Frequently Asked Questions About Immigration

If you want to come to the UK to work or study, contact an experienced UK immigration lawyer to help you navigate the points-based system. Find out which of the five tiers you fit into and that tier's conditions, entitlements and entry-clearance checks. Points are based on factors like age, qualifications, experience and prospective salary.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Immigration

Q: What is earned citizenship?

A: Earned citizenship is a new system effective from July 2011 that will create a three-stage route for becoming a British citizen under which an applicant will apply for a probationary citizenship rather than indefinite leave to remain. The new procedure will ensure that the rights and benefits of British citizenship are matched by responsibilities and contributions to UK society such as learning the English language and paying taxes. Where individuals can satisfy the authorities that they are showing active citizenship, becoming a full British citizen can follow quickly.

Q: What is the points-based system?

A: This is a relatively new system used by UK authorities to assess each applicant applying to come to the UK for work or study. The system is split into five tiers ranging from professionals to temporary workers, each tier having its own conditions, entitlements and entry-clearance checks. Points are awarded to applicants according to objective criteria such as age, qualifications, experience and prospective salary.

Q: Are civil partnerships recognised by the UK immigration authorities?

A: Formalised civil partners and same-sex couples that are about to enter civil partnerships are recognised under the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and qualify under UK immigration rules. They are treated much the same as spouses and either-sex couples in relation to the criteria used to assess their immigration applications. For example, an individual who wishes to come to the UK to get married will apply as a fiancé(e), while an individual coming to the UK to enter into a civil partnership will apply as a proposed civil partner.

Q: What is British citizenship?

A: Individuals with British citizenship have the right to live and work in the UK free from any form of immigration control. Citizenship is evidenced primarily by possession of a British passport. An application for naturalisation as a British citizen must satisfy certain criteria, including having lived in the UK for five years, or for three years if married to a UK citizen; being of sound mind and good character; and being over 18 years of age. Applicants must also pass the Life in the UK test.

Q: What is the UK Border Agency?

A: The Border Agency is the UK government body responsible for managing UK border control and migration, and for enforcing immigration laws. The agency also considers the applications of individuals wishing to enter or stay in the UK, and applications for citizenship and asylum.

Q: What is the Gateway Protection Programme?

A: This is a programme operated by the UK Border Agency and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) specifically to facilitate the humanitarian protection and resettling of up to 750 vulnerable refugees each year. Those that qualify include victims of trauma and violence, and refugees whose basic human rights are under threat. Applicants under the programme do not apply through the usual asylum route, but directly to the UNHCR. Refugees granted resettlement through this programme are granted a safe route to the country and indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Q: What is an asylum seeker?

A: An asylum seeker is someone who has fled his or her country of origin to find a safer place to live. An asylum seeker must have lodged an application for protection under the Refugee Convention or under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He or she must be able to show a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her country of origin for reasons of political opinion, religion, ethnicity, race or nationality, or membership in a particular social group.

Q: What is biometric information?

A: Most UK visa applicants must provide biometric data as part of the application process. This includes 10-digit finger scans and digital photographs. Until the required data is provided, a visa application will not be processed.

Q: What is indefinite leave to remain?

A: Indefinite leave to remain is permission to settle permanently in the UK — in other words, the right to have permanent residence and the right to work in the UK free from immigration control. Any individual who has previously successfully applied for a visa in a category leading to settlement can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Q: What is entry clearance?

A: Entry clearance is the catch-all, technical expression for obtaining a visa in the UK. It is also the procedure used by Entry Clearance Officers overseas to check, before a person arrives in the UK, if that person qualifies under immigration rules for entry into the UK.

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