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Uncategorized

US K-1 Visa – Join Your Fiance In The States

You can easily become a US permanent resident if your fiance or fiancee is a US citizen or permanent resident. To achieve this, you can apply for a US K-1 Visa. It’s a non-immigrant visa and one of the most valuable US visa routes for getting a green card.

In this WorldTravelPride post, you’ll find all the information you need to apply for and obtain this visa. Read on.

What Is The K-1 Visa?

The US K-1 nonimmigrant visa is issued to a foreign-born fiancé(e) of a US citizen so that they may travel to the US to marry their partner. If you are a citizen of the United States, you can legally marry your foreign spouse and bring them to the country to live with you permanently. 

Your fiancé or fiancée must enter the United States no later than 90 days before the wedding. When you are married, your fiancé or fiancée – now husband or wife – can change their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

The K-1 visa is only available to US residents; green card holders cannot apply for or utilize this visa. It’s also for people who are engaged but not yet married and planning to tie the knot in the United States within the next three months.

No one should apply for a US K-1 visa if they are already married or plan to be married outside of the United States. The visa is issued to non-immigrants and is, therefore, only valid for a short period. But after that, it’s easy to become a permanent resident and even a citizen. 

The US K-1 visa application process involves multiple steps that both partners must complete. The foreign fiancé(e) will be able to visit the US only after their visa application is approved.

The foreign spouse may have to leave the United States if they don’t get married within 90 days of arrival. The K-1 visa becomes invalid and is not renewable after 90 days.

US K-1 Visa Eligibility Requirements

The first requirement of the K-1 visa is for the petitioner to be a US citizen. Hence, if you’re the one filing the petition to bring your fiance(e) to the United States, you’ll need to show proof of citizenship. A passport, birth certificate, or other documents that show you’re a US citizen is acceptable.

The USCIS demands more eligibility requirements for the foreign-born fiance. Importantly, each person in the relationship must qualify as a “fiancé(e)” under U.S. immigration law.

The US citizen and their foreign partner must be free to get married under their respective countries’ laws to get a US K-1 visa. Both couples must prove that no past marriages exist between them, either by death, divorce, or annulment.

It’s also important that the state’s laws allow for marriages between two people of different genders to take place there. Partners should have met face-to-face during the last two years. Nonetheless, USCIS may make an exception to this rule if the couple can show that great poverty or cultural barriers prohibited them from meeting in person. 

K-1 Visa Income Requirements

The United States government requires U.S. citizens to prove that they earn more than enough money to provide for themselves and their fiance’s basic living expenses. It’s to ensure that you and your partner can maintain a living standard above the poverty line with your current income.

An Affidavit of Support, Form I-134, must be submitted, and the USCIS will use the information on the form data to verify eligibility. It’s similar to the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) submitted with a green card application based on a family relationship. The income requirement for the I-864 is 125% of the federal poverty line, but the requirement for the I-134 is 100%.

Required Documents For US K-1 Visa Application

You and your fiancé must submit paperwork to the U.S. consulate handling your case. Be sure to comply with the embassy’s notice’s precise instructions for submitting these papers. Notably, the documents required are different for the petitioner and beneficiary.

Documents Required for the U.S. Citizen 

  • Form I-134, Affidavit of Support. The Affidavit of Support is legally binding and states that U.S. citizen will use their wealth to help their foreign fiancé avoid future reliance on government handouts. 
  • Tax reports filed in the most recent tax year. Although only your most recent return is required, including returns for the prior three years is strongly recommended. 
  • Paper trail of your engagement to a foreigner. You must submit a copy of the initial Form I-129F application accepted by the USCIS. 

Documents Required for the Foreign Fiance

  • A pair of passport-sized photographs 
  • Proof of your legitimate birth, as shown on your birth certificate 
  • Copies of police clearance forms from every country you’ve lived in for more than six months since you turned 16 
  • A medical history and examination report, if mandatory for your country. The doctor who conducts your immigration medical checkup will give you this report.

US K-1 Visa Application Fees

You pay different fees for your US K-1 visa application. The fees include:

  • Form I-129F application fee: $535
  • Consulate processing fee (at the embassy or consulate): $265
  • Form I-485: $1,140

If you need to submit biometrics, you’ll pay an $85 fee. In addition, you may have to pay extra fees for your medical exam.

How To Apply for the US K-1 Visa

There are five stages to complete when applying for the US K-1 visa, beginning with the petition and ending with permanent residency. The procedure starts with the US citizen petitioning for a K-1 visa through the USCIS.

They must submit Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) on Form I-129F to the local USCIS service center inside the US. The point is to prove that you and your fiance are serious about getting married.

To verify the authenticity of your relationship, you will provide the necessary documentation mentioned previously. When USCIS approves your I-129F application, it will send the paperwork to the National Visa Center (NVC). 

Once the NVC receives your approved petition, they will inform your fiance to submit a visa application. Additionally, your fiance must schedule an appointment with a consular officer at the US embassy or consulate in their country of residence.

The US K-1 visa can take anywhere from weeks to months to process. There is no hard and fast rule on how long it takes to process. If you’re having the wedding in the United States, you should allow a few extra months to prepare for potential delays.

You will receive a sealed visa packet once your K-1 visa application is approved. Please do not rip open this package, as the border control officers conducting your inspection at the border will require it. You may be unable to enter the US if the package is open.

K-1 Visa Interview 

The National Visa Center will notify you of the specific U.S. consulate or embassy where you will have your visa interview. With an approved petition, the interview should be quick and easy.

Typically, the consular officer who interviews you for a visa will decide the same day you meet with them. After the interview, you may need to submit further documentation, depending on the circumstances.

US K-1 Visa Validity

The first K-1 visa is valid for four months, with an additional two months available for extension. Despite the K-1 visa’s potential validity, you must get married within 90 days of your fiance entering the United States.

You will lose your K-1 visa status if you do not. It’s best to return to your country immediately if you don’t plan to marry rather than stay in the US until the visa expires.

Except for a green card through marriage, you cannot switch your immigration status from a K-1 visa to any other category. Additionally, you cannot use your K-1 visa to marry anybody other than the U.S. citizen with whom you filed Form I-129F.

Following the wedding, the foreign spouse can apply for permanent residency or adjustment of status by filing Form I-485 and the necessary supporting documentation.

Can You Work on a US K-1 Visa? 

Yes. Filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD), can get you authorized to work in the United States as soon as you arrive on a K-1 visa.  You should expect a processing time of 1-2 months from USCIS, and your work visa will only be valid within the first 90 days after you arrive in the country.

You can only get a lengthier work authorization after you get married. To do so, you can apply for the same Form I-765 or apply for Form I-485 to become a permanent resident.

Can You Bring Your Family to the US on a K-1 Visa? 

Yes. If your children are under 21 and unmarried, they are welcome to join you in the United States. You can include them on Form I-129F, and if they meet the requirements, they will be issued K-2 visas simultaneously with your K-1 visa.

For your children to be eligible for admission to the United States as K-2 nonimmigrants with you, they must remain unmarried and under the age of 21. Your kids can come in with you or afterward, but they can’t enter the country beforehand.

Once you have married your U.S. citizen fiance while on a K-1 visa, your parents and siblings can join you in applying for permanent residency.

Which Is Better – K-1 Visa or Spouse Visa?

The US spouse visa, also known as the marriage-based green card, is similar to the K-1 visa. A Marriage-Based Green Card allows a person from a foreign country who is married to a U.S. citizen or Green card holder to move to the United States, live, and work anywhere in the United States.

The green card holder will have “permanent resident” status and can apply for U.S. citizenship, for which they will be eligible after three years. Hence, both K-1 and Spouse visas lead to permanent residency.

The difference is that the K-1 visa is for non-married partners who want to marry in the US. On the other hand, the Spouse visa is for married partners. In comparison, settling in the US on a Spouse visa is easier.

Why Do K-1 Visas Get Denied?

The USCIS will tell you why your US K-1 Visa application was unsuccessful. From their reasons, you can decide on what to do next. However, a petition for a K-1 visa could be denied for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The petitioner does not have the required qualifications.
  • The r foreign national does not meet the requirements.
  • Some questionable or deceptive activity exists in the relationship.
  • The American citizen’s annual salary is below the threshold for eligibility.
  • The partners have not seen one other in over two years

The U.S. citizen and foreign national must be single and in good standing with USCIS (USCIS) for an application to be successful.

Another reason the petition can be unsuccessful is if the consular officer suspects the foreign person is using marriage to illegally enter the country or get permanent residency. Both parties must have sufficient income, and they must have had a face-to-face meeting during the previous two years.

Bottom Line

Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions or further inquiries about applying for the US K-1 Visa,

Categories
Immigration US

US Family Green Card, Become A Permanent Resident

A US green card makes you a permanent resident in the country. This means you can live, work, and study in the United States forever. There are different types of green card routes, but one of the most popular is the US Family Green Card.

In this post, you’ll find all you need to know about the green card route.

What is a US Family Green Card?

The US Family Green Card, as the name implies, is a route that allows families of US residents to join their relatives in the country. Through the Family Green Card route, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can immigrate to the United States and gain permanent residency. 

Unlike permanent residents, U.S. citizens have more leeway in bringing in extended family members for a visit. Similarly, family members of US citizens have a faster path to obtaining a Green Card and immigrating to the United States. 

Green Cards for family members are obtainable through either the “Immediate Relatives” or “Family Preference” categories. Applicants in each category can select from many different visas based on their relationship to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsoring their application. 

Your U.S. relative, who will act as your sponsor, must file a petition with USCIS on your behalf if you want to apply for a Family-Based Green Card.

Immediate Relative Category

You can apply as an immediate relative if one of these things is true:

  • You and a U.S. citizen are legally married.
  • You are the unmarried minor child of an American citizen. 
  • You are the parent of a citizen of the United States who is more than 21.

You may apply for one of the following visas if you meet any of the above criteria:

  • IR1 Visa: for people who are married to U.S. citizens
  • The IR2 Visa: for children of U.S. citizens who are under 21 and are not married. 
  • IR3 Visa: for U.S. citizen parents who adopt a child from another country. 
  • IR4 Visa: for US citizens who adopt children in the U.S.
  • IR5 Visa: for parents of 21-year-old or older U.S. citizens.

There is no annual cap on the number of visas issued under the Immediate Relative category. A short waiting time is typical since visas in this category are readily available.

Family Preference Category

You can apply as a preference relative if one of these things is true: 

  • You are an adult child of a U.S. citizen who has not married and is over 21 years old. 
  • You are the spouse or unmarried child of a U.S. permanent resident under 21. 
  • You are 21 or older, have never been married, and one of your parents is a permanent resident of the U.S.
  • You are the married child of a U.S. citizen, no matter how old you are.
  • You have a brother or sister who is an American citizen. 

