Category Archives: Miscellaneous

5 major UK Immigration news for 2016

In 2016, the UK will is rolling out important major change in the immigration system that will affect workers, businesses, family life and study for migrants.

Here we have compiled a useful guide of our 5 major picks from the new law that will be put in place as well as what to look out for in immigration news being discussed by government in 2016

1. The Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill has reached the committee stage in the House of Lords and will likely become law this year. It includes a range of policy changes, particularly targeting illegal workers and businesses.

Those found working illegally in England and Wales could face up to six months in jail with wages being seized as ‘proceeds of crime’ and employers could face a maximum criminal penalty which has changed from 2 to 5 years. Additionally, with new laws allowing banks, police, DVLA and landlords to be given new powers to check immigration status, families could easily find various aspects of their daily life surveilled.

Employers under Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsors employing recent graduates and Non-EEA migrants will have to follow a new immigration skills charge (visa levy) to businesses who preferentially employ skilled migrants from abroad which is currently being assessed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The visa levy on businesses was created to further enforce the Labour Resident Market Test and the extent of the charge is not currently known.

Find out more about what the Immigration Bill is and how it will affect you with our guides.

2. Residence in the UK

Migrants with UK work visas will have to earn at least £35,000 or more to be able to apply to stay in the UK as permanent resident (apply for indefinite leave to remain) after April 6, 2016.

Read more about the changes to permanent residency for Tier 2 general holders.

3. Right to Rent

From the 1st of February 2016, the ‘right to rent’ scheme is being rolled out UK wide. Private landlords will be compelled by law to check the immigration status of all their tenants.

Landlords will need to take copies of all adult passports or residence permits. Failure to do so could result in them being fined up to £3000 per tenant, for each tenant who has no right to rent in the UK, including undocumented migrants.

Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has found that the scheme can be discriminatory towards ethnic minorities, including Asians.

Read how the Right to Rent law may affect you.

4. An Online Visa Application System

The government will invest more than £250 million to overhaul the passport and immigration system. This investment was made to enable migrants to apply and pay for their passport and visa applications entirely online.

This online visa system is aimed to improve information, convenience and flexibility. Though it is not currently known when it will be implemented, it may be news worth looking out for.

You can read more about what was discussed in immigration in the spending review on the Gov.UK website.

5. Increased Fees

The UK government are introducing and looking into a few new fee changes this coming year:

The government recently announced that fees for settlement, residence and nationality will increase by 25% in 2016–17 and visit, study and work visa fees will increase by around 2%. There will also be targeted increases to premium services, such as the priority visa service. The specific fee changes for 2016–17 will apply after further legislation is laid in Parliament by April this year.

You can read more on the new fees on the Gov.UK website.

The government have also indicated that they are looking to extend charges for Non-EU overseas visitors and migrants to access various departments of the NHS. They are looking to extend beyond the health surcharge to Accidents and Emergency (A&E), ambulance care as well as some general practitioner (GP) services such as blood tests, lung function tests, prescriptions, dental treatment and physiotherapy.

They seek relevant views on these proposals to further extend these charges. It closes on Sunday 6 March 2016 and can be accessed on the Gov.UK website.

UK Work visa for Indian students being proposed by London’s Mayor Boris Johnson

London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, is proposing a UK visa for Indian students so that they can work for up to two years after graduating from a UK university. His proposed work visa would first be rolled out to Indian students, and possibility later to other citizens of the Commonwealth, also potentially allowing them to work for two years in the UK after finishing their degree.

Johnson is also proposing a work visa for graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for up to two years to meet the critical skills shortage in the UK.

While Indian press is reporting that the proposal has been proposed to the UK Government, our official sources have said that so far it has not. Also, it is important to clarify that London’s Mayor has no formal power over immigration policy, and currently, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, is still on a target to reduce the number of Non-EU migrants settling in the UK.

As such, it is unlikely that the proposal will be accepted and implemented in the near future. However, the French Government did implement a two year post-study work visa for Indian nationals, to enable them to stay and look for work in France.

The number of Indian students traveling to the UK to study as international students has fallen by 50% over the last three years. Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, during his last visit to London, raised the issue of student visas to British Prime Minister David Cameron; reminding him that Indian students are among the best and the brightest in the world.

