Immigration is probably one of the most talked about topics. A few years ago people could apply to come to this country to work using the point based system under the Tier 1 General category. But in April this year the extensions of the Tier 1 general category were stopped. However, the dependents of the Tier 1 visa category can still apply for extensions under the same category.

On today’s show I had the pleasure of talking to Gurpal Oppal regarding the Tier 1 General category. He said that people come to this country under various categories like the Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 4 which is actually the point based system very similar to the Australian system from many years ago.

There was previously a programme called the HSMP (Highly skilled migrant program) which was replaced by the Tier 1 category. Gurpal said that people came here based on various factors for which they earned points under the points based system like educational qualification or previous income to name a few.

Gurpal said that people who came here on the Tier 1 general category must have by now either gotten their ILR or have gone back, there may be very few people living here who are still on the Tier 1 general category, but they too should normally be eligible for ILR before having to extend again.

Speaking about completing 5 years in the country Gurpal said that the dependents can switch their category in those 5 years without re-setting the clock for their ILR if they switch between any work categories. So if a dependent came here on a Tier 1 dependent category and then after sometime shifted to a Tier 2 then that would not affect the 5 year eligibility period. He said that its only when people switch to other categories like maybe the student visas then their route changes to the 10 year route.

If someone came here on the family of a settled person route then initially, that is before 2012, it was possible for them to apply for ILR after completing 2 years in the country but post 2012 they need to complete 5 years in the country before being eligible for settlement. He said that as long as the dependent has been in the country for a continuous period of 5 years they will be eligible for ILR; it doesn’t matter if they spent all of the 5 years in the same category or switched into any other category which has the same 5 year route eligibility for ILR.

If someone came here on a student visa and then switched to Tier 2, they have a choice of either completing 10 years to get ILR or they can complete 5 years under Tier 2 and then be eligible for ILR.

Speaking of the ‘’7 year child’’ route of settlement, Gurpal said that there is a lot of confusion. When considering the 7 years that the child has spent in the country, many different factors are taken into consideration when deciding these applications. If a child is born in the UK and has now become 7 years old, considering his thinking and his memories, he may only remember the last 2 or 3 years and generally the child may easily be able to go back to his or her home country and get adjusted to the life there. But if a child came to this country when he or she was 7 years of age and now has spent 7 years in the country and turned 14, then he or she would be more integrated into UK society and it will be more difficult for this child to then go back to his or her own home country and get readjusted to the life there. So when applying under this category people need to realise that if they applied when the child was less than 10 years of age even if he or she has spent 7 years in the country there is chance that the application might get refused. However, Gurpal spoke of another category under which if a child is born in the UK and has spent 10 years in the country then he or she is eligible for British nationality.

Gurpal spoke about the application of the OCI card for people who have obtained a British Passport. He said that people who are applying for the OCI need to be able to prove that they are of Indian origin. And this can be done by submitting proof going back maximum up to 2 generations for the applicants parents or even grandparents, if they were of Indian origin and the documents that can be submitted are copies of their Indian passport or people can get a nativity certificate which can be obtained by going back to their parents or grandparents home village and getting someone to give an affidavit sworn before the magistrate saying that the person is or was from that village.

I had a great time talking to Gurpal about different Immigration issues.