You may apply for one of the following visas if you meet any of the above criteria:

  • F1 Visa: for unmarried adult children (21 years and older) of US citizens. It’s the first preference of the category.
  • F2A Visa: for unmarried children not up to 21 and spouses of US permanent residents. It’s the second preference of the category.
  • F2B Visa: for unmarried adult children (21 years and older) of US permanent residents. It’s also the second preference of the category.
  • F3 Visa: for married children of US citizens. It’s the third preference of the category.
  • F4 Visa: for brothers and sisters of US citizens up to 21 years and older. It’s the fourth preference of the category.

These visas are subject to quotas, in contrast to visas under the Immediate Relative category. As a result, many applicants must wait several years to receive their Green Cards if they take the preference route.

In addition to the Immediate Relative and Family Preference categories, there’s also the less popular accompanying relative category.

Accompanying Relative Category

In some cases, the primary applicant’s spouse and unmarried minor children may also be able to apply for and receive US Green Cards as accompanying relatives – officially known as derivative beneficiaries. 

All eligible family members must be listed in the visa application of a Family Preference applicant. After that, they must file their own application to become lawful permanent residents and continue living in the United States. 

All visa petitions based on a preference category may contain derivative beneficiaries. However, accompanying family members of U.S. citizens are not eligible to apply for Green Cards.

How To Apply for the US Family Green Card

The procedure for applying for a Family-Based Green Card is the same regardless of whether you apply as an immediate or preferred relative. 

To begin the process, your US relative will fill and submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the USCIS. There will be a waiting period for the USCIS to process the visa if they approve the petition. 

In such a case, you will need to undergo consular processing if you’re outside the US. Afterward, the USCIS will send your authorized Form I-130 to the appropriate United States Embassy or Consulate in your country. Next, you’ll need to submit a completed Form DS-261. There is also a $325 application fee. 

If the USCIS approves your Form DS-261, you can apply for an immigrant visa by submitting Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application. You will submit your visa application form with the appropriate supporting materials. You’ll likely need to go to the embassy for a visa interview.

If you’re already in the United States on another type of visa, you can apply for a visa switch instead. To do this, you must fill and submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Family Green Cards Supporting Documents

You must submit the necessary documents to apply for a Green Card based on family ties. Depending on your category – Family Preference or Immediate Relative – and circumstances, the USCIS will demand the following documents:

  • Valid international passport. The passport must be valid for at least six months after you enter the US.
  • Two passport photographs, according to US visa requirements.
  • Birth certificate for children of US citizens or permanent residents.
  • Certificate of marriage or another recognized document for spouses and partners of US citizens or permanent residents.
  • Proof of divorce from any previous marriages.
  • Medical examination report if required.

Note that most of the documents you’ll provide will be unique to your circumstance. Hence, the USCIS will demand more documents than in the above list. Documents written in a language other than English will require translation.

US Family Green Card Application Fee

The amount you will have to pay to obtain a Green Card based on family ties will vary based on the type of visa you are applying for and the country you apply. However, the following fees are mandatory for all applicants: 

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, has a $535 filing fee. 
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Change Status, has a $1,140 application fee. 
  • The Immigration visa application (Form DS-261), which you must submit to become a permanent resident of the United States, has a $325 filing fee.
  • USCIS immigrant fee: $220. 

If your documents are not in English, you may need to pay translation fees if the embassy is doing the translation. In addition, you may need to pay for biometrics.

Family Green Cards Processing Time

When applying for a Green Card based on a family relationship, the processing period can vary widely depending on the visa category. Getting a Green Card is much faster for people in the immediate relative category than the preference category. That’s because visas under the Immediate Relative Route are perpetually open and have no quota. 

Many people applying for family preference visas have to wait for years. Here is the annual visa cap for various visas under the preference category:

  • 24,000 for F1 visas.
  • 114,200 for F2 visas, which includes 79,940 F2A visas and 34,260 F2B Visas.
  • 23,400 for F3 visas.
  • 65,000 for F4 visas.

After the annual quota is complete, no more applications will be accepted, and candidates will have to wait until the following year to reapply.

When You Enter the US

You’ll usually receive your Family Green Card as soon as you enter the US. The USCIS will mail it to the address included in your application. You should alert the agency within 30 days if there’s any error on your Green Card.

In rare cases, you may get a Green Card with conditions. In other words, you don’t become a US permanent resident but a US conditional permanent resident. You should apply to remove the conditions after residing in the US for two years if you were of good conduct.

The conditional permanent residence status is not renewable. The USCIS will grant you a permanent residence card if you are of good conduct. Otherwise, you may need to leave the country.

With your US family green card, you can travel in and out of the country without restrictions. You only need to present your green card at the port of entry every time you return to the country.

However, you shouldn’t plan a trip that’ll keep you outside the US for more than a year. If you must, you must first apply for a reentry permit on Form I-131.

You can apply for a reissue if you misplace your green card in the US. However, if you misplace it outside the US, you’ll need to apply for carrier documentation.

Family Green Card Denial, What Can You Do?

What you do if the USCIS or a U.S. consulate rejects your application depends on the nature of the application. It’ll also depend on where you apply – within or outside the US.

Generally, if you’ve had trouble getting your green card, you may want to consult an immigration attorney. This is especially crucial if the USCIS denies your application for reasons other than a paperwork mistake or lack of supporting documents. Furthermore, removal proceedings and motions to reopen or reconsider are relatively complex and require a lawyer.

If USCIS rejects the initial petition by the US citizen or permanent resident, the best course of action is to file a new petition. Although an appeals process is available, it’ll only delay time and cost you. Hence, you’ll save time and money if you start over.

If the USCIS denies your US Family Green Card application, they will send you a mail explaining why. Most green card denials are due to an incomplete application. Hence, the consulate or embassy you apply to may demand more documents before they give a final verdict.

Therefore, the denial is not final; you will have a year to submit evidence that could lead to a reversal of the decision. If you haven’t provided the visa officer with the requested evidence within a year, your application will be closed, and you’ll have to start again. The decision to deny or close is final and irreversible.

Bottom Line

Getting a US Family green card is the best way to become a US permanent resident if you have a family member who is a permanent resident or citizen.

You can use the information in the post as a guide to apply for and subsequently obtain your green card. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments section.

Categories
US

US Marriage-Based Green Card

Are you a US citizen or permanent resident married to a foreign spouse? You may be eligible to sponsor your spouse’s marriage-based green card application to allow them to stay in the US permanently. This article will extensively talk about the marriage-based green card, what it is, what its requirements are, how to apply for it, and other relevant details.

What is a Marriage-Based Green Card?

A Marriage-Based Green Card allows a person from a foreign country who is married to a U.S. citizen or Green card holder to move to the United States, live and work anywhere in the United States. The green card holder will have “permanent resident” status until they decide, if they wish, to apply for U.S. citizenship, for which they will be eligible after three years.

After a certain period, and if the foreign spouse fulfills all the conditions of the Green Card, they can also apply for U.S. citizenship. Also, if the couple has a child, that child will automatically be a U.S. citizen.

With a US Marriage Green Card, the foreign spouse will be able to:

  • Open a bank account
  • Live in the United States
  • Travel freely within and outside of the United States
  • Study freely in a university institution
  • Work anywhere without needing to apply for Employment Authorization
  • Obtain a driving license
  • Sponsor their eligible family members to become a permanent residents of the United State

What are the different categories of US Marriage Green Cards?

Since many people want to move permanently to the United States to work, some marriages happen only to dubiously obtain immigration status within the country. Such an act is not permitted and is discouraged by the U.S. government. However, to prevent couples from marrying only for one person to get a green card, the U.S. government has offered two types of US marriage-based green cards:

  1. Conditional Resident Visa (CR1)
  2. Immediate Relative Visa (IR1)

CR1 Visa

Foreign spouses who recently married their partners are eligible for the conditional residence visa known as the CR1. This visa enables the foreign spouse to enter the country on immigration status with a green card. This visa is approved on the condition that the couple must stay married for at least two years, after which the foreign spouse can switch to an IR1 visa.

IR1 Visa

The IR1 visa gives the foreign spouse a more permanent status, valid for ten years and renewable indefinitely until they decide to apply for U.S. citizenship. If the couple divorces or separates before two years of the CR1 visa, the foreign spouse may have to leave the US and return and their country of origin because their status will no longer be valid.

The Immediate Relative (IR1) visa and Conditional Resident (CR1) visa are immigrant visas specifically designed for foreign nationals legally married to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. They are explicitly designed for foreign spouses who wish to become permanent residents of the United States. In contrast to other family visas, the IR1/CR1 visa offers the foreign spouse permanent resident status through marriage.

What are the primary requirements for obtaining an IR1 visa?

There are several requirements the couple will need to meet for a spouse to be eligible for the IR1 visa/spouse green card. In general, the main requirements are:

  1. The couple is legally married

The most important factor is that the couple must be legally married and can present a valid marriage certificate. It is necessary because many people tend to fake marriages to obtain a green card. Also, if the couple only lives together but not legally married, it is not considered a marriage under U.S. laws and regulations.

  1. Have U.S. citizenship or Permanent Residence (Green Card)

The other requirement is that one of the spouses must also be a United States citizen or green card holder with a valid U.S. address and can support the foreign spouse as long as both have the financial means to support themselves.

Documents Required to Apply for a Green Card through Marriage

Foreign spouses must provide several supporting documents as part of the visa application process. The supporting documents must be submitted to the National Visa Center (NVC), and the supporting documents may include the following:

  • A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, from the petitioner in the United States Marriage documents. Ideally, this will be an actual marriage certificate, but wedding albums, receipts from their party, and proof of honeymoon destinations might be enough.
  • Two photographs per individual per the U.S. visa photo requirements
  • Confirmation page of DS-260 application
  • Court and criminal record and police certificate
  • If you were a military member, you must provide your records.
  • Medical examination and vaccination documents
  • A passport with a minimum six-month validity period months beyond your intended entry into the United States.

What is the procedure for applying for a US marriage-based green card?

There are two types of visas possible under this category – CR1 and IR1. The type that the foreign spouse will receive will depend on how long the couple has been married. If a couple is less than two years into their marriage, the foreign spouse will obtain a CR1 visa, but spouses who have been married for more than two years will receive an IR1 visa.

In general, the visa procedure is as follows:

  1. Petition Stage

The petition can be filed by completing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This petition must be filled by the U.S. citizen or green card holder all the required sections and then submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). There is also a fee that the petitioner (also known as sponsor) must pay to process the petition.

The Department of Homeland Security will process the petition, which will take a few months. The U.S. sponsor will be notified of the status once processing is complete. If the petition is denied, USCIS will notify you of the reasons for the denial. If the petition is approved, it will go to the National Visa Center (NVC).

The foreign applicant will receive a packet with information and instructions from the NVC after accepting the petition. The packet contains important information, including the Case Number and Invoice ID Number, which will be used to start the application from the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the foreign country.

