Can I still apply for Naturalisation if I do not meet the absences requirement?

Naturalisation is a process in which a foreign national who is free from immigration time restrictions can apply to become a British citizen. Becoming a British citizen is a significant life event; but Naturalisation is not an entitlement. The application process for Naturalisation is subject to legal and residence requirements, which, can be waived to certain extend, but cannot be ignored altogether.

The residence requirements for Naturalisation include the absences requirement, which is a particularly sore subject due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic due to the associated borders closure and flights cancellations. Thankfully, the Secretary of State has powers to exercise discretion and to waive the absences requirement.

In this article we wish to discuss how discretion can be exercised in relation to the excess of the absences limits.

Residence requirement for Naturalisation

If the applicant is married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, they need to have met the 3-year lawful continuous residence requirement upon application (s.6(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981) and be free from immigration time restrictions on the date of application. If not, the applicant needs to have met the 5-year lawful continuous residence requirement, and they need to be free from immigration time restrictions for 12 months before applying for naturalisation (s.6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981). This is known as the qualifying period.

For Naturalisation applications under s.6(1), in the qualifying period of 5 years, the number of days of absences (number of days the applicant was away from the UK) should be no more than 450 days. For applications under s.6(2), the applicant’s days of absences within the qualifying period of 3 years should be no more than 270 days. In addition, in the final year of the qualifying period, the applicant’s absences should be no more than 90 days.

What if the applicant does not meet the above requirements, for instance, having exceeded the days of absences? Prospective applicants should not feel discouraged as this does not mean the Naturalisation application will be automatically refused. According to the Home Office guidance document, where an applicant has spent more than 450 days for s.6(1) applications, or 270 days for s.6(2) applications, outside of the UK during the qualifying period, caseworkers must consider exercising discretion if applicants meet other requirements.

The applicant has absences of more than 450/270 days during the qualifying period

Where the applicant has exceed the permitted absences by 30 days, the caseworker when determining the application must exercise discretion unless there are other grounds on which the application falls for refusal.

Where the applicant has absences of 480-900 days when applying under s.6(1) or 300-540 days when applying under s.6(2), caseworkers are advised to only consider exercising discretion where the applicant has ‘established their home, employment, family and finances in the UK’. In addition, applicants also need to meet one or more of the following requirements.

  • At least 2 years residence (for s.6(1) applications) or 1 year (for s.6(2) applications) without substantial absences immediately before the start of the qualifying period. If the absence is above 730 days (for s.6(1) applications) or 450 days (for s.6(2) applications), the residence without substantial absences should be at least 3 or 2 years respectively.
  • The excess absences are the result of postings abroad in Crown service or in service designated under s.2(3) of the 1981 Act, or accompanying a British citizen spouse or civil partner on an appointment overseas.
  • The excess absences were an unavoidable consequence of the nature of the applicant’s career, such as a merchant seaman or employment with frequent travel abroad.
  • Exceptionally compelling reasons of an occupational or compassionate nature to justify naturalisation, such as a firm job offer where British citizenship is mandatory.
  • The excess absences were because the applicant was unable to return to the UK because of a global pandemic.

The applicant has absences of more than 90 days in the final year of the qualifying period

Home Office caseworkers are advised to only exercise discretion for excessive absences during the final year of the qualifying period for s.6(1) applications if the future intentions requirement is met. The purpose of the requirement is that applicants wishing to be naturalised as British citizens should not already have decided, or intend, to break their links with the UK. Caseworkers usually determine the future intentions of applicants based on past behaviour.

Where the future intentions requirement is met for s.6(1) applications, or where the applicant is applying under s.6(2), caseworkers then need to look at the days of absences in the final year of qualifying period, and whether the residence requirement across the qualifying period is met.

For instance, if the days of absences in the final year are 100 or less, caseworkers would exercise discretion. Where the absences are 100-180, and the residence requirement throughout the qualifying period is met, discretion is only exercised if the applicant demonstrates strong links through presence of family, employment and their home in the UK. If the residence requirement is not met, they also have to prove that the absence is due to Crown service or by compelling occupational or compassionate reasons.

