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21 Immigration and Nationality

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1. Introduction

2. Do I need permission to come to the UK?

3. How is entry to the UK controlled?

4. What sort of permission do I need to come to the UK?

5. What if I want to work in the UK?

If you want to stay in the UK to work, you will also usually need a work permit. If a company here wants to employ you, then the company, not you, must apply for the work permit.

The Home Office allows people who have certain skills or qualifications to come to the UK without having a job arranged before they come, under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (See the Home Office's Working in the UK website).

In most cases, your husband, wife or registered civil partner and any children under 18 who are dependent on you can come with you. However this applies only if you can support them without 'recourse to public funds' (in other words, claiming benefits). There are also some restrictions on family members joining you if you are coming here on a temporary work scheme, including:

  • as a working holidaymaker;
  • for seasonal agricultural work (for example, fruit picking); or
  • for 'sector-based schemes', which allow people to work in certain industries.

The immigration rules also say whether you will be allowed to change from one category of entry to another (called 'switching') after coming to the UK. Here are some examples:

  • If you are entered the country as a visitor you will not be permitted to stay on as a student, but will have to leave and apply from abroad.
  • If you want to be employed here or to start or join a business, you must normally apply from abroad unless you are a student on a degree course, or you have been training as a doctor, dentist or nurse, or you are a working holidaymaker. There are special rules if you have a degree in a science or engineering subject at a UK university, if you complete an MA or PhD here, or if your degree course was in Scotland.
  • If you entered the country as a visitor and then marry someone who lives in the UK permanently, you will normally have to apply from abroad to work or settle here.
  • If you want to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK, you will usually need to ask for permission from the Home Office first. Without this permission, a registrar will usually refuse to marry you or register a civil partnership. See 'What if I want members of my family to settle here with me?' for more about this.

The Home Office may still look at your application if you ask for permission to switch and do not fit one of these rules. But if it then refuses your application, you won't be able to appeal against the decision.

6. What restrictions are there after I´ve arrived in the UK?

7. What if I want to settle in the UK?

8. What if my application is refused?

9. What if I stay longer than I am allowed to?

10. Who has a right to British nationality?

11. How can I become a British citizen?

12. Where can I get help with my immigration application?

13. Terms used in immigration and nationality matters

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet




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This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and Mick Chatwin, a barrister and solicitor specialising in immigration law.

Leaflet Version: June 2006




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