UK Settlement Visa – For an American Citizen

Settlement VisaUK Settlement Visa – For an American Citizen

American citizens wishing to come to the UK to live with their British spouse are able to do so by applying for a settlement visa.

A settlement visa (also known as a spousal visa) allows a foreign spouse to apply for a visa to live in the UK on the basis that they have a spouse who is either a British citizen or who is presently settled in the UK. The settlement visa will allow the foreign spouse to work in the UK without any restriction.

The settlement visa is valid for 2.5 years and must be extended before the 2.5 years, in which the foreign spouse must meet all the requirements again.

The application can take between 3 to 12 weeks to process depending on whether you use the settlement priority service which is available for those applying in the US.

The Basics

You will be required to make an account on the Visa4U website in order to complete your application. It is important to go through the application carefully to avoid any mistakes. However, if you do notice any minor mistake(s) once you have completed and printed your application you can correct the mistake(s) manually. It is advisable to then create a cover letter addressing the mistake(s). A fee is required to be paid to submit the application.

It is advisable for you to have your spouse or partner (sponsor) available as you complete your application form because you will be required to answer questions concerning your sponsor.
IHS fee – as part of the application process an immigration healthcare surcharge will need to be paid. This will enable you to use the National Health Service (NHS) when you arrive in the UK.

Priority service – “a settlement priority service has been introduced by the UK Border Agency that can speed your settlement visa”. It is important to bear in mind that this is a separate service which you will be required to pay an additional fee known as the VFS Global priority fee (the current fee for American citizens are USD 771.00 for each settlement priority visa application). Additionally, it is not guaranteed that a positive outcome will be created with the priority service, all applications will have to meet the UK Immigration Rules, but “paying the additional fee will certainly help reduce the inevitable stress and delay that is caused by the settlement visa application process”.

“The priority service will allow your application to be processed ahead of the standard settlement visa applications, with a processing time of 15 days from the date of receipt by the UK Border Agency”. “There are strict rules for how this service is accessed once you have made the payment”. It is essential that your application has ‘Settlement Priority Service’ “written clearly on the outside of the envelope, including the payment reference code that was assigned when the purchase for the priority service was made”. This simply enables the UK Border Agency to identify your application as a priority.

VAF4A Appendix 2 – this is known as the financial requirement form in which you will have to show the UK Visas and Immigration of how you meet the financial requirement which is discussed below. Additionally, you will be required to answer questions on your sponsor’s work history and your relationship. The form is to be printed and completed manually. It is advisable to have all the information of your sponsor’s work history with you due to the depth of the questions.

Biometric assessment – you will be required to provide biometric information (your photograph and fingerprints) as part of the application process. Your appointment to submit your biometric information will be reserved when you pay and submit your online application. When attending your biometric appointment you will need to take your passport, biometric confirmation sheet and the receipt page with you. Your receipt will be stamped and this will need to be sent with your documentation supporting your settlement visa application, which is discussed below.

Your biometric appointment will take place at one of the Application Support Centres run by the US Citizenship Immigration Services. They are not involved in the decision-making process and cannot influence the decision on your application. Once you have given your biometric information at one of the centres you will need to submit your completed application to the UK Visas and Immigration located in Sheffield (Settlement Applications, International Operations and Visas, PO Box 5852, Sheffield, UK, S11 OFX).

Your biometric information will also be electronically sent to the UK Home Office where they will continue your application for a Biometric Residence Permit. If your settlement visa application is successful, once you have arrived in the UK you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

The Main Requirements

Apart from you and your sponsor being the age of 18 or over there are certain requirements which must be satisfied.

Financial requirement – The financial requirement is intended to ensure that your sponsor has sufficient resources to support themselves and you without being a burden on the taxpayer.

Your sponsor is required to show that they have a gross annual income of £18,600 and have had this amount of income for six months or more. Alternatively, evidence of your sponsor’s overseas earnings and/or a confirmed job offer in the UK will also meet the financial requirement. Only your sponsor’s income will be taken into account, you cannot combine your income with your spouse’s income to meet the financial requirement. However, if your sponsor has been living in the USA with you and returning to the UK with you, your sponsor must “have a verified job offer or signed a contract of employment to start work within three months of their return (with an annual salary which is sufficient to meet the financial requirement on its own or in conjunction with other permitted sources”, which is discussed below).

Additionally, your sponsor must have been in employment in the USA when you started your application (“with a gross annual salary which meets the financial requirement alone or in combination with other permitted sources”). You sponsor must have been in employment for past six months on a continuous basis or “have received the level of income required over the previous twelve months through gross salaried income and/or other permitted sources”.