  1. Visa application process

There is no limit to the number of people who can receive a CR1 or IR1 visa in a year, which means immediately after your petition has been accepted by the USCIS and approved, your US Marriage green card application can start. This is carried out in a U.S. embassy or consulate.

  1. Submit Form DS-260

All immigrant visa applicants must complete and submit Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, to NVC. The application can be accessed using the NVC case number, which links it to your case and the approved petition.

The visa applicant or someone assisting you must complete all the required sections, which will contain questions about the applicant’s information, background, and reasons for wanting to immigrate to the United States.

After submitting the DS-260 form, a confirmation page and a number will be displayed. This information should be printed out and included in the portfolio of evidence that you will need to submit to the NVC.

Once this online form is completed, the visa applicant must schedule and attend a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if overseas) or a local USCIS office in the United States.

  1. Medical examination and vaccination

The United States has certain medical and vaccination requirements that citizens and immigrants must meet. Those who want to immigrate to the U.S. must undergo the required medical examinations and vaccinations. Immigrants Visa applicants who fail to do so will be rejected.

The NVC package the applicant receives after the petition is approved will specify the medical procedures the applicant must undergo and the vaccinations he must receive.

It is necessary to obtain the medical result signed by a qualified doctor certifying that you have undergone the required medical examination and received the vaccines. The doctor will be one of the recommended physicians by USCIS or the embassy/consulate. During your application, you will be notified of the list of designated physicians for this medical exam. You can choose the one closest to you. The exam results will be part of the required documents for supporting evidence submitted at the visa interview.

  1. Attend the interview

The interview is a mandatory part of the US Marriage Green card application. All applicants for immigration to the United States must attend an interview at the United States Embassy or Consulate where they apply. NVC will first ensure that all necessary documents have been submitted and then schedule the interview.

You’ll be asked a series of questions by the interviewer regarding your situation and your application. If the interviewer is satisfied, your passport and the passports of any accompanying family members will be stamped with the necessary visas.

  1. Receive your NVC packet and travel to the United States

If the visa is approved, the foreign spouse can travel freely to the United States. You will receive an information package to the United States, and the visa will be stamped on your passport. You should not, under any circumstances, open this package.

The U.S. immigration officers at the port of entry must receive this package when they arrive in the country. They will open it and check the contents to ensure the visa is valid. Entry into the United States may be denied if the package is opened before it reaches the immigration border official.

Frequently Questions and Answers

  • How much does it cost to get a US Marriage Green Card?

An applicant must consider several fees when completing a CR1/IR1 visa application. Rates may vary depending on the country from which the request is made.

The main visa application fees include:

Fee                                            Amount

Form I-130 (petition for alien relatives):                         $535

Form DS-260:                                     $445

Biometric Services Fee:                                 $85

Fees for medical examinations and vaccinations:                 fees vary

USCIS Immigrant Fee (paid before traveling to the United States):         $220

Fees for supporting documents and translation fees:                 fees vary

  • When can I expect to receive my IR1 visa?

There are no limitations on how many individuals can be granted an IR1/CR1 visa in a given year. This means the wait time for a US marriage green card will be much shorter than for other family based green cards such as the F2A and F2B relative preference visas.

Applications for an IR1/CR1 visa are typically handled between eight and ten months, depending on the individual circumstances.

  • How are the IR1 and CR1 visas different from one another?

Both visas are for foreigners married to U.S. citizens who wish to enter the county as permanent residents.

The IR1 stands for Immediate Relative. This applies to married couples who have been together for more than two years. If you and your spouse have been married for less than two years, you can apply for a CR1 (conditional resident) visa.

  • What distinguishes the IR1 visa from the K3 spouse visa?

The K3 visa and the IR1 visa offer various advantages to their holders, although both are meant for family visas. The K3 visa is a nonimmigrant temporary visa. In other words, it guarantees only a limited authorized stay in the United States. You must apply for adjustment of status to spend more time in the country and get a green card.

As long as you have a K3 visa, you can travel freely outside the United States. However, if your marriage crumbles before you are granted a green card, you have 30 days to depart the country. Also, you will only be able to work in the United States after applying for a work permit.

On the other hand, the IR1 visa category and the CRI1 visa process have an immigration intent. You will receive permanent legal status along with the visa. You can apply for jobs in the U.S. if you have a CR1 or IR1 visa without applying for a work permit.

It should be noted that both visa application procedures start when your U.S. sponsor submits a Form I-130. Additionally, you may be required to submit an Affidavit of Support for both visas to show that you do not intend to rely on public financial support from the United States.

  • Is Premium Processing available to me?

Sadly, only those who apply for a green card or visa using forms I-129 or I-140 are eligible for the premium processing option. Therefore, you cannot reduce the US Marriage-based green card processing time with this service.

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Uncategorized

UK Global Talent Visa – Route For Career Professionals

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa has been replaced by the UK Global Talent Visa. This is a way for scientists, researchers, and other qualified foreigners to live and work in the UK.

The route makes it faster to become a permanent resident, making it an attractive visa for eligible professionals. Find out what you need to know about the visa in this post.

What is a UK Global Talent Visa?

The UK Global Talent Visa is an exclusive immigrant visa for leaders or potential leaders in specific professional fields. These fields include digital technology, arts and culture, and academia or research.

You usually need to get an endorsement from an approved UK endorsing body to apply for this visa. You can only apply without an endorsement if you have an eligible award.

The procedure for applying for a UK Global Talent Visa is slightly different for the different eligible professional fields.

In many ways, the Global Talent Visa is one of the best routes to settling in the UK as a foreigner. The visa lasts for five years, after which you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Indefinite leave to remain is how you become a permanent resident in the UK. You may even be able to apply after residing three years in the country on a Global Talent visa. It depends on your professional field.

Eligibility Requirements for the UK Global Talent Visa

You can apply for the Global Talent Visa if you get an endorsement from an approved endorsing body or have an eligible award. The eligibility requirements depend on your professional field.

Academia or research

You can get an endorsement for the Global Talent Visa if you’re an academic or research leader in:

  • science
  • medicine
  • engineering
  • humanities

Furthermore, you must have an eligible job offer to work in your field or be part of an individual fellowship. In addition, you’re eligible if you have a grant worth £30,000 approved by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

You can check the list of eligible awards without any of the above. You can apply if you possess any award in the field.

Arts and Culture

The arts and culture category is the broadest of all. It accommodates a long list of arts and cultural fields, but the major ones include:

  • combined arts, dance, literature, music, theatre, or visual arts
  • architecture
  • fashion design
  • film and television, including animation, post-production, and visual effects

To qualify as an arts and culture leader, you must have been active for the past five years. You must have works performed, sold, or published internationally – in at least two countries. 

Also, your works must have an “outstanding” rating by the UK Arts Council England judges, RIBA, British Fashion Council judges, or Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) – depending on your field.

Alternatively, you can apply if you own any award in the Global Talent: arts and culture prize list.

Digital Technology

The digital technology field has four categories, and they include:

  • financial technology (‘fintech’)
  • gaming
  • cyber security
  • artificial intelligence

You are eligible for endorsement via the digital technology field even if you have no job offer. Also, you qualify with a technical or business background.

You can check the list of tech roles eligible for the UK Global Talent Visa. Like the other fields, you can apply directly, without endorsement, if you have an eligible award.

However, the digital technology field accommodates only two awards – the ACM Prize in Computing Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Turing Award.

Global Talent Visa Required Documents

As you’d expect, the UK Global Talent Visa requires detailed documentation. The documents you need will depend on your field. Nevertheless, here’s a rundown of the essential documents you need:

  • An international passport or any other valid travel document to prove your nationality and identity.
  • Written permission from the awarding body if you apply directly with an award.
  • Proof of your work as a leader or potential leader in your professional field.
  • A letter from your employer if you need an eligible job offer.
  • Fellowship award letter if you’re applying with an individual fellowship membership.
  • Proof of grant worth £30,000 if you’re applying with UK Research and Innovation endorsement.
  • Three letters of recommendation if you’re applying as a leader in arts and culture or digital technology.
  • Up to ten pieces of evidence to prove your talent or promise if you’re applying as a leader in arts and culture.
  • Your CV if you’re applying as a leader in digital technology.

As mentioned, the above is a rundown of the documents you’ll need to present. Due to the intricacy of the UK Global Talent Visa, most of the documents you’ll submit are subjective to your circumstance.

As a result, the UKVI may request more documents than what’s listed above. When applying for such a visa, you can hire the services of a skilled UK immigration lawyer to help you prepare your documentation. 

Global Talent Visa Application Fees

The UK Global Talent Visa has two application stages. First, you apply for endorsement, and second, you apply for the visa itself. As a result, you pay two processing fees.

Application for endorsement costs £456 while applying for the visa itself costs £167. In total, you pay £623.

You have to pay the complete £623 if you’re applying with an eligible award, even though you won’t be applying for endorsement.

The processing fee is the same for any dependent you bring to the UK. Each person must pay £623 for their application.

Nevertheless, the UK Global Talent Visa doesn’t demand that you meet specific financial requirements before entering the UK.

The other fee you’ll pay for the visa is the healthcare surcharge. You and your dependents must pay £624 per year as long as you stay in the UK under the Global Talent Visa.

The healthcare surcharge is mandatory because you can’t access most public benefits like public funds in the UK. You only stop paying the surcharge when you become a UK permanent resident.

How To Apply For The UK Global Talent Visa

The Global Talent Visa application has two stages. The first stage is the application for endorsement, while the second is the application for the visa itself.

Application For Endorsement

How you apply for endorsement will depend on your professional field. Generally, you’ll apply with the UK Home Office, and they will send your application to the endorsing body for review.

It takes around two weeks for the endorsing body to review your application and give you a decision. The two weeks turnaround time is a fast track. It’s only available for applicants with a position in academia or research or if you have received a fellowship or a grant for your own research.

If not, you will have to wait for around five weeks as your application will be peer-reviewed. You can only proceed to apply for the Global Visa if you have a positive verdict on your endorsement application. Otherwise, your visa application will be void by default.

Application For The Visa

You can apply for the UK Global Talent visa within three months after receiving your endorsement. In addition, the organization endorsing you must not have withdrawn its approval.

The Global Talent Visa application is online, and you must have all your documents ready. You can apply for the visa even if you’re not in your home country. The UK Home Office will process your visa if you have legal permission to reside for at least six months in the country you’re applying from.

It’s also possible to apply for the Global Talent Visa at a visa application center. However, you must first check that the visa application center close to you accepts such applications – not all do.

If you’re in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a visa switch rather than a fresh visa application. Application for switching to a UK Global Talent Visa is the same as extending your visa validity upon expiring.

At the start of your application, you must prove your identity. You can submit your fingerprints and photograph (biometrics) or scan your ID with the UK Immigration ID Check app.

How you verify your identity will determine how you get your residence permit. For example, you get a biometric residence permit if you submit your fingerprints and photograph at a visa application center.