For the latest visa and immigration advice visit Migreat’s immigration platform

* Source: Financial Times

A version of this article was first published on Migreat London South Asian Community 

Migreat’s Upcoming December Immigration Events

Migreat is rolling out, participating or taking part in a series of immigration events this fall. Below please find the full agenda and don’t forget to grab your tickets and meet us at one! 

How to Successfully Apply to the UK Entrepreneur Visa? 
25th November – Online Webinar – See the slides or watch the webinar online

UK immigration experts, Duncan Lewis, will present the UK Entrepreneur visa requirements in detail and answer questions related to the application process as well as upcoming changes to the entrepreneur visa route. Register here to attend: free ticket to Immigration Webinar

MKS Room – Refugee Forward
26th November at 7.30pm – NewSpeak House, London – free ticket here
MakeSense London, the rapidly growing, global open-source community of passionate individuals interesting in tackling business, design and technology challenges is gathering entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and representatives of the NGO sector, to speak about the Refugee crisis. They will analyse to what extent Media today is framing the situation and how citizens can effectively take actions to help the current scenario improve in the short and long term.

Home Office Hours: What UK Visa options for non-EU working in the Tech sector? 
1st December at 4.30pmPenningtons Offices, EC2V 7AW London – register here

UKVI and Tech London Advocates are holding a panel discussion to spread the word about UK visa options and immigration rules applying for employees and employers in the tech sector. Migreat will be on the panel to discuss the new Tech Nation Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent) and to explore how the inclusion of several digital jobs on the Shortage Occupation List can benefit the community.

Techfugees London 
2nd December from 9am – 5pmSkills Matters, EC2M 7EB London – Register here

Moved by the plight of refugees across Europe, a number of people from the technology industry have formed a volunteer organisation to hold a series of non-profit “Techfugees” conferences, hackathons. The goal is to enable technologists to contribute their skills and work with a global network of experts on refugees to build technical solutions that help refugees. On the 2nd of December, the team from the first conference and hackathon will reconvene with experts from the UNHCR and Refugee Council to continue the work. 

Recruiting international talent for your business: how to go around the visa & sponsorship hassle
3rd December from 6pm – 7.30pm – Adam Smith Institute, SWIP 3BL LondonRegister here

Most employers from startups and SMEs share the impression that hiring a non-EU nationals is nearly impossible for them. This presentation by Migreat, Access Tier 5 and Hendry Associates aims to change that perception. Immigration experts will provide free general advice and information on getting the sponsorship licence: the costs and paperwork, the different visa options offered to employers and employees as well as options for employers that can’t sponsor.

Starting a company in Europe: What are your visa options?
8th December from 10am at UK Lebanon TechHub – register here
Have you been looking into the visa options to start a business in Europe? Come at UK Techhub Lebanon for a morning session with Tara Mikhael from Migreat to discuss the main requirements and eligibility criteria for European countries offering a special visa for foreign entrepreneurs. This event is aimed principally at ambitious and established entrepreneurs who are looking to start or grow their business abroad.


That’s about it for December but if you happen to be at the BDL conference in Lebanon on December 10-11th, tweet @migreat to meet the team that will be there on site there speaking and helping with the techfugees hackathon event.

Non-EU family members do not need visa to enter UK

Good news for many European migrant families with partners living in the UK: non-EU family members with a valid EU residence permit or visa can visit Britain without having to apply for a UK visa or permit according to the latest ruling from the European Court of Justice.

Family waiting their loved ones at the airport

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Britain cannot impose a blanket visa requirement on family members originally from outside Europe but who have valid EU residence rights. The ruling only covers cases where the partner from the EU – the native EU citizen – has exercised their right to free movement within the Union. Thus, if that someone still lives in their home country, their spouse is not entitled to free movement.

This decision was made after the case of McCarthy who contested UK insistence on a family permit or visa, valid for six months, for his wife, Helena, every time they visit Britain. The couple have two children, both British nationals. The ECJ decided that Helena McCarthy’s Spanish residence card entitled her to travel to Britain without first obtaining a UK visa in Spain.

