Press Release

Chan Neill Solicitors LLP & Guangdong Zhuo Jian Law firm

Publicity Release

Strategic Cooperation Agreement Signing

On 20th May 2021, Senior representatives of Chan Neill Solicitors LLP and Guangdong Zhuo Jian Law Firm officially signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement connecting the two firms in London and Shenzhen. In the online signing, the managing partner Andrew Neill, senior partner Michael Chan, international BD manager Jenny Chen and practice manager Farida Fakhrul from Chan Neill Solicitors LLP and Guangdong Zhuo Jian’s senior partner, Mr. Mu Yinli and Director of Financial Law Department Mr. Jin Zhenzhao, agreed to commence and launch their strategic cooperation agreement.

Chan Neill Solicitors, now Chan Neill Solicitors LLP, was established in 2003, as a full-service law firm located in Central London. It now also has offices in Mayfair along with a representative office in Singapore. The firm offers legal services in business, corporate, litigation, personal and catastrophic injury, real estate, insurance, employment, family, immigration, gaming law and trusts & private client.

Guangdong Zhuo Jian Law Firm is a law firm offering legal services in China in foreign-related legal affairs, company law, criminal law, financial law, intellectual property law, employment law, matrimonial family and wealth inheritance law, and dispute resolution.

Chan Neill Solicitors LLP and Guangdong Zhuo Jian Law Firm are delighted to agree this strategic cooperation. Both firms are sure this will actively assist their clients’ requirements and both firms’ business objectives. It is envisaged that the Agreement of Cooperation will enable clients to benefit and will provide strong support to them both in China and in the UK. It is hoped that the Agreement will enable clients to have the edge in strategic planning, business negotiation, contracts within or between parties with interests both in China and UK, and will ensure clients of both firms can achieve their desires so far as legal solutions are concerned.

 
 
 


Why does my BRP card expire on 31 December 2024?

For many years now, successful Indefinite Leave to Remain applicants in the United Kingdom have been issued with Biometric Residence Permits (commonly known as BRP cards) with the validity date as 31 December 2024. It has also been observed that nowadays, those applicants, who are being granted limited leave to remain for a period beyond this date, are also being issued with BRP cards which are due to expire on 31 December 2024. Why the Home Office issues BRP cards with this set date?

It has been explained by the Home Office that in the past, under EU law, it was a requirement to restrict the validity of BRP cards which do not incorporate the latest encryption technology. The Home Office vowed to introduce BRP cards in new format this year which will reflect the exact period of grant as confirmed in the approval later. So far, this has not been the case.

According to the information currently available on GOV.UK website: “You do not need to tell UKVI if your BRP expires on 31 December 2024 but you have leave to stay longer. UKVI will update their information on how to update your BRP in early 2024. You do not need to do anything and your immigration status will not be affected.”

In the meantime, BRP card holders can check and prove their immigration status using the online service: www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-work. As an alternative, employers can obtain evidence of their employees’ immigration status in the UK online: https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work.

If you have concerns about your UK immigration status, 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.


Home Office Compliance Visits back on

The Home Office compliance visits aim at checking whether an organisation has the appropriate HR and recruitment systems and procedures in place to be able to monitor the migrant workers and ensure that the organisation’s duties and obligations as a Licensed sponsor have been fulfilled.

Such visits can be conducted by the UK Visas and Immigration before or after the Sponsorship License has been granted and can be announced or unannounced.

The visits were suspended during the first lockdown and then again in December 2020 when the United Kingdom entered second national lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As the UK Government has started to ease the restrictions, the Home Office has now announced that the compliance visits will shortly be resumed.

The prospective and existing Licensed sponsors are aware that it is important to comply with the Home Office’s requirements since noncompliance may lead to the License application being refused or existing License being suspended or revoked. This, essentially, could lead to inability to offer sponsorship to migrant workers.

With reference to the most recent statistics published by the Home Office, 523 Sponsorship Licenses were suspended between Q4 2019 and Q3 2020. This figure was considerably lower in comparison with the previous 12 months' period, largely due to the pandemic. The Compliance Officers are becoming more rigorous, as such, we remind all Licensed sponsors about the importance of complying with their duties and obligations and being up to date with the recent changes in the compliance procedure.

