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Glossary

Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.

A

A2

Short for "Accession 2”: Bulgaria and Romania, who joined the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007.

A8

Short for "Accession 8”: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The eight of the ten countries joining the European Union (EU) on 1 May 2004 whose nationals’ rights to work in the UK have been limited. Limitations on working in the UK can continue until 2011, but may be lifted before then. No limitations were imposed on the rights of citizens of Cyprus and Malta, the other two 2004 accession states, to work.

Accession

Used to describe the process of a country joining the European Union (EU).

Adjudicator

The old name for people hearing appeals in immigration and asylum cases. These people have been renamed immigration judges and the tribunal in which they sit, originally called the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) has been renamed the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT).

Administrative court

(‘Admin Court’) A division of the UK High Court, the first level of national courts, which deals in particular with applications for judicial review.

Aliens

This has a particular meaning in UK immigration and nationality law. Currently, aliens are people who are not British citizens, Commonwealth citizens, British Protected Persons or citizens of the Republic of Ireland. At different times in history, different groups of people have been categorised as aliens.

Ancestry Status

A term used in the Immigration Rules for the status of Commonwealth citizens aged 17 or over with a UK-born grandparent, who can make an application on the basis of this relationship to come to the UK for work, and ultimately for settlement.

Association Agreement

A trade treaty between the European Union (EU) and another country. The term is particularly used in immigration law for agreements that give individuals of the non-EU country opportunities to undertake business and self-employment in countries of the EEA. There were association agreements with states that have now joined the European Union (EU), such as Bulgaria and Romania, but the main agreement is now with Turkey.

Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT)

The tribunal that hears appeals against refusals in asylum and immigration cases. Members of the AIT are called immigration judges. It was previously called the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA). The old IAA was divided into adjudicators and the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT).

Asylum seeker

A term used to refer to a person requesting recognition as a refugee in the UK, whose application has not yet been decided. In some specific contexts, the definition includes people seeking other protection, for example under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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B

Border and Immigration Agency (BIA)

The old name for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), the part of the UK Home Office dealing with immigration and nationality law. Now defunct.

British Citizen

The main form of British nationality, but not the only one: see also British overseas territories citizens, British overseas citizens, British subjects and British Nationals (Overseas). British citizens have the right freely to enter, remain in and to leave the UK (also known in immigration law as the right of abode). They are subdivided into two groups; those who can pass their nationality to their children, who are called British citizens otherwise than by descent, and those who cannot, who are called British citizens by descent.

British Dependent Territories

Now renamed British Overseas Territories.

This term is no longer current: BDTCs were renamed British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTCs) in 2002 but, at the same time, they were all made British citizens except for those connected with the Sovereign Bases on Cyprus. The term is still relevant in nationality law, when looking at a person’s former status. BDTCs had a link with a British territory. They kept that status for as long as the country was a colony. It gave them a right of abode in the territory, but no right to enter the UK and no right of abode in the UK.

British Nationality Act 1981

This law (Act of parliament) came into force in 1983. Although it has been updated several times, it is still the basis of modern British nationality law.

British Nationals (Overseas) (BN (O))

A form of British nationality for people who were British Dependent Territories Citizens in Hong Kong when Hong Kong was returned to China. Having this status does not give a right of abode in enter any country, although it is possible to obtain, and to travel on, a BN(O) passport.

British Overseas Citizens (BOCs)

BOCs are people who were born in a British colony but, when that colony became independent, did not become nationals of that colony and held no other nationality. The status of BOC does not confer a right of abode in the UK or anywhere in the world, although certain BOCs can apply for British citizenship.

British Overseas Territories

Places that are still connected with, and not wholly independent of, the UK. Previously called British Dependent Territories. The current British Overseas Territories are Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctica, the British Indian Ocean Territory (the Chagos Islands, including the island of Diego Garcia), the Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, St Helen, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Virgin Islands and the sovereign air bases of Akrotiri and Dhelekia on Cyprus.

British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTCS)

Citizens of the British Overseas Territories, who have not become British citizens. The status also renames what was formerly called British Dependent Territories citizenship. At the same time as the status was renamed, people who were BOTCs, except those connected with the sovereign bases on Cyprus, became British citizens. New BOTCS, with the exception of those connected with the sovereign bases, or who have renounced British citizenship, can become British citizens.