After completing the online application, you may need to attend an appointment. The visa application center (Embassy or Consulate) will retain your documents during this process. Not to worry, you’ll get them all back when the processing is completed.

You’ll get a verdict on your Global Talent Visa within three weeks after submitting your application. Sometimes, your application may take longer, especially if the visa application center needs to verify some of your supporting documents.

Furthermore, you may need to attend an interview where you’ll answer questions about your stance as a leader in your field. Ultimately, you’ll get a physical letter or an email about the verdict of your application. You’ll get instructions on what to do next in the letter or email. 

Duration of the Global Talent Visa

The UK Global Talent Visa lasts for up to five years. Interestingly, it doesn’t have any stay limit, which means you can stay as long as you want in the UK on a Global Talent Visa. You only need to apply for an extension when it expires. 

You apply for an extension of 1 – 5 years – depending on what you want. However, you may not need to apply for an extension when your visa expires. The Global Talent Visa counts as residency, so you can simply apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Depending on your professional field, you can apply after three or five years.

UK Global Talent Visa Extension

You can usually apply to extend your stay in the UK if your endorsement or award is still valid. You must be able to provide proof, such as payslips, that you earned money in your professional field during your time in the United Kingdom.

To extend a Global Talent visa from within or outside the United Kingdom, you must pay a £623 processing fee. The UK Global Talent Visa extension application takes around eight weeks to process. You can get a faster decision if you pay for priority or super-priority processing.

Dependents

If they are eligible, your partner and children can apply to join you or to remain in the UK as your dependants. The following family members are eligible:

  • Your spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner
  • Your child under the age of 18
  • Your child over the age of 18 who is currently residing in the UK as your dependent

When applying, you will be required to provide evidence of your relationship. For your partner, you must be able to provide proof that you either: are in a recognized civil partnership or marriage or have lived together for at least two years.

If your child is older than 16, you must prove that they reside with you, are not married, in a civil partnership, or supporting any children. 

Each dependent must pay the £623 application fee and healthcare surcharge. They can apply from outside or inside the UK. If they apply from inside the UK, they’ll be switching visa status.

Your dependents can also extend their stay with you when their visa expires.

Bottom Line

The UK Global Talent Visa is undoubtedly ideal for non-British nationals who want to immigrate to the UK to work or find employment in particular industries. Hopefully, this guide will make your application easier.

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Immigration UK

High Potential Individual Visa: How To Apply

Are you a graduate from any of the world’s most prestigious universities? If your answer is yes, you could have a future in the UK with the High Potential Individual Visa.

The High Potential Individual Visa is one of the most recent UK visas, which means the route is relatively untapped. In this post, you’ll find all the info you need to know about the HPI Visa.

What is the High Potential Individual Visa?

The UK government announced the High Potential Individual Visa in May 2022 as part of its effort to recruit top-tier talent to the country. The visa permits graduates of top global universities to enter and reside in the UK for a duration of 2-3 years to explore professional prospects.

A bachelor’s degree or higher from an institution that is listed on the list of the best global universities for the applicant’s graduation year within the last five years is a requirement for this visa.

Contrary to other UK visas, the HPI visa does not require applicants to have already secured a work offer from a UK firm.

Holders of an HPI visa have the option to change to a different long-term employment visa at a later time.

Who Is Eligible for the HPI Visa?

You must satisfy the following conditions in order to be eligible for an HPI Visa: 

  • You must be up to eighteen years.
  • Within the last five years, you must have gotten a degree from a top-tier international university.
  • You must have obtained a degree from a reputable institution that is comparable to a UK Bachelor’s degree, a UK Ph.D., a UK postgraduate (Master’s) degree or other doctoral-level degrees. 
  • You must be able to speak English well enough to qualify. Persons from countries native English-speaking countries, such as the United States, automatically meet this requirement.
  • You must have the funds and resources necessary to support yourself while in the United Kingdom.
  • You must not have received a Graduate Visa or entrance into the UK via the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme in the past.

To confirm that your academic credentials are legitimate and meet the requirements for the HPI Visa, you must submit an application to Ecctis.

Notably, the High Potential Individual route does not accept graduates from British universities within the last five years. However, if you choose to stay in the UK and are currently in the country on a student visa, you may be allowed to apply for a graduate visa.

What Universities Are on the Top-Rated Global Universities List?

As previously stated, you must have graduated from a top-ranked university within the last five years to qualify for a High Potential Individual Visa. On the gov.uk website, you can get lists of qualified universities organized by academic year.

These universities were selected based on the requirement that they had at least two appearances as top 50 educational institutions in the below rankings lists:

High Potential Individual Visa Required Documents

The following documentation is mandatory when you apply for a High Potential Individual Visa: 

  • A current passport or other travel document
  • Proof of your English language proficiency
  • A declaration from Ecctis confirming the eligibility of your qualification 

You must also submit an “Academic Qualification Level Statement and English Language Proficiency Statement” if you requested Ecctis to confirm that your degree was taught in English. 

Depending on your situation, you could additionally be required to submit the following documents:

  • If you’re switching from a different visa to this one, your biometric residence permit (BRP) or online evidence of your immigration status 
  • If you are applying with your partner or children, you must provide evidence of your relationship with them. 
  • Your tuberculosis test results, if you come from one of the countries that is required. 

Notably, documents that aren’t in Welsh or English must come with a certified translation.

How to Apply If You’re Outside the UK

Application for the High Potential Individual visa is online. You’ll have to provide identification documentation as part of the application procedure. In particular, will be required to either: 

  • Take your picture and fingerprints at a visa application center, and subsequently receive a biometric residence permit, or;
  • Scan your identification document using the “UK Immigration: ID Check” application. 

If you require an appointment, the visa embassy might need to retain your passport and supporting documentation while they process your application. 

How to Apply If You’re Inside the UK

If you are already in the UK on another visa, you might be able to change to a High Potential Individual visa.

Suppose your current visa has dependents. In that case they also need to switch their visa, and your spouse or kids must also submit a separate application. 

Not all UK visas support switching to the High Potential Individual Visa. You can switch if you’re on any of the below visas:

  • Visit visa
  • Short-term student visa
  • Graduate visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household visa

Furthermore, if you are in the UK, you cannot apply for a High Potential Individual visa on immigration bail. Also, you can’t apply if you were granted permission to remain outside of immigration laws, such as on humanitarian grounds. You must first exit the UK and apply from a foreign country.

High Potential Individual Visa Application Fees

The High Potential Individual visa application fee is £715. However, you must also pay the Ecctis qualification verification fee. The verification fee costs £210 if you’re applying from outside and £252 if applying from inside the UK.

Furthermore, you must pay the immigration health surcharge annually while you are a UK resident. 

You must also make sure you meet the financial criteria of having £1,270 in your account to maintain yourself while you are in the UK. Otherwise, you can’t get the HPI visa. 

In order to qualify for a visa, you must have had the money on hand for a minimum of 28 days straight, with 28 of those days falling within the previous 31 days.

If your partner and children are traveling with you, they must demonstrate that they may be able to support themselves while in the UK.

Only applicants who are switching visas, and have been in the UK for a minimum of 12 months can skip this financial requirement.

HPI Visa Processing Time

Usually, if you are applying from outside the UK, you will get a verdict from the embassy in three weeks. 

Meanwhile, you will get a verdict within eight weeks if you submit your application from within the UK. 

Should the embassy contact you, your application may take longer. The embassy will typically contact you if they require verification of your supporting documentation or you must appear at the interview. 

Other reasons could be individual circumstances, such as if you have a criminal record.

You will receive an email or letter with the verdict of your application after the embassy finishes processing it.

If your application is accepted, you’ll get one of the following: 

  • a vignette – sticker – that is placed on your passport if you submitted your biometric information at the start of your application.
  • Online access to the verdict of your application if you scanned your identification document with the smartphone app.

After arriving in the UK, you must also obtain a biometric residence permit if you have a vignette in your passport. This must be done within 10 days of your arrival in the UK or before the vignette sticker expires. 

If your application is rejected, you’ll receive a letter or email outlining the reasons why, along with the return of your passport.

You could either request an administrative review or immigration decision appeal, depending on which is specified in the email you receive.

How Long Is the HPI Visa Valid?

Your High Potential Individual Visa may be valid for two or three years, depending on your academic qualification.

If you have a Bachelor’s or Post-Graduate degree, you will get a HPI Visa valid for 2 years. On the other hand, if you have a Ph. D., you will get an HPI valid for 3 years.

When your visa expires, you may be able to switch to a different visa if you’re eligible. In particular, you can switch to the Skilled Worker visa. However, you can’t extend your HPI visa.

In other words, if your visa expires and you can’t change status, you’ll have to leave the UK.

What Can I Do With a High Potential Individual Visa?

You can find jobs and work in most jobs in the UK, as a High Potential Individual Visa holder. In addition, you can be self-employed, and live in the country with your partner and children, if they’re eligible.

The HPI Visa also lets you undertake voluntary work, and if you leave the UK, you can always return if your visa is still valid.

However, the High Potential Individual Visa also has its limitations. Notably, you can’t access public funds and you can’t work as a professional sportsperson.

You also cannot extend your visa, as mentioned earlier, which means you can’t settle in the UK, unless you switch visas.

High Potential Individual Visa Dependents

If your family members fit any of the following criteria, they may accompany you to the UK on a dependent visa:

  • Unmarried “de facto” partner, civil partner, or spouse 
  • Children less than 18 years of age
  • Children over 18 who are not married and are now residing in the UK as your dependents 

Family members who wish to apply for a dependent visa must provide proof of their relationship with you. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption certificates, and other similar documents will be crucial.

Studying on High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual visa permits holders to study in the UK. However, you can only study a course that’s not supported by the standard UK Student Visa. Otherwise, you must apply for a Student Visa.

You can check the list of courses supported by the Student Visa on the official UK GOV website.

Furthermore, you may need to first acquire an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before you can study on a HPI visa. In particular, an ATAS certificate is necessary for studying sensitive courses.

However, not everyone has to apply for an ATAS certificate. Students and researchers who are citizens of EU countries, the EE), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America do not need to.

If you need an ATAS certificate, you should apply before you even apply for the HPI visa. You can apply anytime after you receive the admission confirmation from your school.

Suppose you’re in the UK on a HPI visa and then decide to study. In that case, you can still apply but it shouldn’t be less than four months before your visa expires.

Your ATAS certificate is valid for no more than six months from the date it’s issued. Therefore, ensure you begin your course before then, else you’ll need to apply for a new certificate.

Bottom Line

The High Potential Individual Visa ranks among the easiest visa routes to the UK currently. You’d agree that it has high demands regarding eligibility, but if you meet the requirements, you’re about 90% sure of getting the visa.

Drop your comments below of you have any questions regarding this UK visa.

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Europe

Everything You Need to Know About Schengen Visa

You need a Schengen Visa if you consider traveling to the Schengen Area in Europe. Every day, applications from around the world arrive at the embassies of Schengen nations, necessitating a thorough examination of supporting documentation and the purpose of the visit.

