Immigration & Visas
The Immigration team at Fisher Jones Greenwood has many years of experience assisting clients to negotiate the maze that surrounds immigration applications.
We provide initial advice about potential applications and routes to settlement, offering our expertise on negotiating issues with past immigration history and difficulty meeting evidential or other requirements of the Rules.
We can also assist with advice on the evidential requirements of the Home Office, providing assistance with gathering the documents needed for individual applications, as well as providing advice about how to deal with problems meeting the strict requirements of the Home Office.
For more information about the kinds of applications we can help with, please go to our menu above to look at our visas pages or look at our business services, available here.
Those people who flee their country in fear of persecution, or, due to a change in circumstances whilst they are in the UK, develop a well founded fear of being persecuted on return to their country, should claim asylum.
There is protection for people in this situation under European and domestic law. For those people whose case does not meet the criteria for asylum, but their removal would breach their human rights, there still may be protection available under the Human Rights Act.
We can assist with initial advice for people thinking about making an asylum claim, and with all stages of the case, from initial interview, to decision and appeals before the First Tier Tribunal and above. The team also has considerable experience of acting for vulnerable clients and children, and take a compassionate and sensitive approach to the issues our clients face in this difficult area of law.
The firm has a contract to provide legal aid for advice and assistance at all levels of the asylum process as well as for Public Law Judicial Review challenges in the High Court, for those who qualify for it and are within our contractual area. For more information please contact us and we can discuss whether you are likely to get legal aid before you even come in for an appointment.
Further Submissions/Fresh Claim for Asylum
If you have already applied for asylum and have been refused or your case has come to an end, we can still offer you advice on whether you can make a fresh claim for asylum or assist you in submitting further representations to support your case.
Those who have been waiting for a decision on their case for a long period, or who have a decision they cannot challenge by an appeal to the Tribunal, may still be able to challenge the Home Office by making an application to the High Court. We may be able to offer legal aid for this, if you eligible and if a barrister advises that your specific case has sufficient prospects of success.
We may also be able to offer legal aid to you if you have claimed asylum previously, overstayed or your application has been refused and you now currently face removal or deportation from the UK.
How Do You Become British?
If you or your children are not automatically British through birth or other entitlement, there are two ways through which you can obtain British citizenship. These are through naturalisation or registration.
Registration: Applications for registration can be dependent on the UK Border Agency’s discretion therefore it is very important that you fully understand the requirements and evidence that you need for the application. The decision to register someone as a citizen will be based on the particular facts of your case.
Naturalisation: The legal requirements for naturalisation are specific and include the requirement to pass the Knowledge of Life in the UK test and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of English Language to a required level. People are also required to demonstrate their good character, which means that people who have convictions, reprimands or even very minor penalties for offences, may be unable to naturalise or may need legal advice before they make an application. As the Home Office fee for these applications is substantial, we can help guide you through this process, giving you advice about when and how to make an application, to give your application the best chances of success.
If you do not meet all the requirements of the British Nationality Act 1981, the UK Border Agency may, in certain circumstances, exercise its discretion and grant your naturalisation application anyway, we can assist you with making a case to the Home Office to exercise its discretion in your favour.
It is therefore helpful to get legal advice prior to making your application for citizenship through registration or naturalisation as you will not have the right to appeal any refusal to grant you citizenship, and refusal also means that the Home Office retains the majority of your application fee.
How We Can Help
Depending on the nature of your case, we can advise you on whether you or your child is automatically British or entitled to register as British. We can advise you on whether you or your child can naturalise or register as British citizens. For those who hope to assert a claim to nationality through ancestry or previous Citizenship of the UK and Colonies or another type of British nationality, such as British National Overseas status, we can also advise you how to obtain British Citizenship or how to prove you are already British.
If your personal circumstances do not meet the specific requirements of the British Nationality Act 1981, we can advise you on the circumstances in which the UK Border Agency could exercise its discretion to grant you citizenship. We are happy to represent you throughout the application process.
If you have a criminal conviction or are unable to complete the Knowledge of Life in the UK test or the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course in English and citizenship, we will advise you and may be able to assist you in your application.
If you have already applied for citizenship but have received a refusal from the UK Border Agency, we will advise you on whether you can challenge the refusal through judicial review and represent you throughout the judicial review process.
We can assist children applying for leave to remain or leave to enter in a variety of categories, including those whose parents are in the UK on a short term basis, as well as children seeking to settled here. We also assist children in the care of Social Services who require specialist and appropriate representation to regularise their immigration status.
There are certain circumstances in which a parent whose child resides in the United Kingdom (UK) can apply for permission to enter or remain in the UK in order to have contact with their child. If your application is successful, you will be granted an initial period of leave to enter or remain in the UK. You will ultimately be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK so long as you meet the requirements of the relevant immigration rules.
How We Can Help
We can advise you on whether you qualify for entry or leave to remain in the United Kingdom under this category and on the documentary evidence required for this application. We will prepare the application in full and represent you during the application process.
If you have already made your application and it has been refused, we will advise and represent you on the appeal.
The team assists with applications across the huge range of visa options, from applications under European law, for British citizenship, for the spouses and children of settled people and British citizens, to visas for the armed forces, UK ancestry, students under Tier 4, visit visas and dependant relative visa applications.
We can help you through the process, from the first stage of deciding which application to make, to support with preparing the application itself, to appeals in the First Tier and Upper Tribunal, as well as challenges in the High Court where there is no right of appeal. We can also help you to deal with problems and difficulty meeting Home Office requirements and the team enjoys a high success rate, even with complex applications and applications outside the Rules.