More information on UK Family visa requirements can be found on and

Empowering Latino Migrants: Migreat Blogging Workshop series

In partnership with CLAUK and ACULCO Media, Migreat Communities successfully organised two full days of social media marketing and blogging workshops for Spanish-speaking migrants in London.

These events took place on the 1st and 8th of February 2014 at Google Campus and Rainmaking loft respectively.

Not only were we happy to see a high turn-out of more than 40 people per event (double than expected and registered!), it confirmed the need for community support and has put Sharehoods, CLAUK and ACULCO Media at the forefront of entities doing so.

Latin American bloggers in London
From left to right: Mamá London, A Cuban in London, Beatriz from Sharehoods, Notas desde algún lugar, Alicia Seminara and Isla Imaginacion at Google Campus.

Our attendees were tutored by expert and bloggers from Google, Fluency, and Mama London.

Most importantly, the Q&A time was fully consumed by new bloggers who are eager to learn more, share their concerns and questions, and learn how to develop their online skills.

Interactions did not just happen in between experts and participants. We also spotted new bloggers sharing with other new bloggers their goals and forming teams.

Latino migrants workshop by
ACULCO Media and Migreat Community Manager


Attendees shared similar personal online experiences and challenges. For example, many complained about the lack of time to write a blog in the aim of promoting their businesses/projects.

They were advised to look for guest bloggers, to shorten their entries, or even to use media/pictures instead of plain text. This way, Mama London explained, you can regularly update your blog with interesting content quickly.

It also gives you time to not miss out on other (offline!) activities (that you can share online later ;-).


The event created a platform for networking and “quick blogging and SEO tips” exchange, fed by the information rich talks of Pierre Far and Xabier Izaguirre, Head of Digital Learning at Fluency.

Migreat team is happy and looking forward to created new opportunities for Spaniards and Latin Americans settled in the UK to collaborate and make new contacts; and grateful for the high-quality speakers that joined on the day voluntarily.

Pierre Far, Google Expert on SEO
Pierre Far, Google Expert on SEO

A big thank you to all participants and their feedback. George ILIEV, one of our bloggers attendees probably sums the event feel best:

The workshops were an excellent opportunity to learn more about blogging both as a professional activity and as a hobby. Meeting fellow bloggers and sharing experiences was a useful and pleasant way of spending two Saturdays.

Click on Migreat’s Picture Album to see all the lovely faces who joined us, check out our 

Join Migreat Communities Facebook page and get in touch with Beatriz Martínez @migreatLA if you are interested to partner or if you are looking for media opportunities. 

My First 2 Weeks in Retrospect:

Hi, my name is Tara Mikhael, and I was fortunate to have met Josephine, manager at Sharehoods amid writing my masters dissertation during this summer. Our first meeting had a revolutionary aspect to it where a multitude of feelings/ideas/opinions had blended together to seek change in the immigrant story in the UK. This revolution hasn’t ended but rather took a sustainable form represented by myself joining Sharehoods to assist Josephine in Business Development and Communications. I went underground with Sharehoods tube guide.

Sharehoods Visa Guide

Inspired by the diaspora and migration course I have taken during my masters in Local Economic Development, my dissertation focused on the remitting behaviour of the Lebanese migrants in the UK and its developmental impact in Lebanon. It was based on a set of interviews with Lebanese migrants and Lebanese migrants associations in the UK. This connection I have created with the Lebanese diaspora in London has enabled me to further understand the challenges they face in their migratory movement and the opportunities they seek to integrate in the UK and maintain the ties with their home country. In this context, my dissertation experience has made me closer to Sharehoods mission, which is diaspora community development and guidance.

Now that I have been working at Sharehoods for 2 weeks, I would like to share my experience so far in my first blog post ever.

Starting my first job in London was accompanied by a mixed feeling of concern and excitement. Sharehoods mission has been the point of start for me where I shared a common passion for migration and diaspora issues. On the other hand, as a non-local, I was worried about what awaits me in terms of work environment, communications, and job tasks.

It seems I have missed out on some fun activities!