To maximize your chances of a successful visa application, you must learn about the visa. This post covers everything you need to know. Read on.

What is the Schengen Area?

Schengen is a European zone comprising 26 countries that have no internal borders. Instead, these countries have all concentrated on fortifying their exterior borders. Citizens of the Schengen Zone may travel from one country to another inside the territory as if the entire zone were a single country.

The Schengen Agreement was signed by France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in the little wine-producing town and commune of Schengen in far-southeastern Luxembourg.

Most of Europe is part of the Schengen Area, including some of the continent’s oldest and most powerful nations. The majority of the countries are also a part of the EU bloc.

On the other hand, other nations, like Switzerland and Lichtenstein, are not a part of the EU but have unrestricted travel within this zone because they are a part of the Schengen Zone.

Approximately 400 million people live there today and travel 1.2 billion miles within the Schengen area every year. 

What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that enables travelers to enter any nation that is a part of the Schengen Area and remain there for up to 90 days for either leisure or business. 

The most prevalent visa for Europe is the Schengen visa. It allows the holder to leave the Schengen region and enter it free from any Schengen member nations. As mentioned earlier, the Schengen Area does not have border restrictions.

Prior to traveling to Europe, all citizens of third countries that have not yet reached a visa liberalization agreement with Schengen member states must get a visa.

However, you must apply for a national visa rather than a Schengen Visa if you intend to study, work, or reside in one of the Schengen countries for longer than 90 days.

To check whether you need a Schengen Visa to travel to one of the Schengen member countries, here is the list of countries whose citizens must apply for a Schengen visa before traveling to the EU.

Airport Transit Schengen Visa

The European Union implemented new visa rules for transiting through Schengen Area airports in 2010. An Airport Transit Schengen Visa is a type of Uniform Schengen Visa that permits citizens of non-Schengen nations to change flights in one of the zone’s airports.

Note that the Airport Transit Schengen Visa is not a European visa and cannot be used to exit the international transit zone, in contrast to the other Uniform Visas.

This procedure also applies if you have to stay at the airport overnight or leave early for a subsequent flight. You must apply for a standard Schengen visa if you need to travel by air between two or more airports in the Schengen region.

Individual Schengen members may impose various airport transit visa criteria to approve visa applications in extraordinary cases. Most members have also expanded the list of nations for whom a transit visa is required. 

The following nations’ citizens must apply for an airport transit Schengen visa:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka

If you possess a residency permit issued by a Schengen nation or are a relative of a Schengen/EU national, you can be excused from the transit visa requirement.

Required Documents for Schengen Visa

If you are a non-EU/Schengen country national, you will be required to submit certain documents at the Schengen port of entry, regardless of whether you are visa-exempt or not. 

The following documents are required for entry into the Schengen Area:

  • An international passport with at least two blank pages. The validity of your passport must extend for at least three months after the day you depart the Schengen Area, and it must have been issued within the last ten years. 
  • Your filled-out visa application form.
  • Proof that you intend to go back to your native country. 
  • Two passport photographs according to ICAO requirements.
  • Proof of application fee payment.
  • Travel insurance that includes repatriation and any emergency medical care. You should have a genuine policy with a minimum coverage of €30,000.
  • Detailed itinerary of your journey. This includes information about the lodging you’ve reserved and your mode of transportation within the Schengen Zone.

Although you might not need a visa to go to Europe, you still need a current passport to enter the Schengen Area. 

Some information and documentation, such as sufficient finances, evidence of lodging, the length of your intended stay, a round-trip ticket, the reason for your arrival, travel insurance, an invitation letter, etc., are optional. You may only need to present them if EU/Schengen border officers request them. 

When you enter the Schengen area, please ensure that the border official stamps your passport with an entry stamp. You could be penalized or jailed if you don’t have a stamp.

Read Also: UK Start-Up Visa: Begin A Business In The UK

How To Apply For Schengen Visa

The Embassy, Consulate, or visa application center of the nation you desire to visit is where you must submit your Schengen visa application. It should be noted that some Schengen countries only accept visa applications from citizens of the nation from which the application is made.

For example, for some Schengen countries, only legal US residents may submit applications from the US. With this visa, you are permitted to travel to multiple member states.

If you plan to travel to multiple Schengen nations, you should submit your application to the nation that will be your first stop or where you will be spending the longest time.

Booking an appointment at the local Embassy or Consulate of your preferred Schengen member nation is the first step in the Schengen visa application procedure. Typically, this can be done online. Following that, you will need to complete the online application for a Schengen visa and acquire all necessary documents. 

You must appear for your visa interview and present the consular officer with your application form and supporting paperwork. You will be questioned about your trip during the interview, including where you want to go and why. Last but not least, you must pay the visa application fee.

Your application must be submitted at least 15 days before your planned trip. You cannot, however, submit your application sooner than three months prior to the day you want to enter the Schengen Area. 

A decision is typically received in 15 days. This time frame may be increased by up to 60 days if the consulate requests more supporting documentation.

Read Also: UK Sponsor License: Important Document For Work Visas

How Much Is Schengen Visa?

The current Schengen Visa application fee is €80. Minors under six years do not have to pay an application fee, while children aged 6 to 12 pay a reduced visa charge of €40. 

Additionally, the following people are excluded from paying the application fee for a Schengen Visa: 

  • passport holders who are traveling for business or official purposes 
  • family members of citizens of the EU/EEA 
  • On a school excursion, pupils, students, and accompanying teachers 
  • Traveling researchers who conduct scientific research 

Russian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian nationals pay a discounted price of €35. 

You can check the Schengen Visa Fees List, which details the groups that qualify for discounted visa fees or are exempt from paying the fees.

Schengen Visa Entry Restrictions

With a Schengen visa, foreign nationals can visit a Schengen country for up to 90 days throughout the course of 180 days. However, there are other visa types that have different requirements that you must follow. 

The majority of them fall into the Uniform Schengen Visa category. Notably, you can travel to any Schengen country with a uniform visa.

However, the entry requirements differ for each of the subcategories of the uniform Schengen visa. The subcategories are single-entry, double-entry, and multiple-entry visas.

The single-entry visa is the most common. It allows the bearer to enter a Schengen country only once throughout the validity period. In other words, if the visa bearer leaves the Schengen area, the visa becomes invalid. 

A double-entry visa is similar to a single entrance visa, with the exception that it allows its holder to re-enter the Schengen region after leaving it. 

On the other hand, holders of multiple-entry visas are permitted unlimited entry and exit from the Schengen region as long as they don’t remain more than 90 days in a 180-day period. A multiple entry visa can be valid for 1, 3, and 5 years.

The Limited Territorial Validity Visas are a different class. Holders of LTV visas are only allowed to travel within the Schengen nation or nations from whom they got the visa. No transit through or travel to any other Schengen nations is permitted with this visa.

Frequently Asked Questions About Schengen Visas

Which European Countries Issue Schengen Visas?

The 26 nations that have ratified the Schengen Agreement make up the Schengen zone, which permits unfettered travel between the member nations without going through passport or border checks. Any of the participating nations may issue visas for the Schengen area. 

Some nineteen other nations do not belong to the Schengen Zone. Still, they let foreign nationals of other non-Schengen countries enter and remain on their soil. They can enter if they provide a valid multiple-entry Schengen Visa.

To enter, transit through, or spend a brief time in these countries, you do not require a national visa granted by one of these nations.

Which Schengen country has the highest visa approval rate?

With a small percentage of short-term visa applications being denied in recent years, Lithuania is the country where obtaining a Schengen visa is simplest. Up to 90% of people who apply for a Schengen visa to Lithuania will have their request approved. 

In addition, Lithuania is positioned roughly in the center of the table regarding the overall volume of applications for short-term visas. Additionally, it means that you will wait less time to schedule an appointment.

Is the Schengen visa a UK visa?

The answer is no. Under EU legislation, the UK and Ireland have a special position. Although the Schengen accord must be a part of EU law, the UK is given the option not to participate.

The Schengen and UK visas are, therefore, two separate endorsements. Neither one by itself can allow you access to the other. 

One cannot enter the UK with only a Schengen visa. The UK is neither a member of the EU nor the Schengen Agreement. The country has its visa system. Therefore, you will require a UK visa if you want to travel to the UK.

Bottom Line

It may be confusing when applying for a Schengen Visa due to its intricacy – especially with being able to apply to different countries.

Nevertheless, you should find the procedure simpler after going through this WorldTravelPride post. Please drop your questions in the comment box below if you have any.

Categories
Immigration UK

UK Start-Up Visa: Begin A Business In The UK

As part of efforts to ensure the UK remains one of the best locations for innovators, the UK government launched the UK Start-Up visa. The visa, along with the Innovator visa, is currently among the most sought-after visas for investors looking to establish in the UK.

Applying for a Start-Up visa involves many intricate processes, most of which involve finance. As a result, it requires a comprehensive understanding from anyone who wants to apply.

You are on the right page if you intend to get a UK Start-Up visa. This post has all the details you should know about the application process.

What is a UK Start-Up Visa?

The United Kingdom encourages and supports new ideas and is a welcoming place for creative entrepreneurs. The government issues start-up visas to persons with bold ideas so that they can set up businesses in the country and contribute to its economic development. 

Endorsing bodies in the UK will look at your company plan and give you the green light if they think it has potential. If you want your visa application accepted, you will need to receive a letter of support from one of these organizations.

Your company plan needs to be specific, original, and ground-breaking to achieve this. You can get endorsements from the following official institutions: 

  • An established group with a history of helping UK business owners 
  • Any UK University or College 

Getting your visa application accepted will be easier if you have endorsements from the appropriate UK bodies.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply for Start-Up Visa UK

The UK Visa and Immigration has set some mandatory criteria for the start-up visa application. It is crucial to meet the below-mentioned eligibility requirements for foreign individuals to grow business in the UK:

  • You should be at least 18 years old
  • You should meet the required level of English language proficiency
  • You should have a valid endorsement letter from any authorized endorsing body in the UK
  • You should have financial proof for supporting yourself in the UK

To sustain yourself in the country, you must have at least £1270 in your bank account for the last 28 consecutive days before the date of your visa application.

Endorsement Criteria for UK Start-Up Visa

As stated before, an endorsement letter is crucial to the success of a business proposal. Here, you will need to demonstrate that your business idea fits the standards set forth by a recognized endorsing body. 

Startup visas are intended to encourage and facilitate the development of novel, ground-up commercial initiatives that either fill an unmet market demand or provide a sustainable competitive advantage. 

You need to have or acquire the information, skills, and experience, as well as an understanding of the market, to manage a business in the United Kingdom successfully. 

Your business plan should be capable of expanding to meet the needs of the national market and creating jobs. 

The endorsing organization will also want assurances that you plan to base yourself in the UK while building your business there.

