An Overview of UK Immigration and Nationality Law


In order to explain United Kingdom (UK) Immigration it is best to start from a very simple model. UK Immigration is based on applicants satisfying the criteria of one of a number of categories/Tiers under the Points Based System.
While the old system of over 80 categories has been replaced by a 5 Tier system under the Points Based System, several of the old categories have survived this change.
It is important to note that UK Immigration Law is one of the fastest changing areas of UK Law and it is essential that you are entirely up to date with both the changes to the law as well as the way in which the United Kingdom Border Agency (Home Office) apply the law before submitting an application.

Visa Nationals

Before travelling to the UK it is vital for you to ascertain whether you are a Visa National. A Visa National is a person who always needs to get Entry Clearance in advance of travelling to the UK, for whatever reason.

Such applications are usually made through your nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in your home country. In almost all cases this application is now made online.

Commonwealth Citizens

High Commissions exist in Commonwealth countries. If you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country you can qualify for further leave to remain if at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK.

The Importance of Professional Advice

It is very important to get specialist advice from an expert in the field of UK Immigration before travelling. So often, we as Immigration Specialists are approached by people who have been refused entry into the UK or refuded an extension within the UK on the basis that they have breached the Immigration Rules. The significance of this cannot be stressed sufficiently. If you come to the attention of the Immigration Authorities in this country and a black mark is placed on your file, you will find that this will taint any future application you make.

UK Immigration Categories

There is one important distinction to be made from the outset between certain of these categories. Some give rise to a possibility to qualify to remain indefinitely in the UK after spending a period (usually five years) in the category, whereas others will not. Indefinite Leave to Remain is sometimes called Permanent Residence or Settlement.

Categories which may in themselves lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain are:-

• EEA Citizens and their Family Members;
• Tier 1 (Investor);
• Tier 1 (Entrepreneur); Innovator;
• Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent);
• Sole Representatives of Foreign Firms;
• Tier 2 / Work Permit (minimum salary level may apply);
• UK Ancestry (Commonwealth only);
• Elderly Relatives;
• Asylum Seekers / Refugees;
• Marriage to a British Citizen or U.K. Permanent Resident.

Categories which do not in themselves lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain are:-

• Visitors - whether single, multiple, business, family or student;
• Tier 4 / Students (but if you have been in the UK continuously and lawfully for 10 years you may qualify for ILR);
• Tier 5 (including Youth Mobility and Creative/Sports);

One of the general, long standing requirements of UK Immigration law is that you must be able to show that you are able to support, maintain and accommodate yourself as well as any members of your family who accompany you to the UK without recourse to public funds. This applies in respect of almost all visa types.

While most of the criteria look easy enough to satisfy, there are often questions asked by the Entry Clearance or Immigration Officers, the answers to which could unwittingly land you in trouble, innocent as they may seem.

Equally, when submitting a written application to the relevant authorities, it is vital to know exactly what documentation is required and the format of such document as the application will not succeed unless each and every document required is provided and deemed to be in order.

It should also be borne in mind that the Immigration Rules and the practice at the offices of various Immigration Authorities worldwide are modified periodically. For this reason it is important that you are in possession of all the relevant information pertaining to the requirements at the time that you travel.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Generally speaking, if you spend 5 years in the UK in a category that leads to settlement, you will be able to apply at that time for the restrictions governing your stay in the UK to be removed. The Authorities will usually want to be satisfied that you have spent the majority of the time in the country and that you intend to remain in the UK indefinitely.


Where settlement (indefinite leave to remain) has been granted, it is generally possible to apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen after one further year (i.e. five years).

In order to qualify, you will again have to prove that you have been in the country for at least 75% of the time during the year immediately before the application is submitted - and 75% of the time during the previous five years (exceptions apply). You will also have to demonstrate that you are able to converse in the English language and that you are of good character i.e. that you are and have been financially stable and that you do not have a criminal record.

British Passport

On qualifying for naturalisation you will be invited to a Citizenship Ceremony at which you will be presented with your Naturalisation Certificate. You will then be eligible to apply for a British Passport.

Who to contact

The obvious question which you will be asking at this stage is who to look to for specialist advice and assistance in this regard. Immigration Consultants and certain Solicitors (Attorneys) are your best bet. Make sure that the company or firm you approach are reputable. Feel free to ask for references and ensure that the company or firm specialise in Immigration Law.

With the right advice, emigrating to the UK need not be difficult. We, at Beder-Harrison & Co are OISC regulated and look forward to assisting you at every stage through the process. Established in 1992 and specialising exclusively in the field of UK Immigration Law we believe we are best suited to meet all of your requirements.


2nd Floor, Lawford House
4 Albert Place, London
N3 1QA

Telephone: 0208 346 3448

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Regulated Immigration Advisors registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commisioner

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