Overseas Criminal Record Certificates – New Requirement for Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Applicants

In April 2015, the Government introduced the requirement for migrants applying for leave to enter the UK to provide an overseas criminal record certificate.

The Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced in July 2015 that from 1 September 2015, all those applying overseas for a Tier 1 (Investor) or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa will be required to provide a criminal record certificate from any country in which they have lived for 12 months or more in the previous 10 years. Any dependants aged 18 or above must also comply with the new provisions.

This requirement does not apply to those who are switching into or extending in the Tier 1 (Investor) or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) categories from within the UK.

The Government will introduce the requirement in phases, so as to learn lessons from its initial implementation before rolling it out in other categories. It is anticipated that it will be rolled out to other categories in early 2016.

Time is of the Essence

Processing times for obtaining a certificate vary significantly from country to country and will be greater if the person is no longer resident in that country. There is, for example, an overseas turnaround in the USA of up to 12 weeks.

Therefore, applicants will need to ensure that they apply for a criminal record certificate from the outset, taking into account the long processing times to avoid a potential delay in the submission of their Tier 1 application. They should also note that a criminal record certificate must have been issued in the six months prior to the date of the Tier 1 application.

The fees for the certificates also vary from country to country. Information on how to obtain certificates from various countries can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/criminal-records-checks-for-overseas-applicants

If the certificate is not in English the applicant will need to provide a certified translation.

There is a concession for applicants where it is not reasonably practicable to obtain a certificate from a particular country. However the applicant would need to provide evidence with the application to show that a concession should apply.

A failure to provide certificates from the relevant authorities will result in the Tier 1 application being refused.

Phased Implementation

Tier 2 sponsors would be advised to prepare for the requirement to be rolled out further to Tier 2 migrants in early 2016. It may therefore be advisable for any potential Tier 2 migrants hoping to start work in the UK next year to apply for a criminal record certificate in good time to avoid any delay in their start date next year.