The Home Office’s website features a list of all endorsing organizations for startup visa applications. In addition to links to each organization’s website and information about the application process, the list provides the names of all currently recognized start-up visa endorsing bodies.

Documents You Need for Start-Up Visa Application

You will need to present the following documents for your UK Start-Up Visa application.

  • Valid international passport. You can also present any other document proving your nationality and identity.
  • Proof that you are proficient in the English language
  • A valid letter of support for your business concept from the UK endorsing organization.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to support your stay in the country. Usually, you should have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply.
  • Tuberculosis test results, if it is mandatory for your home country.

Your documents must be original and in English or Welsh. If it is in any other language, you must provide a certified translation.

UK Start-UP Visa Application Fees

The application fee you will pay depends on if you are applying from outside the UK or you are in the UK and you want to switch visas.

If you are in the UK, you will pay £508. Your dependents coming with you will also pay the same. On the other hand, if you are applying from outside the UK, you will pay £378, which is cheaper.

The UK Start-Up Visa attracts a healthcare surcharge, in addition to the processing fee. You must pay a yearly fee to receive medical care in the United Kingdom. How long you intend to remain in the United Kingdom is a factor.

When applying for a multiple-year visa like the Start-Up Visa, the application fee is £624. You will be prompted to pay a healthcare surcharge for yourself and your dependents during the online application process.

The UK Home Office will email you if you have not paid your healthcare surcharge within 7-10 business days. Your visa application will be denied if you do not make the payment.

Steps to Apply for the UK Start-Up Visa

People who want to launch a business in the UK must submit an online start-up visa application. All required documentation must be included with the application form. 

After that, you must also send your biometrics through official visa centers. Depending on your passport type, there are two ways to do this.

After logging into your UKVI account, you can scan your documents using the UK Immigration ID Check app. Alternatively, you can have your fingerprints and photograph taken in person at a visa application center.

Make sure you fill out your application form correctly and meet all of the requirements listed on it. Most mistakes happen on the application form or in the documents sent with it.

Your application may be rejected as a result of this. Therefore, please review your application well before sending it.

It takes around eight weeks for the UKVI to process your Start-Up Visa application if you are in the UK. On the other hand, if you are outside the UK, you can get a decision within three weeks, which is faster.

Like many other UK visas, the Start-Up visa is eligible for priority and super-priority processing if you pay the fee. Paying for priority or super-priority service means you get a faster decision on your application – a few days, to be specific.

Duration and Extension of the Start-Up Visa UK

A UK Start-Up visa permits you to stay in the country for two years. The duration is also two years if you switch to the Start-Up visa from a different visa.

Notably, you cannot extend the Start-Up visa when it expires after two years. Instead, you are to switch to an innovator visa. An Innovator Visa lets you stay in the UK for longer and is extensible when it expires.

However, you may not need to extend your Innovator Visa as you can apply for indefinite leave to remain after three years. In order words, you can move from a visa holder to a permanent resident in the UK.

However, the UK Innovator Visa is just as intricate as the Start-Up Visa. You can find out more about the visa in this WorldTravelPride post.

Start-Up Visa UK Dependents

As a Start-up Visa applicant, you can bring close family members with you to the UK. Family members who are eligible will need to fill out their individual visa applications and pay the processing fee.

You can bring your:

  • Spouse or civil partner, or a long-term partner who is not married
  • Children younger than 18
  • Child over 18 who is living with you in the UK as a dependent – if you’re switching visas.

If your family joins you in the UK, you will have to show that you have more money. You will need an extra £285 for your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for your other children.

UK Start-Up Visa Application Refusal: What Can You Do?

Undoubtedly, you must have an amazing business idea to apply for a Start-Up visa, which is what the UK government needs. However, your startup business visa can be refused or rejected due to many reasons, including:

  • Errors in your application form
  • Incorrect information or documents submitted
  • Not responding to the follow-up requests made by the UKVI

Any reason out of these or all of these combined can lead to your visa application refusal.

Now, if this happens to you, here is what you can do. You can proceed with an administrative application record if you are outside the UK. Secondly, make sure that you initiate this within 28 days of getting your visa refused or rejected

You can also seek the intervention of judicial authorities and appeal against the immigration decision. Lastly, you can opt to resubmit your application and begin the entire process again.

In addition, you also need to keep some patience. Dealing with visa refusals can be time-consuming and overwhelming at times. Hence, check on your follow-up process with legal authorities to know if you should start your application again.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Start-Up Visa UK

Here are some commonly asked questions by people who want to apply for a Start-Up visa:

What Happens After 2 Years of Start-Up Visa?

You and your family members are permitted to remain in the UK for two years. After this time, you will not be able to extend your startup visa, but you can change to an innovator visa to extend your stay in the UK and grow your firm. When the innovator visa is about to expire, there are options to renew it for another three years.

What You Can and Cannot Do on a Startup Visa?

Your loved ones can join you in your new home country if you have a startup. Changing visa categories and moving from a startup visa to another type of visa is possible.

The government will not provide you with any money, though. You also can not practice medicine or play a professional sport while in the UK on a startup visa, nor can you permanently reside there.

Does the Start-up Visa lead to permanent residency in the UK?

Since you cannot extend the Start-Up visa, you cannot use the duration to apply for permanent residency in the UK. However, as mentioned in this article, you can easily switch from the UK Start-Up to the Innovator Visa.

Time spent on the innovator visa counts as residency, which means you can apply for indefinite leave to remain – permanent residency. In other words, you can get permanent residence from your Start-Up visa by first switching to the Innovator Visa.

You might be able to apply for British citizenship after having indefinite leave to remain for a year. However, you must meet many requirements before getting indefinite leave to remain if you have a Start-Up or Innovator Visa.

These include staying in touch with the group that backed you and showing proof that your business venture is moving forward.

Bottom Line

The Start-Up Visa was launched to help talented people from other countries build their business ideas in the UK.

Compared to the Innovator visa, you do not have to be a college graduate or have excess money in the bank to apply for this visa. As a result, it is a more affordable option for investors. 

The visa is for businesses that are just starting but show a lot of promise. You can follow up on the application process with the information in this post. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section.

Categories
Immigration US

H-1B VISA GUIDE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE H-1B VISA

An H-1B visa is a great option for foreign nationals who want to work in the United States with a valid job offer. Every year, American companies employ thousands of foreign workers to come to the United States on H-1B visas.

If you want to learn more about the H-1B visa or if you have recently been granted an H-1B visa, this guide is for you. Read on to learn all about the H-1B visa!

What is the H-1B visa?

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa for professionals that temporarily allows U.S. organizations to hire foreign workers with highly specialized experience in a certain occupation. H-1B specialized profession requires specialized knowledge and a degree or equivalent work experience in fields such as finance, information technology (I.T.), accounting, engineering, mathematics, sciences, medicine, etc.

This is a cap-based classification with an annual limit of 85,000 visas distributed among two main categories of applicants. 20,000 visas go to the master’s cap applicants, and the remaining 65,000 visas go to regular cap applicants. Master’s applicants are individuals with an advanced degree (master’s degree or above) from U.S. colleges or universities.

Due to the high number of applications each year, which usually exceed the stipulated numeric limit, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses a lottery system to randomly select from the registration pool.

The first lottery randomly selects 65,000 applications, and the second selects another 20,000 with an advanced degree.

What are the H-1B visa requirements?

Generally, H-1B visa applicants must possess certain academic qualifications and skills to work in specialized positions. To qualify for an H-1B visa, one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher, required by the specialty profession from an accredited college or university.
  • Holds a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in the same field as your specialty occupation from an accredited college or university in the United States.
  • Hold an unrestricted state license certification or license that authorizes you to practice in the specialty occupation fully and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the intended state of employment.
  • Have proven and recognized education, experience, or training in the specialty equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or higher.

H-1B Visa Electronic Registration Process

Employers must first complete the H-1B Electronic Registration Process if they want to obtain an H-1B visa for their prospective employees. USCIS implemented this process in 2020.

Employers are required to register on a USCIS website. They will provide all the relevant details regarding themselves and any prospective employees for whom they wish to obtain an H-1B visa. A $10 registration fee will also be paid for each prospective employee. Only those with selected registrations can apply for an H-1B visa.

H-1B visa Application process

There are four steps to applying for an H-1B visa, they include:

  1. The applicant must find an H-1B sponsor
  2. The Employer must submit a Labor Conditions Approval (LCA)
  3. The Employer must submit Form I-129
  4. The applicant completes the H-1B visa application

We’ll take a look at each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Find an H-1B sponsor.

The H-1B visa is a type of visa that requires the applicant to be sponsored by a U.S. employer to apply. Therefore, a person who wishes to enter the United States on an H-1B visa must first obtain employment from a U.S. employer who agrees to sponsor them into the United States.

When you are hired for a job in the United States, you must ensure the Employer is willing to sponsor you. To do this, make it clear from the start of the job application process that you will need sponsorship to enter the United States. Many employers ask this question when the candidate completes the job application, but if not, you should raise the question yourself.

Step 2: Employer Must Submit a Labor Conditions Approval (LCA)

After hiring you, a U.S. business will start the application process by electronically submitting an LCA to the Department of Labor (DOL) through the iCERT portal system. This application must be submitted six months before the employment start date.

The LCA provides the DOL with information about the job, such as salary, location, and working conditions.

The DOL will review the application within 7 business days. Employers with certified LCAs can then file H-1B petitions for their prospective workers. The purpose of the LCA is to certify that employers and employees meet the requirements of the H-1B visa.

Step 3: H-1B Petition Filing Process

The Employer will submit a Form I-129 petition to USCIS for a non-immigrant worker after the LCA has been approved. The Form I-129 petition must be submitted together with the DOL-certified LCA.

The processing time for the petition varies by the service center, and the wait can take up to 3 or 4 months.

Step 4: The applicant completes the H-1B visa application

The next step will depend on whether the employee is inside or outside of the United States after the petition has been approved.

  • If you are outside the United States

Prospective workers from outside the United States will need to apply for a visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. This is called consular processing. You will complete the Nonimmigrant Form DS-160 online for a fee. When you arrive at the U.S. port of entry, you will apply for admission in the H-1B visa status through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

  •  If you are in the United States

When the petition is approved, and you are in the United States, you must take the-approved I-129 to CBP at a U.S. port of entry. You will then need to complete the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record and legally enter the country as an H-1B visa holder.

What are the H-1B visa application fees, and who should pay?

The U.S. Immigration National Act (INA) specifies that all USCIS fees associated with an H-1B filing must be paid by petitioning employers and cannot be paid by employees. This makes obtaining an H-1B visa difficult because the Employer must cover most of the application fees.

