All Articles: key post

In-country fee waivers: who qualifies and what does the Home Office guidance say?

Immigration applications are extremely expensive. Most requests for permission to stay in the UK (other than under the Points Based Immigration System) now cost £1,048. In addition, applicants may need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (£624 a ...

12th July 2022 By

Free family visas: the entry clearance fee waiver policy

The Home Office has published guidance on fee waivers for entry clearance applications (in other words, when it is possible to get a visa for free). This is important as the fees are set at a level that is prohibitive for many families. The waiver app ...

30th June 2022 By

What is the difference between refugee status and humanitarian protection?

On the face of it, refugee status and humanitarian protection seem like two sides of the same coin. Both are a form of international protection granted to a person in need. They give most of the same rights to work, study and access benefits. But as w ...

29th June 2022 By

Briefing: What rights do refugees have under the Refugee Convention?

Asylum lawyers like me tend to focus on just one clause of the Refugee Convention: the definition of a refugee. This is the gateway to formal recognition as a refugee and is therefore of vital importance to any person seeking asylum. From this definit ...

22nd June 2022 By

What is the legal definition of a “refugee”?

This week is Refugee Week. On Free Movement we try to communicate complex legal issues in immigration and asylum law in a clear way. Here we answer the question “what is a refugee?” We answer the question from a lawyer’s point of vie ...

20th June 2022 By

General grounds for refusal: owing a debt to the NHS

Owing a debt to the National Health Service is a ground for refusing applications for permission to enter or remain in the UK. Such debts arise because “overseas visitors” are charged for certain types of NHS treatment. The National Health ...

6th June 2022 By

How to apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa  

The UK Expansion Worker visa is part of the Global Business Mobility route. It enables overseas businesses seeking to expand into the UK to temporarily assign senior managers and specialist employees, including business owners, to the UK to establish ...

24th May 2022 By

Briefing: invalid immigration applications

For a UK immigration application to be considered at all, it must be valid. Whether an applicant meets the criteria is a moot point if this first, fundamental requirement isn’t met. Validity is a bit like oxygen: all things being well, it is invisib ...

25th April 2022 By

Briefing: indefinite leave to remain for people with refugee status or humanitarian protection

A successful application for asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK results in the grant of five years’ permission to stay, on what is known as a “protection route”. People granted permission on a protection route then need to a ...

11th April 2022 By

How to apply for a UK domestic worker visa

There is a UK visa for overseas domestic workers, first introduced in 2002. Although the Immigration Rules do not define “domestic workers”, the route is typically used by nannies, cleaners, chauffeurs, cooks, personal carers and protectio ...

22nd February 2022 By

The UK Youth Mobility visa

The Youth Mobility Scheme is one of the friendlier parts of the Immigration Rules. The route is designed to enable people aged 18-30 to live and work in the UK and is relatively straightforward to apply for, at least compared with other options for ec ...

20th January 2022 By

Briefing: what is section 3C leave?

If a migrant makes a valid application to extend their leave (permission) to be in the UK before it expires, their existing leave will be rolled over until a decision has been made on the application, even if this is after the original expiry date. Th ...

1st November 2021 By

How does the Home Office assess sexual identity in asylum claims?

People claiming asylum based on their sexual orientation, including homosexuality and bisexuality, may form part of a “particular social group” which qualifies for protection under the Refugee Convention.  In deciding whether to accept an ...

22nd October 2021 By

Can children and parents apply to remain after seven years’ residence?

From a child’s perspective, seven years of residence in the UK can be literally a lifetime. It may be the sum of all the child’s experience and the UK may be the only home they know in any meaningful sense. On top of that, children do not make the ...

18th October 2021 By

How to apply for an International Sportsperson visa

Yesterday brought about a new immigration route for international sportspeople aged 16 or over wishing to enter the UK. It is intended to create a simplified visa arrangement for elite and internationally established sportspeople and sports coaches. D ...

12th October 2021 By

Briefing: what happens to EU citizens who miss the settled status deadline?

The Brexit vote, the triggering of Article 50, the failed May deal, the Johnson capitulation, the legal exit at the start of 2020 and the economic exit at the year’s end have all come and gone. On 30 June 2021 comes another milestone: the deadli ...

28th June 2021 By

Briefing: how to apply for a student sponsor licence

International students are worth billions to the UK economy in higher education fees and indirect expenditure, benefitting local communities financially as well as enriching them in non-economic terms. Being able to attract overseas students is crucia ...

21st June 2021 By

Can asylum seekers work while waiting for a decision on their case?

A recent technical error cutting countless asylum seekers off from their already-meagre support payments of £39.63 a week has shed light on the difficulties those applying for asylum face in meeting their basic needs while their claims are being cons ...

16th June 2021 By

How to apply for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence

With EU free movement fading into memory, the main visa route available for non British and Irish nationals wanting to work in the UK is now the Skilled Worker visa.  The Skilled Worker visa is a sponsorship system: a foreign worker cannot simply app ...

7th April 2021 By

How to apply for the UK’s Global Talent visa

The UK’s Global Talent visa went live in February 2020, replacing the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. Far more flexible than its predecessor, and with no cap on the number of people who can enter with this visa (why restrict talent!), it has fast ...