Well, nothing is too good to be true. London is a multicultural and international city that attracts different people that tolerate and appreciate diversity. Not to my surprise, Sharehoods team is no different. Being surrounded by people from different countries added an interesting vibe to the work environment. Though everyone is motivated to improve, develop and add to the success of this company in his own field of expertise, all staff feel at ease in this cool environment.

My first assignment

During these 2 weeks, I have been able to understand the challenges faced by start-ups in their early stages. Working with Josephine meant that we had to focus on the development of Sharehoods in terms of partnerships, public awareness, social media presence, and business development.

In the aim of launching the website for Migreat, which is Sharehoods visa assessment tool, Josephine and I worked on releasing a report on the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa as a point of start for our online awareness campaign.

The entrepreneur visa situation has gained a lot of attention and created a buzz among visa applicants, visa experts, and the media especially after the closure of the post-study work visa in April 2012. Thus, Sharehoods has a leading role to play in highlighting the reality of the visa situation in addition to guiding the public on how to move forward and avoid visa refusals.

The report, which is to be published by the end of this month, includes a qualitative research done by Josephine and Kaijie, a masters student at UCL whereby 60 in-depth interviews were conducted with current and potential visa applicants in addition to a review of what has been previously studied or said about the situation of the entrepreneur visa.

On another end, business development requires “fetching”. Whether partners, legal experts, or members of the audience, meeting all these people and discussing our visions and goals has been of absolute interest to me.

What’s Next? 

I am looking forward to the coming weeks in what they hold from launching Migreat website to engaging in new partnerships.

Greece: Neo-Nazis Golden Dawn pushing for hatred against Immigrants

Anti-immigration provocations by Golden Dawn, the Greek extreme-right party, have increased in symbolic violence recently. Police is turning a blind eye while dozen of Golden-Dawn supporters are threatening to raid street market in Athens to ask migrants to show passports and ask them to leave their space for Greek vendors. They are calling to clean the streets of the ‘immigrant scum’…!

Let’s hope that the economic crisis, spreading across the EU, will not foster similar movements in Spain, Italy, France, …etc.

A Polish In London: Aga Gajownik

Aga. 26. Born Pulawy Poland. Entrepreneur. over 7 years IN LONDON


What brought you to London?

I wanted to learn English. London was my dream city, a cosmopolitan capital city. After 2004, when Poland joined EU it was easier for me to move here!

Your first day in London?

I arrived in Victoria Station by coach and started crying. I  felt so alone and understood that I had to cope with it from now on. When I got to my flat in Finchley I met some Polish people who lived there. One of the roommates I met that day has become my best friend in London, still after 8 years here. Eva helped me with finding my first job, advised on how to adapt and always supported when I felt lonely or homesick.

How did you make friends in London?

I am a very social and extraverted person. So it was quite easy. I met most people at university and work or through couch surfing… J

In a pub, what do you drink?

Corona or Sol:)


Oyster, Bus or bike?

I love biking… but most often I end up taking the tube as the weather does not help. It is also quicker and being on time to  meetings is very important to me.

London in a word?

Multicultural … and FUN!

What’s your biggest gripe about London?

The weather really. There is seriously nothing else and nothing worse than this weather!

If given more time and freedom, what would you do in London ?

I would investigate more the theatre scene and the cultural aspect of London… I love musicals and concerts!

What makes you a Londoner? 

After living here for 8 years, I’d say that the diversity of experiences and things you can find here that makes me feel like a Londoner and a Londoner myself: in one day, I can speak Polish, English, practice my Portuguese and Italian, without moving city!


A secret London spot or place?

It is not such a secret place, but it is gorgeous and not that well known: a fountain with a girl and a dolphin by Tower Bridge. It is a beautiful spot at Sunset.

Feel more Polish or British?

Definitely Polish! The UK is great for accepting differences and being ok with you maintaining your culture. I have lots of Polish friends here. However, I am pretty direct in how I talk. This is not a very British way of communicating… especially in working environment where it caused me some problems in the past! Anyhow I am proud and I care about where I am from.


What food not to miss while in London ?

Curry! If you are from Europe, definitely curry. London is the best place for Curry outside India from my point of view.

What advice would you give to someone moving to London?