This makes the cost of bringing in a foreigner on an H-1B visa relatively high, so the Employer must be highly motivated to do this and go through the process. The following below describes the various fees involved and their amount:

Fee                                                           Amount                      Party Responsible

Basic Filing Fee                                               $460                                      Employer

Visa Stamping Fees                                        Varies                                     Employee

Public Law 114-113 Fee                                  $4,000                                    Employer

Registration Fee                                              $10                                         Employer

Anti-Fraud Fee                                                $500                                       Employer

Attorney Fee (Optional)                                   Varies                   Employer or Employee

Premium Processing Fee (Optional)               $2,500                  Employer or Employee

Consular Processing (Form DS-160)              $190                                       Employee

 ACWIA Training and Education Fee              $750 or $1,500                     Employer

NOTE: Some important explanations about the h-1b visa bills:

ACWIA or American Workforce Competitiveness and Improvement Act of 1998 Fee

The ACWIA Act of 1998 imposed a quota on companies for hiring and training foreigners rather than American workers.

The ACWIA Act fee varies depending on the Employer’s number of employees.

For employers with 1 – 25 full-time employees, the fee is $750. For those with over 26 full-time employees, the rate is $1,500.

Some organizations are exempt from this fee. Examples are non-profit organizations affiliated with government research organizations and educational institutions.

Anti-Fraud Fee

This $500 fee is applicable when a prospective H-1B visa holder is filling a new application or changing employers; if the applicant is renewing their H-1B with the same Employer, this fee is not required.

The fee provides USCIS with the resources to track applicants and prevent fraudulent processing of applications.

Premium Processing Fee

The processing time for an H-1B visa can be long, which often causes problems for applicants who need documentation quickly. The premium processing fee allows applicants to skip this long waiting time.

This premium processing fee is an optional service available to anyone who wishes to speed up their visa application procedure. Employers must file Form I-907 and Form I-129 petitions to use the service. In addition, it guarantees a 15-day processing period for an extra $2,500.

Consular Visa Application Fee

Consular processing is required for prospective H-1B employees outside the United States. The online application fee for Form DS-160 non-immigrants is $190. There may be additional fees, which vary widely from embassy to embassy. The employee is usually responsible, although some employers may choose to pay it.

Visa Stamping Fees

Upon entering the country, H-1B visa holders must stamp their passport with the H-1B stamp to indicate that their application has been accepted and the visa has been granted. The cost of this stamp depends on the visa holder’s country of origin. The conditions for receiving the stamp are as follows:

  • A 600 x 600 photograph of the visa holder
  • Completed application payment
  • Completed Form DS-160                        
  • An interview at the American consulate

How can these payments be made?

As mentioned above, most fees incurred in the visa application process are the responsibility of the Employer or sponsor. For the fees that the applicants must pay, the I-29 immigration Form indicates that there are only two valid methods of payment: money order or checks. Each new visa fee requires a separate payment in this form.

Can my H-1B visa fees be reimbursed?

USCIS generally withholds the fee whether or not the request is successful. However, if an entry was entered into the annual lottery and was not selected, USCIS will refund the fee. Applicants may receive a refund even if:

  • USCIS incidentally requested an unnecessary document and charged a fee
  • USCIS charged the wrong amount
  • An H-1B petition takes more than 15 calendar days after payment for Premium processing.

Frequently Questions and Answers

  1. Can my spouse and children travel to the United States with me on an H-1B visa?

Yes. When you qualify for an H-1B visa, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can apply for an H-4 visa by providing proof of their family relationship with you.

  1. Can the H-1B visa holder’s spouse and children study in the United States?

Yes. With an H-4 visa, they can study in the United States.

  1.  Can the H-1B visa holder’s spouse and children work in the United States?

No. They are not permitted to work in the United States as H-4 visa holders.

  1. How long can I stay in the United States on an H-1B visa?

As an H-1B visa holder, your visa is valid for three years and can be extended for up to six years. After this period, you must remain outside the United States for one year before another H-1B visa application can be approved.

However, suppose you have a Labor Certification (PERM) or I-140 Petition for an Immigrant Worker pending for more than 365 days. In that case, you may be eligible for a one-year extension beyond the six-year limit until a decision is made on your PERM or I-140 petition.

Additionally, if your I-140 petition has already been approved but your priority date is not yet updated (the immigrant visa is unavailable), you can apply for a three-year extension of your H-1B status.

Can an H-1B visa holder apply for a green card?

Yes, an H-1B visa holder can apply for a green card. Although it is a non-immigrant visa, the H-1B is a “dual intent” visa. This means the visa holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain a green card) without affecting their H-1B status. A green card may be obtained by employer sponsorship or family.

  1. When can I register electronically for the H-1B lottery, and when will I know the results?

Dates vary each year, but in 2021 USCIS announced that people can apply for the H-1B lottery in March and will notify them if they have been selected to apply for an H-1B visa by the end of March 2021.

  1. Is your previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker, or trainee) still valid?

Yes. Only if the visa is still valid.

  1. How can I check the H-1B lottery results?

To find out if you are eligible to apply for an H-1B visa, check your USCIS online account. The account will display the status of your request.

Categories
Immigration UK

UK Innovator Visa: Best Route For Investors and Entrepreneurs

Doing business in the UK has its many benefits. As a foreign, you can apply and start doing business in the UK if you have enough funds. For such a venture, there are different visa types you can apply for, and one of them is the UK Innovator Visa.

The UK Innovator Visa is relatively new but is now popular due to its many benefits. You will find all you need to know about this ingenious visa in this WorldTravelPride post. Read on.

What Is the UK Innovator Visa?

The UK Innovator Visa replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa in 2019. Entrepreneurs with extensive business experience who wish to launch a company in the UK may qualify for immigration under the Innovator Visa route. Applicants must have a minimum of £50,000 in available capital, and an endorsing body must approve their business plan. 

An Endorsing body is a group recognized by the UK Home Office as competent to evaluate business plans submitted under the UK Innovator Visa Programme. The business plan needs to be creative while also being practical and scalable.

The Endorsing body’s endorsement letter is necessary at all relevant application stages: original application, visa extension application, or indefinite leave to remain application. Notably, one of the best benefits of the innovator visa is that it’s an easy route to getting permanent residency in the UK.

To apply, you must be at least 18 years old, a citizen or permanent resident of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants are welcome to include their spouses/partners and children under 18 in their applications.

Eligibility Requirements for the Innovator Visa

You must meet basic requirements to be eligible for the UK Innovator Visa. These requirements include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language
  • You must be able to prove that you have enough funds to support your stay in the country

While the above are basic requirements, the UK Home Office has other specific eligibility requirements for Innovator Visa applicants. These requirements depend on what you plan to do in the UK.

If you want to launch a business in the country, you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds. Notably, you must prove how you got the money.

It’s mandatory that you provide the investment funds all by yourself. You may be part of a business team with two, three, or more members. Each member must have a minimum of £50,000 investment funds to apply for the UK Innovator Visa.

You will not need to have the investment funds if you already have a business in the UK or you have previously been endorsed for a similar visa.

To support yourself in the UK, the UK Home Office demands that you have at least £1,270 in personal savings. Even if you don’t need to present the investment funds, you must have the personal savings amount in any Innovator Visa application circumstance.

Innovator Visa Required Documents

The UK Home Office pointedly lists documents that Innovator Visa applicants must provide. These documents include:

  • Valid international passport. You can also present any other document proving your nationality and identity.
  • Proof that you are proficient in the English language.
  • Proof that you have the funds to invest or start up a business in the UK.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to support your stay in the country. Usually, you should have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply.
  • Tuberculosis test results, if it is mandatory for your home country.

While these are the primary documents, the UK Home Office may still request additional documents. Nevertheless, ultimately, the main requirement you need to meet is to have the funds to invest in the country.

UK Innovator Visa Application Fees

The UK Innovator visa attracts a processing fee, and the cost depends on where you’re applying from. If you’re applying from outside the UK, you pay £1,036. On the other hand, if you’re applying from within the UK, you pay £1,292.

The cost is the same for anyone – dependents typically – who wants to join you in the UK.

Note that the processing fee is independent of the amount you need to invest and the one you need to prove you can support your stay. It’s a nonrefundable fee that you must pay as you submit your application.

Aside from the processing fee, the Innovator Visa also attracts a healthcare surcharge. The healthcare surcharge is an annual fee you must pay to access healthcare in the UK. It varies depending on how long you plan to stay in the UK.

Innovator visa applications usually pay £624 per year since the visa lasts multiple years. Your dependents must also pay a healthcare surcharge, and you’ll get the prompt to pay during your online application.

If you don’t pay your healthcare surcharge, the UK Home Office will send you an email, after which you must pay the fee within 7 to 10 working days. Failure to do so makes your visa application automatically invalid.

How To Apply for UK Innovator Visa

If you’re outside the UK, you can begin your application for the Innovator Visa online. If you’re applying from inside the UK, you also need to apply online, but you’ll be applying for a visa switch instead.

You might experience processing delays during the early application stages as you have to submit documents and prove your identity. As a result, it’s in your best interest to provide all the essential documents and leave nothing out.

After your online application, you will get a decision from the UK Home Office within three weeks if you are outside the UK. It takes longer to process a visa switch if you are inside the UK. Hence, you’ll get a decision within eight weeks.

In some cases, especially if you need to go for an appointment, you could pay to get a faster decision. Such fast decisions take only a few days with the priority or super-priority service.

How Long Does an Innovator Visa Last?

If your UK innovation visa is successful and you enter the country, you can stay for up to three years. The duration is also three years if you apply from inside the country.

During this period, you should focus on doing what the visa demands, including setting up a business and employing staff. Notably, the UK Home Office will give you a comprehensive list of what you can and cannot do during your three-year stay.

UK Innovator Visa Extension

You can extend your Innovator Visa when it expires after three years. For that, however, you need to meet the eligibility requirements and have a running business. The UK Home Office will examine your extension application just like the initial visa application.

Extending your UK innovator visa attracts a processing fee, and since you’re already in the UK, you’ll pay £1,292. Similarly, you may have to wait up to eight weeks to get a decision on your application for an extension.

Dependents Of UK Innovator Visa Holders

Since the UK Innovator Visa lets you stay in the country for more than a year, it also enables you to bring dependents. Your dependents can apply for visas at the same time as you or later. Likewise, they can travel to the UK or join you later.

When bringing dependents, one of the most important things to note is that you will need extra funds. You won’t only need money to support yourself in the UK, but you will also need money to support each person that joins you in the country.

Benefits of Investing in the UK

When it comes to investing, the United Kingdom (UK) is among the world’s most sought-after locations due to its high level of connectivity. The city of London serves as its hub, and as a business and cultural hub, it attracts individuals from all over the world. 

Due to its unrivaled financial and economic reach and favorable tax laws for citizens and non-domiciled individuals, the UK has earned a reputation as a secure place to invest.

There is no reason to expect a decline in the United Kingdom’s global impact despite its departure from the European Union after more than four decades of membership.

Undoubtedly, the nation’s enterprising character and high educational and governmental standards will remain as the country pursues a diverse array of international partnerships.

