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UK immigration options [20110120|13:48]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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I attended a seminar on UK immigration arranged by the Faculty of Natural Sciences yesterday. They brought in a consultant who talked us through the types of visas currently available and the changes to the rules that will be implemented from April 2011. He also gave a good deal of case-specific advice to the audience members for free, including me, so it was well worth attending.

I noticed two things about the audience. First, of the persons attending the seminar, more than 50% were women. I’m pretty sure that the composition of the FoNS is not 50% women. Some of this may have been due to the presence of the administrative staff, which is still largely female. Second, of the persons attending the seminar, the majority were, to put it bluntly, brown. I recognised a lot of them from physics and chemistry. These were the postgrads, postdocs and lecturers who are going to be affected by the changes to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa schemes. I leave you to draw your own conclusions about whether or not the impending visa closures could be viewed as just a teeny bit racist.

Here’s how the Tier 1 visas, which place no restrictions on the employment of the visa holder, will be affected. Currently, there is an interim cap of about 600 per month on Tier 1 visas issued. As of 5 April 2011, this will drop to 1000 per annum. The Tier 1 (General) category, into which most applicants fall, will be replaced by the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category. You will need to demonstrate “international repute” (e.g. be a Nobel laureate) to obtain one of these.

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) categories will remain unchanged for the time being. For the former, you must demonstrate that you have £200,000 at your disposal to invest in the UK economy. This could be in the form of a research grant, which could help some postdocs and lecturers to stay in the UK. For the latter, you need to have £1,000,000 to invest in the UK economy. I gather the source of the money is not a matter of great interest, so it doesn’t matter much whether you earned it through the stock market or the black market.

All this means that you can still buy your way into the country, but brains and education alone are no longer enough.

For the Tier 2 visa, you must be sponsored by an employer, and the employer must prove that no candidate in the UK could or would take the job. It becomes easier to get a Tier 2 visa if your job is on the shortage occupation list (here). The interim cap on Tier 2 visas is about 3000 per month. As of 5 April 2011, this will drop to 20,700 per annum for new applications. A person who is presently in skilled employment and wants to transfer into this category from Tier 1 qualifies automatically.

Note that these caps are only on new applications. What will happen to current holders of Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas when their visas expire? Answer: No one knows yet. The only information given by UKBA thus far is that the visas will still be valid until their expiry dates and that there will be “transitional arrangements” for those already in the country and working. For the moment, the consultant advised us either to renew our Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas before April 2011, or to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), otherwise known as permanent residency, as soon as we qualify.

This brings me to the most interesting thing I learnt at the seminar from a personal point of view. I qualify for ILR at the end of July, assuming the ILR rules don’t change in April, too. The reason I don’t have to wait until October, when I’ll have been employed continuously for 4 years and 11 months? I’ve shacked up with an Englishman. As the domestic partner of a UK citizen, I qualify for permanent residency after 2 years of living with him. While I appreciate the recognition of our commitment, I am also slightly put out that 2 years of living with my boyfriend is equivalent to 5 years of maintaining continuous highly skilled employment. The latter is the result of individual effort and is theoretically more difficult than looking after a loving, high-maintenance Englishman...

...Actually, I take that back. I deserve this!

[User Picture]From: melissa_maples
2011-01-20 14:08 (UTC)
The reason I don’t have to wait until October, when I’ll have been employed continuously for 4 years and 11 months? I’ve shacked up with an Englishman. As the domestic partner of a UK citizen, I qualify for permanent residency after 2 years of living with him.

YES YES this is exactly what I was asking you about the other day, why you don't just go ahead and apply for ILR. I never had a work visa, only a student visa and then an unmarried partner visa before my ILR. I was wondering why you hadn't done that but I didn't realise that you didn't know about it!

Now I understand why you were freaking out, and now you understand why I was baffled by your freaking out. I thought maybe I had it wrong and the bloke was not a UK citizen or something.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-01-25 14:48 (UTC)
I understand what you were getting at now! I really didn't know you could get ILR based on domestic arrangements if you weren't married or in a certified civil partnership.

Hopefully this will work out in August.
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[User Picture]From: chickenfeet2003
2011-01-20 14:30 (UTC)
It doesn't surprise me that most people on tier 1 visas are non-white. As I see it non British white people mostly fall into one of three categories:

1. Citizens of EU countries who don't need a visa

2. Americans, who mostly won't move to a UK academic post because they are far better paid where they are

3. Citizens from the "white Commonwealth", most of whom can rustle up one EU born grandparent and thus get a handy citizenship

That doesn't leave a lot. I think.
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[User Picture]From: chickenfeet2003
2011-01-20 17:13 (UTC)
That's odd. I know stacks of them in Toronto.
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[User Picture]From: leidan
2011-01-20 20:53 (UTC)
I also know very few in NZ. More than one, but not that many.

