How Do UK Visa Applications from Dubai Work?
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s departure from the European Union, the UK continues to be a highly attractive destination for migrants, whether for work, study, travel, or to visit family members. Great Britain has a great deal to offer; four countries in one – England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland; an incredibly rich cultural history, some of the best modern and historical architecture in the world, a vibrant and innovative economy, a robust road, rail, and air transport network, and easy access to continental Europe.
According to the official statistics, net migration from non-EU countries has been gradually rising since 2013 (a quarter of a million more non-EU nationals arrived in the UK than left in the year up to September 2019). This is significant as it represents the largest increase in non-EU immigration to the UK on record. Most non-EU citizens come to the UK to study (165,000 students in the year to September 2019). There has also been a general increase in the number of non-EU citizens coming to the UK to work since 2013, with 78,000 people arriving with a definite job in the year to September 2019. In this article, we will discuss how the immigration system works for nationals of Dubai, who wish to study, work, travel, or visit family members in the UK.
The UK Immigration System
The UK immigration system provides several immigration routes for those who wish to come to the country to work, study, travel, or visit family members. The family immigration system also enables those from outside of the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) to join their spouse/partner, parents, or other family members. Work and study visas in the UK both require prospective migrants to be sponsored by an employer or educational establishment. The application process for most visas can be completed online in your home country, and you will need to visit your local visa application centre (VAC) to have your photograph taken, and fingerprints scanned.
Crucially, before applying for any visa in the UK, it is essential that you a) ensure you meet all of the applicable eligibility criteria, and b) you have all of the documents and evidence required by the Home Office. Due to the myriad of immigration rules and criteria, it is all too common for applications to be rejected for not meeting one of the criteria, such as the financial or English language requirements.
The easiest way to verify if you need a visa to come to the UK from Dubai is to use the visa checker service on the Home Office website. Based on your country of origin, and the purpose of your trip, you will be advised which visa to apply for.
Making A Trip of Up to Six Months from The UAE To The UK
Nationals of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are eligible for a special exemption from needing a visa if planning to travel to the UK for up to six months for the purposes of tourism, business, study, or medical treatment. You will be given an electronic visa waiver (EVW). Applying for an EVW as a national of Dubai is extremely straightforward and can be completed online anywhere between three months and 48 hours before you travel to the UK. You will then receive your EVW by email within 24 hours. The visa cost is £30.
Making A Trip of More Than Six Months from The UAE To The UK
If your intention is to spend more than six months in the UK, you will need to apply for the correct visa type according to the purpose of your stay.
Working in the UK
There are several UK work visa routes catering for different circumstances. The Tier 2 system is designed for long-term skilled workers to come to the UK. The most popular visa is the Tier 2 (general) work visa which allows skilled applicants with a job to stay for up to five years (at which point they will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain, meaning they can live permanently in the UK). The Tier 2 system also includes the Intra-Company Transfer Visa, allowing non-EEA workers from an international company to work in a branch office or subsidiary in the UK.
Tier 5 visas are designed for temporary use (typically up to one or two years) for sportspeople, those in the arts and entertainment, volunteers, charities, and representatives of religious organisations.
Studying in the UK
If you are currently based in the UAE and plan to come to the UK to study for a course of longer than six months (e.g., for a degree, Masters, or PhD), you will firstly need to be offered a place at an approved educational establishment. Once offered a place, you will be given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) by your course provider, which can then be used to apply for a student visa. In order to apply for a student visa, you will also need to meet the financial requirement (showing that you can support yourself financially in the UK), and you will need to prove your knowledge of the English language (to a standard equivalent to CEFR level B2 if you are planning to do a degree in the UK).
There are a wide range of visa types in the UK, with the correct one for you depending on the reason you are coming to the UK, your plans (i.e. whether you plan to stay in the UK long term or permanently), and whether you have family members already in the UK. As a non-EEA national, if you are a family member of an EU national living in the UK, you may also be able to make an application to live in the UK using the EU Settlement Scheme family permit or EEA family permit routes. If you are unsure of the best immigration route for your needs, speak to an immigration Solicitors who will be able to assess your needs and recommend a plan of action, and if needed, make your application on your behalf.