At Chan Neill Solicitors we regularly assist organisations with their Sponsorship License matters. We conduct mock Compliance Visits and assist the organisations during the Home Office visits. For more information please do not hesitate to contact our office.


Don't Fall Prey to Telephone Scams!

1. Are there a large number of enquiries for phone scams among international students? Have you or any of your fraud lawyers take a case of telecoms fraud? Could you please enumerate and talk about it briefly? 

  • My firm does receive some enquiries in respect of telecoms fraud/scams from the Chinese community. It usually encompasses a mixture of email, telephone and WeChat/Whatsapp scams. The types of scam we encounter are typically payment fraud and currency exchange fraud/money laundering.

  • The usual tactics for the fraudster are to pretend to be a trusted third party, for instance HMRC, the Court, the Chinese Embassy, or your bank etc.

  • HMRC – the fraudster may claim there is an issue with your tax refund or an unpaid tax bill and ask you for your personal information including your National Insurance Number. There is another scenario where people are being called and a pre-recorded message purportedly from HMRC, informs them that they owe money and that they are urgently required to call a separate telephone number to halt further action being taken against them. Upon calling the number, the consumer is given a long reference number and are threatened that “if you don’t transfer the money you owe us, it could lead to your arrest.”

  • The Court – the fraudster may pretend to be a court clerk and claim there is a criminal proceedings against you and ask you to pay immediately in order to remove the charges.

  • Bank – – fraudster would call and claim himself to be from your bank, saying there’s a problem with your card or account. They may ask for your account, card and PIN details. They may also advise transferring your money to a secured account to protect the deposits.

I understand the main concern for victim is how to get their monies back. You might be able to get your money back after you’ve been scammed but it would be very difficult. What you should do, and whether you’ll get a refund, depends on what happened.

Chan Neill Solicitors have acted for victims including international companies and international students on a larger scale.

Some case examples:
  • In respect of international students, our firm had received enquiries where for example student A had been helping a “friend” of hers who they became acquainted with on WeChat. Student A then allowed the friend to use her personal bank account as a conduit to transfer monies (cash deposit) to different third parties’ account, without knowing the source of the funds and the purpose of the transfers. Her account was then subject to an Account Freezing Order applied by the police authorities. She did not know “helping a friend” might be illegal and subject to fraud. It started with a WeChat invitations and a phone call. Our firm was successful in negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the police authority.

  • In respect of International Companies, we have acted for overseas companies to recover funds they remitted to the UK bank which was opened by email scammers. Funds can be recalled successfully after negotiations with the banks.

2. In the case we’ve interviewed before, many international students said that after they were defrauded of money, both their home-country’s police and British police cannot help and said they have no authority over this issue, so is there any blind spot of legal supervision? What the blind spot is? We understand many international students have fallen victim to telecoms scams and were defrauded of money. There are practical difficulties which will be explained further below: –

  • Personal information of the scammer – In order to issue a court claim, you will need to identify the name and address of the scammer in order to make a claim against him/her. Whether you can identify the scammer’s name and address will be crucial for issuing a claim.

  • Jurisdiction – Telecoms scams and phishing attacks can take place on a global scale without regard to jurisdictional boundaries. The obstacles include differing laws and standards of evidence to prosecute offenders, and the need for mutual cooperation to take effective cross-jurisdictional action. It would be difficult for Police to prosecute an individual in a different jurisdiction.

  • Costs – Whether legal costs are proportionate compared to the claim amount.

  • Tracing – whether the monies are still in the scammer’s bank account, if not where did the money go? It is very difficult to trace funds if they have been transferred to different parties in different bank accounts. This is usually the next step scammer do to make it even harder to trace.

3. Is there any relative legal provisions does the British government have for this issues to protect international student?

  • The Fraud Act 2006 (the Act) came into force on 15 January 2007 and applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • The Act repealed the following offences:

  • Theft Act 1968

  • Section15 (obtaining property by deception);

  • Section15A (obtaining a money transfer by deception);

  • Section 16 (obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception).

