Sunday, November 13, 2011

UK Border Agency issues new policy guidance on age 21 marriage visas following Quila and Bibi judgement

Following the recent Supreme Court judgment in the case of Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 45, the UK Border Agency has today announced new policy guidance for marriage visas, reinstating the minimum age to 18.

The Quila and Bibi case successfully challenged the requirement under paragraph 277 of the Immigration Rules for both foreign spouses and their sponsors in the UK to meet a minimum age of 21 before the foreign spouse could be granted a visa to enter or remain as a spouse or partner.

Paragraph 277 (along with other paragraphs of the Immigration Rules) was amended on 27 November 2008 to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21.

The UK Border Agency said:

‘The Supreme Court has ruled that, whilst they recognised that the Secretary of State was pursuing a legitimate and rational aim of seeking to address forced marriage, the change to the rule (increasing the minimum marriage visa age from 18 to 21) disproportionately interfered with the Article 8 rights of those who were in genuine marriages.’

The guidance affects applicants whose ‘applications for entry clearance or leave as a fiancĂ©(e), proposed civil partner, spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner were refused under paragraphs 277, 289AA, or 295AA of the Immigration Rules solely because they or their sponsor were aged between 18 and 20 and whose application was refused on that basis between 27 November 2008 and October 2011’.

This includes applications made inside or outside the UK. The guidance sets out how refused applicants can apply for a review of the original decision to refuse a visa which the agency say ‘might now result in a visa being issued’.

Changes to the Immigration Rules have been laid in Parliament today to reinstate a minimum age of 18 for a spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner and for their sponsor in order to qualify for entry clearance, leave to enter, leave to remain or a variation of leave on that basis. These rules will come into effect on 28 November 2011.

The new policy guidance explains how applicants affected by the judgment can request a review of an earlier refusal due to the age requirement by 31 May 2012.

Further information on how to request a review can be found under the partners and families section of the UKBA website, Husband, wife or civil partner, Unmarried or same-sex partner, and Fiance(e) or proposed civil partner categories. Source: UB Border Agency.

Speaking on the judgement last month the Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

“This is another very disappointing judgement, which overturns a policy that exists and is judged to be consistent with the ECHR in other European countries.

“The judges themselves agreed increasing the marriage visa age had a legitimate aim.

“We believe this decision will put vulnerable people at risk of being forced into marriage. We will come forward with our response in due course.”

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), which represented Amber and Diego Aguilar in their case, estimates the ruling could allow up to 5,000 foreign spouses to settle in the UK every year.

Habib Rahman of the JCWI said:

“This was a law introduced on the hoof, which had no discernible effect on forced marriage, but infringed on the rights of UK citizens to live in the UK with their partners.

“We are delighted to see it consigned to the scrap heap of misguided legislation.”

See also:

UK Border Agency ‘dumped’ missing asylum seeker cases

UK border force head suspended

Court overturns UK Government’s non-EU under 21 spouses ban

JCWI and ILPA update on Zambrano case

EctHR Judgment Bah v UK

UK Border Agency announce further changes to the student visa system

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Earn While You Learn with an NVQ QCF Vocational Qualification

NVQ’s or National Vocational Qualifications are work-related, competence-based qualifications introduced to train people in the workplace. They reflect the skills and knowledge needed to do a job effectively, and show that a candidate is competent in the area of work the NVQ represents.

Millions of ‘learners’ or students (resident and international learners on student visas) in the UK have taken NVQ courses covering a wide diversity of subjects ranging from Health and Social Care, Customer Service, Administration, IT and Hospitality and Catering.

Vocational qualifications in the UK have recently been revamped by the introduction of QCF or Qualifications and Credit Framework model, which gradually replaced NVQ’s during a transition period giving learners time to complete their course.

There are thousands of learners still finishing NVQ’s, which will still be a valid qualification, however, to make matters even more confusing, the qualification framework levels have also been changed. For instance, an NVQ level 4 management level qualification is equivalent to a QCF level 5.

Advantages and disadvantages of QCF and NVQ

The QCF, like an NVQ, is a system for recognising skills and qualifications in a vocational setting. It does this by awarding credit for qualifications and units (small steps of learning), with each unit holding a credit value. This value specifies the number of credits gained by learners who complete that unit.

The advantage and flexibility of the QCF system allows learners to gain qualifications at their own pace along routes that suit them best. Unlike an NVQ the QCF’s credit based system means that a student who fails to complete the entire award, certificate or diploma can gain recognised credits for their work rather than walking away empty handed.

The main drawback for the QCF will be employer recognition and acceptance. NVQ’s are a well known ‘brand’ understood by industry as the standard for vocational, as opposed to academic, learning. Critics have argued that the qualifications could have been updated without dropping the established ‘NVQ’ label.