If you have children living with you in the US (they do not hold a British citizenship) the financial requirement will be higher. An extra £3,800 will be imposed for one child and then £2,400 for each additional child.

The UK Visas and Immigration have made it clear that there is no scope for exemptions of this rule unless your sponsor is “in receipt of Carer’s Allowance and certain disability-related benefits”.

Accommodation – You will have to show that you have adequate accommodation without the need to rely on public funds for when you arrive in the UK. Your sponsor will need to show that they are exclusively occupying the property. Under the Immigration Rules, part 6, this means that “part of the accommodation must be for the exclusive use of the family”. In other words, you must show that the accommodation is fit for a family.

Genuine relationship – This requirement is often the most contentious, if the application does not show that the relationship you share with your sponsor is a genuine and long-term relationship, the visa will be refused. As the UK Visas and Immigration do not know you and your sponsor personally you must submit evidence proving that you both are in a genuine and long-term relationship in which you intend to live together permanently in the UK. This requirement is to ensure that you are not marrying your sponsor to simply gain a visa to enter the UK.

Documents and Evidence

You will need to submit documentation and evidence to support your application for the settlement visa.
Information about finances and employment – the evidence you submit will show how your stay in the UK will be funded. If your sponsor is employed you will have to provide their employment and financial details. Documents and evidence to submit can include:

  • Payslips of your sponsor. This should cover the previous 6 months (you will come under financial category A), or 12 months if your sponsor is self-employed. As the payslips in the UK are in a different form to that in the USA it is advisable for your sponsor to ask their employer to print out every payslip and to have the employer sign each print out.
  • Bank statements. This should show what has been paid in and out of your sponsor’s bank account for the previous 6 months, or 12 months if your sponsor is self-employed. If your sponsor does not have original copies of the bank statements (copies sent by the bank to the spouse’s accommodation address) but instead has printed out copies from downloads, your sponsor will need to have the bank stamp the bank statements.
  •  Bank letter or balance certificate. This should show your sponsor’s account balance.• Business bank account statements.
  •  Evidence of your sponsor’s current employment.  A letter from the employer confirming your sponsor’s employment, the salary and how long your sponsor has been working for the employer. Ensure that the letter is on letterhead paper and is signed by the employer and dated. You can also include your sponsor’s employment contract.
  • •Evidence of any income from other sources such as friends, family, savings and property. This could include property deeds, mortgage statements tenancy agreements, accountant’s letters and land registration documents.

Accommodation details – you must submit details of the accommodation you and your sponsor will be living in or intend to live in once you arrive in the UK, along with permission for you to stay there and with any evidence of any other occupants. You can submit any of the following documents as evidence of your accommodation:

  • Land Registry documents
  • Mortgage statements
  • Property inspection report
  • Utilities bill
  • If your sponsor does not own the accommodation you will need a letter from the occupant (such as a landlord or parents if your spouse lives with his/her parents) of the accommodation confirming that you are able to stay there. A copy of the tenancy agreement should be included

Information about relationship – evidence of your relationship with your sponsor and any contact between you both must be submitted. Evidence can include:

  • A letter from your sponsor confirming your relationship
  • Your marriage certificate
  • Photographs of your wedding ceremony or other times spent together
  • Evidence of how you and your sponsor maintained communication together. This can include phone records, emails, text messages and Facebook messages. It is important to have the dates of your communication visible.
  • Copies of your flight information to the UK. This can include your flight tickets to the UK and your sponsor’s flight tickets to the USA.
  • Proof that you have met each other’s families where possible.• Some shared financial responsibilities, such as, a savings account.
    Information about children who are traveling with you – if you are bringing your children from the USA with you to the UK, you must be able to show that you and your sponsor both “share responsibility of their everyday care and upbringing”. You can also provide a confirmation from your sponsor stating his consent of the children coming with you to the UK.  Photographs of you, your sponsor and the children together will be sufficient evidence.

Additional documents – despite not being a mandatory requirement you can further support your settlement visa application by submitting additional documents. If you are intending to work in the UK after you have settled down with your sponsor, providing evidence of your employment contract, a letter from your employer and your payslips are advisable.

Sending the Application

UK Visas and Immigration have created two ways for you to send your supporting documents. All supporting documents should be sent to the UK within 20 working days for a standard settlement application and 10 working days for the priority settlement service. You will have to arrange to post or courier your supporting documents (UPS and DHL are common examples, FedEx has not been accepted as a courier for USA applications) and the weight of your supporting documents must not exceed 5 pounds.
Alternatively, you can contact VFS Global to digitally scan your supporting documents which will be submitted to UK Visas and Immigration.

