Immigration law and rules FAQ

UK immigration rules can be complex and can change quickly and without warning. If you don’t know where to start, with your visa requirements this page may help. It provides basic guidance in some key areas that we are regularly asked about.

If you would like any further information on any of these topics please call Lorraine Toal on 020 8290 7956.

I would like to bring my wife and children to the UK from Nigeria – what do I need to do?

Your wife would have to apply for a spousal visa and must show evidence of marriage, your earnings, and your capability to support, accommodate and maintain them without recourse to public funds. Your wife would also be expected to meet the English language requirement.

I have been offered a job in the UK – what is the process for obtaining a Visa?

Your prospective employer must apply for and be granted a sponsorship licence by the Home Office. They would be expected to advertise the position for at least 28 days and must show the existence of a genuine vacancy before issuing you with a Certificate of Sponsorship which you would use to apply for a visa to enter the UK.

I have a Visa but have lost my job in the UK – what should I do?

Depending on whether you are sponsored or not, you can apply for other jobs and switch visas or you must apply to remain in the UK under a different visa category from within or outside the UK. Your particular circumstances and immigration must be assessed by a qualified lawyer.

Who can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK?

There are several routes to being granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) such as long residence, discretionary route, asylum, marriage or work. Your particular immigration history will determine your eligibility.

How do the authorities decide who can have a Visa and who can’t?

You would be expected to meet certain requirements depending on the type of visa you wish to apply for. Your particular circumstances will determine which visa requirements you must meet.

My visa is about to expire, what should I do if I want to stay in the UK?

You are strongly advised to apply for further leave to remain 28 days before your visa expires unless there are valid reasons beyond your control which prevented you from doing so. You must also have reasons and evidence to prove your eligibility for further leave to remain in the UK.

I have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK – can I apply for a British passport?

Yes, you can, provided you meet the Rules as a spouse, under long residence or already holding permanent residence in the UK. You must also have 10 years clean immigration history immediately before the application is submitted. You are also required to take and pass the English language test at level B1 and also take and pass the Life in the UK test.

What is the difference between Indefinite Leave to Remain and becoming a UK citizen through registration?

Indefinite leave to remain grants you permanent residence in the UK which means you are no longer restricted on how long you can live in than two years at one time. Grant of British Citizenship will give you the freedom to leave and enter the UK at any time without interrogation at port of entry. You may be able to travel to most countries without having to apply for a visa.

How long do I have to be in the UK to apply for citizenship by naturalisation?

This entirely depends on the immigration route that is applicable to you. Your personal circumstances must be assessed by a qualified person. You must, first of all, apply for and be granted indefinite leave to remain. You are required to hold this for at least one year unless you are married to a British Citizen.

I am from South Africa and have lived in the UK since 2012 but have been away travelling for a year and a half – does that affect my ability to apply for British citizenship?

Yes, you are not allowed to spend more than 450 days outside of the UK during the last five years before the application. You cannot spend more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12 months before an application is lodged.

I moved to the UK from Brazil ten years ago with my partner who is the biological father of my children, aged 9 and 13. He returned to Brazil three years ago and is no longer in contact with us. How do I apply for the naturalisation of my children?

This depends on where your children were born and whether they already have permanent residence to remain in the UK. If not, then their current visa type would determine when they can apply as British Citizens.

For further information please call Lorraine Toal on 020 8290 7956 or email