Applying for a UK visa from Australia

Applying for a UK visa from Australia

 

During March 2014, VFS Global will take over running the visa application service in Australia.

New UK visa application centres will open in:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Perth
  • Canberra

The British High Commission or British consulates will no longer provide a visa biometric enrolment service.

Priority service

You can choose to buy a priority visa service to fast track your application. Priority applications will be placed at the front of the queue to be processed. The priority service fee is £100 for non-settlement applications and £300 for settlement applications. You can only pay for the service online before visiting the biometric enrolment centre. You must bring your priority visa service receipt with you when you attend your appointment. You cannot purchase the priority service at the biometric enrolment centre in Adelaide.

Use of the priority visa service is optional and does not imply or guarantee that your visa application will be successful. All visa applicants must meet the requirements of the UK Immigration Rules. The fee for the priority service and the visa application fee are not refundable if your visa application is refused.

Priority service processing times

We aim to process all non-settlement priority visa service applications made in Australia within 5 working days and all settlement applications made in Australia within 10 working days.

Your application may take longer if you:

  • do not include the priority service receipt with your application, or you submit it afterwards. Please ensure this receipt is stapled to the front of the application form, and write ‘priority’ on the front of your envelope
  • have previously been refused a visa for the UK, or refused leave to enter the UK
  • have previously been deported, removed, or otherwise required to leave the UK
  • have overstayed a period of leave in the UK
  • have previously been refused a visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA or the Schengen countries
  • have been convicted of a criminal offence in any country
  • do not submit all relevant documentation with your application

If you are wanting to apply for a UK visa from Australia and you suspect that your application may take longer due to any of the reasons listed above or for some other reason then you may well benefit from having expert legal advice and assistance. We are specialists in all aspects of UK immigration law and policy and provide a boutique service to select clients. Email us your enquiry to info@solicitorsfirm.com and we will respond promptly with sensible and useful advice.

Syria is now the main country of origin of asylum seekers in the 44 industrialised countries

Sharp rise of asylum applications from Syrians in industrialised countries

 

Syria is now the main country of origin of asylum seekers in the 44 industrialised countries addressed in UNHCR’s Asylum Trends 2013 report. Around 56,400 Syrians sought protection in these 44 states in 2013, which is more than double the number of asylum seekers from that country in 2012 (25,200 claims) and six times more than in 2011 (8,500 claims). UNHCR stresses that the 2013 level is the highest amount of protection claims recorded by a single group in one year among the industrialised countries since 1999.

Sweden (16,300 claims) and Germany (11,900 claims) received the most asylum seekers from Syria and Bulgaria, the Netherlands, the UK and Austria were also important destination countries for Syrians. With the exception of five countries (Cyprus, Finland, Japan, Latvia and New Zealand), asylum applications from Syrians increased in all industrialized countries. Turkey, with 649,302 Syrian registered refugees,hosts the most refugees fleeing the crisis in Europe.

484,600 asylum claims were registered in the 38 European countries in 2013, the highest number since 2001. This represents a 32% increase from 2012, both in the EU and the wider Europe, the report states. According to the report between 2009 and 2013, amongst the European countries, Germany received the largest number of new asylum seekers (288,800 claims), followed by Sweden (138,800 claims), and the UK (138,800 claims).

After Syria, people fleeing the Russian Federation, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Serbia (including Kosovo), were the largest groups seeking refuge in the 44 industrialized countries in 2013.

For further information:

European Commission publishes guidance for Member States to guarantee right to family reunification

European Commission publishes guidance for Member States to guarantee right to family reunification 

 

The European Commission adopted yesterday a Communication to provide guidance to Member States on how to apply the Directive 2003/86/EC on the right to family reunification.

The Communication addresses a number of issues that were raised by civil society organisations in their contribution to the Commission’s Green Paper, such as the lack of information on and assistance in the family reunification procedure, the cost of family reunification processes, the administrative hurdles (evidence requirements, DNA testing, limited access to embassies, visa requirements, etc), the duration of procedures (often up to 2 to 3 years), and the restrictive interpretation of dependency.

The European Commission reaffirms the obligation for Member States not to use their margin of appreciation in a manner that can undermine the objective of the Directive, which is to promote family reunification, and its effectiveness. The availability of information, the best interests of the child, individual assessments and the right to legal challenge are overall principles Member States cannot derogate from.