What to do after shipping

This is primarily a waiting period and it is important not to book your flight to the UK until you receive your passport because your passport will show you whether your settlement visa application has been successful.

If your settlement visa application has not been successful you can appeal, bearing in mind that the appeal process can be slow (6-12 months). Alternatively, you can reapply but this will be a more expensive option compared to an appeal.

The Prime Minister’s Open Letter to EU citizens in the UK

Ahead of EU Council, Theresa May wrote directly to EU citizens in the UK.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Theresa May MP Part of: Brexit Published:19 October 2017
Last updated: 19 October 2017,

As I travel to Brussels today, I know that many people will be looking to us – the leaders of the 28 nations in the European Union – to demonstrate we are putting people first.

I have been clear throughout this process that citizens’ rights are my first priority. And I know my fellow leaders have the same objective: to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU. I want to give reassurance that this issue remains a priority, that we are united on the key principles, and that the focus over the weeks to come will be delivering an agreement that works for people here in the UK, and people in the EU.

When we started this process, some accused us of treating EU nationals as bargaining chips. Nothing could have been further from the truth. EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK have made a huge contribution to our country. And we want them and their families to stay. I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.

But this agreement will not only provide certainty about residence, but also healthcare, pensions and other benefits. It will mean that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system – and UK nationals into the system of an EU27 country – can benefit from what they’ve put in. It will enable families who have built their lives together in the EU and UK to stay together. And it will provide guarantees that the rights of those UK nationals currently living in the EU, and EU citizens currently living in the UK, will not diverge over time.

What that leaves us with is a small number of important points to finalise. That is to be expected at this point in negotiations. We are in touching distance of agreement. I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals for finalising the agreement with an open mind. And with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident that we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.

I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented. People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way. We will keep the cost as low as possible – no more than the cost of a UK passport. The criteria applied will be simple, transparent and strictly in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement. People applying will not have to account for every trip they have taken in and out of the UK and will no longer have to demonstrate Comprehensive Sickness Insurance as they currently have to under EU rules. And importantly, for any EU citizen who holds Permanent Residence under the old scheme, there will be a simple process put in place to swap their current status for UK settled status.

To keep development of the system on track, the government is also setting up a User Group that will include representatives of EU citizens in the UK, and digital, technical and legal experts. This group will meet regularly, ensuring the process is transparent and responds properly to users’ needs. And we recognise that British nationals living in the EU27 will be similarly concerned about potential changes to processes after the UK leaves the EU. We have repeatedly flagged these issues during the negotiations. And we are keen to work closely with EU member states to ensure their processes are equally streamlined.

We want people to stay and we want families to stay together. We hugely value the contributions that EU nationals make to the economic, social and cultural fabric of the UK. And I know that member states value equally UK nationals living in their communities. I hope that these reassurances, alongside those made by both the UK and the European Commission last week, will provide further helpful certainty to the four million people who were understandably anxious about what Brexit would mean for their futures.

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American Immigration Issues

American Immigration Issues

Immigration in America is changing quickly under new president Donald Trump. Though overall immigration policies have yet to change, his proposals are having considerable effect.

What’s changing for American Immigration?

Fast processing for H-1B visa’s allowing highly skilled workers to quickly take up important roles in the US economy for a period of one to three years was suspended for a time. Standard processing can take six months and the suspension caused concern for medical institutions and technology companies across America who rely on H-1B to fill skills gaps.

The new president has also signed an executive order to review the H-1B visa program, potentially replacing it with a more merit based system with the aim of favouring American workers and reducing immigration.  More recently Donald Trump is supporting the RAISE act which although stalling in congress, if passed would bias towards financially stable English speakers, and reduce American immigration by 50 per cent.

Though Trump’s repeated attempts at travel bans for citizens of certain countries was not targeted at those who had already gained visas, the controversy and treatment of these citizens is certainly beginning to deter migrants and skilled workers.

The proposed wall on the Mexican border, and clampdowns on illegal immigrants is affecting individuals and families who have lived in the US for years and now facing possible deportation.

This September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, passing it over to congress to find a legislative alternative. The announcement and the potential effects on the 800,000 young individuals under DACA is controversial and far reaching.

What is DACA?

