Move Ups’ February 2015 Summary on UK Visas

Given that we are already half way through February, this year seems to be getting off to a busy start. We are nearly ready to roll out phase 1 of our business improvement plan (running a bit behind schedule but excited nonetheless).

Over the past few months, the UK government (and its politicians) have announced some interesting changes or proposed changes. Some of the changes are going to be implemented in April 2015.


e-visas

First up, South Africans are going to experience a 24 hour UK e-visa system (announced 17 November 2014), which was meant to be taking place in April 2015. This e-visa system has already been rolled out in China, UAE and India with an expected visa fee of GBP600 (approximately R11 400) alone.

More details can be found here:

e-visas

April annual visa fee revised

April is also the month where the UK government annually revise visa fees and they have confirmed that the fees are going up across the board. The UK government, when compared to other first world countries, offer the most complex and expensive visa system. Their visa fees are meant to justify the administration costs in facilitating this service.

More details can be found here:

UK Entrepreneur Visa


UK visitor visa changes

Recently, Theresa May announced a rehaul of UK visitor visas. The announcement will change the current 15 categories to an improved and reformed visitor visa system that will only have 4 visitor visa categories. Further details of her announcement can be found here:

How this is going to impact the previous announcement of the priority service has been to be determined.

More details can be found here:

visa fee increase


UK settlement visas

Exactly 3 years ago (8 Feb 2012), I wrote an article announcing the proposed UK settlement visa changes. In this article I already contended the unfair nature in which the UK restricts its own nationals dependents and freely allows other EU nationals to bring their dependents into the UK.

Finally the UK have woken up to this idea and ministers in the UK are acknowledging that the current financial requirement in the UK is unfair system. Rather than removing the requirement, the UK are considering applying the requirement to dependents of other EU nationals (who are currently exempt from needing to evidencing a minimum household income to qualify).

More details can be found here:

UK spousal rules unfair


EEA Family Permit

The current EU treaty in place promotes free movement within participating European countries. The EU has been expanding its participating countries, moving eastwards. Currently in negotiation ot join the EU is the UAE.

Getting back to the EU treaty, which has granted non-EU dependents (South Africans in this case) an opportunity to join their EU partners (other than British), to live and work in the UK freely.

When compared to the UK settlement visa, which caters for South Africans to be dependent on British passport holders. Here there is a financial requirement in place and a massive visa fee.

The system in place at present simply says it is better for South Africans to marry EU nationals other than British if they want to live and work in the UK.

What the UK has found, under the co-allition lead government, is that the EU treaty puts massive pressure on the UK’s economy. Given that majority of UK’s exports are distributed to the rest of EU. So the government has had to keep the treaty open during the UK’s sensitive economies financial recovery.


Net immigration increased

The current Prime Minister, David Cameron, got voted into power by promising the UK to reduce immigration numbers from 100 thousands to 10s of thousands. His still proposes that reduction of immigration numbers would make Britain beeter (even though his promise to do so was not met):

Confirmation of his failure attached below:

Increase in UK immigration numbers


Now that the UK economy is strengthening, the UK are faced with a mass of Poland and other EU nationals. This has put unwanted strain on unskilled workforce, where foreigners compete on minimum wage.

The other hindsight effect is that the United Kingdom is actually losing grips of its English heritage. The amount of non-English speaking nationals entering first year of UK schooling is beginning to outnumber the amount of English speaking nationals. Specifically in urban areas such as London.

More details can be found here:

EU impact on UK schools


2014 can be described as the year that the EU treaty was heavily debated. Now with the UK general elections coming up, politicians initially all climbed upon the anti-immigration band wagon. That is until 2 weeks ago. Recently politicians have realized that there are approximately 2 million immigrants who have earned the right to vote. This plays a voting factor which actually impacts to decision making process.

Two examples below:

EU debate with UK


EU debate with UK


In Conclusion

Our subjective (and South African biased) conclusion is that the current UK’s visa system can work better. We are glad that the UK are improving visitor visa applications to make provision for simpler submission process.

At present, Move Up recommends 3 changes to the UK’s current visa system. The first recommendation is that the UK should change the EU treaty and apply fair and equal visa rights to EU and non-EU nationals alike. If you want to enter the UK, you need to equally qualify for UK visas.

The second recommendation applies to the UK Settlement visa (immediate dependents of British passport holders). The UK should consider joint income (and not place emphasis only on the British passport holders income alone).

Finally, the UK should look to re-open Highly Skilled visa category and apply the qualifying conditions across the board (to EU and non-EU nationals). An immigration cap could be applied to “control” immigration numbers.

We trust you appreciated this industry insight.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Ryan Rennison

With over 10 years of industry experience, Ryan Rennison has witnessed the constantly changing UK immigration legislation. Paying specific attention to the changes that impact South African passport holders, Ryan proudly helps South Africans gain permission to enter the UK, formally known as Entry Clearance. Move Up is the banner under which Ryan has chosen to run with, this site serves to capture the solutions he and his team offer.

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