If the days of absences in the final year are over 180, where the applicant has met the overall residence requirement, discretion can be exercised if only the applicant has demonstrated that they have made the UK their home. If they are over 180 and the overall residence requirement is not met, discretion can only be exercised if the applicant has demonstrated that they have made this country their home, and that there are exceptional circumstances.


It is reassuring that the Home Secretary can exercise discretion in circumstances where the absences requirement has not been fully met. Whether the excess in absences has been the result of the ongoing pandemic, or an unavoidable consequence of the nature of the applicant’s career, it might be worth attempting the application relying on discretion.

If you would like to apply for naturalisation and you believe that discretion would be beneficial to your application, please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration team. At Chan Neill Solicitors LLP, we understand the nuances of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures well. Across our team, we speak many languages including Mandarin, Cantonese, Gujarati, Russian, French, Korean, Portuguese, Hungarian and Spanish. With access to our solicitors at two locations, one in City and one in Mayfair, we cover a very broad spectrum of varying clients’ needs.

Please note that requirements may vary from case to case based on the nuances of your situation, and the information on this page is not intended to replace legal advice.

What can I expect from a passport interview?

Becoming a British Citizen is a significant event in one’s life. In order to fully enjoy the rights as a new Brit, following the approval of a Naturalisation application, it is a mandatory requirement to attend a Citizenship Ceremony, and then apply for a first British passport. On a remark, children are granted a Certificate of Registration instead and are not required to attend the Citizenship Ceremony, unless have turned 18 during the application process for registration.

It is a common misconception that a British passport confers a right to British nationality. The British Nationality is conferred by the Certificate of Naturalisation, which is issued during the Citizenship Ceremony. The passport is merely a travel document, but an important one if one needs to travel abroad or prove their right to reside in the UK.

As a part of the application procedure for a first British passport, it can be expected that an applicant is invited to take part in an identity interview.  The invitation for an interview is usually sent to those, who are 16 or over, or likely to become 16 before they are issued with a British passport. Nowadays, it is extremely rare that adult applicants are invited for an interview, therefore, this article aims at children aged 16 and over.

Many fear this process; however, there is nothing to worry about. The interview merely helps the passport issuing authority to confirm the applicant’s identity and that the passport application, in fact, belongs to the applicant. The interview is an important part of the process to help reducing identity fraud. In other words, if you are who you claim to be, there is nothing to be afraid of.

The British passport interview lasts approximately 20-30 minutes during which the applicant is expected to answer the following set of questions (which may vary):

  • Their full name and spelling of their name
  • The full name of parent(s) and their current occupation
  • Their current and previous residential address(es) in the UK and abroad
  • The name and address of their school(s) and the name of their teacher(s)
  • The full names of their closest friends in the UK

Naturally, the answers to these questions should be familiar to the applicant and they are expected to answer these questions without overthinking.

If the interviewer is satisfied with the information provided, the British passport should then be issued without delays.

If you are concerned about your prospective passport interview or you may have questions regarding your visas, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team. At Chan Neill Solicitors LLP, we understand the nuances of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures well. Across our team, we speak many languages including Mandarin, Cantonese, Gujarati, Russian, French, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. With access to our solicitors at two locations, one in City and one in Mayfair, we cover a very broad spectrum of varying clients needs.

Please note that requirements may vary from case to case based on the nuances of your situation, and the information on this page is not intended to replace legal advice.



What is the Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme and how can this address the current shortages of workers in the UK?

After 2013, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) was closed as the government thought that the lower-skilled labour in the horticultural sector could be replaced by migrant workers through freedom of movement from the A8 countries. Six years and one Brexit referendum later, the UK government has announced the Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme in 2019, which allows migrants to come to the UK to work in edible horticultural jobs temporarily. This article will give a brief overview of the current Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme and how this has addressed the shortages of workers in the horticultural sector in the UK.

Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme

The Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme was first announced on 6 March 2019. This scheme allows workers to come to the UK to work on farms for up to six months within one calendar year. This scheme allows the pilot operators to recruit temporary migrant workers for specific roles in the horticulture sector. As a response to the success of the initial pilot for 2019 and 2020 and the growing demand of seasonal migrant workers in the edible horticultural and agricultural sector, the UK government announced that 30,000 seasonal worker visa will be made available in 2021, three times the amount compared to 2020. Following the end of EU Freedom of Movement, this scheme has also become available to EEA citizens.