Barack Obama created DACA in 2012 to allow those brought to the UK illegally as children the temporary right to live, study and work in America. The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) covrtd a group now known as “dreamers”, most of whom know America as their home country and have little or no knowledge of their birth countries culture or language. “Dreamers” see themselves as Americans. The DACA program allows those who have completed school or military service, and have passed criminal and security vetting, a two-year deferral on any threat of deportation. After which they have opportunity to renew. During the two-year period they are granted rights to a driving license, college access, and a work permit.

What will ending DACA mean?

DACA protects 800,000 between the ages of 15 to 36. Trump has indicated that current “dreamers” if generally law abiding, will not be subject to any action. However new applications will not be affected. Trump touts his plan to make the deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the USA a priority for his government.  Though current DACA protectees should be safe right now, they are rightly terrified for their future. As are many other young people who will miss this opportunity yet know only America as their home country.

For most “dreamers” their status under DACA will lapse by March 2020 and it’s unclear what will happen to them then. For the first DACA citizens, their two-year deferral expires in 2018, the rest in 2019 and 2020. Immigrants with DACA permits expiring before March 5, 2018 can apply for a renewal.

Currently 15 states have joined together in a lawsuit protesting the decision to rescind DACA and California has announced its own lawsuit against the process.

More resist Trump’s policies – who are the sanctuary cities?

Sanctuary cities, places of protection and respite, go back thousands of years. For the US they have gained in number and reputation over the past 10 years, accelerating with the newest presidential administration and its policies.  New York was the first to speak out with a letter the week of Donald Trump’s inauguration defending the right of every student in New York City to school. It explained school staff do not check if children’s parents had visas and would not permit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to enter schools without proper legal authority. New York has an estimated 1.2 million undocumented immigrants.

Sanctuary cities are considered to have adopted laws, policies or practices which may impede some immigration enforcement efforts. The Sanctuary counties and cities in the US currently include Oregon, with 31 counties, Washington with 18 counties, California with 15 counties. Massachusetts has 6 cities, California 3 and there are many more.  A list can be found here: http://www.10news.com/news/list-of-sanctuary-cities-2017

How have the recent hurricanes affected undocumented immigrants?

In Texas and Florida there are many undocumented immigrants affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They are deeply concerned about being deported under the government’s new and proposed policies. Despite some of them being entitled to aid from the federal government, most are too afraid to draw attention to themselves by asking for help, and are instead turning to churches and private charities. Federal Emergency Management Agency rules allow people in the country illegally to apply for disaster assistance on behalf of their children who are under 18 and have legal status in the USA. Undocumented immigrants are concerned applying for FEMA aid will expose their information and lead immigration authorities to them.

Trends in US immigration – a quick look at some interesting statistics.

America is changing. Immigrants, even if not yet affected by new policy are worried. They are concerned about changing attitudes, both from the government and American citizens. Some can’t cope with living in fear. There are increasing numbers of Mexican nationals voluntarily choosing to return to Mexico, even though their children were born in the US.

It’s easy to forget that America is a nation of migrants, in 1890 14.8% of the population were non- US born. Today that figure is still only 13.4% of the total population.

In the period 2009 to 2014 more Mexican nationals returned to Mexico than entered America. 1 million returned, and 870,000 went to the US. Recent reports are that more and more Mexicans are leaving America each week.

Other groups of immigrants are either leaving or turning away from the USA. The changes in H-1B and some student visas are discouraging students and highly skilled migrants from India, China and other countries. Last year the growing rate of foreign student admissions to the US grew at its slowest rate since 2009. Canada however, is actively seeking to attract international students and highly skilled workers to fill a skills gap in its economy. The number of international students in Canada has grown 92% since 2008.

A recent Ivy League study predicts 4.6million jobs will be lost by Donald Trump’s policies and the US economy will be 2% smaller by 2040. The article from CNN makes for interesting reading http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/10/news/economy/trump-immigration-jobs/index.html

 

Spousal & Fiancé Visas for the UK

If your partner or spouse has a long-term visa or residence in the UK you may be able to apply to join them as a dependent on a Family Visa for a spouse or partner.  A visa is needed if you are planning to live with a family member for more than six months. If you are already in the UK you may be able to apply to extend your visa.

 

However, if you have a visitor visa of less than six months you will not be able to apply for a family visa from within the UK. If your partner, fiancé or spouse is a student or temporary worker, you will not be able to gain a family visa.

 

The Family Visa process has stringent criteria. There are lots of reasons why you may qualify but a number of incidences where you might not. Family visas are something which need to be investigated fully for your individual circumstances.

