A definitive guide about UK immigration rules

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
20 January 2020

There is a range of different immigration routes in the UK. The route you choose depends on a number of factors, such as length of stay, country of nationality and personal circumstances. Danielle Cohen Solicitors can act on a diverse set of immigration matters. Accordingly, the options under which you can stay or come to the UK are explained in this article.

(1) EEA citizens – immigration policy following Brexit

Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, the EU Settlement Scheme was introduced to guarantee the residency rights of EEA citizens living in the UK. EU citizens living in the UK should therefore apply to the scheme by 30 June 2021 so that they can achieve either settled or pre-settled status.

The differences between the two statuses are contained in the below bullet points:

  • If you gained five years continuous residence in the UK by 30 June 2021 you will get settled status. If you have not gained five years continuous residence you will get pre-settled status.
  • If you have settled status, you can spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status. Those with pre-settled status can only spend up to 2 years in a row outside the UK without losing their status.
  • If you get settled status, any children born in the UK while you’re living here will automatically be British citizens. If you get pre-settled status, any children born in the UK will be automatically eligible for pre-settled status, but not British citizenship.

EEA family members, those with a retained right of residence and primary carers may also be able to apply to the Settlement Scheme. The application link is found here.

If you are outside of the UK, and wish to come to the UK, you may be able to do so by making a successful application for an EU family permit.

This allows entrance to the UK for 6 months. During these 6 months, you can leave and enter the UK as many times as you need. Crucially, in order to obtain a family permit you must be a non-EEA national who is a family member of an EEA or Swiss national.

(2) Applications under Appendix FM

The Appendix FM provisions in the Immigration Rules contain the framework for claims based on family or private life. It is under these rules that a person who wishes to stay with or join their family in the UK should apply.

In this way, the categories of persons to which the Appendix FM rules relate are spouses; civil partners; unmarried partners who have been cohabitating in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years; victims of domestic abuse; a child of a person with limited leave to remain; parents and adult dependent relatives.

An application under the Appendix FM rules may relate to either entry clearance or leave to remain.

In order to make the application, you will be required to prove your relationship to your sponsor (i.e. the family member in the UK) and also prove that you satisfy the other provisions in the rules.

The other basic requirements are: the financial requirement; the requirement for the provision of reasonable accommodations and the language requirement. These requirements are explained in more detail here.

(3) Applications under the Points Based system

The UK fully adopted a Points Based System (PBS) for non-EEA nationals in 2010 and the government has indicated that it intends to extend the policy to EEA nationals once the transition period between the UK and the EU has ended. In order to come to the UK on a Points Based visa, the applicant must acquire the requisite number of points, by satisfying certain criteria. The points-allocation varies depending on the tier under which the application is being made and Danielle Cohen Solicitors has experience making applications under each tier. For a breakdown of the five tiers, click here.

An application under the PBS is relevant for those wishing to come to the UK as either:

  • A self-employed person
  • An employed person
  • A student

Tier 1 is relevant to those who wish to be self-employed in the UK insofar as the fact that Start-up visas and innovator visas were introduced in 2019. Other visas under Tier 1 are the Investor visa and Exceptional Promise/Talent visa.

Those who come to the UK on an Investor visa must be prepared to invest at least £2 million in UK companies. Exceptional Talent/Promise visas are awarded to migrants who have an established or emerging record of significant achievement in their field. Indeed, the applicant must have been endorsed by the relevant “Competent Body” (this may be The Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Academy, the British Fashion Council, the Arts Council, Tech Nation or the Royal Institute of British Architects) in order to make the visa application.

Tier 2 skilled worker visas are designed for ‘skilled workers’ who have a job offer in the UK from an employer with a sponsor licence.

Danielle and her team of lawyers can prepare both visa applications for the individual and a sponsor licence application for the employer. The costs for each are listed in the cost menu.

Tier 5 visas relate to temporary working visa schemes and are divided into 6 sub-tiers:

International students can study at a UK university upon obtaining a Tier 4 student visa.

The key requirements for this visa are that the applicant: has been offered an unconditional place on a course provided by a licensed Tier 4 Sponsor; can prove their knowledge of English and has sufficient funds to support themself and pay for the course.

(4) Protection-based claims

Those who have fled to the UK in order to seek protection should make an asylum claim. It is usually advised that the asylum claim is made as soon as possible, following entry to the UK. A successful asylum claim leads to refugee status and leave to remain in the UK.

The asylum process can be lengthy and complicated. At Danielle Cohen Solicitors we will gather evidence, instruct experts (if appropriate), prepare clients for interview and submit and draft the necessary documentation to ensure you win your claim.

Danielle also has a track record of making successful claims outside of the Immigration Rules for her clients. This type of application is appropriate if there are insurmountable obstacles to returning to your country of origin and may be recommended if the criteria for asylum are too difficult to prove. Similarly, Danielle has experience making successful statelessness applications for those who are not able to acquire nationality of any country.

(5) Short v long stays

Those who do not want to live in the UK for an extended period of time, nor work in the UK, but who merely want to come as a visitor for (typically) 6 months or less, should get in touch so that we can make a visitor visa application.

For a General Visitor visa, the key things to prove are that: the applicant will leave the UK at the end of the visit; the applicant is genuinely coming to the UK as a visitor and that the applicant has the funds and accommodation available for the proposed trip.

There are other specific visitor visas for those who wish to visit the UK: to receive private medical treatment; to get married/have a civil partnership and to undertake a short-term study.

Finally, in order to be able to stay in the UK on a permanent basis, one must acquire indefinite leave to remain / long residence. This can be achieved in a number of ways and usually requires a certain period of continuous residence in the UK.

Notably, a successful application for indefinite leave to remain is a requirement for obtaining British citizenship through a process called naturalisation. The process through which children can become British citizens is registration; Danielle and her team can make both types of applications.