Especially if you are Polish, please watch your language: say ‘please’ all the time! In Polish, we don’t say it the same way and that often. We appear as rude but it is just a question of grammar difference. Be a sponge, observe and absorb what people do and how they talk. Don’t judge and assume things. Let yourself be surprised!


Travelling in between Warsaw and London, Aga has founded her own company, I&I International  helping young women to believe in themselves and support them in the process of achieving their personal success in London as well as coaching and improving their employability or entrepreneurial skills.


[Guest Blog from Raashi] Why London is home to me

Raashi talks about why she feels at home in London like no place else. The London she describes is a city that gives space to the expression of (cultural) difference.

A few years ago I read an article from Anand Giridharadhas, another American with Indian roots, in the New York Times. He talked extensively about the global placeless, the ones who are removed from their ancestral roots, comfortably living as global citizens, and often spend more time contemplating the otherwise simple question “Where are you From’?

This probably explains why I chose to live in London. Because it’s a city that doesn’t seem “theirs”, but for those who uprooted themselves from their ancestral homeland to scatter remnants of them here. Like a Hollywood set that is simultaneously filming every foreign film.  Immigration brings an opportunity for a change of scenery, job, community, culture, language, food, but it is equally full of reminders that you are a visitor in someone else’s home. This can be unsettling at times. In London, you don’t get that eerie sensation of treading on someone else’s footpath. This train station of a city is for you just as it was for those who came before. In fact, all over the city there are placards reminding us of the historical figures who lived in the apartment above me. Or down the street. Yes, Sherlock Holmes almost lived on Baker Street.

And on these same streets, the Indian grocer or the Japanese ramen place add their own tasty placard. A reminder not just of how the world is flat, but that the world is here. Is this a utopian borderless wonderland full if idealism? No. Are you greeted with a big banner that reads “Welcome to the UK with open arms and a warm cup of tea”? No. But it’s easier to find your identity in a place that doesn’t give a darn about your identity. It seems ironic, but a lot of people prefer to be invisible on Oxford street than interrogated on what denomination of the Brahim Caste system you fall under.

Once you live in a city this anonymous, you naturally gravitate towards finding your own identity at a comfortable pace. And in 2012 with the number of social and economical change exist, identity often evolves from a single source (Indian Brahmin) to Indian with an American education and Texas two-step with chili cook-offs and pancakes and dosas for breakfast, the midwest charm and mixed with a little bit of  I-miss-my-udon-in-Japan to “andiamo al mare” (let’s go to the beach in Italian). So where are you from?


[Guest Blog by Gloria Ntwite] The Migreat experience

What is it like to work at Migreat? Well, as it would be rude to blow our own horn, we asked Gloria, our summer intern, what she had to say about her time spent at our offices, and here is what she wrote us back – in less than 24 hours…

Gloria on her first day at Migreat

It all started with a street marketing operation!

I was on holiday in London, looking for a job or a placement to improve my English and to enjoy the Olympics. I had the privilege and the chance to meet Migreat on my way! As it was my first work experience, I was a little bit at a loss, but Migreat took me by the hand!

Indeed I was lucky enough to work with a welcoming and friendly team! The atmosphere was serious but chilled. As I had a weekly goal to meet , I proceeded step by step but at the end of the day I knew that I had given the best of myself  in so far as there is no pressure on me.  I really appreciated the good atmosphere and the facilities provided: a well-equipped kitchen, a common room with a TV and video games, a place to eat and best of all, a balcony on the roof with a barbecue where I spent half of my time…working!

I put forward the human side of the company but I was obviously there to work on a very interesting project: “The master list”.  Indeed, as a marketing and PR assistant, I was in charge of researching media partners to be considered in the future, create lists of contacts and help make first contact with them. This was the most interesting part of my job, as I love getting in touch with people! I  wasn’t only given the opportunity to use my academic skills to handle the project but also my human qualities and skills. This way, I really improved my English as I was forced to speak and to listen to English people.

I learnt so much about the professional world: meeting deadlines, doing a relevant report about the job, working on my own initiative without a manager breathing down my neck, being resourceful and sharing a pint after work!

Initially my goal coming to London was only to improve my English but with Migreat, I got so much more than that and I will definitely advise young people to live this experience, because it really broadens your mind, as the saying goes.