28 August 2015 #Immigration
The government is introducing a new requirement for criminal record certificates to be provided as part of the visa application process.
From next week (1 September 2015) applicants for Tier 1 investor and entrepreneur visas will need to provide criminal record certificates from any country they have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years. The requirement will also apply to any adult dependants (18 years or over). If an applicant fails to provide a certificate (or cannot provide an acceptable explanation – see below) their visa application will be refused.
It is being reported that the new policy is being rolled out in phases and that the requirement is likely to be extended to Tier 2 out of country applicants in early 2016. This will have a significant impact on the application process for people applying for a Tier 2 visa from outside the UK, as well as for employers planning to sponsor them.
The certificates will need to be issued by the relevant authority in the country the migrant has lived in and UKVI have published information on how to obtain certificates from various countries. The certificate will only be valid if it has been issued within 6 months of the visa application. Processing times for obtaining a certificate can differ depending on the country (or countries) where the applicant has lived, and in many cases it can take longer to process a certificate where the person is no longer living in the country. If an applicant needs to provide a number of certificates from different countries, they will need to plan ahead to ensure that all of the certificates will be issued within 6 months of the visa application.
The government recognises that it may not be possible for to obtain a certificate in certain circumstances, for example from countries that do not have a functioning criminal record authority, or where certificates are only issued to citizens. In such cases, the applicant will need to provide a letter with their visa application, which details the attempts that have been made to obtain a certificate and explains why it has not been possible to get one. The current guidance does not make clear what factors UKVI will consider when exercising this discretion.
Given the potentially short lead-in time for this new requirement being rolled out to Tier 2 visa applicants, we recommend that employers planning to sponsor Tier 2 applicants applying from abroad take action now and plan ahead. Sponsors should make contact with any potential migrant to be sponsored early next year to make them aware of the new requirement and to ask them to apply for a criminal record certificate in good time. Sponsors may also need to consider who will bear the costs associated with obtaining the certificate (or certificates). This could include the cost of the certificate itself, as well as any translation costs for certificates not issued in English.
We will monitor the implementation of the requirement for criminal record certificates to Tier 1 applicants over the coming months. Clarkslegal’s immigration team can give you help and advice if you are applying for a Tier 1 visa from outside the UK, or if you are planning to sponsor a Tier 2 migrant in 2016.