UK immigration woes.
September 2, 2010 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Complicated UK immigration question revolving around my new found EU permanent residency.

I am a New Zealander who lived in the UK on a 2 year working visa last year, this has now run out. The only ancestral ties I have to the UK are from the 1850's so that is not an option. I am wanting to move back to the UK in 2012, what is my easiest option?

1. I am married to a Bulgarian citizen, have been for two years. Now have a child. I am about to get permanent residency here.
2. In 2012 Bulgaria gets full EU rights.
3. I own a company in the UK with 2 friends that I work for. We make television programmes for a UK channel.

What is my best option to get a UK work permit in 2012? Does EU permanent residency mean anything? I know the UK has opted out of most things. Is through marriage the easier option? Or should our company sponsor me?

It all seems very complicated and expensive, thanks for any ideas.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Sponsorship is a tough option at the moment. What about hsmp? Assuming you have a degree. Not sure if pr would help you, but presumably your wife will move and you could apply as her dependent? On my phone now, will post more later.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:20 PM on September 2, 2010

My reading of this is that a Bulgarian national working in a self employed capacity does not need permission to work in the UK. That's the kind of stranger on the internet advice I would disregard before talking to someone who was an expert though.
posted by IanMorr at 12:50 PM on September 2, 2010

I have a degree, but they recently bumped that up to needing a Masters to get the points. I may still meet other requirements. I am thinking going as my wife's dependent is looking like the best option, but not sure if she needs a job or not as I would be the one with work....hmmm.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 12:51 PM on September 2, 2010

Is your spouse working in the UK now? Would your spouse like to work in the UK in the future?

Basically, your best bet would probably be to use your Bulgarian spouse's EU rights to assert your right to work in the UK. As the spouse of an EU citizen, you have practically the same rights as him/her, provided he/she is exercising EU rights in the country you want to live in.

There is more about it here.

As she is Bulgarian, you might have a few more hoops to jump through, but getting the EEA2 could be much easier (and cheaper!) than a work permit.
posted by brambory at 1:22 PM on September 2, 2010

Thanks, it's pretty much what I suspected. The good thing is in 2012 the UK is removing the extra hoops needed for Bulgarians and Romanians. We both want to move to the UK from Bulgaria, so her sponsoring me as her dependent seems the best option. I'm just wondering if she needs to have work in the UK to sponsor me? Or just her being an EU citizen and living there is enough to bring me in? I'm worried that she would have to go there first and all that painfulness.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 2:54 PM on September 2, 2010

I have a degree, but they recently bumped that up to needing a Masters to get the points.

They've changed that again, you no longer need a Masters. But I think they've made it harder (don't know exact details as I'm grandfathered in because I came here under the old regime). Might be worth a look, especially as they base it on income and set different limits depending on where you live - I'd imagine the income requirements in Bulgaria would be quite low.

I'm just wondering if she needs to have work in the UK to sponsor me?

I strongly suspect not. When I came here originally from NZ, I came as Ms Jest's dependent. She was on the HSMP Tier 1, and did not have a job lined up or anything. We're both NZ citizens and aren't even married or civil unioned. (it's not really 'sponsorship', either, you're just travelling as their dependent; as your child would be.) Oh, worth mentioning that you might need a bit more cash if you go this route - for us it was £2800+£800 per dependent - not sure if that would apply as she is Bulgarian.

Just to expand on my original comments about sponsorship: there has been a big crackdown on sponsorship in the last year or so. Prospective sponsors already needed to be registered and jump through a number of hoops. Now they are being allowed to sponsor fewer employees (big complaints here from e.g. the big law firms, because the new limit is based on the number of foreigners they sponsored last year, minus a lot. But last year they hired an exceptionally low number of foreigners due to the downturn...).
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:18 AM on September 3, 2010

Thanks Infinite Jest, that is good information. That would be great if it doesn't matter about her having a job and I'm just considered a dependent. Saving lots of money living in Bulgaria, so no problem about showing we have cash to support ourselves. So it seems going as a dependent is the easiest and cheapest route. Thanks everyone.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 4:46 AM on September 3, 2010

You are not her dependent, you are her spouse. The spouse (you) inherits the same EU rights as the person they are married to.