There may be other ways for international students claim their monies back.

Again this can only be considered if you know the true identity of the fraudster.

4. What should international students do if they encounter similar problems, could you provide some suggestions to us?

The likely scenarios where an international student may encounter are: –

there’s a payment from your bank account you don’t recognise – this is known as an ‘unauthorised transaction’; or

you’ve used your debit card and more money was taken than you expected; or

you’ve made a payment to a scammer from your account.

We recommend international students to take the following steps:

  • Contact the police immediately by calling 101 if:

  • the scammer is in your area

  • you’ve transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours

  • If you feel threatened or unsafe call 999.

  • Gather all the details of the scam and write to your bank immediately and explain clearly what had happened and ask whether you can stop the payment or get a refund.

  • report the issue to Action Fraud , the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud. Action Fraud can get the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to investigate scams. They’ll also give you a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you’ve been scammed.

If you are not happy with how the bank deals with your claim, you may consider instructing solicitors to assist as we are more experienced in handling these situations. It may also be worthwhile to instruct solicitors in the beginning as we can ensure consistency and clarity over the steps and representations made. In summary for this interview, international students are advised: –

  • Not to give out personal information and banking details on phone or email.

  • If you’ve already responded to a suspicious message or provided personal/banking details, contact your bank immediately to stop any activity, ask for a new card, change the security password/pin number if necessary.

  • If monies has been sent, then this maybe the time to consider looking for help from solicitors.

We will be able to assess the scenario and see whether there are other legal procedures that maybe suitable to take depending on the circumstances. Possible steps may include: –

  • Raise a formal complaint with the bank

  • Financial Ombudsman complaint

  • Regional or Global Freezing Injunction

  • Go to court


Hate Crime

As a multi-cultural law firm, we strive to be a bastion of support to clients who have been victims of hate crime.

Hate crime is a crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds. 

In February 2021, our senior partner Mr Michael Chan was interviewed by Mr. Chen Shirong (a former BBC reporter) and a few key pieces of advice were given during this interview to help anyone who is in fear of being a victim or is a victim of hate crime. 

  1. Report any incident to police as soon as practicable after the hate crime has happened to you;
  2. Go to hospital A&E if you have suffered a physical assault;
  3. record, if possible, everything he/she did to you;
  4. obtain any witness contact details as they may be useful to any police enquiry should it be likely you have been a victim of hate crime or racial abuse;
  5. contact a solicitor or help group to discuss what happened to you. As a victim of crime, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries caused by physical violence. 

Since the Covid pandemic began in January 2020, we have seen hate crime and racist remarks against Chinese and South East Asians increase significantly. 

Please do not think people do not care and if you are alone in this country, there are many support groups around the country like The Samaritans that will always try to help any person. Don’t allow “racism” or “hate crime” to destroy your life. If you are unsure of what has happened or is happening to you, contact ourselves on 07408833510 or email us at chinadesk@cnsolicitors.com to see if we can offer any initial advice or guidance.


Global Talent visa – summary of upcoming changes

The Global Talent visa caters to leaders or prospective leaders in the fields of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology or arts and culture.

 

With the introduction of more restrictive Innovator visa, the Global Talent route has gained popularity as it offers not only freedom of employment in the United Kingdom but also possibility to operate your own business. The other benefits of the Global Talent visa include possibility to settle in the United Kingdom after 3 years of being endorsed as an Exceptional Talent, permission to enter/remain in the UK for up to 5 years on a single application, absence of the requirement to have a confirmed job offer, and fast-track scheme which provides a quicker endorsement. In addition, there is no English or maintenance requirement and there is no cap on the number of eligible individuals who can use this visa route.

When applying for the Global Talent visa, there is a two-part process. The first part includes an application for endorsement, whilst the second part is the visa application itself, subject that the endorsement application being successful.

 

In the past years there have been a few changes made to this visa route. The latest changes were announced by the Home Office on 22 October 2020. Important to note that applications submitted on or before 30 November 2020 will be assessed according to the current Immigration Rules. Whereas applications submitted on or after 1 December 2020 will be assessed under the new Rules. The new changes, which concern part one of the process, are made to the criteria for consideration of senior appointments and the definition of the types of academic and research roles that qualify under this visa route.

