About: Immigration Jargon
There are a vast range of terms that are used when talking about Immigration – many of which are often misunderstood by the public and media. To help make things clearer for you, we have put together this glossary of some of the most common immigration terms. UK immigration can be a confusing subject, so if you need further explanations not given here or you have any questions, please contact us.
An Administrative Review is the process of challenging some immigration decisions where an appeal is not possible. An Administrative Review is conducted by UKVI and will consider whether an ‘eligible decision’ is wrong because of a case working error and, if it is, they will correct that error. The notice of decision will usually advise whether an individual has a right of Administrative Review. There is currently a fee of £80 payable for this. The deadline to challenge the decision depends on whether the application was made from overseas or in the UK. The deadlines are as follows:
- 28 days from the date of decision is received if the application was made from overseas;
- 14 days from the date the decision is received if the application was made from within the UK;
- 7 days from the date the decision is received if the application was made from within the UK and the applicant is in detained.
An applicant is the individual applying for an immigration status in the UK. This is the non-British national.
An Asylum Seeker is an individual who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group (e.g. LGBTQI+) or political opinion if they are returned to their country of origin, and are in the process of claiming asylum or awaiting a final decision.
Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) / Biometric Residence Card (BRC)
The Biometric Residence Permit is an immigration document issued by UKVI to non-EU nationals to prove their immigration status in the UK. These will usually have the individual’s picture, full name, date of birth, nationality, immigration status and the expiry date of the document.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
A Certificate of Sponsorship is an electronic record assigned by an employer to an employee to enable them to apply for a Skilled Worker (formerly Tier 2) visa in the UK. The employer will need to request the CoS from UKVI first before they can assign it to an employee. There are two types of CoS:
- Defined CoS – issued to employees applying from outside the UK;
- Undefined CoS – issued to employees applying from within the UK, and applicants on all other visas.
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies is an electronic record assigned by an education provider to a student to enable them to apply for a Student (formerly Tier 4) visa in the UK. The education provider will need to request the CAS from UKVI first before they can assign it to an employee.
A dependant is the individual applying for an immigration status in the UK and relying upon a Sponsor. The Sponsor is usually an individual who is a family member (for example, the partner) and the Sponsor is the main Applicant.
The term deportation is used for individuals who are foreign national criminals that have been removed (known as deported) from the UK due to their criminal conviction. Deportation can be recommended by a court. Deportation is often used incorrectly, and the media regularly confuses ‘deportation’ with ‘removal’. Deported individuals are usually banned from returning to the UK for at least ten years, but this is open to challenge.
Employer Checking Service
The Employer Checking Service is an online system run by the Home Office for employers to check an employee or potential employee’s immigration status if:
- they cannot show you their documents because of an outstanding appeal, review or application with UKVI;
- they have an Application Registration Card;
- they have a Certificate of Application that’s less than 6 months old;
- they’re a Commonwealth citizen who started living in the UK before 1988.
Not to be confused with the other online process the Home Office run whereby EU nationals and their family members with Pre-Settled or Settled Status and those who have applied for a visa and used the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app can provide a share code to prove their right to work. In such a situation, an individual will provide their date of birth and right to work share code, which they can obtain from the Home Office’s website for viewing and proving their immigration status here.
Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND)
The Immigration and Nationality Directorate is a previous name for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
Indefinite Leave to Remain is the immigration status issued by UKVI to those who have usually completed a qualifying period of Leave To Enter and/or Leave To Remain. A grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain means that an individual no longer has a time restriction on their immigration status in the UK. It can only be lost in two circumstances:
1. if the individual commits a serious criminal offence and is sentenced to a period of imprisonment of 12 months or more or they have a number of criminal offences and are deemed to be a persistent offender;
2. if the individual leaves the UK without returning for a consecutive period of two years or more. In such a situation, the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is considered to have lapsed.
A Judicial Review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. In other words, judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached. If you have a right of appeal or Administrative Review, an individual is obliged to exercise these rights before seeking a Judicial Review. Judicial Reviews are the only form of challenge in certain types of immigration applications, such as visitor visas, as they do not attract a right of appeal or Administrative Review.
A lawyer is anyone who practices law. They need not be a Solicitor. However, if they are practicing immigration law in England and Wales, they must be regulated by either the Law Society of England and Wales, General Council of the Bar, the Office of the Immigration Services Commission (OISC) or the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. If they are not regulated by any of the above, they may be committing a criminal offence.
Leave To Enter (LTE)
Leave to Enter is the immigration status issued by UKVI to those who have applied for an immigration status in the UK from abroad and have been granted. Leave To Enter and Leave To Remain can be used interchangeably and have the same meaning.
Leave To Remain (LTR)
Leave To Remain is the immigration status issued by UKVI to those who have applied for an immigration status whilst in the UK and have been granted.
A Nationality Review is the process of challenging the refusal of citizenship or another type of nationality decision. Nationality Review is conducted by UKVI and will consider whether the decision was made on the basis of the law. A fee of £372 is currently payable for this.
