In these unprecedented times, Axiom Stone Solicitors will, in common with other businesses, be following the Government's official advice on social distancing and social isolating.

Public health measures must have the highest priority and, as a result, some staff will be working from home. Also, our offices will be closed to visitors.

However, we wish to reassure existing and potential clients that we will continue to provide the highest levels of service.

Please be assured we have a robust business continuity plan in place that is designed to minimise the impact on our service to you.

In addition, please continue to contact us electronically or by phone in relation to the progress of your matters or on any issues of concern to you.

Until further notice, service of claim forms, application notices and all other court documents and contractual notices must be made to our head office only (we shall not accept service through any other means). Our head office address is at Axiom Stone Solicitors, Axiom House, 1 Spring Villa Road, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7EB. We ask that all other correspondence be sent by email to the relevant member of Axiom Stone Solicitors. In the event that service of court documents or contractual notices is attempted by post, courier, DX, or fax to any address other than that of our Head Office, we cannot provide any assurance that they will be received or processed. We are grateful for your understanding at this time.

We will update this information regularly on our website (Please see COVID-19 Updates Here) and via social media.

Finally, we urge everybody to follow the official advice on fighting the virus outbreak so enabling you to stay safe and well.

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What Is Immigration Law

Immigration Law Explained

Immigration law is the branch of law that deals with the legal entry of people from other countries into the UK. People enter the UK for all kinds of reasons; for example people enter the UK in order to study, to work, as a tourist, to join a spouse who already lives in the country, or as a refugee seeking asylum.

UK Immigration Rules

For all people applying for immigrant status, there are a number of conditions and requirements that must be fulfilled in order to qualify. The requirements can vary from person to person, depending on their specific situation. For example, factors such as marital and family status, personal wealth, and the kind of job someone does, can influence how they apply for and obtain immigrant status. These factors can also influence how long it takes for someone to obtain “indefinite leave to remain” status, which means they can legally stay in the country indefinitely.

The decisions about who can immigrate to the UK are made by a branch of government called UK Visas and Immigration. Around 3 million people apply each year to stay in the UK either temporarily or permanently.

The Points-based Immigration System

For people who immigrate from outside the European Economic Area, the UK operates a points-based immigration system in which certain professions and skills are valued highly. People with these skills are encouraged to immigrate via the provision of a fast-track process. Currently there are 4 active “tiers”, each of which can apply to different categories of people. In each category, an individual must score a certain number of points in order to be eligible for leave to remain.

In certain categories, applicants must have a licensed immigration sponsor. Possible sponsors include employers and education providers.

Tier 1.

  • Entrepreneur: Applies to people who want to set up or purchase a UK business that they plan to have an active role in running. An applicant in this category must have at least £50,000 in investment funds. This category grants 3 years and 4 months leave to remain, with a potential for granting indefinite leave if certain criteria are met.
  • Investor: Applies to people who invest in the UK via share capital in a UK business, or the purchase of UK bonds. Applicants who invest a minimum of £2,000,000 or more are eligible for indefinite leave to remain after several years.
  • Exceptional Talent: This category applies to people who are recognised as exceptionally talented in one or more fields, including sciences, humanities, medicine, the arts, engineering, or digital technology. Applicants receive an initial visa of 5 years and 4 months duration.

Tier 2.

This tier applies to people who are classified as skilled workers, and who have received an offer of employment from a UK employer.

Tier 4.

Tier 4 consists exclusively of students who apply for visas in order to study in the UK. In order to qualify a student must already have a place at an educational institution. The institution must be one that is licensed to sponsor immigrants.

Tier 5.

This tier consists of temporary workers, and in most cases provides for a stay of no more than 12 months. Examples of temporary workers include au pairs, people on working holidays, certain work exchange schemes, sportspeople, religious workers, and charity workers.

Entering the UK Via Marriage or Civil Partnership

If an individual is married or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen, or is entering into a marriage or civil partnership once they arrive in the UK, the requirements for immigrant status are somewhat more relaxed. However, this is contingent on meeting certain other requirements and restrictions.

  • One partner must already be living in the UK;
  • Immigration authorities must be certain the relationship is a genuine one;
  • The couple must not be a burden on public funds; meaning, they must be able to support themselves;
  • There may be work restrictions for the person who is entering the country. For example, they might be barred from working until the marriage or civil partnership has taken place;
  • Other conditions may apply for a visa to be granted. If the marriage or civil partnership is dissolved within a certain period of time, non-UK citizens may risk being deported.

Applying for a Visa

Obtaining a UK visa to visit, live, study, or work in the UK is a lengthy process that involves several steps, including filing documents and making appointments. The kinds of services you use and the appointments you need depend on what kind of visa you’re applying for, which in turn depends on your reason for visiting the UK, and how long you wish to stay in the country.

In general, the visa application process for immigrants to the UK will include the following steps:

  1. Check what kind of visa you need, and what documents you need to supply for your application.
  2. In some countries you need to get a tuberculosis test. These include countries in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.
  3. Fill in an online application form and pay a visa application fee. Alternatively, obtain an application from a visa application centre.
  4. Schedule an appointment at a visa application centre. These appointments are made in your home country. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel to this appointment.
  5. Bring required documentation to the visa application appointment, including passport and other supporting documents. At the appointment, your photo is taken and your fingerprints are recorded, and your application form is stamped.
  6. After this appointment you generally have 28 days in which to post your application form and supporting documents to UK Visas and Immigration. Once an application is received it typically takes up to 30 days to process.

Becoming a British Citizen

There are multiple ways a UK resident can become a British citizen.

The most common of these is naturalisation. This is open to people over 18 who are of good character, have knowledge of the English language and lifestyle, and meet certain residency requirements.

Some people can register as a British citizen. This applies to British nationals, protected persons, and people who are “stateless,” meaning they have no nationality or citizenship in Britain or in any other country. It also applies to people born to a British mother or father, depending on their date of birth.

Finally, someone who is married to or is the civil partner of a British citizen can apply for citizenship once they meet certain requirements. These include being over 18, being of sound mind and good character, and meeting language and English life requirements. They must also have been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK, and meet residency requirements.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Permanent residency—also called indefinite leave to remain—is an alternative to citizenship. It’s granted after a certain number of years of residency in the UK, the exact number of which depends on your individual circumstances. For example, for people in Tiers 1 and 2 the period of time is typically 5 years. For the spouse of a British citizen the period of time is 2 years.

Once someone has been granted indefinite leave to remain, there are no restrictions on the type of work they can do, or on how long they can stay in the UK. However, to retain this status they cannot spend more than 2 consecutive years outside the UK.

How can a Solicitor Help?

Immigration law can be very complicated, and the process of applying for and receiving immigrant status can be a lengthy one. Another potential problem is that even minor errors in a visa application can result in the application being rejected. All application fees are non-refundable, so even a tiny mistake can end up being a costly one. Because of this it’s often a good idea to work with a solicitor who can help you complete all the various tasks that are involved.

A solicitor can help in many different ways, including:

  • Determine which UK immigration or citizenship rules apply to you, and how you can qualify for immigrant status, become a British citizen, or qualify for indefinite leave to remain;
  • Provide advice and assistance on immigration matters such as entry clearance, leave to enter, and nationality and citizenship;
  • Help you complete and file an application or appeal;
  • Represent you at an immigration tribunal. An immigration tribunal can take place if your visa or asylum request is denied, and you want to appeal the decision.