British Protected Persons (BPPs)

People from a country formerly under British protection, who did not acquire the nationality of that country when it became independent, or the nationality of any other country.

British subjects

People from former colonies who did not acquire the nationality of those countries when they became independent, and did not become citizens of the UK and Commonwealth (CUKCs) and who have not acquired the nationality of any other country. In the early stages of British nationality law, the term had a wider meaning.

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C

Certificate of Approval (CoA)

People who are not EEA nationals are required to obtain permission from the Home Secretary before marrying or contracting a civil partnership in the UK. The permission is issued as a certificate of approval.

Certificate of Entitlement

A passport endorsement indicating that the holder has the right of abode in the United Kingdom.

Civil Partners

Civil partnership was introduced into UK law in October 2005 and allows same-sex couples to make a legal commitment similar to marriage. In general, no distinction is made in the Immigration Rules between spouses and civil partners.

Common Travel Area

The common travel area is made up of the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. In broad terms, people travelling from elsewhere in the common travel area to the United Kingdom are not subject to immigration control.

Commonwealth Citizens

This group includes all types of British national, except British Protected Persons, and all citizens of Commonwealth countries.

Convention reasons

Under the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees a person outside their country of origin is only a refugee if they face persecution on the grounds of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. These five are together known as the ‘Convention reasons’.

Council of Europe (CoE)

Over 40 European states, and thus larger than the European Union (EU). The source of international agreements affecting immigration, asylum and nationality, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Court of Appeal (CA)

The second level of national court in the UK, in between the High Court and the House of Lords.

CUKC (Citizen of the UK and Commonwealth)

Until 1983 this was the form of British nationality held by British nationals in the UK and other people born within a UK colony. It was not the same as the status of Commonwealth citizen.

Curtailment of leave

Curtailment means ‘cutting short’ and in immigration law the term is a reference to cutting short a person’s leave. This might be done where the person does not observe the conditions on which the leave was granted, or where they have ceased to satisfy the requirements of the Immigration Rules for their particular category of leave.

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D

Deportation

The government has powers to remove people who have no leave to be in the UK from the country. It can use administrative powers of removal, or the more serious power of deportation. A person who is deported from the UK cannot return until the deportation order has been lifted, or ‘revoked’. Deportation is normally reserved for cases where a person has committed a criminal offence or is considered a threat to national security.

Determination

The name given to decisions of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). In a higher court these would be called judgements.

Discretionary Leave (DL)

Leave given outside the Immigration Rules in exceptional cases.

Domicile

The country in which a person feels they belong and where that person intends to settle for the rest of their life. This is usually the country in which the person was born and grew up, the "domicile or origin”. This can be changed only by a conscious decision to settle and stay in another country and thus acquire a 'domicile of choice'. Domicile is not an immigration status, but can affect immigration decisions where it is necessary to look at national laws to establish a person’s status, for example whether they are married or adopted.

Dual Citizenship/Dual Nationals

Terms used for people who hold citizenship of more than one country. The UK allows dual nationality, as do most countries in the world. A few countries do not, and people who wish to take the citizenship of those countries are expected to give up all other citizenships.

Dublin II Convention

A European Union (EU) Convention which determines which European Union country is responsible for deciding an application for asylum. People can be sent from the country in which they try to claim asylum to the country held to be responsible under the agreement. This is the second version of the agreement, hence the roman numeral for ‘two’ in the name.

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E

ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights)

Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights were made part of UK law when the UK passed the Human Rights Act 1998.

ECJ (European Court of Justice)

The international court in The Hague hearing cases about violations of European law.

ECoHR (European Court of Human Rights)

The international court in Strasbourg hearing cases against states with regard to violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

EEA (European Economic Area)

Established on 1 January 1994. It includes the countries of the EU (European Union) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

EEA family permit

A form of entry clearance issued to the non-EEA family members of EEA nationals coming to the UK to exercise their rights of free movement.

ELR (Exceptional Leave to Remain)

The old name for Discretionary Leave.

Entry clearance

Permission to enter the UK obtained in advance of coming to the UK. Entry clearance takes two forms; "visas" (for visa nationals) and "entry certificates" (for non-visa nationals).

Entry Clearance Officer (ECO)

Official at British Embassies and consular posts dealing with applications for entry clearance.

EU (European Union)

Member states of the European Union are: Austria; Bulgaria; Belgium; Cyprus; the Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Republic of Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; The Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; and the United Kingdom.

