UK Immigration & Nationality Lawyers

Overview of UK immigration system

Overview of UK immigration system

UK immigration system has the following visa categories:

  • visitor’s visa (usually for visits of up to 6 months);
  • student visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System for those who wish to study in the UK;
  • work permitting visas (such as sponsored employment under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the Points Based System or some limited options for Commonwealth citizens who have a UK born grandparent – ancestry visa);
  • Entrepreneur visa under Tier 1 of the Points Based System for those who wish to set up/purchase and run their own business and have the required funds (£200,000 or £50,000 if granted by a competent body) available for investment into this business;
  • Investor visa under Tier 1 of the Points Based System for investors of at least £2,000,000 into the British economy
  • Dependants of migrants in the above categories (usually spouse and children)
  • Partner visa for spouses, unmarried partners in a durable relationship and civil partners of British citizens and persons settled in the UK – this is otherwise called a settlement visa
  • Dependent parents of British citizens and persons settled in the UK
  • Nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and their family members – see EEA applications
  • Family members of British citizens who exercised their right to free movement in another country of the European Economic Area

If you are a non visa national visiting the UK as a tourist or to see your friends and family you do not normally need a visa. You do need entry clearance for other types of visits or if you are coming to the UK in any other immigration category (joining your family for settlement, taking up employment, or for any other reasons).

If you are coming to the UK to work or study, or to settle in the UK with your partner, parents or children, you do require a visa even if you are a non-visa national.

Partner visa as well as most work permitting visas, entrepreneur visa and investor visa, allows settlement (indefinite leave to remain) after five years of residence. Indefinite leave to remain is not obtained automatically, but has to be applied for. The applications are subject to strict good character requirements, English language requirements, and for most types of applications a limit on absences from the UK during the period of residence.

EEA migrants and their family members also acquire permanent right of residence after five years in the UK provided they meet certain requirements during their stay.

Migrants who have lived lawfully in the UK for a continuous period of 10 years can apply for indefinite leave to remain on the basis of long residence independently of the type of visas they held during this time.

You can find out more about various types of visas by following the links to the relevant sections of this website.

If you are uncertain which route to take, give us a call and we will help you choose the right type of visa!

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