November 26, 2021

What are Types of Visas Available in the UK for 2021 / 2022?

The UK, like many other countries around the world, has developed an immigration system to meet its economic, cultural, and societal needs. The range of visa routes available in the UK has evolved over the past few decades, with new schemes being introduced and old ones being retired. The main visa types remain broadly the same, however, allowing immigration for visitors, family members, for study, for work, to invest, and to set up business in the UK. In this article, we will explain the different types of visas available in the UK for 2021 and 2022.

Importance of checking if you need a visa

Not everyone needs a visa to come to the UK. This will depend on a mixture of factors, including your nationality, the type of visa, and how long you intend to spend in the UK. Furthermore, some visas, such as the Working Holiday Visa, are only available to nationals of certain countries. The best way to check if you need a visa to come to the UK is to use the Home Office’s ‘check if you need a visa’ webpage.

If you are still unsure if you need a visa, which route to use, or how or when to apply, speak to an immigration Solicitor based in the UK who will be able to explain the options available to you.

What are the main types of visas available in the UK?

There are several visa categories in the UK, some with a number of subtypes (e.g., family visas have several variants); these are as follows (please note this Iist is not exhaustive):

Standard Visitor visa

Depending on your nationality, you may need a visitor visa to visit the UK for any length of time. Nationals of some countries intending to come to the UK as a visitor only need a visa if spending more than six months here. The standard visitor visa is extremely flexible and will enable you to come to the UK:

as a tourist
to see your family or friends
to volunteer for up to 30 days with a registered charity
to pass through the UK to another country (‘in transit’)
for certain business activities, for example, attending a meeting or interview
to take part in a school exchange programme
to do a recreational course of up to 30 days, for example, a dance course
to study, do a placement or take an exam
as an academic, senior doctor or dentist
for private medical treatment.
If you are planning to come to the UK to get married (but not to live here), you will need to apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa.

Work visas

There are several sub-categories of work visa in the UK; the main ones being:

Skilled Worker visa – this is the most common work visa, which also provides a route to permanent residency after five continuous years. Applicants require a job with a sufficient skill level and salary with a licensed sponsoring employer.
Health and Care Worker visa – a fast-tracked visa for those with an eligible job in a health or care role in the UK with the NHS, an NHS supplier, or in adult social care. Applicants also need to meet the minimum salary requirements and meet the English language requirements. This route also provides a route to permanent residence.
Intra-company visas – this is designed to enable multi-national businesses to relocate staff based in one country to work in a branch office or subsidiary in the UK.
Minister of Religion visa (T2) – for those who have been offered a job within a faith community (for example, as a minister of religion, missionary, or member of a religious order) in the UK.
International Sportsperson visa – for elite sportspeople or qualified coaches who are endorsed by their sport’s governing body as being at the highest level of their profession internationally. Visas are granted for up to three years but can be extended further – after five years, it is possible to apply to settle in the UK permanently.
Temporary work visas – there are several temporary work visa types, including the Charity Worker visa, Creative Worker visa, Government Authorised Exchange visa, International Agreement visa, Religious Worker visa, Seasonal Worker visa, Youth Mobility Scheme visa, and the new Graduate visa. The Graduate visa is for international students who have recently graduated from a university in the UK and enables them to stay for a further two years to find work.
Investor visas

The UK remains an extremely attractive destination for international investors of all types. The investor visas available in the UK include:

Innovator visa – enables those with an innovative business plan to come to the UK to establish their business. Applicants must have a new, innovative, and viable business idea. In addition, they must be experienced in business and have at least £50,000 to invest in their venture.
Start-up visa – this is similar to the innovator visa, but it is geared towards those with strong potential rather than large amounts of experience. In addition, applicants under this route do not require investment funds.
Investor visa – for investors with more than £2m to invest in the UK. Successful applicants can apply for early settlement depending on the amount they invest, as follows:
apply to settle after two years if you invest £10 million
apply to settle after three years if you invest £5 million
apply to settle after five years if you invest £2 million
Study visas

Each year, educational establishments in the UK welcome thousands of international students at all levels, including schools (for those under 16), colleges, and universities. The main study visas are as follows:

Standard study visa – For those aged over 16 years who have been offered a place on an eligible course of study by a licensed student sponsor.
Applicants also require enough funds to support themselves while in the UK, and they need to be able to speak English to a sufficient standard. The English language requirement can be met by either passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider or having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18. Those on a course which is at degree level or above must read, write, speak and understand English to CEFR level B2 or above; for those, a course which is below degree level required CEFR level B1.

