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Applying For A UK Visa From France

The process of securing permission to visit, study, or work in the UK as a French national at the time of writing this article could not be easier. While the UK has left the EU, we are still in the transition period, which lasts until the end of 2020. This allows EU citizens to continue to exercise their treaty rights of free movement in the UK, and vice versa. As such, there is no need to apply for a visa; French and other EU citizens can simply jump on a ferry, train, or plane, show their EU passport at the UK border, and ‘voila’, can go about their business, free from restrictions.

From 2021, however, this will change, and depending on the purpose of their visit, French nationals may need to apply for a visa. In this article, we will outline how the new post-Brexit immigration system for work and study in the UK will work for French and EU nationals. For the purposes of clarity, this article applies where a French national does not already have EU Pre-Settled or Settled Status in the UK (and hence would have the right of residence in the UK).

The latest Government guidance confirms that EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals will not need a visa if travelling to the UK for a short visit or holiday. The guidance states, “EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for entry clearance in advance”.

Applying for A UK Work Visa As A French National From 2021

From 1st January 2021, if you are a French national and you would like to work in the UK, you will need to apply for a work visa following the same process as non-EEA/EU nationals. The precise immigration rules for work visas are currently being worked out by the Home Office, but we do know that a new points-based system will now apply for all countries, whether inside the EU or outside. Some details of the new system have been published by the Home Office.

The Skilled Worker Route

The main work visa route used by most migrants to the UK at present is the Tier 2 (general) work visa; this will now be called the Skilled Worker Route. To apply for a Skilled Worker visa in the UK, applicants will need to have a job offer from a licensed UK sponsoring employer for a role at RQF skill level 3 or higher. One of the main changes to the work visa system for 2021 is that the skills threshold that applicants need to meet is now lower (falling from degree level to a college-level qualification). Applicants also need to meet the salary requirement of £25,600 per year (this can be reduced to £20,480 by ‘trading points’). This minimum salary has been reduced considerably from the current threshold of £30,000, reflecting the UK government’s acknowledgement that this is needed to increase the number of international skilled workers in the UK.

The process of applying will be completed online, and the process of providing your biometric information will be completed by using a smartphone app. This is different to the process for non-EU applicants who need to visit a UK visa application centre in their home country to have their photo and fingerprints taken. More details regarding how the new UK points-based immigration system will work can be found online.

Other Work Visa Routes

A number of other work visa types will be available to French nationals seeking to work in the UK from 2021, including the global talent scheme and the graduate route. The global talent scheme is designed to attract and fast-track immigration applications from international workers with the greatest level of skills. Specifically, this visa route is aimed at top scientists, researchers and mathematicians, and candidates will not need a job offer in order to apply.

The new graduate immigration route is designed to encourage international students who have completed their course of study to stay in the UK to work or look for work of any skill level for two years (or three years for those with PhDs).

Studying In The UK As A French National From 2021

If you are a French national planning to study in the UK after 1st January 2021, you will need to apply for a UK Student visa. This visa replaces what was referred to as the Tier 4 (general) student visa (and is broadly identical). You will be able to apply for a Student visa up to six months before your course starts. To secure a Student visa, you will need an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed student sponsor as evidenced by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You can apply for a Student visa for any of the following course types :

  • a full-time course leading to a qualification that’s below degree level (RQF level 3, 4 or 5) with at least 15 hours a week of organised daytime study
  • a full-time course leading to a qualification that’s degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8)
  • a full-time course at degree level or above (RQF level 6,7 or 8) that’s equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas
  • a part-time course leading to a qualification that’s above degree level (RQF level 7 or above)
  • a recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists
  • an English language course at level B2 or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Final Words

This article only touches on the basics when it comes to applying for a UK visa from January 1st 2021. If you need any assistance regarding which visa to apply for, how to apply, or whether you are eligible, speak to an immigration Solicitor in the UK who will be able to quickly advise and guide you.

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