Category: Updates & Publications

Airport Asylum Claim

UK Visas Scam in the Philippines

Filipinos are continuously being targeted and victimised of the UK Visa scam in the Philippines, an ongoing epidemic for many years.

The British Embassy in Manila released a statement warning Filipinos how to suspect a scam.

Some individuals may claim to be a member or an officer of the Immigration department in the UK, or will result to social media for communication such as, emails, skype or Facebook. The scam is often composed of false employment contracts and client care letters explaining the procedure and their fees.

After being persuaded via Skype or telephone calls discussing the fake job vacancies, the fraudsters will explain how you will be required to pay the necessary fees. The scam becomes successful unless caught, as soon as the victims have made a deposit, often via Western Union or Money gram and the rest is history. Fake documents such as, British Passports, letter from Home Office or Entry Clearance Visa are released to the victims for re-assurance and to portray a realistic approach.

Sterling & Law Associates LLP were approached by individuals in the Philippines enquiring the validity of the documents they were given. These documents were reviewed and assessed, it was apparent that the contract of employment, emails, British Passport and Entry Clearance visas were fake, as they did not go through the necessary procedure.

It is strongly advised for Filipinos to seek assistance from the British Embassy in Manila before any further actions are to be taken, and especially when you are being required to deposit sum of money.

Alternatively, you can find out the legitimacy of the job in the gov.uk website.

If you would like to check whether a company in the UK is willing to employ you, you can check on Companies House whether the company is registered and legitimate.

Companies House: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/search/companies?q=

Once you are satisfied that you found your employer on Companies House, you need to check whether they have a Sponsor License. The Sponsor License allows a company to issue a certificate of sponsorship as part of the requirement in applying for your work permit.

Registered of licensed sponsors: workers:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-licensed-sponsors-workers

There are only two locations in the Philippines where you can go to submit your application for visas to the UK, in Manila and Cebu.

VFS Global: https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/philippines/applicationcentre.html

For more details and assistance please contact Nollienne Alparaque by e-mail: nollienne@sterling-law.co.uk or call on 078 1276 9389 or 020 7822 8535.

EEA Refusal Appeal Sterling & Law Associates LLP

Successful Appeal against Refusal to Issue Residence Card to Dependant Relative of EEA National

Sterling & Law Associates LLP were successful in the appeal case at the First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration & Asylum Chamber) challenging the Home Office’s refusal of a client’s application for a residence card. The decision and reasons have been promulgated on 8 September 2017.

The appellant (non-EEA national) is a dependent relative of her son (EEA national). They have been living together and son has been taking care of his mother.

Mother’s application for a residence card was refused by the Home Office as they allegedly failed to provide sufficient evidence that her son was working in the United Kingdom, that she was dependent on him and that they actually resided together. These issues were challenged at the hearing and sufficient evidence was provided on behalf of the client in court.

The Judge asserted that in an EEA appeal he was required to determine it as at the date of the hearing not the date of the application to the Home Office.

At the appeal hearing the appellant adduced evidence of her son’s recently issued residence card which was treated as a confirmation that he has been exercising treaty rights in the United Kingdom. In support of the claim other evidence of dependency and residency was accepted.

Upon consideration of the appeal lodged by Sterling & Law Associates LLP on behalf of the client, the Judge held that the evidence provided was credible and sufficient and the issues raised in the refusal had been dealt with.

Therefore, the appeal under the Immigration (EBA) Regulations 2006 was allowed at the hearing.

Tier 4 Student Visa Application UK www.sterling-law.co.uk

Home Office Introduces Сhanges to Student Visa Application Process

The Home Office announced introduction of a change to improve the online student application process.

From 14 September 2017, the Biometric Enrolment Letter (BEL) for students applying from within the UK for the Tier 4 General and Tier 4 Child priority postal and standard routes will be generated automatically online. The letter is currently printed and sent to students by post.

Once generated online, the letter can be immediately downloaded and printed by the student at the same time they print their document checklist. This will help reduce the overall processing time.

The student should then take their Biometric Enrolment Letter to the Post Office to give their fingerprints and photo.

The Home Office recommends the sponsors (universities) to ensure the sponsored students who are applying from within the UK in the Tier 4 General and Tier 4 Child routes are aware of the change. The students are encouraged to enrol their biometrics (fingerprints and photo) and submit their documents as soon as they can.

The sponsored students should ensure their details are entered correctly in their online application form:

  • name should be entered exactly as shown in their passport; and
  • the student should provide their full address, including their flat or room number.

Students and sponsors can contact the Home Office through the UKVI customer enquiry service at www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk

UK Immigration applications visa www.sterling-law.co.uk

Changes to immigration and nationality fees from 2 October 2017

Regulations were laid in Parliament on Thursday, 7 September 2017, which set out a change to the immigration and nationality fees.