Child study visa – The Child Student visa is for international students aged between 4 and 17 years old and who wish to study at an independent school in the UK. To make a successful application, students must have an unconditional offer of a place on a course at an independent school, be able to show they have access to sufficient money to support themselves in the UK and pay for their course and have evidence of the consent of their parent or guardian to study in the UK.
Short-term study visa – This visa is for international students who wish to study in the UK for between six and 11 months. Applicants must have an offer of a place on a course that is taught in the English language and is either an accredited institution or an eligible overseas provider (this only applies if you are studying in the UK as part of an overseas course).
Family visas

The family visa scheme in the UK is for those with family links to the UK. The main family visa types are as follows:

Spouse/Partner visa – this visa is for foreign nationals with a partner who is a British national or who has settled in the UK from another country. Applicants must either be married, in a civil partnership, or have been living together in a relationship for at least two years before applying. It is also possible to apply as a partner of an EU/EEA/Swiss national who started living in the UK before the 1st January 2021, or if your partner has a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa, or they have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. The eligibility criteria state that applicants must meet the English language requirement (at least CEFR level 1), have an income of at least £18,600 per year, and have adequate accommodation.
Parent visa – you can apply for a family parent visa for the UK if you are the parent of a child who is a British citizen, has settled in the UK, is from the EU/EEA/Switzerland and started living here before the end of 2020, or they have lived in the UK for seven years continuously, and it would not be reasonable for them to leave.
Child visa – for children with parents living in the UK who do not have indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Where parents already have ILR, the child may be able to apply for immediate settlement in the UK rather than apply for a child visa. This is a complex area of immigration law, and it is advisable that you speak to an immigration Solicitor before you apply for a child visa. In many cases, it may be that the child can be added to their parent’s visa application and do not need to apply separately.
Adult dependant relative visa – if you live outside the UK and you need to come to the UK to be cared for by a relative in the UK, you may be able to apply for an adult dependant relative visa. Applicants must require long-term care from a parent, grandchild, brother, sister, son or daughter who is living permanently in the UK. The UK based family member must be a UK citizen, have settled in the UK from another country, be an EU/EEA/Swiss national who was living in the UK before the end of 2020, or have refugee or humanitarian status in the UK. They must also be 18 years or over and prove:
they need long-term care to do every day personal and household tasks because of illness, disability or age,
not have access to the care required in their home country (either because it is not available or affordable),
the person with whom they will be staying is able to provide the support, accommodation and care needed without the applicant needing to seek public funds for at least five years
Family visa on the basis of private life – the last family visa type is for those who are already living in the UK and should be able to stay in the UK on the basis of their private life here. There are several ways to apply under this route, including for those who are:
under 18 and have resided lived in the UK continuously for at least seven years, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to leave the UK.
between 18 and 24 and have resided lived continuously in the UK for more than half of their life
18 or over, have spent less than 20 years in the UK and would have very significant problems living in the country they would have to go to
25 or over and have been residing in the UK continuously for 20 years.
Other visa types

There are other visa types available in the UK, including:

British National (Overseas) visa – for nationals of Hong Kong who are classed as a British national (overseas) and their family members. Successful applicants can live, work and study in the UK for up to five years and then apply for permanent settlement (ILR).
Ancestry visa – the ancestry visa is for Commonwealth citizens, British overseas citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens, British nationals (overseas), and citizens of Zimbabwe who have at least one grandparent who was born in the UK the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. This visa is granted for up to five years, after which it is possible to apply for permanent settlement (ILR).

November 15, 2021

Appendix Settlement Protection: indefinite leave to remain for refugees

Appendix Settlement Protection to the Immigration Rules came into force on 6 October 2021. As the name might suggest, it consolidates the rules on settlement for people who have been in the UK on a protection route (i.e. refugee status or humanitarian protection) for five years. It also applies to partners and children of the person with protection if they were granted permission as a dependent at any time. A successful application under Appendix Settlement Protection results in permission to stay in the UK indefinitely.

Validity requirements
Paragraphs STP1.1 – STP.1.4 cover the requirements for making a valid application.

The first of these requirements is to apply online using the right form. While the Rules refer to two possible application forms, the one most commonly used in practice is Form Settlement Protection, also known as SET(P). Partners and children can be included on the same application form if they are already dependants, or they can apply on their own. This includes children born in the UK. Adult dependent relatives need to fill out a separate SET(P) form from the main applicant.

Applicants must provide biometrics. This means they will need to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services centre where their photograph and fingerprints are taken.

They also need to “satisfactorily establish their identity and nationality”. This is usually straightforward enough: providing a copy of their biometric residence permit will establish this.

Also straightforward is paragraph STP 1.2(c): “the applicant must be in the UK on the date of application”.

