Tier 1 General Visa Applications For ILR Close on 6th April 2018

Timer running out

If you entered the UK on the Tier 1 General Visa, you have until 6th April 2018 to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).  If you do not make submit your application for settlement before this date your right to settlement will be taken away, regardless of your circumstances.

The history of the Tier 1 General Visa

The Tier 1 General Visa was created in 2008 to replace the Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP).  It was part of the five-tier points-based system introduced by the Labour government.

Under the Tier 1 General route, highly skilled migrants from all over the world were permitted to come and work in the UK for up to two years, with two options to extend, each for a period of three years.  In practice, most Tier 1 General migrants who wished to settle in the UK only opted for one extension and then applied for ILR.

In 2010, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, promised to reduce net migration to below 100,000 annually (a pledge that has never been fulfilled).  She informed the House of Commons that although the Tier 1 General route was designed to bring highly-skilled migrants into the UK, many of the visa holders were working in low-skilled and low-paid professions.

The Tier 1 General Visa route was duly closed to new applicants later that year.

Until the stream was closed, around 10,000 migrants per year entered the UK on the Tier 1 General Visa.  Extensions to the Tier 1 General Visa were discontinued on 6th April 2015.  If you were granted an extension just prior to this date, it is imperative you contact an immigration solicitor in London who can advise you on the next best steps to take.

Applying for ILR on a Tier 1 General Visa

Applicants who hold a Tier 1 General Visa can apply for ILR after five years of lawfully residing in the UK and being economically active.  Your last visa will need to have been a Tier 1 General Visa.

To qualify for ILR under the Tier 1 General route, you must meet the following criteria:

  • be aged between 18-64 years
  • have no unspent convictions
  • pass the Life in the UK Test and meet the English language requirements
  • meet the continuous residency requirements
  • pass the strict minimum earnings requirement, covering 12 consecutive months in the last 15 months prior to your application

If your dependents (i.e. your spouse/partner and/or children under 18 years) are in the UK on dependent visas, they may be able to apply for ILR

Skilled migrants’ protest over government policies

Highly-skilled professional migrants will be protesting today outside Downing Street today to highlight the hostile, inhumane, and discriminatory government policies they are increasingly being subjected to.

The Guardian reports that much of the protest focuses on the Tier 1 General Visa ILR eligibility criteria and the insistence that anyone who fails to make an application prior to 5th April 2018 will be denied the right to settle.

Protest organiser Aditi Bhardwaj told the Guardian, “Numerous members of our group are living in the worst of conditions thanks to the Home Office’s reckless, inhumane and unlawful policies.  Most of them are fighting their cases in the courts. They have young children and with no right to work, they are living a miserable life. They are fighting a legal as well as social battle, fighting for their rights”.

Most members of the group no longer have any social, economic or family ties to their country of origin. Many have school-aged children born in the UK who have never travelled to their foreign parent’s country of origin and for whom English is a first language. “The future of these children has been marred by the uncertainties of the Home Office”, Mr Bhardwaj stated.

Denied ILR due to tax-form errors

The protesters also want to bring attention to the fact many highly-skilled migrants who have given years of their personal and professional life to the UK are being refused ILR on the grounds of “tax error rectification”.  The Home Office is using any mistakes made in applicants’ tax returns to trigger a section in the immigration Act designed to deny leave to criminals and people who are deemed a threat to national security.

“Skilled migrants with excellent educational and professional skills are being refused ILR on the ground of ‘tax error rectification’ because of small errors they have made in their tax returns in the past, which they have long ago rectified and paid off,” Mr Bhardwaj told the Guardian.

Guidance on the Immigration Rules state an immigration official can refuse an application for leave to remain by inferring that the “character and conduct” of the applicant makes them undesirable to be allowed to live in the UK.  

Implying that a simple mistake on a tax return makes a migrant dishonest and a criminal is a huge insult to highly-skilled migrants, who include surgeons, teachers and engineers. “Tax error rectification is not illegal or unlawful anywhee in the world, and not even in the UK Financial Act 2007,” protested Mr Bhardwaj to journalists.

One of London’s best immigration barristers told the Guardian that in every case where an applicant has made a mistake on their tax returns the UKVI will refuse their application, even where HMRC do not issue a penalty.  He also stated that these types of cases were some of the hardest to win.

In summary

Applicants seeking ILR benefit greatly from obtaining the best legal advice from an immigration lawyer.  This is especially the case where you believe there has been a prior mistake or inconsistency made on one or more of your tax returns.

If you are currently on a Tier 1 General Visa, it is imperative you seek advice to get the application process for ILR for you and your family started immediately.

OTS Solicitors is highly recommended in the Legal 500 for immigration and Human Rights law.  We have also been selected by the 2017 Global Excellence Awards as the Most Trusted in Immigration law: UK.  We provide the best legal advice to businesses and individuals throughout the UK, South East Asia, Russia and the Middle East.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is a Legal 500 leading firm.  By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  Contact us on 0203 959 9123 to speak to one of our immigration consultants.

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