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Home Office's bureaucracy slanted against self-employed immigrants

  1. iStock_MarianVejcik
    Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 86 Likes: 16
    18 |

    One of the many subtexts within the tangled Brexit story arc has been the fate of the many European business owners and entrepreneurs who have built businesses in the UK.

    Besides a few hardliners, most reasonable debates on EU immigration so far have acknowledged the need for pragmatism. What that pragmatism entails, however, is still a complete mystery thanks in large part to the government’s want to preserve its “negotiating capital” in Brexit talks.

    According to Jonathan Beech, founder specialist law firm Migrate UK, his firm has seen a six-fold increase in the number of EU nationals seeking advice.

    “The vast majority are after permanent residency and British citizenship,” says Beech. “Under current rules, Europeans can’t naturalise as British unless they have a permanent residency card. This hasn’t always been the case.”

    The permanent residency application process is an 85 page paper based or PDF form. It’s likely the first taste Europeans will have had of the immigration applications that have long plagued non-EU immigrants.

    “It’s not very much fun at all. Although not all of it needs to be completed and it’s very confusing to know precisely which sections to fill in,” says Beech.

    “The form itself isn’t actually mandatory. But the payment is and the supporting documentation is to prove they’ve been here for five years as a qualified person. If you don’t complete a form, however, you’re going to have your case sit at the Home Office for months and months.”

    Slanted against the self-employed

    The fundamental basis that decides any permanent residency application, explains Beech, is if you’ve legally resided in the UK continuously for five years.

    That might sound simple - but the Home Office wants to see extensive documentary evidence of this fact. “To prove you’ve been here for five years as an employee is easy,” Beech explains. “But if you’ve been here as a student, self sufficient or self-employed - then the form is longer, the documents are more numerous. These are the cases that can take longer than six months.

    “The caseworkers at the Home Office will want to get cases churned out as quickly as they can because they may be marked on their figures, how many cases they can get out the door. If you see a big, fat application, it’s not going to be a quick win for them.”

    “Those who are entrepreneurial might not find it too easy.”

    What the future holds

    Beech doesn’t expect that European Economic Area (EEA) citizens currently in the UK will be punished. But once divorce proceedings are finalised, he does expect EU citizens will be subjected to some form of visa regulation.

    The hope is that any regulation doesn’t mirror the current strict rules regarding non-EU immigrants. “That would be extremely drastic. The UK wants and should be a place which attracts the brightest and the best. But when you look at the current requirements for non-EU entrepreneurs and investors, around 75% of application are refused.

    “If you want to come over as a non-EU entrepreneur, the requirements are, in my opinion, extremely strict. Unless you’ve got seed funding from the British government, in most circumstances an entrepreneur will need to have £200,000 to invest in a UK business.

    “They’d need to have a very strong business plan and the individual needs a proven track record and relevant qualifications. There’s a big suitability element that’s enforced on entrepreneurs. If they’re young and they’ve got a great idea. But they have to get money from lots of different sources, it won’t look genuine to the Home Office.”

    Net migration is dipping

    The latest figures, released in February, showed that net migration to Britain fell by 49,000 to 273,000 last year. It’s highly likely that Brexit played a central role in this decline.

    “The next figures - in about two months time - will be telling,” says Beech. “There’s been a drop off from the established European states, there’s been an increase from the A2 countries (Romania and Bulgaria). We’ll also need to look at the emigration figures, too. That is, the amount of people leaving.”

    The continued political pressure to lower the net migration figure means that, in the long term, a crackdown on EU migration is very likely. “It’s very hard to see where the squeeze can come from next in terms of the non-EEA migration. It’s just so tough for them to come here.

    “So it’ll be very interesting to see the model they adopt for EEA immigration. As I’ve said, they’ve squeezed the sponge dry on non-European migration.”

    Three steps for European business owners in the UK  

    • If you don’t have it, get comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI) as soon as possible. Ideally, you would have sorted this before arriving in the UK by receiving a European Health insurance card from your country of origin. But once here, there are private options available
    • Keep meticulous records of anything that could prove your residency. The Home Office, explains Beech, has a strong preference for original records
    • If you have non-EU family members, the EEA family member permit that covers them is still in operation and the Home Office is still expediting those claims

     

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  2. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Ace Full Member

    Posts: 2,411 Likes: 755
    Why not?

    Re post-Brexit: I'm interested in arguments on why (the predominantly white) people living in the EU should get priority over higher qualified, more experienced and more capable staff/academics/entrepreneurs from the rest of the world.