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F

Family Permit

A permit given to the non-EU family or extended family member of an EU national exercising or planning to exercise rights of free movement in the UK. The family permit is issued by UK consulates and embassies, and is similar to entry clearance.

FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The UK Ministry dealing with foreign affairs. It runs UK entry clearance (visa) operations abroad, ‘UKvisas’ jointly with the Home Office.

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H

High Court

The name for the national court in the UK. Appeals from this court go the Court of Appeal and House of Lords.

Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)

A category of immigration application under the immigration rules that allows highly skilled people to come to the UK to work for UK employers and also in self-employment.

Home Office

Ministry of the UK government that oversees the handling of all nationality, immigration and asylum applications and enforcement and developing policy in these areas of law.

Home Secretary

The UK government minister responsible for the Home Office and thus having responsibility for immigration and nationality.

House of Lords (HL)

When lawyers talk about the House of Lords they are usually referring to the highest level of court in the UK. In fact this is just one part of the House of Lords: the House of Lords as a whole is part of the UK parliament, the UK’s legislature. The UK parliament is divided into the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Human Rights

In UK law this will most often be a reference to rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Humanitarian Protection

The immigration status given to people who do not qualify for recognition as a refugee but cannot return to their country of origin because of the risk of a breach of their human rights. ‘Humanitarian protection’ is the UK’s expression of the European Union (EU) category of ‘subsidiary protection’.

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I

Illegal Entrant

The Home Office identifies a person as an illegal entrant both where they have avoided immigration control on entering the UK, or where they used false documents or other deception to enter the UK.

Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006

UK law implementing the European Union (EU) law free movement provisions.

Immigration Act 1971

A UK law (Act of parliament). This law has been updated many times, by subsequent laws, but is still the basis of UK immigration powers.

Immigration Judge

The person who decides immigration appeals in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). Previously called an adjudicator.

Immigration Officer

Officials dealing with immigration at UK ports and with enforcement (criminal offences connected with immigration law, removal and deportation).

Immigration Rules

The rules that set out the different categories of application to come to, or stay in, the UK. Issued as a paper in the UK parliament, they are also called HC395, short for ‘House of Commons 395’. Changes to the rules are issued as ‘Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules’.

IND (Immigration and Nationality Directorate)

The old name for what, since 1 April 2007, has been called the Border and Immigration Agency, the department of the Home Office responsible for dealing with immigration and nationality.

Indefinite Leave

This is leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom without time restrictions. A person with indefinite leave can also be described as ‘settled’ or ‘having settlement’ in the UK.

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J

Judicial Review

The means by which a person can challenge a decision made by a public authority where there is no right of appeal against the decision or no alternative remedy.

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L

Leave to Enter

Permission given by immigration officials at the port of entry to enter the United Kingdom in a particular immigration category, for a limited period, sometimes with conditions. In most cases, entry clearance given before travelling also serves as leave to enter, but there are circumstances in which an immigration officer can refuse leave to enter even though a person has entry clearance.

Leave to Remain

Permission given by the Home Office to remain in the UK. It may be limited or indefinite leave, sometimes with conditions.

Limited Leave

This is leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a specified period of time. Conditions may be attached.

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M

Managed Migration

A part of the Border and Immigration Agency, previously called the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) dealing with all forms of business and family immigration. The term is also used by the Home Office to describe its policies on immigration matters other than asylum.

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N

Naturalisation

The process whereby adults who are not British may apply for British citizenship.

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O

Ordinary Residence

The country in which a person is normally living for the time being. If a person is not legally in a country, that period does not count as ordinary residence. It is possible to be ordinarily resident in the UK without being settled here. For example, a worker or student may be ordinarily resident in the UK.

Overstayer

An overstayer is someone who remains in the United Kingdom beyond the period of the leave they have been granted.

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P

Patrial

The previous term for those with a right of abode, used until 1983.

Permanent Residence

EEA nationals exercising their right of free movement in the UK and their family and extended family members acquire permanent residence after five years. This is the equivalent of having indefinite leave to remain in the UK for EEA nationals.

Points-Based System

In 2008 the UK changed the way in which it allowed people to come to the UK for work and business, creating a system with a smaller number of categories, arranged in tiers. In each tier, applicants need to score a minimum number of points to qualify.

