I have written this article based on personal experience with UK Immigration for Philippines citizens. With what you will go through to achieve the visa. I will add a few specific figures and facts. But I want to write mainly about the parts you will not be told when you apply for a visa to come, live and work in the UK.
This is also an article based on a one of the parties being British. If both parties are on UK Visas it is even more complicated.
Why the UK
So why do Filipinos try to get to the UK and expose themselves to the UK Immigration system? The main reason is money. There are more reasons, such as Filipinas who want to come to the UK with their partners on a spouse visa or an Unmarried Partner visa. The main pull is that the UK has a minimum wage system.
If you consider minimum wage in Manila Philippines 2022 is 537PHP per day, which works out as £7.37 per day! In the UK minimum wage in London is £11.07 and everywhere else is £9.90. So for a full day’s work in London on minimum wage would work out as 6061PHP or 5421PHP elsewhere.
There is a huge difference and a massive pull for Filipinos to come to the UK.
Before I go on to talk about married and unmarried partner visas. I want to say a little about work visas.
A company that wants to employ foreign workers must first apply for a sponsor License (formally a Tier 2 license). This allows UK-based companies to use skilled workers who are based overseas or within the UK (applicants can “switch” into the Skilled Worker visa from most other visa types, for example, Tier 4 Student and Tier 2 visas, not visit visas).
The company will then advertise appropriately, and foreign workers can apply.
You need a job offer from one of these companies to get a work visa, and legitimate companies will cover all your costs, including the flight to the UK.
If anyone in the UK claims to be able to get you a work visa, but you need to send money for the application, it is a SCAM. If anyone in the UK says they can get you a work visa to come and look for a job, it is a SCAM.
My contact details are on this blog, and I am happy to advise anyone from the Philippines who has doubts over a job offer from a UK company, especially if they are asking for money.
Do not send money or documents if you are in doubt until you contact me.
The current list of UK companies licensed to process work Visas is in this link.
The Hostile Environment
In 2021 the UK Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the “Hostile Environment” to the immigration system. The plan was to make the UK so unbearable for undocumented workers that they would voluntarily leave on their own.
Unfortunately, this had a massive impact on people going through the UK Immigration system legally and legitimately wanting to come and live or work in the UK.
I had never had dealings with the UK Immigration system, but now I have. I can see why people dread it.
The immigration office in London employs people to review and make decisions on your application. They are told to find “ANY” way to legitimately reject applications. For us that choose to go through the process legitimately, it will cause massive stress, emotional pain and expense.
If your application is rejected, most people give up and choose another country or try and find the money to pay lawyers to appeal the decision, if indeed you have the right to appeal.
Just to give you an idea of the costs involved in 2003, an application for “Indefinite leave to remain” would cost £150. Now in 2022, the same application is going to cost you £2400.
So, with all that is required and the risks to your money, you need an immigration lawyer first and foremost. I spent a long time calling various UK immigration lawyers, trying to find a company that would look at my case and find one who cared about my case, not just the money I could bring to the table.
Most law firms only wanted easy jobs. They wanted a quick turnaround to achieve a better income. They all told me my case was impossible and to forget it. Other firms wanted an incredible amount of money just to look at the case.
The law firm I ended up with was incredible. They cared, they listened, and their rates were reasonable. The company was https://fivestarinternational.co.uk/, and they took on my “hopeless” case and got the visa the first time.
So, you will need a good lawyer.
Then there is the visa cost itself, and for an unmarried partner visa in 2022, this is £1523.
And the contentious one is the NHS Surcharge non-refundable cost of £2000. I say this is contentious because you pay this on the off chance you need to use the NHS during the first three years of your visa.
When it comes to renewing your visa. You will be expected to pay another £2000 NHS surcharge for another three years.
Once you start working in the UK, you will pay income tax and National Insurance Tax. If you ask the government, “Why do I need to pay the NHS Surcharge again. I am working and paying National Insurance contributions?”. The government will tell you that your National Insurance contributions don’t pay for the NHS, only your pension.
If this was true, then why did the government announce in 2021 that as of April 2022, National Insurance contributions were increasing to get more money into the NHS?
There is no way to fight this charge, as it all needs to be paid upfront before your application is reviewed.
So, this article basically covered the costs and attitude towards certain visas. I hope will prevent some Filipinos getting scammed by so called UK Immigration agencies.
Next week I will talk about all that is involved in your application. So you can prepare for the emotional rollercoaster you are about to embark on.
My details are in the About page, get in touch if you have any questions.