Business immigration

Helping your business to stay competitive – and compliant.

Being able to recruit from overseas is a business-critical issue for many employers who need to ensure that their workforce has the necessary skills, experience and depth of resource.

However, business immigration law is a complex and constantly changing area. It can be difficult for employers and HR professionals to keep up to date with the rules, irrespective of the uncertainty surrounding the UK's departure from the EU and a post-Brexit immigration policy

Our business immigration specialists advise employers across many sectors, from multinational to educational establishments and technology start-ups. We also work with entrepreneurs, investors and high net worth individuals.

Whatever your situation, we'll aim to make your life easier by giving you clear, practical advice tailored to your needs. We can advise on every aspect of business immigration, including:

  • Applying for a sponsor licence/ responding to revocation notices from UKVI
  • Compliance and advice on sponsor duties
  • Tier 2 of the points-based system (sponsorship of skilled workers)
  • Tier 5 of the points-based system (temporary workers)
  • Preventing illegal working and challenging civil penalties
  • Business visitors
  • Tier 1 (entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (investor) visas
  • Global mobility

All our immigration specialists are employment lawyers, meaning we can advise seamlessly on the immigration and employment law issues arising from any matter.

Complying with sponsor duties is vital for employers with a sponsor licence, especially if you rely on recruiting migrant workers to fill skills shortages. Breaching sponsor duties or immigration rules can lead to serious financial, operational and reputational risks. The ultimate sanctions include revocation of the licence by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), as well as civil and criminal penalties. We can keep you on track with our fixed-price mock compliance visits to ensure you comply.

All employers are obliged to carry out right to work checks – and a failure to do so could lead to criminal and civil liabilities. We can help you to identify any areas of risk with our fixed price right to work audits.

  • How we determine our price

    This section applies to our advice to you in respect of the preparation and submission of your immigration application. It does not, however, relate to any application for asylum or otherwise for entry to the UK where you believe that your rights may have been violated. Further, it does not apply to immigration advice for business.

    For more details on the services we offer, please see our website: https://www.weightmans.com/services/employment-pensions-and-immigration/business-immigration/

    We have set out below the fees that we would typically charge you for handling certain types of application. In some cases, if the circumstances of your case are more complex, we will let you know and we will provide you with a quote.

    For a straightforward application under the Immigration Rules, we estimate the cost to be around:

    •  Visit visas – between £1000 -£1500 plus VAT
    •  Spouse and partner applications, including fiancé(e)s or proposed Civil Partners - £1500-2000 plus VAT
    • Applications for work or business under the Points-Based System - £3000-4000 plus VAT
    • Dependent relative applications - around £1000-2000 plus VAT
    • Ancestry visas - £3000-4000 plus VAT
    • Other categories, such as applications on the basis of long residence / Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) - around £3000-4000 plus VAT
    • EEA applications - around £2000-3000 plus VAT.

    Please note that the fee range stated above reflects the work that we would expect to carry out in respect of a typical application, and would include:

    • considering documents
    • attending on you, the client
    • taking your instructions and advising you
    • preparing and submitting your application
    • advising you on timelines and the outcome of your application.

    What costs may arise?

    You may have to pay certain expenses and other costs to third parties. The costs and expenses most likely to arise are Home Office fees for making your application, which you must pay directly to the Home Office as part of the application process.

    A note of these fees can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visa-regulations-revised-table/8-october-2018

    Timescale and key stages of the process

    The timescales for advising on and the processing of an immigration application will depend on various factors, including the type of application being processed and the currently estimated timescales of the Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration department (UKVI), in addition to our own time in compiling the information we need and advising you.

    For example, an application for a general work visa (known as a Tier 2 visa application) will take a different amount of time depending on whether the application is made inside or outside of the UK and depending on whether it is made by post or in person. Timescales can be expedited by paying an additional fee in many cases. We can usually advise on a Tier 2 visa application and on whether you qualify, within a few days.

    If your prospective employer is required to advertise in the UK the position for which you are applying (by way of what is known as a “resident labour market test”), that may take 4-6 weeks to conclude. In some cases, further time will be needed to hear back from UKVI before an application can be processed.

    Visit visas can vary depending on which country you are applying from and on factors such as the length of the visa.

    Our timescales for giving advice vary depending on the type of application and the urgency of the matter. In many cases, it may take around 2-4 weeks for us to obtain information and paperwork from you to assist with your application before it is submitted. In some cases, we may be able to process an application more quickly. In other cases, if the matter is more complex it may take longer. We will advise you of the timescales and we will keep you updated.

    If you are applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK (ILR) or for an EEA permanent residence card, this can take up to six months from submission, in addition to the preparation time. In some cases, it may be longer.

    Who will be dealing with your application?

    Your application will typically be handled by a solicitor in our Employment, Pensions and Immigration (EPI) team, supported as necessary by our trainees/paralegals. A solicitor acting for you may be described in correspondence as a “Partner”, an “Associate” or a “Solicitor”. An Associate is, generally, more experienced than a “Solicitor”. Our trainees/paralegals are not (yet) solicitors, and usually have no other formal legal qualification.

    We will always ensure that the solicitor acting for you has the requisite level of experience to handle your case competently. In any event, all work will be supervised by a Partner, being the most senior member of the team allocated to you.

    If we do not provide you with a fixed fee quote, or if we do additional work for you which is outside our fixed fee quote, please note that our hourly rates (exclusive of VAT) for each type of solicitor or other team member who may be involved in your transaction, are as follows:

    Partner (London) £360 per hour
    Partner (outside London) £310 per hour
    Associate (London) £310 per hour
    Associate (outside London) £260 per hour
    Solicitor (London) £260 per hour
    Solicitor (outside London) £210 per hour
    Trainee (London) £210 per hour
    Trainee (outside London) £160 per hour
    Paralegal (London) £210 per hour
    Paralegal (outside London) £160 per hour

    If we need to rely on our hourly rates, we will endeavour to provide you with an estimate of the time that each member of the team is likely to take in order to conclude your application.

    Once you know who will be on the team allocated to your transaction, you will be able to find out more information about the team by visiting the EPI section on our website.

    If you have any queries, please contact Elaine McIlroy on 0141 404 9300 or at elaine.mcilroy@weightmans.com in the first instance.

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