This change will come into effect on Monday 2 October 2017.

Exchange Rate on Immigration Applications

Changes are being introduced on how the Home Office calculates exchange rates for overseas visa applications. The new policy, which will benefit customers, uses a new set of exchange rates where payments for UK Visa and Immigration Services are taken in cash or by a bank card in a currency other than Sterling.

The Home Office claims that the new  Exchange Rate Policy will provide a fairer and more transparent service to customers and will allow them to calculate in advance the cost of their visa application. The exchange rates will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

Full details of the Home Office Exchange Rate policy are available on the website.

There are no increases in immigration fees.

London Skyline Tower Bridge www.sterling-law.co.uk

EU Exit Negotiations Update from the Home Office

Following the latest round of negotiations between the UK and EU concluded on 31 August 2017 in Brussels, the Home Office circulated the following update.

Progress was made on several fronts – including on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in the EU.

On healthcare, for example, we agreed to protect the rights to reciprocal healthcare, including European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs), for EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU who are present on the day of exit.

Both sides also agreed that the rights of cross border workers should be protected.

On economic rights, we have confirmed the right of EU citizens to set up and manage a business in the UK, and the same applies to British citizens in their Member State of residence.

These points of agreement are good news but the discussions also highlighted where more work is needed.

This includes several areas where the UK wants to go further than the EU, such as posted workers (raised in the July round) and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. The UK will also continue to seek clarification on how the EU’s stance on various issues would work in practice and be implemented within the EU27.

The next round of negotiations in September will build on progress to date with a view to reaching a future agreement on citizens’ rights. This table provides a comparison of the EU-UK positions on citizens’ rights and where outstanding issues remain.

As Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis said yesterday, the UK government remains absolutely committed during the negotiation process to delivering the best outcome for the people of the EU and the UK.

We also recognise that EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU would like certainty about future arrangements as soon as possible.”

Please visit Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know for further details about the government’s proposal to protect the position of EU citizens in the UK – and UK nationals in the EU – published on 26 June. It contained these commitments:

  • EU citizens with settled status will continue be treated as if they were UK nationals for education, healthcare, benefits, pensions and social housing after we leave the EU.
  • No EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be asked to leave at the point we leave the EU. EU citizens will have at least two years to regularise their status.
  • The process to apply for settled status will be streamlined and user friendly, including for those who already hold a permanent residence document under current free movement rules. We expect the system to be up and running in 2018.

As the negotiations in Brussels progress, Home Office’s advice to EU citizens remains the same: you do not need to apply for documentation confirming your status now.

The rights of EU citizens have not changed. Last week, around 100 EU citizens received letters in error stating they were liable for removal from the UK. For the avoidance of doubt, these letters were sent in error and will have caused understandable distress. The Department has apologised to the individuals affected and they are being reassured that they should disregard the letters. The Home Office statement is here.

Home Office will continue to update on the negotiations and wider citizens’ rights issues over the coming months.

Travel Documents - UK Immigration Rules - www.sterling-law.co.uk

Travelling Abroad with Refugee Travel Document: Visa Requirements and Restrictions

The holders of the Refugee Travel Document issued under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees can travel visa free to many countries all over the world. However, many counties changed their internal policies and now require the Refugee Travel Document holders to obtain visas even for short-term tourist visits.

The travellers should always check the visa requirement of the country of their destination prior to the trip. Also, a valid UK residence permit confirming their refugee status in the UK must be taken for the overseas trips with the Travel Document.

The following countries require visas for the visitors with the Refugee Travel Document issued under the 1951 UN Convention:

  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Czech Republic
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • Kazakhstan
  • Macedonia
  • Poland
  • Serbia
  • Turkey

The following countries DO NOT require visas for the visitors with the Refugee Travel Document issued under the 1951 UN Convention:

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Vatican

List of Countries that DO NOT ALLOW ENTRANCE for the visitors with the Refugee Travel Document issued under the 1951 UN Convention:

  • UAE – Dubai
  • Qatar – Doha

This list is subject to changes so please check information on the visa requirements before your travel arrangements.

Nollienne Alparaque - Filipino Immigration Lawyer UK Tagalog

Free Filipino Immigration Clinic in London – Saturday, 9 September 2017

Filipino Immigration Lawyer in UK

Sterling & Law Associates LLP will be holding a Free Immigration Clinic for Filipinos in the UK who need immigration advice. You will have a chance to have a 30-minutes consultation in Tagalog on any UK immigration matters and visa categories with our experienced immigration lawyers.