Failing to do any of this means that the application is invalid and may be rejected out of hand. In practice, applicants have quite a large window of time to attend a biometric appointment and submit their supporting evidence. This means that it is unlikely many people will fall foul of these rules.

However, the route contains a final validity requirement worth watching out for, which is that the main applicant must have been granted permission as a refugee or humanitarian protection. Someone with a different status will be applying in the wrong route if they apply for settlement protection: for example, if they are a dependant with leave outside the Rules. This does not apply to a child born in the UK, though.

Suitability requirements
Paragraph STP2.1 says that an application on this route “must” be refused where the person:

(a) has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of four years or more; or

(b) has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of at least 12 months but less than four years, unless a period of 15 years has passed since the end of their sentence; or

(c) has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months, unless a period of seven years has passed since the end of their sentence; or

(d) within the 24 months before the date on which the application for settlement is decided, has been convicted of, or admitted to an offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a non-custodial sentence, or received an out-of-court disposal that is recorded on their criminal record; or

(e) is a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law; or

(f) has committed a criminal offence, or offences, which caused serious harm; or

(g) where a grant of settlement is not conducive to the public good because of their conduct, character, associations or other reasons (including convictions which do not fall within the criminality grounds) or because they represent a threat to national security.

If you are aware of a relevant conviction it is important to disclose it. If enough time has passed since the end of the sentence to make you eligible for settlement again, make this clear in the application.

If someone falls foul of any of these suitability requirements, whilst settlement will be refused, they should get an extension of their refugee status / humanitarian protection (see paragraph STP 5.2). This is a new rule since October 2021: people in this position used to be given Discretionary Leave instead.

Eligibility requirements
There are two more rules, dubbed the “eligibility requirements”. The first is the qualifying period: the applicant must have spent a “continuous period of at least five years” in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection. The second is the “continuing status requirement”, which simply means that the person’s status has not been revoked or renounced.

Extra rules for family members
For someone to be eligible for settlement as a partner, the main applicant must either be already settled as a refugee or be applying for settlement at the same time as the partner.

The Appendix also requires that the applicant show the relationship is “genuine and subsisting” and that they intend to continue living together as partners in the UK. This is best shown through evidence of cohabitation such as joint letters to the shared home, accompanied by short supporting statements from the couple.

Similarly, a child must apply for settlement alongside their parent, unless their parent is already settled. The only further requirement for a child is that they are under the age of 18 on the date of application.

Troubleshooting
The issues that often cause people problems when applying for settlement as a refugee are:

Knowing when to apply. Some people want to get their application in early and some people leave it until the last minute. Knowing the expiry date of your current permission to stay is really important. As Home Office guidance states, an application should generally be made in the month before that permission expiry date. Provided it is made no more than three months early, though, it should not generally be refused for that reason.
Criminal history. A criminal conviction is not necessarily fatal to an application but not disclosing it can cause problems and delay. It is best to highlight any relevant conviction and explain how it relates to the rules. If enough time has passed since the end of a conviction to make it no longer a bar to settlement, point that out.
ID. Proving identity is a fundamental requirement of the application. If you have lost your biometric residence permit, this can cause a real problem. Ensure you have a copy of any ID. If you lose your BRP, report it. If you have a Convention Travel Document, include a copy in the application.
“Cessation”. When assessing settlement applications, the Home Office will consider whether it is now “safe” for the applicant to be returned to their home country. Whilst the person is not expected to apply for asylum all over again, if there has been a change in country conditions or personal circumstances, it is worth addressing this in the application to explain why protection is still required. Even if not, it is good practice to provide a brief summary of why protection is still required, particularly with reference to country guidance and NGO reports.
“Re-availment”. The Home Office will also look at whether the applicant has re-availed themselves of the protection of their country of origin. It is helpful to check whether the applicant has travelled to their home country or obtained a passport from that country.
That said, settlement applications are a fairly routine procedure and should not cause too many problems, assuming there have been no significant change in either country conditions or personal circumstances over the previous five years. As long as care is taken over the presentation of the evidence, and the validity requirements are met, the application is usually straightforward.

November 11, 2021

Appendix Settlement Protection: indefinite leave to remain for refugees

Appendix Settlement Protection: indefinite leave to remain for refugees
to the Immigration Rules came into force on 6 October 2021. As the name might suggest, it consolidates the rules on settlement for people who have been in the UK on a protection route (i.e. refugee status or humanitarian protection) for five years. It also applies to partners and children of the person with protection if they were granted permission as a dependent at any time. A successful application under Appendix Settlement Protection results in permission to stay in the UK indefinitely.
Validity requirements
Paragraphs STP1.1 – STP.1.4 cover the requirements for making a valid application.
The first of these requirements is to apply online using the right form. While the Rules refer to two possible application forms, the one most commonly used in practice is Form Settlement Protection, also known as SET(P). Partners and children can be included on the same application form if they are already dependants, or they can apply on their own. This includes children born in the UK. Adult dependent relatives need to fill out a separate SET(P) form from the main applicant.