 

The most noticeable changes concern Digital Technology applicants who wish to be endorsed by Tech Nation. As such, the Key and Qualifying criteria are being restructured whereas a simpler set of mandatory and optional criteria will be introduced.

 

At present, the prospective Digital Technology applicants are required to provide at least 10 documents showing compliance with minimum one Key and two Qualifying criteria. As of 1 December 2020, leading talent and potential leader applicants will be required to demonstrate compliance with at least 2 out of 4 optional criteria. Most importantly, the criteria regarding Continuous Learning is being removed.

For many years our Immigration Team has successfully assisted applicants with their applications under the Global Talent and its predecessor Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa routes. Please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Team for assistance and advice in relation to entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK and settlement visa applications under the Global Talent route.

 

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.


Until when can I remain in the UK due to ongoing COVID-19 outbreak?

Throughout the last few months, the UK Government has taken several measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19. One of those measures was the closure of international travel borders. The inability to return to the countries of permanent residence due to flights restrictions and cancellations caused by the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in many people overstaying their UK visas.

The UK Government acknowledged the situation and to date has made several concessions. As such, the Home Office’s initial guidance conferred leave to remain until 31 March 2020 to Chinese citizens only, whose UK visas had expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020. The same was allowed to non-Chinese nationals who were normally resident in China.

The UK Government’s guidance was updated on 24 March 2020 to cover all nationalities, enabling people to extend their visas until the 31st of May.

On 22 May 2020, the UK Government extended its concession to 31 July 2020.

The travel restrictions have now been lifting globally. As a result, the Home Office is now expecting that people take all reasonable steps in order to regularise their immigration status in the UK or to leave the country by the 31st of July 2020. However, the announcement created somewhat of a confusion, since many countries worldwide are still in lockdown, hence, will not be opening their international travel borders at least by the end of August.

The UK Government was prompt to provide further clarifications. On 30 July 2020, amended guidance was published on GOV.UK website stating as follows:

“To allow time to make the necessary arrangements to leave the UK, if you have a visa or leave that was due to expire between the 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020, you’ll be able to stay within the UK to 31 August 2020.

From 1 to 31 August 2020, the conditions of your stay in the UK will be the same as the conditions of your leave. So, if your conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during August 2020 ahead of your departure.”

The announcement further goes on to clarify that those, who intend to leave the UK but unable to do so by the 31st of August, may request additional time to remain in the UK by contacting coronavirus immigration team.

Most importantly, the Home Office has now confirmed that the period of overstaying in the UK between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 will have no future adverse immigration consequences for those, who did not make an application to regularise their immigration status.

If you are concerned about your immigration status in the UK, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team for advice.

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.


COVID 19: Innovator and Start-Up visas

In these unprecedented times, Innovator and Start-Up applicants might find themselves in the situation, where they may experience difficulties fulfilling their business plans and maintaining contact with their endorsing bodies.


The Home Office has been prompt in addressing the issues surrounding Innovator and Start-Up migrants may face due to the Coronavirus outbreak:


1. Individuals who have not yet been endorsed

Endorsing bodies may still issue endorsements. If prospective applicants are outside the UK, the endorsing bodies should ask them whether they are able to make a visa application and to travel. The endorsing bodies should also consider with all applicants whether they are likely to be able to start developing their business in the UK under the current situation. If not, they should consider delaying the applicants’ endorsements until a later date.


2. Individuals who have been endorsed but have not yet applied for a visa

Endorsement letters are valid for 3 months. If an individual is unable to make a visa application within this timeframe, the endorsing bodies will need to issue them with a new endorsement (using a new secure reference number) before they can apply. The endorsing bodies should have a discussion with the applicants (as set out above) before they do so.


3. Individuals who have applied for a visa but are unable to travel

Individuals should refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) immigration guidance on gov.uk website for the latest information.