2nd March 2021 By

What are the 10 and 20 year rules on long residence?

The Immigration Rules allow people to apply to remain in the UK on the basis of long residence. Those here lawfully can apply for indefinite leave to remain following 10 years’ continuous lawful residence in the UK. Those who had periods of overstay ...

5th January 2021 By

Briefing: what is the English language requirement?

The English language requirement can be generously viewed as the Home Office’s response to the biblical Tower of Babel story: society is undermined by its people’s inability to speak the same language. But as anyone who has ever had the misfortune ...

1st December 2020 By

How to make complaints against the Home Office

Bill Gates once said that your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. If the same applies to the Home Office staff who have the unenviable job of fielding complaints about their colleagues from irate migrants and their lawyers, t ...

30th November 2020 By

How does Brexit affect Irish citizens in the UK?

The UK government’s policy is that Brexit will not affect Irish nationals at all. Other EU citizens have to apply for a new “settled status” or risk losing their right to live and work in the UK after June 2021. But the government’s position i ...

20th November 2020 By

What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a fee levied on the majority of UK visa applications. The IHS is on top of other Home Office immigration fees and designed to land in a different government pocket. Also known as the NHS surcharge, it essentia ...

27th October 2020 By

How to apply for a UK Ancestry visa

People from Commonwealth countries often ask whether they can get a British visa on the basis of their country’s historical ties to the UK. The answer is, generally speaking, “no”. But there is one route which is open only to, althou ...

10th September 2020 By

Briefing: the support system for migrant victims of human trafficking

When the Modern Slavery Act 2015 was introduced, it was heralded by the government as a momentous piece of legislation which would “give protection to the victims who need it”. The Act introduced a reformed system for identifying, supporting and p ...

24th August 2020 By

What is the Adults at Risk policy?

After the Hardial Singh principles, the Adults at Risk policy is the most important source of law for securing the release of people from immigration detention. It provides a detailed framework for assessing the vulnerability of detainees and balancin ...

5th August 2020 By

Naturalisation as a British citizen

Naturalisation is the legal process by which a non-British adult becomes a British citizen. An application has to be made to the Home Office and if the criteria set out in the British Nationality Act 1981 are met then the application will be granted a ...

24th July 2020 By

General grounds for refusal: alleged deception and innocent mistakes

Making a mistake on an immigration application form can be disastrous. If the mistake is interpreted by officials as an attempt to mislead or deceive, the application will inevitably be refused. If the application was for entry clearance, it will also ...

17th July 2020 By

What are the Hardial Singh principles?

This post explains the Hardial Singh principles, which are the most important limitation on the Home Office’s immigration detention powers. The Hardial Singh principles take their name from the case of R (Hardial Singh) v Governor of Durham Prison ...

9th July 2020 By

Briefing: what is the law on deporting non-EU foreign criminals and their human rights?

Deportation proceedings pit the rights of the individual against those of the state, appointed guardian of the public interest. And as very clearly stated in primary legislation, the deportation of foreign criminals is in the public interest. The law ...

2nd July 2020 By

General grounds for refusal: owing a litigation debt to the Home Office

Statement of changes HC877, of 11 March 2016, gave the Home Office yet another power to refuse applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK. For all applications made on or after 6 April 2016, having a “litigation debt” to the Home Office m ...

25th June 2020 By

What is the difference between a “refugee” and an “asylum seeker”?

This piece is about refugees, asylum seekers, and the Refugee Convention. It outlines who can be a refugee, and how being a refugee and having “refugee status” are two very different things. We also explore the rights and entitlements avai ...

5th June 2020 By

General grounds for refusal: understanding re-entry bans

The Home Office can impose entry bans on people who have previously breached immigration law or used deception in their application for leave. Bans can last one year, two years, five years or ten years. Generally speaking, and except for some minor ex ...

26th May 2020 By

There is no 180 day a year rule for visitors to the UK

One of the most common UK immigration myths is that there is a maximum permitted stay of 180 days in a year (or six months in 12 months) for UK visit visa holders.  This myth has been propagated not just by migrants but also by advisers and even UK B ...

14th May 2020 By

General grounds for refusal: contriving to frustrate the intention of the rules

Sometimes a migrant here in the UK unlawfully will want to apply for immigration status. Lawyers and the Home Office often call this “regularising” their status, because the person becomes a “regular” migrant within the rules r ...

1st May 2020 By

Briefing: what is leave outside the Rules?

Anyone whose life consists of daily references to the Immigration Rules will tell you that the experience can feel a lot like deep ocean exploration in the Mariana Trench: despite constant research, you will still make new discoveries, even when you t ...

27th April 2020 By

General grounds for refusal: criminal convictions, public good, character, conduct and associations

Criminal convictions and other signs of poor character can, unsurprisingly, negatively affect applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK. This has always been so, but in December 2012 the rules were changed to permanently ban entry of those w ...

20th April 2020 By

How to apply for “settled status” for EU citizens

On 31 January 2020 at 11pm, the United Kingdom left the European Union and entered a transition period, due to end on 31 December 2020. During this transition period, Europeans can continue to enjoy their freedom of movement rights in the UK as they d ...

4th February 2020 By

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