I am an American living in working in the UK. My wife is from Portugal. I work. She doesn't.

In general, an EU citizen asserts their right to live and work in the United Kingdom by, essentially showing that they do not intend to be a burden on the UK.

The pages you need are right here: UK Border Agency: Rights and Responsibilities of EU citizens. In particular:

If the EEA national is from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia, their non-EEA family members cannot apply for a residence card until the EEA national has completed 12 months' continuous employment in the UK. Until that time, each non-EEA national family member can apply for a family member residence stamp to confirm their right of residence under European law.

So, you can do that now. With full EU rights, your wife does not have to actually work here, she just needs to assert right of residency. You can do that in several ways but the relevant forms are on the right-hand side of this page which details how you apply for residency.

I just filed an EEA2 which gave me a temporary residence stamp which lasts for 5 years. After that, I apply for permanent residency. My wife hasn't filled out a single form (although she has provided supporting information for my form)

Let me know if you have any questions.
posted by vacapinta at 8:31 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I should also mention that I entered the UK on an EEA Family Permit while I waited for my residence card.

I got the EEA Family Permit at a British Embassy in the US. The process took about 2 days.
posted by vacapinta at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2010

You are not her dependent, you are her spouse

I'm once again grateful to vacapinta for correcting/clarifying my comments in an immigration thread. FWIW, 'dependent' is the term used for other visas, and includes spouse as well as unmarried partners. Strange that they use different terminology between the visas. (And in my case, 'dependent' doesn't necessarily imply that I'm actually dependent on Ms Jest...)

Sounds like there's no need to give further info on the current HSMP or sponsorship rules, anyway.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:47 AM on September 4, 2010

EU rights are strange territory, Infinite Jest.

Things like Residence Cards are not technically visas but a confirmation of a right. That is, theoretically, I shouldn't have to have a Residence Card since my marriage (provable I guess by a marriage certificate) to an EU citizen is what grants me the right to live and work in any EU country, including the UK. Practically, however, it makes more sense for me to provide all my documentation once and then be issued a Residence Card which I can carry around and show employers, for example.

The Right of Residence directive does actually give a requirement which I briefly mentioned above:

Family members who do not have the nationality of a Member State enjoy the same rights as the citizen who they have accompanied.....


The right of residence for more than six months remains subject to certain conditions. Applicants must:

* either be engaged in economic activity (on an employed or self-employed basis);
* or have sufficient resources and sickness insurance to ensure that they do not become a burden on the social services of the host Member State during their stay. The Member States may not specify a minimum amount which they deem sufficient, but they must take account of personal circumstances;
* or be following vocational training as a student and have sufficient resources and sickness insurance to ensure that they do not become a burden on the social services of the host Member State during their stay;
* or be a family member of a Union citizen who falls into one of the above categories.

From my experience, the vaguest part is 'sufficient resources' but if you have savings and are getting a reasonable income, then there should be no problem.

UK Resident is a good resource for all this. Look for their 'European track' forums.
posted by vacapinta at 1:23 PM on September 4, 2010

Thanks Vacapinta, that is very helpful seeing as you are in the same position. I will have to study all the details. Looks like we will be fine in 2012 then, when Bulgaria has the same full rights as a country like Portugal.

It's really great to read what someone else has done as I am exhausted by filing for visas and permits over the last four years in New Zealand, the UK and Bulgaria; and now I have a 1 month old son with whom i'll have to do it all over again.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 1:26 AM on September 5, 2010

There's another very important distinction here.

If you read news about UK crackdowns on immigration, well, you can relax and ignore those. Notice the articles always say "Non-EU migrants." They cannot limit the number of EU migrants without directly violating EU law.
posted by vacapinta at 6:44 AM on September 6, 2010

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