    And I don't buy this nonsense about how complicated it is to get the paperwork together. Sounds like a lawyer talking up his own game. It's not half as difficult as he makes out! Sign up to immigrationboards.com and benefit from the advice I, and others, have assembled there. You don't even need a lawyer for this! You just need a large dose of common sense and a little entrepreneurial spirit.

    I have been through the mill myself, getting together the documentation for my own application (which had some complicating factors far, far beyond the average self-employed immigrant-who-has-no-payslips issue). And I have helped others assemble the documentation they needed for ILR even under the 10 year rule and the 14 year concession!

    Trust me, getting documentary evidence to prove continuous stay for an applicant under the 14 year concession is significantly more difficult. Bear in mind that the average applicant under this concession was here illegally for most of those 14 years and devoted most of those years to assiduously getting rid of documents! But it's still possible in even those cases.

    It's not meant to be fun. But it's a piece of cake compared to the applications that non-EU immigrants go through. Stop moaning!

    Then they are not very entrepreneurial, are they?! If they were they'd just get their fingers out and get on with it. It's a bunch of documents, F*S!
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
    Posted: Mar 24, 2017 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
    #2
  3. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 86 Likes: 16
    Hey Clinton, thanks for the response.

    To be clear, by "the hope" I wasn't speaking about my own opinion - but rather the hope from the immigrants themselves. Surely, you can imagine why they hope this isn't the case.

    As a non-EU migrant myself, I can tell you I've also been on the receiving end of some horrendous bureaucracy so I instinctively understand what you're talking about. I understand that what EU migrants are experiencing doesn't come even come close to what you and I and others experienced. But I must admit my experiences have made me more sympathetic, not less.

    Whether we support it or not, these people did move here under certain conditions. They built lives here, they built businesses. And now the conditions are on the cusp of potentially being altered. It's frustrating for them, as you can imagine.

    We non-EU immigrants at least knew we were gonna get shafted, these people didn't. So it's tough. You can say that's tough luck - but it doesn't change the fact that I feel sorry for them.

    But it's also frustrating because what's happening does speak toward a broader disrespect towards immigrants in the UK in general. It's as if the government sometimes forgets that we have lives and businesses etc.

    The process should be much, much simpler in my opinion. And much less expensive. (I hate the idea of a self-employed migrant who is here legally, is law abiding, creates jobs and pays taxes being punished with extortionately high fees. It's unfair, no matter where on Earth someone is from).
     
    Posted: Mar 24, 2017 By: Francois Badenhorst Member since: Aug 25, 2015
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  4. japancool

    japancool UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    Posts: 3,372 Likes: 647
    As a non-EU immigrant myself, I had to fill in that ILR form, wait several anxious years for it to go through and pay thousands of pounds - because I was unlucky enough to be born in a certain country.

    I have no sympathy whatsoever. Let's have a level playing field for everyone.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
    Posted: Mar 24, 2017 By: japancool Member since: Jul 11, 2013
    #4
  5. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 86 Likes: 16
    Level playing field - absolutely. But the playing surface should be improved, too. The current process is awful.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
    Posted: Mar 24, 2017 By: Francois Badenhorst Member since: Aug 25, 2015
    #5
  6. japancool

    japancool UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    Posts: 3,372 Likes: 647
    I'll settle for not being regarded with suspicion every time I cross the border.
     
    Posted: Mar 24, 2017 By: japancool Member since: Jul 11, 2013
    #6
  7. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Ace Full Member

    Posts: 2,411 Likes: 755
    I choose my words carefully - I was speaking about "people living in the EU".

    For those already here, I sympathise that they came under conditions where they reasonably expected to build a life and settle here. And I've no doubt that agreement will be reached with the EU for their continued stay leading to PR.

    But, and let's make no bones about this, that'll still preferential treatment. Non EU nationals who came here under the same kind of expectations - ILR after four years - were told at the last minute that it was going to be increased to five years. Thousands of them had to return to India and elsewhere because their work visas had expired. Most of these were highly skilled workers like doctors.

    They gave up good jobs to come here in the expectation of ILR. They worked hard, paid their taxes and were kicked out.

    And that's nothing compared to what the British did to the Chaggosians.

    We are now arguing that EU nationals deserve better treatment that's what reserved for them savages from India and elsewhere. Why?
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
    Posted: Mar 24, 2017 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
    #7
  8. japancool

    japancool UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    Posts: 3,372 Likes: 647
    Everyone talks of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens after Brexit.

    No one ever fights for the rights of non-EU citizens or protests for them - us - to have better rights.

