All Articles: key post
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
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
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
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 and here we answer the question “what is a refugee?” Before we get to that, we have loads of content about ...15th June 2021
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. Both result in a grant of five years’ permission to remain in the UK on ...14th June 2021
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
Fee waiver policy: who qualifies and what does the Home Office guidance say?
Fees for immigration applications have increased sharply in recent years. Most applications for permission to remain in the UK (other than under the Points Based Immigration System) now cost £1,033. In addition, applicants may need to pay an Immigrat ...15th March 2021
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
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
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
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
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
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 young people to experience life in the UK and is relatively straightforward to apply for, at least when compared with other options for ...16th November 2020
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 is designed to land in a different government pocket. Also known as the NHS surcharge, it essen ...27th October 2020
How to apply for a UK domestic worker visa
There is a UK visa for non-EEA domestic workers, first introduced in 2002. Although the Immigration Rules do not define “domestic workers”, the route is typically used by nannies, au pairs, cleaners, chauffeurs, cooks, personal carers and ...13th October 2020
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
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
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
General grounds for refusal: owing a debt to the NHS
Ever since 2013, the government has had a Visitor and Migrant NHS Cost Recovery Programme. “The programme’s overarching objective“, according to the Department of Health, “is to improve cost recovery and ensure that the NHS receives a ...29th July 2020
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
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
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
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
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
The Refugee Convention: who are refugees and asylum seekers?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Briefing: the status of EU immigration and asylum law after Brexit
Following the Conservative Party’s victory in the December 2019 general election, and the passing of the Withdrawal Agreement Act on 23 January 2020, the UK has now left the European Union with a divorce deal. Under the deal, formally called the W ...3rd February 2020
What is so special about being a British citizen, legally?
You would be forgiven for thinking there are some special rights or privileges attached to being a British citizen. Politicians are fond of telling us how great it is to be British and how it is a privilege not a right. Our government charges foreign ...27th December 2019
Briefing: the Tier 1 (Investor) route
The Tier 1 (Investor) visa allows foreign citizens to get permission to live in the UK in return for an investment of £2 million in the British economy. The investment can be in shares or bonds issued by UK companies. Around 12,000 people have come t ...19th December 2019
Leave to remain application date: how to calculate it and why it is important
You’ve left extending your visa until the last minute and are now in danger of missing the deadline. Does this matter and is there anything you can do about it? The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. Fortunately, in most cases, th ...29th November 2019
British by descent: when the child of a British citizen is not themselves British
A story hit the news over the weekend of two-year-old Lucy, the child of British parents who has been told by the Home Office that she must leave the UK. It is always difficult to comment on news stories without knowing the full facts but it is certai ...15th October 2019
Disclosure of documents from family court proceedings
The recent – and by now infamous – case of Re Nasrullah Mursalin  EWCA Civ 1559, in which a paralegal was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for disclosing papers from family proceedings to an immigration tribunal judge, has generated m ...9th October 2019
Briefing: what is the ‘right of abode’ in UK immigration and nationality law?
As I was reviewing John Vassiliou’s excellent piece on Hong Kongers with British National Overseas status last week, I realised that we’ve never put together an explainer on the right of abode. A quick Google search showed up no great expl ...18th September 2019
Briefing: How expensive are UK immigration applications and is this a problem?
The cost of making an immigration or nationality application has risen extremely steeply in recent years. Annual increases of 20% or 25% per year became standard, bringing the current cost of an application for indefinite leave to remain (aka settleme ...3rd September 2019
How to apply for immigration bail directly to the Home Office
People in immigration detention can make an application for Secretary of State bail directly to the Home Office. The Home Office has the same powers as the immigration tribunal to grant bail and manage its conditions. Is it worth applying? An applicat ...2nd September 2019