For further information and advice regarding a visa application, please contact our Immigration team call 01206 835270.
Marriage, Fiancé(e)s and Other Relationships
This category allows the spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, same-sex partners, fiancées/fiancés or proposed civil partners of British nationals or people who are settled in the UK to join them if they meet the requirements specified by the UK Border Agency. The requirements are, for those making their first application after July 2012, contained in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. The requirements in relation to who can and cannot qualify and also which documents have to be submitted are very specific. Many applications get refused because people are confused about whether they are making the correct application, have the right form, paid the right fee, or submitted the required documents. We can help you through this process, from simply discussing before you start which application is best for you and how to troubleshoot any problems, to help with preparing the forms and documents.
The process can be broken down into three separate stages:
1. Initially applying for Entry Clearance from abroad OR Applying for Leave to Remain in the UK
Then, normally after an initial period of approximately 2 and a half years:
2. Applying for either Further Leave to Remain
3. Following a continuous period of five years, people can apply for settlement, or Indefinite Leave to Remain, provided they meet the requirements at the time.
For those whose initial visa was granted before July 2012, they may only have to complete 2 years before applying for settlement.
Once you have Indefinite Leave to Remain you are welcome to give us a call to see if you can qualify for citizenship immediately, or whether you need to wait 12 months. There is an accelerated route to citizenship for people who have married British Citizens.
The UKBA recently introduced an English language requirement and knowledge of Life in the UK under this category. We can advise you what level of qualification is needed to meet this requirement and whether this is sufficient to meet the Rules.
How Can We Help?
We can assist you by checking that you meet the requirements for this category, completing the application form, and advising you regarding the relevant documentation to submit with your application. We can also advise you throughout the appeal process if the application has been refused. Please note appeals can take many months to be processed, we can also help you with trying to persuade the Home Office or Embassy to reverse the decision and review the case without it having to go to a hearing at court.
Individuals who are Commonwealth Citizens and who have British born grandparents may qualify for an Ancestral Visa if they can satisfy certain criteria, including showing an intention to work or seek employment. The application is made on an application form and the person will have to prove their UK ancestry usually by producing birth certificates and marriage certificates establishing the relationship between the applicant and his or her ancestor. Normally you would be granted permission to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a period of 5 years. The rules surrounding a persons entitlement to this visa are complicated and it is advisable to seek legal advice before doing this application. There is a fee for the application.
How Can We Help?
We can advise you on whether you are likely to qualify for this type of visa and assist you in the preparation of your application. If you have already made your application and it was unsuccessful we may be able to advise you on your possible next steps.
With the introduction of the Points Based System (PBS) most students from abroad who are in the UK studying already, or who are seeking to come to the UK to study will come under Tier 4 of the PBS. We routinely assist students with initial applications for leave to enter or remain, also with appeals and requests for a review where the application has been refused.
Requirements under Tier 4 are very specific, those who fail to put in the correct documentation can be refused without being given the opportunity to send in their documents later on.
Whilst living in the UK in this category does not lead to settlement, those who have been living in the UK lawfully for ten years might still be able to qualify, even if some of their residence here was spent under Tier 4.
The Home Office have now introduced a cap on how many years students can spend studying below and above degree level. We can advise you about this and potentially on challenges to this requirement, in certain circumstances.
We can also advise on potential visa options once you have finished studying.
For those not intending to visit the UK for business reasons, but only coming for tourism or to visit family, it is possible to qualify for a visa for a visit for up to six months.
These applications are often refused because the Embassy does not accept that enough evidence has been provided to demonstrate the person intends to return home at the end of their visit. Once an application has been refused there is a lengthy appeal process, and only refusals of certain types of visit visa application can be appealed anyway, as only applications by close family members carry an appeal right. We can help you prepare the initial application and give you advice about the kind of documents you need to include to give the application the best chance of success.
Typically even those people who have been granted a lengthy multiple entry visa need to be aware that the Home Office do not allow visits that add up to more than six months in any twelve-month period, and this is often not properly explained when the visit visa is granted.
During the visit, there are also restrictions on the activities you can do, such as employment activities or accessing the National Health Service, unless your visa specifically allows you to do this.
We can help with preparing initial applications, and also with requesting reviews of refused visit visa applications and we can also guide you through the appeal process if your application has been refused.
If you have a parent, grandparent, or other dependent relative, such as a brother or sister over the age of 18, living abroad who is wholly or mainly dependant on you, your relative may be able to apply to come to the United Kingdom on the basis of this dependant relationship.
In certain circumstances, this application can be made whilst your relative is in the UK however it is important to get legal advice on this before an application is made to the UK Border Agency when your relative is still in the UK.
The threshold for an application of the kind to be successful is high, in that you must demonstrate that as a result of age, illness, or disability, your relative requires long term care to enable them to perform everyday tasks. You must also show it is not possible for that care to be provided in the country where they are living.
A high proportion of these kinds of applications are refused, often because people do not fully appreciate the correct test for the application to be successful, or the need to provide documents, assessments, and reports that prove the person’s meets the requirements. In many ways, the evidential requirements are particularly onerous, and it is important to put in the correct paperwork from the beginning, where possible.
How Can We Help?
We can help you with the application by considering the specific circumstances of your relative’s case and advise you on whether your relative meets the requirements of the immigration rules.
We will represent you in the preparation and submission of the application to the UK Embassy or UK Border Agency. If your relative has already made the application and it has been refused, we will advise on the chances of success in appealing the refusal and, if your relative wishes to pursue the appeal, represent you and your relative throughout the appeal process.