With numerous daily flights to New York, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires, the UK has long been a vital link between Europe and the Americas. Additionally, it has good connections to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. It is perfect for international travel and business because it is in the time zone halfway between the US and Asia.

How To Get Permanent Residence

As mentioned earlier, one of the best advantages of the Innovator visa is that it is an easy route to reside permanently in the UK. You can apply for indefinite leave to remain after just three years.

However, it requires that you meet some detailed requirements, notably different from the regular.

To obtain permanent residency status, the applicant must focus only on growing his business and is not allowed to hold any other jobs.

The application must provide evidence that they have worked continuously in the UK, and more crucially, the applicant must provide evidence that the firm has met at least two of the seven conditions listed below:

1. No less than £50,000 has been invested and spent to further the business strategy described in the applicant’s previous endorsement. 

2. The company’s client base has grown by at least 100% over the past three years, and it now has more customers than the average company in the UK that provides its product or service type. 

3. The company has filed for intellectual property (IP) protection in the United Kingdom after extensive research and development.

4. The company’s most recent full fiscal year, covered by its accounts, saw a minimum annual sales of £1 million. 

5. The company made at least £500,000 in yearly sales in the most recent accounting period, with at least £100,000 coming from exports. 

6. The company has established at least ten full-time equivalent employment for local people that have been in place for at least a year. 

7. The company has created the equivalent of five full-time positions for local employees that have existed for at least a year and have an annual wage of at least £25,000.

Residential Requirement

In terms of physical presence, a person who wants to become a permanent resident must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any of the 12 calendar months before applying. 

Aside from being in the UK physically, the applicant must also show that they know enough about the language and way of life there. This is checked by taking an exam called “Life in the UK” and an English language test. 

Once you get permanent residency, you can apply to become a British citizen. Before applying, you must have been a permanent resident for at least a year.

Only those who have spent less than 450 days outside the UK in the preceding five years can get citizenship. Also, you must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the preceding year before applying.

Bottom Line

The UK is a welcoming location if you can afford up to £50,000 in investment funds and plan to invest in a foreign country. The UK Innovator Visa makes it super easy for you to start a business in the UK and easily leads to permanent residency. With the information in this post, you should be able to apply for an Innovator Visa without problems.

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Immigration UK

UK Sponsor License: Important Document For Work Visas

Do you want to hire a worker from outside the country? If yes, the UK Sponsor License is one of the most important documents you need to get.

Every year, companies in the UK hire hundreds of workers from foreign countries. These workers contribute a lot to the UK economy in their respective capacities. As a result, the country’s government continues to make it possible for companies to hire workers.

However, as a company in the UK, you can’t hire anyone without proper authorization. You need to meet different criteria to qualify as a foreign employer. However, ultimately, you need to obtain a UK sponsor license.

The sponsor license is your document, not that of the employee you want to hire. In contrast, your employee will receive a certificate of sponsorship – which you’ll issue with your sponsor license.

Read on to find out all you need to know about the UK sponsor license in this post.

What Is a Sponsor License?

Suppose you’re a foreign national seeking employment in the United Kingdom. In that case, you’ll need to secure sponsorship from a British company or individual. Your employer, who has given you a job offer, automatically becomes your sponsor.

However, not every company in the United Kingdom can afford to hire foreign nationals. Only companies with a sponsor license can hire workers from other countries. 

A sponsor license, then, shows that proves a UK-based company has legal authorization to employ people from other countries. There is no need for a sponsor license if you are traveling to the UK to invest. In such a case, you need a visa like a Start-up or an Innovator visa. These visas do not require sponsorship.

Your company must verify that your job position qualifies for sponsorship. Also, they must confirm that you possess the necessary skills and credentials for the role before they can apply for a sponsor license. It’s also essential that they haven’t had their license canceled anytime in the past year.

Your employer will apply for a specific type of sponsorship license. The type will depend on the nature of the job position you’re filling.

Licenses for workers fall into several broad categories, including the Skilled Worker, Senior or Specialist Worker, Minister of Religion, and International Sportsperson visas. 

Temporary workers’ licenses include, among others, the Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Graduate Trainee, Seasonal Worker, and Secondment Worker categories. 

The process of applying for a sponsorship license has a fee. For small enterprises and charities, the procedure will cost £536, while medium-sized and large businesses would pay £1,476.

If approved, employers typically receive an A-rating license. But if your job is as a UK Expansion Worker, they will get a provisional rating license.

Why Is It Important?

You can only get a UK Work Visa if you meet the requirements for your job category. As was already said, you need a sponsor, which by default is your employer. Your employer needs to give you a certificate of sponsorship to prove that they are sponsoring you.

The Tier 2 sponsorship license program was established to enable employers to hire and keep non-EEA immigrants as employees of their business or organization. Since the UK left the EU, all foreign workers need to meet this requirement, which is now simply the “sponsorship license.” 

Applying for a sponsorship license entails demonstrating your employer’s ability to adhere to strict rules. After that, you will have continuing management and compliance obligations for your sponsorship license that you must fulfill to keep your license. 

You can provide certificates of sponsorship to qualified foreign workers, enabling them to legally work for you in the UK after you have a sponsorship license.

Only UK employers with an active license may issue certificates of sponsorship; hence a sponsor license is essential. In other words, you cannot obtain a sponsorship certificate from your employer without a sponsor license, and you cannot get a work visa without a sponsorship certificate. 

Each sponsor license for an A-rating is good for four years. Thus, companies do not have to submit a new license application for each job offer. You can check the Register of licensed sponsors on the GOV UK website to ensure your UK employer has a current sponsor license. 

Details about your employer and your employment offer will be in the certificate of sponsorship you get. It will most notably include your job title and employer’s sponsor license reference number. You must note that the document is electronic rather than tangible. In other words, you won’t get a physical copy.

You simply need to provide the certificate’s reference number when applying for a work visa. You should begin the visa application process as soon as you acquire the certification because it is only valid for three months.

Eligibility Requirements for a Sponsor License

When deciding whether or not to accept your application, the headquarters will think about the following details: 

  • Valid identification as a corporation, limited liability partnership, sole proprietorship, or limited liability business
  • You need all the proper authorization, tax payments, and insurance coverage to legally conduct business in the United Kingdom. 
  • Proof that the essential people included on the sponsorship license are trustworthy by presenting evidence that they have no immigration convictions. 

As part of the sponsorship license application process, you’ll need to show that you understand the stipulations set forth by the home office. You must have employees currently employed in your company to stand as “Authorizing Officer,” “Key Contact,” and “Level 1 User.” 

You need solid HR systems to keep tabs on your migrant workers’ whereabouts and activities. In addition, you need to ensure there is an actual opening at the right level and that the salary is competitive with other offers.

About the Resident Labor Market Test

In other cases, the sponsor must show that they followed the procedures outlined in the home office’s published instructions to fill the position domestically. 

In such cases, the employer must post an advertisement for the position for at least 28 days on the Jobcentre Plus website and one other relevant portal run by the UK government. 

Before offering the post to the non-settled UK worker, the sponsor must demonstrate that there are no appropriate established workers who are already residing in the UK who can fill the position.

In addition, there’s the Subjective Test under sponsorship license. This is an additional requirement prospective sponsorship license employers will need to meet.

As an employer, you will need to demonstrate that the vacancy you are seeking genuinely exists. It’s important to prove that you didn’t create it to allow someone the opportunity to regularise their Immigration status unfairly.

About the Immigration Skills Charge

Suppose you have a sponsorship license and wish to sponsor an overseas worker for six months or more under the Senior or Specialist Worker visa. In that case, you may need to pay an immigration skills charge. 

The fee is set at £1000 per employee yearly. However, the price is lower at $364 less for nonprofit or small businesses. 

You don’t have to pay if you’re sponsoring a student changing their visa to one for a senior or specialist worker. Other instances when you don’t have to pay include sponsoring a foreign national working at a Ph.D. level or a citizen who is a graduate trainee.

How To Apply for a UK Sponsorship License

There are various steps you must take to obtain a sponsorship license. You must complete each step and present all required supporting documentation. Following are the processes to obtain a UK sponsorship license: 

  • The employer must complete the online application using the official government website. 
  • Within five working days of submitting the initial application to the home office, gather the pertinent supporting documents listed in Appendix A of the published home office guidance. 
  • Give a thorough justification for why you need a sponsorship license.
  • Make sure you have HR systems in place to show that you are aware of and capable of upholding your commitments as a licensed sponsor. 
  • Make sure you are ready for a pre-licensing compliance inspection; a home office representative may show up to look around your office and speak with you further about your sponsorship license application.

How soon you apply for a sponsorship license depends on the specifics of your situation. Employers typically submit applications a few months before they need to fill a position.

In most cases, the review and approval process for a sponsorship license takes two to three months. The length of time it takes to review applications depends on the nature of the business, the number of applications received, and other administrative considerations.

You can apply for a license as a single entity that covers all linked branches under one organization if your firm has many branch offices throughout the UK, or you may apply for a separate license for each branch.

Once you get a sponsorship license, it’s valid for four years as long as you keep doing your job as a sponsor.

UK Sponsor License Reasons for Rejection

Rejecting a sponsor license application can be a frustrating affair. The following are some of the most frequent explanations for application denials: 

  • Erroneous or deceptive paperwork 
  • Unfinished application 
  • A prior sponsor license for the business has been revoked. 
  • The business missed the deadline for providing additional information that was sought. 

It’s vital for companies to take every precaution to avoid having their sponsor license application rejected since the application money is non-refundable. They cannot reapply until a cooling-off period has elapsed. 

The duration will vary depending on the reasons the application was rejected. Most businesses will not be able to reapply for at least six months after receiving a notice of rejection. 

You won’t be eligible to file an appeal if your sponsor licensing application is denied. The decision may be subject to an administrative review, but this does not ensure that you will get a different decision. 

What Is the Sponsor License Rating?

Your company will get an A-rated license and included in the registry of sponsors if your application is successful. 

Your license may be lowered to a B-rating if you fail to uphold your obligations as a sponsor. In this case, the UKVI will give you an action plan that you must undertake to return your license to an A-rating. The cost of the action plan is £1,476. 

Until you demonstrate that you have made adjustments and have been promoted back to the A-rating, you will not be permitted to issue new certificates of sponsorship.

UK Sponsor Responsibilities

Before and after hiring an overseas employee, an employer has many obligations to fulfill. 

You must, as an employer, verify that all of your international employees have the appropriate credentials for the position. 

Sponsorship Certificates should only be issued to employees whose positions are appropriate for such documentation. If your worker violates the visa’s terms and conditions, you must immediately notify the UK Visas and Immigration office.

Bottom Line

The UK Sponsor License is an essential document for UK employers who want to hire foreign workers. It’s also a necessary document if you want to sponsor students to study in the country.

With the information in this post, you should now have a clear-cut understanding of what the UK sponsor license is all about and what it demands. You can drop comments below if you have any questions about the process.