 

The UK government publishes the criteria and process here https://www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa

 

Refusal of family visas does happen and can lead to difficult choices for families and relationships. We look at a few scenarios in this article.

 

Spousal visa difficulties experienced by couples

 

Currently partner visa applications are falling, from 46,906 in June 2006 to 27,345 in June 2015, when 66% of applications were granted favorably.

 

Case 1: David Kiff of the UK, and Wanwan Qiao of China

 

Wanwan lived in the UK for three years, initially on a student visa, and met David in April 2016. For a visa to be granted to a non-EU spouse any couple needs to be earning a combined income of £18,600, or be facing significant difficulties to live outside the UK. Their first application was denied as David was self-employed and could not properly demonstrate his income. The Home Office stated they were declining their second application based on immigration rules, and saw no reason why the couple cannot live in China. Wanwan is heavily pregnant, but has been granted exceptional leave to remain with an extension for four months, and can re-apply after she has given birth.

 

Their full story can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-41012762

 

Case 2: Toni Stew of the UK and Mohamed El Faramawi of Egypt

 

Again, this couple’s issues began with them not earning the combined £18,600 per year requirements. They met in Egypt in 2009 and married six years later. They have a 17-month-old son Ali who lives with mum Toni in the UK. As Toni doesn’t earn the income threshold requirement, Mohamed is not allowed to come to the UK, and has only seen his son a handful of times. Toni works part-time while caring for her son.

 

Thousands of couples are said to be affected by the minimum income requirement introduced in July 2012.

 

Case 3: Lauren Segan of the UK and American, Spencer Russ

 

Both students, Laura and Spencer have been married for less than a year. Laura is still studying and feels it’s unfair of the UK government to expect her to earn the £18,600 threshold, whilst studying, in order to bring Spencer back to the UK. They met when they were both teaching English in Russia.

 

Both couple’s stories and more can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35552289

 

What exactly was the change in law for income requirements for couples?

 

Under the family migration policy British citizens, foreign nationals who are settled in the UK and those with refugee status can apply to sponsor their partner’s visa. They must also show they have sufficient funding to support them. The minimum income requirement was introduced in July 2012.  For a non-European partner and child, the amount is £22,400 with an additional £2,400 for each additional child. Applicants who receive the status of “family of a settled person” cannot claim benefits or public funds.

 

The minimum income requirement policy was challenged in the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2014 as being discriminatory, and not compliant with Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. Article 8 is the right to a private and family life. The Supreme Court ruled the immigration policy lawful, but it continues to separate and cause pain to many couple and families.

 

What is the “Surinder Singh” route?

 

Some applicants who were unable to meet the income threshold have taken the “Surinder Singh” route to bypass the law. They work in another nation in the European Economic Area for three months or more. When they return to the UK they are treated as an EEA citizen, instead of a British citizen. This means they can bring their spouse to the EEA country, then on to the UK without having to meet the income threshold. The Home Office must be satisfied that any applicant following this route did not do so just for immigration purposes.

 

Why is the American show “90-day Fiancé” so popular?!

 

The American TV show “90-day Fiancé” and its spin-offs follow the stories of American citizens moving abroad to be with partners, often that they have recently met online. Or American’s who bring their partners to the USA. These relationships often result in quick marriages, which some see as a route to immigration or monetary gain, and not real love stories. For some the stories are true romance and show individuals adapting to new countries and relationships. For other participants in the show there are obvious issues, visible one-sidedness, or a need for love or gain not shared by the spouse to be.

 

Lastly, can simple mistakes on visa applications cause problems for couples?

 

Yes! Simple errors on any visa and immigration application can cause huge problems, even the rejection of the visa itself. It’s vital that anyone completing an application is 100% confident they meet the requirements and criteria and can demonstrate this. Submitting an incomplete or incorrect application will almost certainly cause problems. Any attempt to hide details or submit fraudulent applications is likely to cause both immediate and future refusals. If you are not sure about any part of a visa application – take advice, it may seem expensive, but is likely to save money and heartache later.

Change and Concern for UK Student Visas and Migration

Change and Concern for UK Student Visas and Migration

The UK government under Theresa May has made changes in recent years to student visa rules as part of a wider strategy to reduce immigration within the UK. Theresa May has been extensively criticized for including international students in immigration figures. Brexit and the planned new immigration strategy for the UK, as part of the Brexit deal, is also likely to affect both EU and Non-EU students considering studying in the UK.

What are the UK visa criteria for International or Non-EU students?