Regarding the situation for refugees, the Commission recalls that the lack of evidential documents cannot be the sole reason for rejecting an application, and that Member States are obligated to take into account other evidence to establish family links, such as written or oral statements and interviews with family members. The Commission considers that Member States should allow sponsors to introduce an application for family reunification in the territory of the Member State in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the right to family reunification. Finally, the Commission encourages Member States to apply the same rules for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.

These guidelines follow the decision taken in 2012 based on a public consultation not to review the Directive, but instead to fully implement the existing rules, to launch infringement procedures where necessary, and to produce guidelines for Member States on specific issues.

Government confirms court fees increase within weeks

Government confirms court fees increase within weeks

 

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will go ahead with a series of changes to court fees from 22 April.

Fees for compensation claims between £5,000 and £10,000 will increase by 81% from £245 to £445, with an extra £200 fee added to all claims up to those in excess of £300,000, which are capped at £1,870. Smaller claims will either face smaller increases or no increase at all.

A standard fee of £280 for civil cases which are not about claims for money – applying for someone to be declared insolvent or to repossess property for example – will replace the current mixture of fees.

Permission to apply for judicial review will increase from £60 to £135, while permission to proceed will jump 216% from £215 to £680.

Fees will remain the same for cases involving sensitive family issues including child contact, divorce financial disputes and adoption applications – and there will be a reduction in the fee for local authorities to apply to take a child into care.

The £75 application fee for domestic violence injunctions, for those seeking non-molestation and occupation orders, will be scrapped. More than 20,000 applications were made in 2012.

The fees changes follow a period of consultation earlier this year when the Civil Judicial Council and the Law Society – amongst others – warned against such a move.

Courts minister Shailesh Vara said: ‘We have one of the best legal systems in the world and we are making sure our courts are properly resourced so that they can continue to build on their excellent reputation. These fee changes will make sure hard-working taxpayers are not having to subsidise those using our civil courts.’

The consultation also included further proposals to set fees for some civil and commercial cases as a percentage of the amount under dispute.

The government said it is still considering the responses to that part of the consultation and will set out next steps ‘in due course’.

In a written statement given to the House of Commons yesterday, Vara said the civil court system has operated for many years under the principle that ‘those who use the courts should pay the full cost of the service they receive’.

But he added: ‘This has not yet been achieved in practice, and last year, the deficit was more than £100m. At a time when we have made deficit reduction our top priority, the government does not believe that the courts can be immune from the tough decisions we have had to take in order to bring public spending in line with what we can afford.’

In its consultation response, the Civil Justice Council warned of the ‘chilling effect’ on access to justice of ‘wholly excessive’ fee increases.

Ministry of Justice ticked off over barrister earnings claim

Ministry of Justice ticked off over barrister earnings claim

The Ministry of Justice has been criticised by the UK Statistics Authority over misleading figures used to justify legal aid cuts.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the independent body, wrote to legal aid minister Shailesh Vara highlighting concerns raised about the ‘nature, quality, timing and use’ of information provided by the ministry about the earnings of criminal barristers.

An ad hoc statistical release, ‘Barrister fee income from public sources 2012/13’ was published on 2 January, four days before planned industrial action by criminal lawyers in protest over the cuts.

Dilnot told Vara the ministry could have ‘increased compliance’ with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, which requires publication in an ‘orderly manner, accompanied by commentary, analysis and information on quality and reliability’.

The authority found the information provided in the statistical report about barristers’ earnings was ‘potentially misleading’ as the notes explaining the figures were not presented alongside the data table.

It is critical of the MoJ’s use of ‘mean and median’ measures without advice on how to use the different measures.

‘Insufficient’ information, says Dilnot, is presented about the intended use of the statistics or about their strengths and limitations.

The authority said concerns had also been raised over statements made by ministers and officials over the average earnings of criminal barristers, following publication of the data.

The ministry stated that the ‘average’ earnings for a criminal barrister who works full time from legal aid is £84,000 a year. The figure was not included in the statistical release and in fact represents the ‘mean’ fee from public funds for full-time barristers where any barrister with a fee income of less than £10,000 is excluded.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan MP described the MoJ as ‘an evidence-free zone’. ‘This latest slap-down is proof that even when ministers do use figures to support their arguments, they can’t be trusted,’ Khan said.

‘If the figures upon which the government is justifying their massive cuts and upheaval to legal aid are dodgy than it raises serious questions about the legitimacy of their plans.’

An MoJ spokesman said: ‘We stand by the figures that we have presented. We agree that this fee income is not the same as individual earnings, and this was stated in the statistical report we published on 2 January.’

See Full article at Law Society Gazette