The consultations will be held on Saturday, 9 September 2017 from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm at the following address:

Sterling & Law Associates

Fleet House, 8-12 New Bridge Street

London, EC4V 6AL (MAP)

Appointments must be booked in advance for the following time slots:

9:00 – 9:30
9:40 – 10:10
10:20 – 10:50
11:00 – 11:30
11:40 – 12:10
12:20 – 12:50
2:00 – 2:30
2:40 – 3:10
3:20 – 3:50
4:00 – 4:30
4:40 – 5:10

To book your appointment please contact Nollienne Alparaque by e-mail: nollienne@sterling-law.co.uk or call on 078 1276 9389 or 020 7822 8535.

Should you wish to instruct us after the consultation, we will be happy to offer a 20% discount the legal fees in any immigration case. This offer is only valid for the day of the legal clinic.

Yuriy Lysenko - Immigration Lawyer Sterling & Law Associates LLP London

Safe Returns Policy – New Review Policy Applicable to All Refugees in the UK

The Home Office Refugee Leave guidance states:

All those who applying for settlement protection after completing the appropriate probationary period of limited leave will be subject to a safe return review with reference to the country situation at the date the application is considered. Those who still need protection at that point will normally qualify for settlement.

In March 2017, the Home Office announced that a new policy regarding all individuals with the Refugee Status. The policy has an effect for all existing and future applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) as a Refugee (a further step after Leave to Remain application). In order to make an ILR application a refugee has to use ‘SET(P)’ form. The ILR allows refugees to have further access benefits which were granted under the Leave to Remain application, such as, access to public funds, education, or employment. 

Unlike the old policy, the new policy does not grant an automatic grant of settlement.

The exemptions when the automatic grant was not given to the applicant by the Home Office are the following:

Trigger 1: Review on the basis of information relating to actions (or alleged actions) of an individual refugee. In this section, any actions taken by the refugee to be against the security of the UK and/or any (criminal) allegations may take away the Refugee Status from a refugee.

Trigger 2: Review on the basis of a significant and non-temporary change in the conditions in a particular country (cessation). This is where the country from which the refugee is feared from persecution will no longer apply due to significant and non-temporary change in country. This trigger, the Home Office claims, to apply to all applicants of ILR regardless of the timing of their application. This is what is most importantly implied by the new Policy.

A “significant and non-temporary change in country situation” is described in the new policy:

In relation to changes to the country situation, this refers to changes that are significant and non-temporary such that a fear of persecution can no longer be regarded as well-founded. Caseworkers should note that the overthrow of one political party in favour of another might only be transitory or the election of a new government may not automatically mean that there is no longer a risk of persecution for the individual refugee. The changes must be such that the reasons for becoming a refugee have ceased to exist.

This implies that a change of personal circumstances may disqualify a refugee who faces a misappropriate impact on the refugee after they settle, for instance, women refugees who are at risk of domestic violence or FGM. The policy acknowledges such circumstances by stating: 

Caseworkers must consider whether the grant of refugee status was for more than one reason. For example, a woman may have been granted on the basis that she refused to agree to a forced marriage. If she is now married, she may still face a risk of persecution if she has married without the consent of her family. They may also fall within another category of risk and as such, revocation would not be appropriate. Revocation action on grounds that the protection need has ceased to exist should only be considered where there is no risk of persecution or serious harm on any grounds.

Trigger 3: Where the Secretary of State for the Home Department has announced to Parliament a review based on a significant and non-temporary change to a country situation. (No countries as of yet have been announced).

There are also other reasons to refuse settlement for a refugee:

  • There have been changes in personal circumstances
  • The refugee has returned to their country of origin or habitual residence
  • The refugee has obtained a national passport from their home country
  • There is evidence the original decision to recognise refugee status was incorrect
  • Any dependents of the refugee have travelled home or obtained a national passport

Within the application it is important for the refugee to be in the UK during the application period and the application should include all dependents living with the refugee including those who were born in the UK since the moment when the Refugee Status was granted.

The applications prior to March 2017, took under 6 months and resulted in a grant of ILR, however with the Brexit atmosphere and harsher Immigration Law changes, the new policy intends to demonstrate, as Immigration barrister Colin Yeo claims, “either that the Government does not want refugees to integrate or at least that there is no-one sufficiently senior at the Home Office who is responsible for thinking about integration”. In such hostile environment, it has been raised repeatedly that the right legal advice is mandatory to ensure the success of a refugee’s application, however there are a few changes that should be known about the new policy.

Brexit London Westminster Migrants

The “Great” Repeal Bill – and the implications for European Citizens

Some say the Great Repeal Bill will be a milestone on Britain’s journey to being a modern democracy. Some say not. One thing for sure is that the Great Repeal Bill will be the most influential single act of regulation in UK history.

The European Communities Act (ECA) 1972 is a crucial legislation as it makes European Union law automatically binding in the UK. In the cases of any clashes with British law, the European Union law takes precedence. With Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the Great Repeal Bill will transfer, copy or amend all existing European Union legislations into domestic UK law. Simultaneously, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will end its jurisdiction power in the UK.