NVQ’s and QCF qualifications are based on 'national occupational standards' laid down by the Government bodies and the Sector Skills Councils. These standards describe what competent people in a particular occupation are expected to be able to do. They cover all the main aspects of an occupation, including current best practice, the ability to adapt to future requirements and the knowledge and understanding that make competent performance.

Within reason, NVQ’s and QCF qualifications do not have to be completed in a specified amount of time. They can be taken by full-time employees or by school and college students with a work placement or part-time job that enables them to develop the appropriate skills. There are no age limits and no special entry requirements.

How are QCF’s/NVQ’s achieved?

QCF/NVQ’s are achieved through study, training and on-going assessment. Assessment is normally through on-the-job, work related observation and questioning. Candidates produce evidence to prove they have the competence to meet the standards. Assessors ‘sign-off’ units when the candidates are competent. The assessor tests candidates’ knowledge, understanding and work-based performance to make sure they can demonstrate competence in the workplace.

There are no exams, dissertations or complicated written work needed to gain a vocational qualification.

The UK qualifications regulator QFQUAL describes the new structure as simple yet flexible.

Every unit and qualification has a credit value and a level. One credit represents ten notional hours of learning, showing how much time the average learner would take to complete the unit or qualification. Levels indicate difficulty and vary from entry (1) to level 8. There are three types of qualification:
  • Awards (1 to 12 credits)
  • Certificates (13 to 36 credits)
  • Diplomas (37 credits or more)
You can have an award of any difficulty level from 1 to 8. This is because the type indicates the size of qualification, not its difficulty.

Comparing QCF with other qualifications

The title of a qualification should indicate its difficulty, how long it will take the average learner to complete, and its general content, using the following information:
  • Qualification level (from lowest, entry level to level 8 at the top)
  • Qualification size (award/certificate/diploma)
  • Content of the qualification
The title of a qualification you will enable you to judge the degree of difficulty, how long it will take the average person to complete and a good idea of the content.

To illustrate the level of difficulty of the units and qualifications in the new framework OFQUAL states that that GCSEs (grade A*–C) are at level 2, GCE A levels are at level 3, a Bachelors Degree would be at level 6, a Masters Degree at level 7 and a PhD is a level 8.

Where can you gain a QCF qualification?

You can find approved training centres all over the country. Colleges and centres must be assessed and approved by an official awarding body such as OCR, EDEXCEL or EDI in order to run QCF courses.

To ensure high standards are maintained, centres must demonstrate to the awarding body that they have competent tutors/assessors and IV’s (Internal Verifier) in place before approval is granted.

London Cactus College is an accredited NVQ/QCF Training Centre based in the north London/Edgware area, which has helped over 400 hundred students gain vocational qualifications in the last couple of years.

Who can take an NVQ/QCF vocational course?

In general anyone can take a vocational course provided they are able to demonstrate competence in a work based environment.

Some units within the QCF structure are purely 'knowledge based' and may be taken without the need for work based assessment.

The beauty of NVQ QCF courses is that you can earn while you learn and gain a valuable work based qualification, which employers love!

Bulgarian and Romanian students

NVQ and QCF courses previously proved popular with Bulgarian and Romanian citizens seeking to gain a practical work based UK qualification whilst studying and working on a 'yellow card' registration (BR1).

Like other overseas students, many EU students already have academic qualifications in their own country which have not led them into the work place. Taking a vocational course will give them the practical skills to enable them to find a job.

The vocational or work based element of the course allows Croatian students to work full time whilst studying. Employers usually welcome NVQ/QCF students because their course relates to the work they are doing and training helps drive up standards. Students like vocational courses because they can ‘earn while they learn’.

After 12 months of continuous full time study and work Croatians can apply for UK residence Blue Card.

For more information on immigration rules for Croatian citizens who wish to work and study in the UK email me, visit the Home Office website or see an OISC registered immigration adviser.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ecademy Marketplace: London Mayor's new attack on UK Immigration Cap

Ecademy Marketplace: London Mayor's new attack on UK Immigration Cap

Ecademy Marketplace: UK Border Agency to continue crackdown on illegal working

Ecademy Marketplace: UK Border Agency to continue crackdown on illegal working

Ecademy Marketplace: UKBA arrest three in people trafficking seaside brothel

Ecademy Marketplace: UKBA arrest three in people trafficking seaside brothel

Ecademy Marketplace: UK courts flooded with extradition requests, report finds

Ecademy Marketplace: UK courts flooded with extradition requests, report finds

Ecademy Marketplace: BBC programme investigates abuse of migrant Care Workers

Ecademy Marketplace: BBC programme investigates abuse of migrant Care Workers