Under the scheme, the Pilot Operator may not source labour for themselves, but only as a third-party provider, whereas in the pre-2013 Seasonal Agriculture Workers Scheme growers were licensed to recruit their own labour.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has identified that approximately 50,000 workers are employed seasonally on UK farms. The government also voiced their concern that the sector should show ‘greater urgency in modernising its business practices through automation for labour substitution and the recruitment of domestic UK workers’.

However, most of the employers in these sectors have become reliant on temporary migrant workers over the years, and the response to Pick for Britain campaign has shown that the current supply of domestic UK workers is limited as an estate of only 5-11% of Britons have taken up the 70,000 harvesting roles in 2020. If anything, it has highlighted the demand for seasonal migrant workers. In the short term, the demand for migrant workers in the seasonal sectors such as edible horticultural still remains.

Seasonal Worker Visa Requirements

Seasonal Worker Visas applicants and sponsors are subject to validity, eligibility, financial and other requirements as set out by the Home Office in the Immigration Rules.

First, the applicant needs to meet requirements for entry clearance such as fees, biometrics, valid passport, as well as receiving a Certificate of Sponsorship (referred to as “CoS” hereinafter) from a sponsor (the Pilot Operator employer). The applicant needs to be aged over 18 and applications can be made as early as three months before the start date of the role.

Second, the CoS must have been issued by a sponsor which has an endorsement from Defra in relation to the seasonal worker route; is licensed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority; and is listed as A-rated on the Home Office’s published register of licensed sponsors; and is still approved as a sponsor on the date on which the application is decided.

The job offer must not have been withdrawn since the CoS has been issued. The CoS must also not have been used in a previous application that was already decided, and must state the role is in the edible horticultural sector, which means those growing protected vegetables, field vegetables, soft fruit, top fruit, vines and bines, and mushrooms.

Third, on application a financial requirement has to be met by either the applicant or the sponsor. The applicant must show that they have held £1,270 for a 28-day period and as specified in Appendix Finance. Alternatively, the sponsor can certify that they will maintain and accommodate the applicant up to the end of the first month of employment up to at least the amount of £1,270.

Once the application has been approved, the applicant will be granted permission to work in the UK for either the period of the role on the CoS plus 14 days before and after, or a maximum of a 6 months stay in any 12-month period, whichever is shorter. The applicant will also have no access to public funds and the work is only permitted in the role the applicant is being sponsored for. The applicant is, however, permitted to study, subject to the ATAS condition.

Uptake of the Seasonal Worker Visa Pilot Scheme

According to the Managed Migration Datasets published by the Home Office, Since the introduction of the Pilot, the number of applications has increased year on year. The total number of applications made for this visa in the year of 2019 was 2,494. In 2020, despite the economic downturn and restrictions resulted from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the number of applications made in Q2 2020 alone was more than the whole year of 2019, at 3,229. Following the extension of the pilot and the increasing of the cap to 30,000 at the end of December 2020, this combination has resulted in a huge increase in the number of applications of this visa. In Q1 2021, the number of applications were 4,035 and in Q2 2021 alone the figure skyrocketed to 12,375.

When looking at the countries of origin of the applications, Ukraine, in particular, has been the most responsive country to this scheme, with 20,504 applications having been made since the pilot has opened to Ukrainian nationals. In Q2 2021, 8760 applications were made. Following Ukraine, the countries with more than 1,000 applications are Russia, Georgia and Moldova, with 1,427, 1,239 and 1,064 applications having been made respectively since the launch of the scheme for these countries. In total, as of Q2 2021, nationals of 45 countries have submitted applications to the Pilot.

Most applications under this visa category were approved.  From the launch of the pilot scheme in Q1 2019, 26,182 visa applications have been made and 25,975 visas have been issued under this scheme by the end of Q2 2021.

The above data have shown the response to this pilot has been positive, and that the scheme has provided temporary relief of seasonal labour shortages in the UK edible horticultural sector. As the current extension of the pilot is still ongoing, we await the figures for Q3 and Q4 2021 to understand the full extent of the uptake and response of the current extended pilot, particularly from EEA citizens.