Applicants must provide biometrics. This means they will need to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services centre where their photograph and fingerprints are taken.
They also need to “satisfactorily establish their identity and nationality”. This is usually straightforward enough: providing a copy of their biometric residence permit will establish this.
Also straightforward is paragraph STP 1.2(c): “the applicant must be in the UK on the date of application”.
Failing to do any of this means that the application is invalid and may be rejected out of hand. In practice, applicants have quite a large window of time to attend a biometric appointment and submit their supporting evidence. This means that it is unlikely many people will fall foul of these rules.
However, the route contains a final validity requirement worth watching out for, which is that the main applicant must have been granted permission as a refugee or humanitarian protection. Someone with a different status will be applying in the wrong route if they apply for settlement protection: for example, if they are a dependant with leave outside the Rules. This does not apply to a child born in the UK, though.
Suitability requirements
Paragraph STP2.1 says that an application on this route “must” be refused where the person:
(a) has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of four years or more; or
(b) has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of at least 12 months but less than four years, unless a period of 15 years has passed since the end of their sentence; or
(c) has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months, unless a period of seven years has passed since the end of their sentence; or
(d) within the 24 months before the date on which the application for settlement is decided, has been convicted of, or admitted to an offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a non-custodial sentence, or received an out-of-court disposal that is recorded on their criminal record; or
(e) is a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law; or
(f) has committed a criminal offence, or offences, which caused serious harm; or
(g) where a grant of settlement is not conducive to the public good because of their conduct, character, associations or other reasons (including convictions which do not fall within the criminality grounds) or because they represent a threat to national security.
If you are aware of a relevant conviction it is important to disclose it. If enough time has passed since the end of the sentence to make you eligible for settlement again, make this clear in the application.

If someone falls foul of any of these suitability requirements, whilst settlement will be refused, they should get an extension of their refugee status / humanitarian protection (see paragraph STP 5.2). This is a new rule since October 2021: people in this position used to be given Discretionary Leave instead.
Eligibility requirements
There are two more rules, dubbed the “eligibility requirements”. The first is the qualifying period: the applicant must have spent a “continuous period of at least five years” in the UK with refugee status or humanitarian protection. The second is the “continuing status requirement”, which simply means that the person’s status has not been revoked or renounced.
Extra rules for family members
For someone to be eligible for settlement as a partner, the main applicant must either be already settled as a refugee or be applying for settlement at the same time as the partner.

The Appendix also requires that the applicant show the relationship is “genuine and subsisting” and that they intend to continue living together as partners in the UK. This is best shown through evidence of cohabitation such as joint letters to the shared home, accompanied by short supporting statements from the couple.

Similarly, a child must apply for settlement alongside their parent, unless their parent is already settled. The only further requirement for a child is that they are under the age of 18 on the date of application.

Troubleshooting
The issues that often cause people problems when applying for settlement as a refugee are:

Knowing when to apply. Some people want to get their application in early and some people leave it until the last minute. Knowing the expiry date of your current permission to stay is really important. As Home Office guidance states, an application should generally be made in the month before that permission expiry date. Provided it is made no more than three months early, though, it should not generally be refused for that reason.
Criminal history. A criminal conviction is not necessarily fatal to an application but not disclosing it can cause problems and delay. It is best to highlight any relevant conviction and explain how it relates to the rules. If enough time has passed since the end of a conviction to make it no longer a bar to settlement, point that out.
ID. Proving identity is a fundamental requirement of the application. If you have lost your biometric residence permit, this can cause a real problem. Ensure you have a copy of any ID. If you lose your BRP, report it. If you have a Convention Travel Document, include a copy in the application.
“Cessation”. When assessing settlement applications, the Home Office will consider whether it is now “safe” for the applicant to be returned to their home country. Whilst the person is not expected to apply for asylum all over again, if there has been a change in country conditions or personal circumstances, it is worth addressing this in the application to explain why protection is still required. Even if not, it is good practice to provide a brief summary of why protection is still required, particularly with reference to country guidance and NGO reports.
“Re-availment”. The Home Office will also look at whether the applicant has re-availed themselves of the protection of their country of origin. It is helpful to check whether the applicant has travelled to their home country or obtained a passport from that country.
That said, settlement applications are a fairly routine procedure and should not cause too many problems, assuming there have been no significant change in either country conditions or personal circumstances over the previous five years. As long as care is taken over the presentation of the evidence, and the validity requirements are met, the application is usually straightforward.

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