4. Individuals who are due to have a checkpoint with their endorsing body

Endorsing bodies should maintain contact checkpoints with the individuals they have endorsed wherever possible. It is not necessary for these to be face-to-face. The Home Office encourage endorsing bodies to arrange checkpoints via telephone or video conferencing. It is important for applicants to know that they continue to have the support of their endorsing bodies. The endorsing bodies should make allowances for the current situation when considering the applicants’ progress against their business plans and where possible, discuss future contingencies. The endorsing bodies must notify the Home Office if an applicant misses a checkpoint without their authorisation.


5. Individuals who need to apply to extend their stay

The endorsing bodies should continue issuing endorsements as normal to individuals who are in the UK, whose visas are expiring and who wish to apply to switch into the Start-Up or Innovator categories or to extend their stay in the Innovator category. For those applying to switch from Start-up to Innovator or to extend their Innovator visa, as with the checkpoint guidance above, the endorsing bodies should make allowances for the current situation when considering the applicants’ progress against their business plans and where possible, discuss future contingencies.


At Chan Neill Solicitors we continue assisting clients with their Immigration enquiries. If you are concerned about your current visa or about your prospective visa application, please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration team.


UK work visa: Sponsorship of EU and non-EU nationals post 1 January 2021

On 6 April 2020 the Home Office published a new version of a “Tier 2 and 5 of the point-based system: guidance for sponsors”, wherein they have provided the guidance for employers who wish to apply for a Sponsorship License to sponsor migrant workers under the new point-based immigration system that will come into effect from 1 January 2021.


There will be a single immigration system in place for EU and non-EU citizens once the freedom of movement with the EU has ended on 1 January 2021. As such, in order for EU and non-EU nationals to work in the UK legally, they would be required to obtain a valid visa under skilled worker route which will replace Tier 2 (General) visa route. The job on offer will need to be at level 3 or above of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (“RQF”) or equivalent level in Wales or Scotland. This level is approximately equivalent to A-level standard. The minimum salary threshold will be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 (lower salary level may apply for “new entrants”). The ability to speak English will be a mandatory requirement. According to the Home Office, the applicant would be able to “trade” certain characteristics against the salary that they would otherwise be required to earn in relation to the job on offer.


Those UK based companies, who do not currently hold the Sponsorship License but intend to sponsor migrant workers post 1 January 2021, can apply for one as of now. It is important to note that Licensed sponsors would not be able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (“COS”) to a migrant worker at RQF level 5 or below until 1st of January 2021. The Home Office intends to start accepting applications under the new point-based system from Autumn 2020.


Should you require any assistance with the Sponsorship License application, or you require legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration team.


Can I access UK public funds due to COVID-19?

If you have a temporary visa that allows you to live in the United Kingdom, it may include the “no recourse to public funds” condition. This means that you are not able to claim most benefits that are paid by the UK Government.


On 23 April 2020, the UK Government published guidance outlining the support available to migrants with “no recourse to public funds”. This article summarises the support offered by the state.


If you currently hold a UK family or private life visa, you can make a “Change of Conditions” application to access UK public funds if:


- You are destitute or at risk of destitution;

- Your child’s welfare is at risk due to low income;

- You are in other exceptional financial circumstances.


When considering making such an application, you ought be aware of the fact that removing “no recourse to public funds” condition would not only place you on the 10 years’ route towards settlement in the UK, but also, if you manage to change it back to 5 years’ route towards settlement, your clock will start from 0.


If you need a medical treatment in the UK (including being tested for the virus and result comes back negative), you will not have to pay for diagnosis of treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable to coronavirus, you can get help, such as deliveries of medication and food.


If you are employed in the UK, you may be able to access:


- Statutory Sick Pay;

- Contributory Employment and Support Allowance;

- Support provided to employers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.


If you are registered as self-employed, you may be able to apply for a grant through the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme.


If you cannot afford rent, the landlord cannot initiate all eviction and possession proceedings, which have now been suspended for 90 days from 27 March 2020. Mortgage lenders offer repayment holidays of 3 months if you are in financial difficulty due to COVID-19 and cannot afford mortgage payments.


Asylum seekers may be able to get housing and money to support themselves and their family members while waiting to find out if they would be granted asylum.


If you are concerned about your immigration status in the United Kingdom, please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Team for guidance.