One of the objectives of the Extended Pilot is to determine whether the Pilot might provide a longer-term model for responding to seasonal labour shortages in this sector. From the dataset published by the Home Office in relation to this Pilot, it is evident that migrants are responding to this visa route as the number of applications have increased almost eightfold, when comparing first halves of 2019 and 2021.The Pilot has temporarily alleviated shortages in the horticulture sector, and has helped to gather information for the Home Office, Defra, and employers in the horticulture sector, to get a possible approach for seasonal labour in the future. The Scheme has also been used to bring poultry workers and HGV fuel tanker drivers to address the current shortages.

If you have any enquiries, please contact us.

Update on the UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents under Covid 19

According to the latest regulation published on the government website on 28th Sept 2021, If you’re in the UK.

You are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so or apply to regularise your stay in the UK. You are allowed to access Visa and Immigration services as these are considered an essential public service. You must follow current COVID-19 rules for where you live, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you intend to leave the UK to return to a country or territory currently listed red but have not been able to do so and you have a visa, leave or ‘exceptional assurance’ that expires before 30 November 2021 you may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’.

There may also be exceptional cases where you may be unable to return to a country or territory listed as green where that nation has closed their borders or where quarantine facilities are temporarily over-subscribed in which cases you may also request ‘exceptional assurance’.

Please submit your request for an ‘exceptional assurance’ by emailing with the following details:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
  • type of visa
  • expiry date of visa
  • reason for request
  • evidence of flight or evidence showing reason you can’t leave

The subject header of your email should read “Request for an assurance”.

In your email you should attach evidence to show why you cannot leave the UK. For example, if you can’t leave the UK because you cannot find a flight before your leave/visa expires, you will need to submit a copy of a confirmed flight ticket or evidence of flight unavailability.

During the time in which your request for ‘exceptional assurance’ is pending you will continue on the conditions as per your current or most recently expired visa.

If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your ‘exceptional assurance’. ‘Exceptional assurance’ does not grant you leave. It is a means to protect those who are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions and not to facilitate travel, other than to return home.

If you’ve already been given assurance but your circumstances have changed or you’re unable to leave the UK by the assurance date previously given, you must reapply using the process above. You will need to clearly state that you’re making a subsequent application. You’ll be asked to provide new supporting evidence.

If you intend to stay in the UK

In order to remain in the UK, you will need to apply for the relevant permission to stay. Where eligible, you’ll be able to submit a permission to stay application form from within the UK.

You can make an application for permission to stay in the UK if you hold permission in a route that would normally allow you to do so.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee. You will not be able to apply for a route for which there is no provision in the Immigration Rules for making an in-country application, such as T5 Youth Mobility Scheme, or Adult Dependant Relative.

The terms of your current permission will remain the same until your application is decided. If you are switching into work or study routes you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration, depending on the terms of your current permission.

You are also able to apply for permission to stay to remain in the UK if you have been issued with an ‘exceptional assurance’. You must submit your application before the expiry of your ‘exceptional assurance’.

If you have any enquiries, please contact our immigration team.


Can I qualify for a UK Global Talent visa?

UK Global Talent visa has been in high demand over the past few years since it is an unsponsored route with a possibility to settle in the UK after 3 years for world-leading talents. Prospective applicants are often overwhelmed with the endorsement requirements as well as puzzled as to what documents can be provided in support of their application. And this is normal; simply because gaining the endorsement can significantly boost applicants’ career prospects.

Regardless of age or experience in your field of talent, you still have a shot at the endorsement. If you are looking to get an endorsement for the field of digital technology, the fundamental rule of identifying whether to apply for a “talent” or “promise” endorsement is the length of your work experience in the chosen field. Namely, if your professional experience in the field amounts to less than 5 years, you have a higher chance of being endorsed as a leading talent (“promise”). However, if the length of your experience is 5+ years, an application for a “talent” endorsement can be made. Remember that sometimes your achievements so far, such as innovations, creativity, or your significant contribution to the company’s growth, matter more than the length of your professional experience.

