Navigating through the intricacies of UK immigration law can be a daunting task, given its constant evolution. These laws are primarily controlled by the Immigration Act of 1971 (alongside its subsequent amendments) and the Immigration Rules.
These rules stipulate the necessary criteria for gaining entry into and staying within the UK, and they are frequently revised.
UK Visa Categories
The UK offers a myriad of visa options for individuals aiming to enter the country. They include:
- Employment Visas: Catered for individuals aspiring to work in the UK. The specific visa type is influenced by the nature of employment and nationality of the applicant.
- Study Visas: Designed for those intending to pursue academic goals in the UK. The visa type will depend on the intended level of study and the nationality of the student.
- Family Visas: Provided for individuals who wish to join their family members residing in the UK. The specific visa will depend on the relationship with the UK resident.
- Specialty Visas: There are also specific visas for different professions such as religious workers, journalists, and investors.
Application Process for a Visa
To initiate the visa application process, one must fill an application form and provide the necessary supporting documents. Both the form and required documents will vary with the visa type.
Applications can be submitted online by creating an account on the UK Visas and Immigration website. Postal applications are also accepted and require the applicant to download the form, fill it and send it to the specified address.
Visa Processing Times
The processing periods for visas can significantly differ based on the visa type and nationality of the applicant. For instance, a student visa typically takes about three weeks to process, while a work visa can take as long as six months.
Cost of UK Visas
The cost of obtaining a visa is also variable and depends on both the visa type and applicant’s nationality. For instance, the typical cost of a student visa is £348, while a work visa can cost up to £1,400.
If you encounter difficulties during your immigration application, assistance is available through the UK Visas and Immigration helpline. You may also seek professional help from a qualified immigration lawyer. Details of both shown below.
Understanding the fundamentals of UK’s immigration laws, despite their complexity, is crucial for anyone planning to enter the UK. This guide provides a basic roadmap to navigate the process and improve your chances of visa approval.
Useful immigration law resources
- UK Visas and Immigration website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules
- UK Visas and Immigration helpline: 0300 790 6268
- The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association: https://www.ilpa.org.uk/ (for practising UK immigration lawyers)
- The Law Society of England and Wales: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/ (find immigration solicitors near you)