    If there was an issue with Indian nationals not being able to get the right to remain because they didn't have health insurance, who would give a damn?
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
    Posted: Mar 25, 2017 By: japancool Member since: Jul 11, 2013
    #8
  9. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 86 Likes: 16
    Where are you from, Japancool? If I may ask. (Tempted to presume Japan but don't want to jump to a conclusion).
     
    Posted: Mar 27, 2017 By: Francois Badenhorst Member since: Aug 25, 2015
    #9
  10. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 86 Likes: 16
    Now that's a crazy story! What was done to those poor people.
     
    Posted: Mar 27, 2017 By: Francois Badenhorst Member since: Aug 25, 2015
    #10
  11. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Ace Full Member

    Posts: 2,411 Likes: 755
    Just to be clear, I'm not advocating Britain take a similar approach to EU nationals living here.

    I'm simply after equitable treatment. Or at least for Britain to act honourably in respect of past commitments (including to Afghan translators) before they make big concessions for those immigrants whose lives are not at risk back in their home countries.

    People make a big deal about how many Indians Britain accepted from Uganda back in the day. The truth is quite different. Britain tried their damndest to not take these Indians in. This was despite the fact that these brown skinned people actually held British passports! Seriously! Britain tried to place them everywhere else - including all kinds of remote islands - instead of allowing them into the UK.

    With EU nationals we are talking several multiples of the number of Indianswho came from Uganda, we are talking people who don't currently hold British passports and people who won't be chopped up and eaten if they return home.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
    Posted: Mar 27, 2017 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
    #11
  12. japancool

    japancool UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    Posts: 3,372 Likes: 647
    I'm from Thailand, Francois.
     
    Posted: Mar 27, 2017 By: japancool Member since: Jul 11, 2013
    #12
  13. Karimbo

    Karimbo UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 1,576 Likes: 155
    i was against brexit completely. but now that it's confirmed we are leaving I want a hard brexit. Our currency is in the shitter and we've faced the worse we can face. We might as well improve our situation slightly and get rid of all EU migrants. House prices are ridiculous, kicking out people from the country will ease housing issues.

    Halfway house does not work. We get all the drawbacks of immigration but cant have any of the perks (access to single market).
     
    Posted: Mar 27, 2017 By: Karimbo Member since: Nov 5, 2011
    #13
  14. Clinton

    Clinton UKBF Ace Full Member

    Posts: 2,411 Likes: 755
    That's the only reason Francois has offered so far for giving EU nationals preferential treatment. And it's a dud reason.

    The Indians in Uganda didn't know, when they took out British passports and paid British taxes, that the UK would shaft them.

    Those professionals who came here on work visas expecting to qualify for ILR after 4 years didn't know they would get shafted by the UK moving the goalposts.

    The Chagossians didn't know they were going to get shafted when the UK stole their land.

    The Afghan translators didn't know ....

    You get the picture.

    Westminster is not going to take my advice but I would suggest that at the very least those EU nationals who are a drain on the public purse should have their leave to remain revoked.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
    Posted: Mar 28, 2017 By: Clinton Member since: Jan 17, 2010
    #14
  15. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 5,195 Likes: 2,066
    Speaking as an illegal, undesirable alien with incurable bed-wetting, I would like to bring a note of sobriety and common sense to this discussion.

    I would like to, but you know and I know - that ain't gonna happen!

    In the mean time, here's an educational video
     
    Posted: Mar 29, 2017 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
    #15
  16. japancool

    japancool UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    Posts: 3,372 Likes: 647
    I believe the Windsors (or rather, Saxe-Coburg-Gothas) are EU migrants. They should obviously be asked to leave if they continue to be a drain on the public purse.
     
    Posted: Mar 29, 2017 By: japancool Member since: Jul 11, 2013
    #16
    Francois Badenhorst likes this.
  17. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 86 Likes: 16
    Hahaha :D
     
    Posted: Mar 30, 2017 By: Francois Badenhorst Member since: Aug 25, 2015
    #17
  18. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Deputy Editor Staff Member

    Posts: 86 Likes: 16
    Yes, lemme tell you, I've plotted my exploitation of the UK benefits system for a long time. It's been an intricate heist. <evil laugh>
     
    Posted: Mar 30, 2017 By: Francois Badenhorst Member since: Aug 25, 2015
    #18
  19. TODonnell

    TODonnell UKBF Ace Full Member

    Posts: 1,203 Likes: 176
    Sweet lord, that's the worst things my eyes and ears have been subjected to since ... the last hip-hop vid I accidentally played.

    Friends, here is the original of the main 'hook' of that song, a wistful and evocative creation, from the time of my youth (sigh):

     
    Posted: Apr 19, 2017 By: TODonnell Member since: Sep 23, 2011
    #19