigration status in order to remain in the UK, "either through the EUSS, if they were resident in the UK by December 31, 2020, or are a joining family member,
or through a valid visa."
The EU Settlement Scheme was first launched on March 30, 2019, processing more than 20,000 applications per day. The scheme granted all EU, EEA and Switzerland citizens the chance to continue living in the UK after the latter left the European Union.