Police Registration Certificate

Certificate provided by the police to those non-Commonwealth, non-EEA citizens who are required to register with them while residing in the UK.

Public Funds

A term used in the Immigration Rules. In many immigration categories it is a requirement that a person can support themselves without relying on a wide range, and in many cases any, state welfare benefits.

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R

Refugee Status

The status given to those who are recognised as meeting the criteria set out in the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees.

Registration

The ways to obtain British nationality are by birth, naturalisation or registration. Registration is a simpler process than naturalisation and is used for children, and for applications from certain adults, including some people who hold other kinds of British nationality (such as British overseas citizens).

Registration Certificate

Certificate issued to EEA nationals evidencing their right of residence under European law. It is not essential to have such a certificate, but if one is requested the Home Office must issue it immediately.

Removal

Removal or administrative removal is one means of removing people from the UK when they have no leave to be in the country. The alternative process is deportation. Unlike deportation, removal does not prevent a person applying to return to the UK, but immigration history, including previous removal, will be taken into account when deciding whether to allow a person to return. The Home Office will arrange for and meet the cost of a person's enforced removal from the United Kingdom.

Residence Card

A document issued to family members of EEA nationals, evidencing their right of residence under European law. It is not essential to have such a card but if one is requested the Home Office must issue it immediately. Family members who are EEA nationals will get their own registration certificates; they do not need a residence card.

Returning Residents

People who are settled in the United Kingdom and are returning to the United Kingdom within two years of departure. They should be admitted for an indefinite period, provided that the immigration officers are satisfied that they are coming back to live permanently in the UK.

Right of Abode

The right to enter and stay in the UK, free from immigration controls. All British citizens have the right of abode. So do some Commonwealth citizens. The right of abode is evidenced either by having a British citizen passport or by obtaining a Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode.

Right of Readmission

The right of certain British nationals who are not British citizens, but who have been given indefinite Leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, to return for settlement after any length of absence.

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S

Schengen Group

Comprised of all European Union (EU) countries except the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark. The group established common immigration policy and common border controls.

Schengen Visa

One visa which allows people to apply to travel in all the Schengen Group countries.

Settlement

A person is settled in the United Kingdom if they are ordinarily resident here without any restriction on the period for which they may remain. Most British citizens will be regarded as settled. Other people will have indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Nationals of countries of the European Economic Area (AIT).

 

Sponsor

A family member, friend or other person, who supports a person’s application to come to the UK. For example, if a man is applying to join his British wife, he would be the applicant and she would be the sponsor.

Switching

This term is used when people in the UK with one type of leave wish to change to a different type. For example, a person here with a work permit may get married and wish to switch to be in the UK as a spouse. The Immigration Rules set out who is allowed to switch and into which categories. When switching is prohibited then, except in very exceptional circumstances, it will be necessary to leave the country and obtain a new entry clearance.

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T

Temporary Admission (TA)

Method of admission given as an alternative to detention while the immigration officers are considering whether to allow someone in at a port of entry, or after refusal of entry and before removal. Temporary admission is not leave to be in the UK; it is a temporary status.

Treaty Rights

This term is most commonly used in immigration law for the rights of citizens of EEA member states to move freely to work, establish themselves in business or to give and receive services throughout the European Union.

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U

UKvisas

The name given to the joint Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office department dealing with entry clearance and issuing visas.

Unmarried Partners

Spouses (husbands and wives) and civil partners may apply to join or to stay with their partner in the UK. Where the couple are not married or are not in a civil partnership and are not intending to marry or become civil partners, they must apply under the Immigration Rules for unmarried partners.

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V

Variation of Leave

This is the term used when a person in the UK with one type of leave wishes to change (switch) to another category, or to extend their leave.

Visa Nationals

People who always require entry clearance to enter the United Kingdom in advance of travelling to the United Kingdom, for whatever purpose.

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W

Work Permit

A work permit is the permission given to an employer to employ a worker from outside the EEA who needs permission to work in the UK. The work permit is issued to the employer and gives them permission to employ a specific worker in a specific job. The worker then takes details of the work permit when they apply for entry clearance.

Work Permits UK

The part of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate that issues work permits.

Worker Registration Scheme

Nationals of the A8 and A2 states must register to work in the UK. There are two different worker registration schemes, one for the A8 and one for the A2 (Bulgaria and Romania).

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