Points Based System (PBS)
The Points Based System is the old immigration system for those wishing to work, study and/or invest in the UK. Numbered Tiers 1 to 5, the term is still used to refer to certain immigration categories. Examples include the Skilled Worker route (previously known as Tier 2), Ancestry and the Youth Mobility Scheme (both previously under Tier 5).
Pre-Settled Status is the limited status issued to EU nationals and their family members under the EU Settlement Scheme. This is usually issued to individuals who have resided in the UK for less than five years.
A refugee is an individual who has been granted an immigration status in the UK as they have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group (e.g. LGBTQI+) or political opinion if they are returned to their country of origin.
Removal is the process by which a non-British individual is returned to their country of nationality. Examples of when this can happen includes for those who are failed asylum seekers or those whose Leave To Remain has expired and they no longer have a right to remain in the UK. There is a ban on returning to the UK following removal. The length of the ban depends on why the individual was removed, the individual’s immigration history and the immigration category they wish to rely upon to re-enter the UK.
Right To Work checks
Right To Work checks are a legal requirement for all employers to check that a prospective employee has a legal right to work in the UK, as required by the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. If employers fail to properly conduct these checks in accordance with UKVI rules, they can be fined up to £10,000 per illegal worker and face further sanctions. There are two types of right to work checks:
1. A manual document-based check. In such a case, an employee will provide original documents such as their passport, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) / Biometric Residence Card (‘BRC’). The employer will then need to check they are genuine and that the employee providing them is the same person and then make clear copies of each document in a format that cannot be tampered, is retained securely and the date the check is made is securely recorded.
2. Online check. This is not open to all employees as it relates to employees that have an immigration status that can be checked online. This is currently open to employees that have:
a. Biometric Residence Permit (‘BRP’) / Biometric Residence Card (‘BRC’);
b. status issued under the EU Settlement Scheme;
c. a digital Certificate of Application to the EU Settlement Scheme issued on or before 30 June 2021;
d. status issued under the points-based immigration system;
e. British National Overseas (BNO) visa; or
f. frontier workers permit.
Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD)
The Secretary of State for the Home Department is the Home Secretary who heads the Home Office. This is currently Priti Patel MP. References to the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) are usually seen in Judicial Review proceedings. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is a Home Office department.
Settled Status is the status issued to EU nationals and their family members under the EU Settlement Scheme who have usually completed a qualifying period of five years of residence in the UK and no longer have a time restriction on their immigration status.
Settlement has two meanings in an immigration context. It is usually used interchangeably with the term Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) to mean that an individual does not have a time restriction on their immigration status in the UK.
The second meaning relates to immigration categories that can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and are usually referred to as a “settlement” application. An example of a settlement application is a partner visa (such as a fiancé/e, spouse or civil partner) which leads to Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of limited status.
A solicitor is an individual who has been admitted to the roll of solicitors of England and Wales. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). All solicitors in England and Wales can be found on the SRA website.
A sponsor is the individual, employer or education provider who an Applicant is relying upon to be able to enter the UK. They usually either have an immigration status in the UK or do not require one (for example, they are British) or they are the main Applicant of a visa application (for example, they are a Skilled Worker (formerly known as a Tier 2) and the Applicant is a dependant (for example, their partner).
A sponsor licence grants a UK employer permission to employ and sponsor non-British nationals who satisfy the criteria to be issued with a Skilled Worker visa (formerly known as Tier 2). Sponsor licences are also issued to UK education providers and grants them permission to sponsor non-British nationals who satisfy the criteria to be issued with a Student visa (formerly known as a Tier 4).
Sponsor Management System (SMS)
The Sponsor Management System is UKVI’s online portal accessible to employers and educators that hold sponsor licences for Skilled Workers (formerly Tier 2) or Students (formerly Tier 4) respectively. The licence holders use the SMS to meet their compliance duties and day to day activities, including communicating with UKVI.
Subject Access Request (SAR)
A Subject Access Request is a request that can be made for the personal information held in the borders, immigration and citizenship system. A Subject Access Request can be made online here.
UK Border Agency (UKBA)
UK Border Agency is a previous name for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
UKVI is the Home Office department that deals specifically with UK visas, immigration and nationality. Not to be confused with Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) who deal with passports.
A vignette is the sticker issued by UKVI to individuals who have applied for and have been granted an immigration status whilst they are abroad. The vignette is usually for a limited period (for example, three months) and allows the individual to lawfully enter the UK and then collect their Biometric Residence Permit (‘BRP’) / Biometric Residence Card (‘BRC’) once they arrive in the UK.
Some individuals who were granted an immigration status in the UK many years ago may hold a vignette issued by UKVI or one of its predecessor organisations whilst they were in the UK.
Voluntary return is the process by which a non-British individual can return to their country of nationality by their own choice. Voluntary return can be at the expense of the individual or at UKVI’s expense. There can be a ban on returning the UK following voluntary return. The ban, if any, depends on the individual’s immigration history and the immigration category they wish to rely upon to re-enter the UK.