Non-EU International students must meet certain criteria to study in the UK and must obtain a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.

To apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa you must:

  • have been offered a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
  • be able to speak, read, write and understand English
  • be able to support yourself financially, and pay for your course
  • be from a non-EEA country or Switzerland
  • apply no sooner than 3 months prior to the start of your course

Tier 4 Student Visas are usually decided quickly, often within 3 weeks, and currently cost £335.  There are additional fees for dependents, and a healthcare surcharge for you, and any dependents. There are rules about dependents, the type of course, the institution you are studying with, work and access to public services.

After you graduate, if you are considering taking a permanent job in the UK, to do so you would need to move to a Tier 2 Visa with an eligible employer and role.

What are the criteria for EU citizens wanting to study in the UK

EU citizens are currently free to study in the UK with the same criteria as other EU citizens visiting, working and living in Britain. They can take advantage of a cap on tuition fees, and tuition fee loans in the same way as UK students. Non-EU students do not have these advantages.

In April 2017, the government confirmed EU students applying for university places in the 2018-2019 academic year will remain eligible for financial support. The financial support comes in terms of the fee caps, loans, and grants available and would be valid for the period of study even if that continues, and ends, after the Brexit break. There are certain criteria for eligibility to financial benefits, depending on the length of time students have lived in either the UK or EEA.

What happens for potential EU students after the 2018-2019 intake remains to be decided. Students beginning their studies after the 2018-2019 period may be subject to the post-Brexit immigration changes, and policy, which have yet to be created.

What do the statistics say? Originating countries of students studying in the UK.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency’s latest figures on International student statistics were released in January 2017 for the year 2015-2016. The complete figures can be found here:

https://institutions.ukcisa.org.uk/Info-for-universities-colleges–schools/Policy-research–statistics/Research–statistics/International-students-in-UK-HE/#International-(non-UK)-students-in-UK-HE-in-2015-16

Of the figures, in the order greatest first, the top ten EU sending countries were: Germany, France, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria and lastly Poland. For non-EU students, again greatest first, the top ten reads: China, Malaysia, the USA, India, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and Canada.

Britain has always been a first choice for many international students, however less welcoming government policies, Brexit, and the threat of stricter immigration rules means that many students are looking elsewhere. America, Canada and Australia are popular destinations. Though the USA is falling in popularity under the Donald Trump presidency.

By December 2015 the number of non-EU student arrivals had fallen to a nine-year low of 167,000.  Thought provokingly, the estimated figures are that international students add £7 billion per year to the UK economy. Not to mention the benefits to UK industry of attracting the world’s top talent within reach of employer’s skill shortages.

UK PM Theresa May draws criticism as actual figures for student visa over stayers are released.

Theresa May has been determined to include foreign students in the government immigration figures and planned reductions. The UK government, in explaining the reasoning behind this, seems to have overestimated the number of students who illegally overstay their student visas. Estimates for years prior to 2016 were close to 100,000. Actual figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for 2016 showed that just 4,600 students overstayed their visas.

Those opposing Theresa May believe students should be excluded from the immigration figures and targets, as most return home after studying. They also believe the benefits of international students, both whilst they are studying and when they reach industry, whether in the UK or not, far outweigh any concerns.

Some wonder if the damage to the UK economy and its universities has been done as total immigration figures post Brexit have halved.

Should applicants expect problems in obtaining a student visa in the UK?

Generally, the UK application and visa process is known to be a positive experience. Conversely, there have been recent reports of International students finding their UK student visa application problematic.

Study International broke a story on September 5th of unexpected visa delays for students from Hong Kong. Actual figures are undetermined but comments from lawyers and the British consulate in Hong Kong indicate hundreds of students may have been affected by late granting of their visas. Though UK universities have been accommodating, some students missed important first classes.

Find the full story here: https://www.studyinternational.com/news/visa-delays-leave-hundreds-hong-kong-students-risk-losing-place-uk-unis/#VAsxeRQvdU8LqOSb.97

Earlier this month the Guardian published the story of Oxford student Brian White, who won his right to stay in the UK and study after a long battle. There had been concern over his immigration status. This led to a national campaign and an eventual grant of indefinite leave to remain. Brian feels the visa processing system is confusing for those without legal help. Brian’s personal case made for a potentially more complicated visa application than some. However, cases like Brian’s serve to highlight the changes occurring within Britain’s immigration policies to potential new students and migrants to the UK.

Find the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/10/oxford-student-stay-uk-visa-process-transparent-brian-white

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