Note also that if the grandparent you wish to trace lineage to happens to be from Britain then they have to be male. Grandmothers don't count as far as I know.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-01-25 14:53 (UTC)
Wow, that's wonderfully archaic. And by "wonderful" I mean "stupidly patriarchal".
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[User Picture]From: cataragon
2011-01-20 21:30 (UTC)
At least from NZ, a grandparent from the UK isn't enough for citizenship. All it gives me is Right of Abode in the UK. It does make it easier (I just have to prove I'm in work, or trying to get work, and won't be a burden on the state). But it doesn't get me EU citizenship AT ALL. I wish it did, it would be super useful.

And my situation isn't that common, honestly. Most white New Zealanders are at least 3rd generation, or possibly didn't come direct from Europe at all.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-01-25 14:58 (UTC)
Interesting. I had the notion that most white New Zealanders weren't second-generation or less, but I didn't realize that even if you were, you couldn't get citizenship.

In a similar vein, the immigration consultant mentioned that it was very difficult for British persons to acquire American citizenship. "Huh?" I muttered, puzzled. The Sri Lankan-Australian colleague sitting next to me looked at me and said, "Er, the War of Independence?" "Oh right, THAT," I replied. Such a dope. :P
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-01-25 14:52 (UTC)
I got to chatting to a couple of other American scientists in attendance at the seminar. They moved to the UK on what they thought was going to be a temporary basis, but pretty much had the same reasons I did for wanting to stay - significant others or domestic partners who were British or EU citizens. Money certainly isn't a good reason to remain in the UK!
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[User Picture]From: chickenfeet2003
2011-01-25 15:01 (UTC)
Immigration everywhere is weird. The rules are arcane. The bureaucrats can be Hell or unbelievably helpful depending on whether they like your (preferably white, middle class) face. I've been incredibly lucky. When I first went to get my Landed Immigrant visa for Canada (at the now closed consulate in Birmingham) I explained to the guy that I was engaged and he said to bring my fiancee along. He did her interview and stuck the papers in his desk drawer, telling me to fax the sponsorship forms to him as soon as I could get them done after arriving in Canada. I did and he issued a visa for my fiancee the same day.

Not much different with lemur_catta. She applied for permanent residency and because she was living with me they issued a minister's permit allowing her to stay in the country while the application was processed. I contrast that with cassandre's husband's utterly gruesome experience with the US INS.
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2011-01-20 14:37 (UTC)
Yeah. I am feeling super articulate about this. Argle bargle gah ack bleargh!! See? So full of erudite rage.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-01-25 15:04 (UTC)
It's such a complex issue. It requires a lot of pondering of uncomfortable subjects to parse properly. I know I don't have the time to do it. Mostly I just know that the way things are feels wrong.
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[User Picture]From: leidan
2011-01-20 20:59 (UTC)
I feel like this is another statement that the UK simply doesn't want the trouble of being a world power again.

Faded glory seems to be enough to keep them warm at night (that and a cup of tea) and they are happy. And with the pound slipping just about everyone I know that has been in the UK from here is leaving. Even those with dual citizenship.

This sort of xenophobia is becoming unfortunately common as the economic situation bites and people become more "jobs for the locals". The "globally transferable knowledge economy" is becoming even more of a hollow shell than it once was.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-01-25 15:38 (UTC)
That's a pretty long time to hang on to your post-imperial malaise. At some point you just have to get over it.

The "globally transferable knowledge economy" is becoming even more of a hollow shell than it once was.

The sad thing is, I really believed in it. I always thought that though relatively poor by first-world standards, brains and enthusiasm would let me earn the things I wanted - financial independence and the ability to travel and live abroad. Low interest rates, high inflation and increasing xenophobia are making this seem a lot less achievable than it did before.
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[User Picture]From: leidan
2011-01-26 00:56 (UTC)
Ain't that the truth.

This sort of stuff brings out my (generally well hidden) anarchical tendencies. I believe that sometime soon we (humanity) need to haev a serious look at ourselves and try a different tack.
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[User Picture]From: painted_dreams
2011-02-06 20:41 (UTC)
So they are just reducing the number of those allowed in? And making it harder? It still seems silly to me that they would choose to go after skilled migrants. I suppose they didn't notice all the euro migrants that came in droves?

The good thing is you can stay :-D
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-02-07 09:04 (UTC)
Essentially, yes. As I said in the post, the Tier 1 scheme for new entrants will still allow you to pay to get into the country, but won't let you use brains and education. I think the only reason the Tier 1 and Tier 2 schemes are being targeted, honestly, is that there isn't much the government can do about European migration without pulling out of the EU, which would be incredibly difficult. They're going for an easy option to make it look like they're "doing something" about immigration, when in reality this is going to make very little difference to immigration statistics and do a fair bit of economic damage. There's a saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face that springs instantly to mind...
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