The next step is to identify whether you are a technical applicant or a business applicant. The examples of suitable skills are listed in the Tech Nation guidance, however, the list is not exhaustive. If you are at the forefront of the digital technology sector but you have not found skills that make you unique in your field, do not be discouraged. The best way to prove the Tech Nation’s independent panel that you are a leader or prospective leader in your field is to provide evidence of your skills and achievement thus far in relation to the relevant mandatory and two optional criteria.

Most importantly, remember that Stage 1 – endorsement application is not an immigration application. As long as you still have enough time on your current visa, there is absolutely no reason why you should not try your luck and test your chances of securing the well-desired endorsement.

The same principle works with other endorsing bodies, not only with the Tech Nation. Don’t fear failure. Be afraid of not trying.

Please note that requirements may vary from case to case based on the nuances of your situation, and the information on this page is not intended to replace legal advice.



Changes to the Immigration Rules announced on 10 September 2021: Skilled Worker, International Sportsperson, Global Talent, and more

This article will address some of the most noticeable upcoming changes to Immigration Rules that were presented to Parliament on 10 September 2021 (HC 617).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) concessions

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) (come into effect on 6 October 2021)

Under COVID-19 concession, Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants were able to extend their leave as long as they have created the equivalent of two full-time jobs for settled workers at the time of application. They did not have to demonstrate that the jobs have existed for a minimum of 12 months.

However, the 12-month minimum job requirement, in addition to the usual job creation requirement, needs to be met in order for applicants to qualify for settlement.

EU Settlement Scheme (come into effect on 6 October 2021)

From 6 October 2021, coronavirus-related absences from the UK for people with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will cease to operate and will be replaced by changes to Appendix EU.

Skilled Worker route and Tier 2 Sportsperson route (come into effect on 6 October 2021)

Those, who applied for a Skilled Worker visa in the UK between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2021, were allowed to start working for their sponsor while waiting for a decision on their visa application. The Home Office is now introducing changes to the rules so that in future settlement applications, the time applicants were waiting for their Skilled Worker visa would be counted towards the five years that are required for settlement as a Skilled Worker. This also applies to settlement applications as a Tier 2 Sportsperson.

International Sportsperson route (come into effect on 11 October 2021)

A new International Sportsperson route has been announced to replace both the Tier 2 Sportsperson visa and Tier 5 Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa for professional sporting workers. This new route provides a dedicated visa category that is more straightforward for professional sportspeople and their sponsors. The route requires both an endorsement from a Sports Governing body and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a club. There is also a requirement to demonstrate English language ability for those who apply for a stay that exceeds 12 months.

Global Talent route (come into effect on 6 October 2021)

In the field of arts and culture, letters of recommendation required by the endorsing body must specifically come from well-established ‘arts and culture’ organisations. Also, changes will be made to make it easier for applicants who are members of groups (e.g., internationally recognised orchestras or dance troupes) to qualify.

The minimum number of examples required for each of the exceptional promise criteria will also be reduced from two to one. In addition, being a board member of a product-led digital technology company is a role that can be used as evidence of being an exceptional talent in this field in relation to endorsements.

In the endorsed funder fast track pathway, the length of time remaining on an employment contract or hosting agreement has been reduced from two years to one year, to allow greater flexibility for individuals working on qualifying research (minimum of two years in duration).

The new changes also mean that there are more qualifying prestigious prizes that will be able to qualify on the Global Talent route without obtaining an endorsement from a Global Talent endorsing body. It needs to be noted that prizes must be given to named individuals, not to specific works or organisations. The prizes must also be open to all nationalities and the winners must be determined by experts or peers, rather than a public vote.

Youth Mobility Scheme (come into effect on 1 January 2022)

There are also changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme (formerly known as the ‘T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme). Iceland is being added to the Youth Mobility Scheme country list as a country without Deemed Sponsorship Status. India is being added to the list of countries where invitation to apply arrangements apply. Moreover, the Scheme will allow citizens of applicable countries/territories without Deemed Sponsorship Status to apply for this route from any post that accepts such applications worldwide.