The fundamental problem arises: when we go deeper into the discussion of Brexit, it seems more evident that there is no plan at all. Simply transposing all EU law into UK legislation will not be enough.

Theresa May published the Great Repeal Bill on July 13, 2017. David Davis, who is the Brexit Secretary, introduced the document and said: “this bill means that we will be able to exit the European Union with maximum certainty, continuity and control”.

However, ironically, the Great Repeal Bill grants the ministers with the powers to bypass the Parliament, the so-called Henry VIII powers which should not be acceptable in a democratic society. Parliamentary sovereignty is a fundamental principle in UK constitution.  Parliament must have a say in the progress of the Brexit negotiations.  It is argued that the government cannot be given the wide powers to alter the legislation without the scrutiny from Parliament.

Workers’ rights would be considered as the most crucial aspect which everyone concerns about the Great Repeal Bill. The government still retains the final right to amend or remove basic employment laws, for example, equal treatment for workers disregarding gender or ethnicity, excessive working hours, and redundancy protections.

Theresa May confirmed all EU citizens who have lived here for five years could apply for a “settled status”. This includes equal rights on healthcare, education and pensions. But here is the problem.

What about those EU nationals who have lived in the UK less than five years, but are currently working in the UK now? Does that mean they need to go back to their home countries and look for new jobs? What about the life they already settle here in the UK and already considered the UK as their homes?

It is necessary for the government to reassure the EU nationals which they would not be replaced if, in the future, they are required to obtain a visa to work in the UK.  They need to be given the confidence by the government which they would be still entitled to the same rights as the UK citizens. The implications of the rights for EU nationals further extend to equal pay, full holiday pay, anti-discrimination against sex, race, and disability, as well as agency workers protections. The proposals for the Great Repeal Bill did fall short of the promise made by Theresa May. No specific guidelines are being set out to adequately protect and maintain all workers’ rights that came from the EU.

Workers’ rights are not the only crucial aspect. The pharmaceutical industry is also at risk with Britain’s withdrawing from the European Union. With the toughening of immigration control, border checks for goods importing into the UK might create delays. Consequently, the supply of life-saving medicines could be severely disrupted.  For the pharmaceutical products which have a short expiration date, the cost might be significantly increased as well.  The negotiation of a new trade agreement between the UK and the EU would take several years beyond 2019. The two-year period is a tight period for Britain to reach a new trade agreement and smoothly exit from the EU.

Therefore, even if the Great Repeal Bill converts all EU law into UK law, there would be still a legal black hole the day Britain withdrawing from the European Union. People voted in the referendum was in the hope of making the UK better, but they did not vote to be worse off.  Assessing the potential problems facing right now, it seems that the Great Repeal Bill cannot actually guarantee “a maximum certainty, continuity and control within Britain”.  This will not be the desirable outcome as suggested by David Davis.

The question to be asked is: can the Great Repeal Bill really ensure a smooth transition as well as a thoroughly functioning legal system on the day Britain leaves the European Union.  The harsh truth is no.  According to the report issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the latest recorded Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.6% in June 2017. This figure is still above the Bank of England’s 2% target. With Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, for example, the export of livestock will be prohibited. Consequently, the inflation rate is bound to keep going up.  The living standards for UK citizens will be squeezed.

After all, the Great Repeal Bill is only the first Brexit-related bills. The remaining seven bills yet to be set out to put Brexit into practice are customs, trade, immigration, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear safeguards, and international sanctions. At this stage, it is still unclear how the negotiations will unfold.

London Immigration Time

Online Forms to Deal with Biometric Cards Issues

The Home Office recently introduced online forms for dealing with various types of issues with the biometric cards. The forms are publicly available and can be used by the applicants and their legal representatives to deal with following most common problems.

If you have received a decision from the Home Office but your biometric card or an EEA Treaty Rights document has not arrived within 10 working days after the decision was issued please complete the form at www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/not-arrived

If you were expecting to collect a BRP from a Post Office branch please complete the form at www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/collect

If you have received a biometric card but it contains a mistake please complete the form at www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/report-problem

If you have lost your biometric card, or it has been stolen please complete the form at www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/lost-stolen-damaged

If you have made an application that has not yet been decided by the Home Office and you have not received a biometric enrolment (barcode) letter to use at the Post Office, please send an e-mail to AppointmentExceptions@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

If you would like to ask the Home Office for your documents to be returned see the relevant guidance at www.gov.uk/visa-documents-returned

To obtain an update on the progress of your case or if you have a general immigration enquiry see the guidance at www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi

To notify the Home Office of a change of address for you or your representative please complete the form at https://eforms.homeoffice.gov.uk/outreach/AddressUpdate.ofml