EUSS Family Permits (come into effect on 6 October 2021)

The amendments also addressed the concession which allows a joining family member of an EEA citizen to apply to the EUSS as a visitor. From 6 October 2021, this concession will cease to exist for certain family members.

ID cards and Travel Documents (come into effect on 1 October 2021)

It has previously been confirmed that consistent with Citizens’ Rights Agreements, EEA citizens and certain EEA family members who are resident in the UK by the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) can continue to use their EEA national ID cards to enter the UK until at least the end of 2025.

On the other hand, EEA citizens that are outside the Citizens’ Rights cohort (e.g. who do not have pre-settled or settled status under the EUSS) will need a passport to enter the UK, like other nationalities. Please be reminded that this will come into effect on 1 October 2021.

Should you have any questions regarding the upcoming changes please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration team.

Please note that requirements may vary from case to case based on the nuances of your situation, and the information on this page is not intended to replace legal advice.

Divorce and Financial Settlement

We understand the divorce process is emotional and we are here to assist you in the process. Our family law team holds a wealth of experience and they are here to make this process as painless as possible for you.

This article sets out the procedures, some facts and some options for you in relation to issues concerning finances and properties. This is intended to be a general guide for readers to have an idea of the procedure, principles and FAQs for Financial Proceedings in UK.


There are three elements in the divorce process :

  1. Divorce petition – i.e. ending a marriage;
  2. Financial arrangements – how should the matrimonial assets be divided; and
  3. Arrangements for any dependent child – contact arrangements.

We discussed the first element in our previous article. If you are interested, please visit click here.

Can I initiate financial proceedings in UK if my divorce petition was finalised in China/countries other than UK?

We understand the position of the Courts in other countries maybe reluctant to address how matrimonial assets should be divided if those assets are located in  England and Wales.

The courts in other countries are reluctant because when they give a court order, the judge will have to take account of whether they have “jurisdiction” to order how assets in UK should be divided between parties.

In simple terms, the courts in other countries will need to decide whether they have both the authority/power to determine a dispute between parties (i.e. in this case how UK assets shall be divided).

The usual procedure is that before you can issue financial proceedings against your husband/wife, there will be a permission hearing listed. The purpose of this hearing will be for the court to decide whether they accept they have jurisdiction to divide your matrimonial assets in the UK.

If the court grants permission then the usual steps for a financial proceedings apply.

How many hearings will there be in financial proceedings?

Generally there will be three hearings if parties cannot reach settlement, the hearings are: -

  1. First Appointment Hearing (FA)
  2. Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR)
  3. Final Hearing (FH)

We will discuss what will happen in each hearing in our next article.

Do I have to make financial disclosure before, during and after any hearing?

Once a party issues financial proceedings with the court and prior to the First Appointment Hearing, the court will give directions for parties to make full and frank financial disclosure by way of filling in a Form E.

Form E is a detailed questionnaire which helps the court to understand parties’ financial circumstances. Parties must disclose their global assets and liabilities and provide various supporting evidence to verify the financial information they provided to the court. For example, each party is required to provide the latest 12 months bank statements for each bank account held in his/her name or which he/she has interest in. This is for the other party and the court to check whether you have provided full and frank financial disclosure.

Before each hearing, the court will order parties to provide updating disclosure as parties have a continuing obligation to notify the court if their financial circumstances change.

Why do I have to make financial disclosure?

The court has to take into account parties’ income, capital, property and financial needs when they decide how to divide the matrimonial assets fairly and therefore court requires parties to provide full and frank financial disclosure of their global assets when they signed their Form E and in any subsequent updating disclosure.

What are the factors the court will take into account when dividing matrimonial assets?

The factors are set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These are also called “section 25 factors”.

The court will have to take into account all the circumstances of a case, first consideration has to be given to welfare of any children under 18 years old, and the following factors: -

  1. Parties’ income and earning capacity, capital, property and financial resources
  2. Parties’ financial needs
  3. Parties’ standard of living during marriage
  4. Parties’ ages and length of marriage
  5. Any physical or mental disabilities
  6. Financial and domestic contributions each party made during the marriage
  7. Any conduct which will be unfair for the court to ignore.

My Husband is the breadwinner of the family and I am a housewife, is he entitled to more of the matrimonial assets as he made greater financial contributions?

The court would look into the contributions of the wife in looking after the home and upbringing of the children. The court recognises the housewife’s contribution to the family which enables the husband to work and make financial contributions. The wife’s contributions will then be assessed and how the evidence is presented to the court.

The court may rule a housewife has made equal contribution as that made by the breadwinner husband.

If you want to know more about what will happen in financial proceedings and how will your matrimonial assets be divided if the matter goes to court, please contact us for further information.

In our next article, we will discuss section 25 factors in more detail and what will happen in each hearing.

Chan Neill Solicitors Wish To Congratulate Joey U In Becoming A Solicitor

Members at Chan Neill Solicitors Mayfair office wish to congratulate Ms Joey U on her qualification in becoming a solicitor as of 3rd Sept 2021.

Joey first joined Chan Neill as a paralegal. Because of her dedication to work and supporting the firms clients, she was offered and awarded a training contract. She has trained with some of our senior solicitors over the last two years and we are all delighted to share this milestone with her.

We wish Joey a very successful legal career over the many years to come.


What do the upcoming changes to the Home Office Sponsorship System mean to me as an Employer?

Since the introduction of the new UK points-based system back in December 2020, the Home Office has been introducing changes to the sponsorship system that can speed up operations for both employers and the Home Office.

The Home Office has so far:

  • Removed the Resident Labour Market Test;
  • Suspended the cap on Skilled Workers;
  • Made the sponsor licence application process paperless;
  • Introduced pre-licence priority service which speeds up application processes for businesses; and
  • Introduced Chip Checker which enables holders of certain biometric passports to prove their identity from their own home or workplace.

These changes have significantly reduced the length of process to recruit an overseas worker by up to 8 weeks and have so far been proven popular as there was an increase of 9% on the register of work sponsors compared with last calendar year.

Moreover, the Home Office has recently published a Roadmap for the upcoming changes that will be implemented in 2021 and 2022, and here is an overview of the upcoming changes.

By Q4 of 2021, new changes will be introduced to reduce the burden on the sponsor to maintain their licence by introducing an enhanced Skilled Worker eligibility checking tool. This makes it easier for employers and workers to understand if a particular job is eligible under the Skilled Worker route. They will also introduce a new salary check pilot with HMRC to make sure employees are being paid accordingly. By Spring 2022, improvements will be delivered to ensure that the time it takes to obtain a sponsor licence (from application to approval) will be significantly reduced.

To reduce the processing time of applications even more for sponsorship licences and Skilled Worker visa, a brand-new sponsorship IT system will be introduced in 2023. By Q1 of 2024,  the IT system will be fully rolled out. The new system comes with features such as automated checks with HMRC and Companies House will reduce the burden on employers in providing paperwork. For prospective employees, this will greatly reduce the time and difficulty of visa application, as application forms will already be pre-filled with the employer’s information. This means that employers like you will take less time to get a sponsor licence.

Besides sponsorship of workers, in Spring 2022, the Home Office will launch the new Global Business Mobility route, allowing overseas businesses to establish a presence here or to transfer staff to the UK. The changes mentioned above will also make the process a lot easier for overseas businesses.

There are also plans for changes to sponsoring students. The Home Office are working with education providers to explore ways on how to deliver reforms that will benefit users. More details will be provided by the Home Office soon.

The upcoming changes will make the sponsorship system more digital, simplified and modern. This certainly has given users and stakeholders more confidence in the sponsorship system as the Home Office continue to seek ways to improve and streamline the process for users.

Should you require assistance with obtaining sponsorship license or sponsorship of migrant workers, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team.

Please note that requirements may vary from case to case based on the nuances of your situation, and the information on this page is not intended to replace legal advice.

Key Stages of a Purchase Transaction for Individual Purchaser

The following is a general guide to the key stages of a conveyancing transaction for an individual purchaser when buying a property:

  1. Instructing a Solicitor and Client Due Diligence

Once you have instructed a solicitor to act, you should receive a Letter of Engagement, which includes details such as agreed fees and scope of work. Your solicitor will then ask for monies on account to cover the cost of search fees and other disbursements.

Your solicitor is required to carry out proof of identity checks in compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and will obtain the following documentation from you:

  1. Proof of Identity: Original or certified copy of your passport or UK driving licence;
  2. Proof of Address: Original or certified copy of your bank statements or utility bills (within the past 3 months); and
  3. Proof of Funding: Original or certified copy of your bank statements (full copy) showing the funds required for your purchase have been deposited in your bank account for at least 3 months in a UK bank account or 6 months in an overseas bank account.

You will need to inform your solicitor if you have a related sale and/or require mortgage finance for the purchase.

If you are buying with the assistance of a mortgage, you will need to provide details of your solicitors to your lender so that they send a copy of your mortgage offer to your solicitors.

You will also need to inform the Estate Agent the details of the solicitors you have instructed so that they can issue a “Memorandum of Sale” to all parties.

Your solicitors will then write to the Seller’s solicitors to confirm instructions and request the draft Contract pack. For leasehold properties, your solicitors will also usually request the Seller’s solicitors to provide the Sales Management pack from the Landlord or the Managing Agent.

  1. Searches and enquiries

Once the draft Contract pack has been received, your solicitor will review the documentations and instigate the appropriate searches. Please note that the turnaround time for searches may sometimes take more than 10 days depending on the Local Authority.

Your solicitor will raise any enquiries if necessary.

Your solicitor will also discuss a potential completion date as soon as there are no outstanding enquiries.

  1. Pre-exchange

Your solicitor will prepare a report on title for you outlining the details of the property and drawing your attention to any issues or information you should be aware of.

If you wish to proceed, your solicitor will invite you to sign the Contract together with any other documentation and to transfer the deposit monies (usually 10% of the purchase price) in readiness for exchange of contracts.

Your solicitor will also advise that you to obtain quotations for building insurance for the property as you will take on the risk from exchange of contracts, unless stated otherwise. Please bear in mind this is usually a must for lenders.

  1. Exchange of contracts

Your solicitor will proceed to exchange contracts as soon as they have received your original signed Contract and deposit.

At this stage, you will become legally obliged to purchase the property and the agreed completion date will become final. In the event that you fail to complete on the completion date, you will be liable under the Contract to pay interest and expenses incurred by the Seller. You may even lose your deposit if the delay continues.

  1. Pre-completion

Prior to completion, your solicitor will prepare a completion statement calculated up to the completion date. It is recommended that you transfer the completion funds to your solicitor at least 1 business day before completion to avoid any delays which may affect your ability to complete on the completion date.

Your solicitor will carry out all the necessary pre-completion searches.

You should arrange a pre-completion visit with the Seller or Estate Agent to ensure that the property is in an acceptable condition. If there are any issues at this point, you should notify your solicitors as soon as possible.

If you are buying the property with mortgage finance, your solicitor will submit a Certificate of Title to request drawdown funds from your lender. However, please note that most lenders will require a minimum of 5 working days’ notice for drawdown requests.

  1. Completion

On the day of completion, your solicitor will remit the completion funds to the Seller’s solicitors before the contract time which can vary from 12.30pm to 2pm and the Seller’s solicitors will notify your solicitor upon receipt. The Seller’s solicitors will then confirm completion and inform the Seller and/or the Estate Agent to release the keys to your new property to you.

Your solicitor will advise you when completion has taken place so that you can collect keys at the designated place, which is usually with the estate agents.

  1. Post-completion

Following completion, your solicitor will deal with post-completion formalities which includes paying any Stamp Duty Land Tax and lodge an application to the Land Registry to register your interest in the property. Please bear in mind that the Land Registry may take at least a few months to register your ownership of the property.

If the property being purchased is Leasehold, your solicitor will serve a Notice of Assignment to your Landlord and/or Managing Agents to ensure that your details are updated. Where you are mortgaging the property, then the Landlord or Managing Agents will need to be notified by way of a Notice of Charge.

In most cases, you are required to pay the fees for receipted notices mentioned above and any other compliance fees.

Once the registration at the Land Registry has been completed, your solicitor will forward you the registered title confirming your ownership of the property. If you purchased with assistance of a mortgage, your solicitor would send a copy of the registered title to your lender evidencing that their charge has been registered.