First of all thank you to anyone who would be willing to read the whole story. Our company is an established 2 year old IT solutions specialist organisation. We started off with modest revenue and now has an estimated quarterly turnover of roughly £95,000 . Our investment in the UK is way above the £50,000 required for a Tier 1 entrepreneur visa.
Our initial Tier 1 entrepreneur team application for 2 was made in April 2014 switching from Tier 1 PSW via which was rejected by Home Office. Appeal was rejected by lower tribunal and permission to go to upper tribunal was not granted either leaving us with no further options. We received Upper tribunal decision on May 11 2015
11/05/2015 Appeal rights exhausted - We instructed solicitors to make a fresh Tier 1 application. They decided to apply for SET LR within 28 days because there was no time to gather all required documents for a fresh Tier 1 application. They advised us that the current application can be varied while it’s under consideration by Home Office. In the meantime we could gather as many evidence as possible in support of our Tier 1 entrepreneur application
05/06/2015 £3480 transferred to solicitors for SETLR application
06/06/2015 Joint application submitted for person 1 and person 2 under LTR Outside of Immigration rules
18/06/2015 Acknowledgement received from Home office
30/06/2015 Biometrics notification letter for SETLR application received
10/08/2015 We prepared all necessary documentation required for tier 1 entrepreneur visa including letter from Chartered accountant. We provided every possible evidence such as contracts, proof of trading etc. The whole application bundle weighs 12 KG each due to the amount of invoices, trade related documentation etc. Documentation was physically submitted before solicitors and advised them to vary our application immediately before Home Office makes a decision on our SET LR application. We had £35,000 cash in bank (joint personal account) since June 2015 and over £24,000 already invested into business.
10/08/2015 £4400 was transferred to solicitors for Tier 1 Entrepreneur application
10/08/2015 In addition to the above fees we paid £1200 NHS Health surcharge
According to solicitors they submitted our Tier 1 entrepreneur application on August 10 however it is not the case according to the most recent letter we received from Home Office which states person 1 tier 1 application was made in 20 Oct and person 2 tier 1 application was made in 10 Nov . Not only that they didn’t send our application, they also lied to us that our application has been submitted to Home Office. We requested acknowledgement letter from Home Office but this was never provided to us. We have all the evidence such as emails and phone calls we made to them during this time. We noticed that NHS surcharge has been charged by Home Office which was the only evidence to believe our application is with Home Office
Solicitors advised us to vary our Tier 1 application for a second time because they believe that money available to invest must be in our account for more than 90 consecutive days. We only had it since June and therefore varying our application once again in September will strengthen the chances of success.
We prepared new accounts and obtained fresh supporting evidences. All throughout this time we were under the impression that Home Office is still considering our Tier 1 entrepreneur visa that was thought to be submitted on August 10 2015.
20/10/2015 solicitors advised us that they varied both our applications to Tier 1 entrepreneur “for a second” time still trying to give us an impression that there is a pending Tier 1 application varied from SET LR. They did not charge fees for this application and told us that they have funds from our previous payments which raised serious doubts regarding their claims about an existing Tier 1 entrepreneur application. We sent repeated emails for evidence relating to all our applications but no information was provided at all
In the Month of November solicitors contacted us to advise that SET LR application for person 1 was rejected and application bundle was returned to us. It was not clear why they returned bundle (person 1) even though he applied to vary SET LR application in August (according to them) and in October as well. They told us that this will be returned to Home Office in order to support his existing application. They also said that this could be a Home Office error caused due to a miscommunication between their departments. There were no further updates from them until December.
In the last week of December solicitors contacted us to inform that Tier 1 entrepreneur application for both has been refused. Infact it was refused on dec 14 and 9 respectively We requested them to email a copy of decision letter but they haven’t provided this document till date despite numerous phone calls and emails.
No accurate dates were provided, they simply tried to slip from conversations regarding letters from HO as if there is something to cover up. By this time it was clear that they never varied our application in August at all.
On the conversation we had on 29/12/2015 solicitors advised us that they are preparing an administrative review because of the following reasons
1) Tier 1 application for person 2 was rejected because HO alleges he overstayed more than 28 days after rejection of SET LR application. solicitors says they never received any letters from Home Office about this application.
2) Person 1 application was clearly varied before Home Office concluded his SET LR application
In the case of person 1 it’s clear that he didn’t overstay as stated in the Home Office letter because he did apply for a visa within 28 days from receiving upper tribunal decision. Later on he successfully varied his application on October 20 2015 before his SET LR was concluded. When Home Office rejected his Tier 1 visa on 14 December 2015 he had the right for administrative review. solicitors did not inform this decision until 29 December and they didn’t submit administrative review either. On 8 January Home Office sent instructions for removal which is .Solicitors submitted a pre action protocol at the last minute. Even on this pre action protocol they din't mention a word about his right to apply for leave to remain within 28 days of decision from upper tribunal. They simply sent a letter saying Home Office made an error without making any valid arguments.
In Person 2 case they maintained their position and advised Home Office on pre action protocol that they did not receive decision letter Home Office claim to have sent on 16th September.
Now it is absolutely clear that the solicitors deliberately hide information from us , lied about our application, took wrong actions and never told us anything about what's going on with our application. Below are a few key points to note
1) 1) Neither of our SET LR application was varied on august 10
2) 2) Although our solicitors said there is no information about person 2 SET LR application Home Office rejected it on 10th September. This letter was returned to Home Office but they resent it on 16th September which was delivered and signed by someone from the solicitor's local delivery office. Please note that they denied this and still maintains their argument that no such document is delivered to them . They said Royal mail deliver a lot of items together and only a single signature is obtained for all items. They believe that my document could be lost from the bundle and not delivered. In order to validate this argument they complained to Royal who advised that they are unable to confirm whether this item is actually delivered to the correct address as it only shows "delivered from local delivery office". They also confirmed that it is possible that this letter may be lost when delivering posts bundle rather than individually. now solicitors wants to contact Home Office requesting to serve the decision again in order to legalise person 2 stay in the UK
3) Although solicitors says both our applications for Tier 1 was submitted for a second time on October 20, Home Office says person 2 application was received on 10 November.
4) 4) It has to be assumed that only two applications were actually made contrary to what solicitors told us. However NHS surcharge has been paid three times, first on June 6 for SET LR, then on August 10 and finally for the most recent Tier 1 entrepreneur visa.
07/01/2015 Home office notified about person 2 liability to be detained and removed as it failed to invoke the AR process. But no communication was made regarding this.
08/01/2015 Home office notified about the person 1 liability to be detained and removed as it failed to invoke the AR process. But no communication was made regarding this.
08/01/2015 Pre Action Protocol was submitted. Home Office received person 1 PAP on 15th January and person 2 PAP on 28th January
01/02/2016 Home office responded to person 2 PAP on February 1st. Solicitors emailed this to us on February 18th
06/02/2016 £1200 Health Surcharge was deducted from our account
09/02/2016 Home office responded to person 1 PAP on February 9th 13.44 via Fax. Solicitors emailed us regarding this on February 18th
Of all the above incidents the only things that they told us until 18/02/2015 was
Acknowledgement of SET LR application for both
Biometric enrolment invitation on two different occasions for both
refusal of person 1 SET LR in November and refusal of both applicant’s Tier 1 visa in December.
finally HO response to pre action protocol
No other information has been communicated with us despite numerous phone calls, emails etc asking for proof of our past applications. Right now we do not know how to proceed further as they failed to do anything in time. Is there a way to apply for judicial review under this exceptional circumstance? We have invested nearly £100,000 in UK so far and have clients across Europe and United States. Our business is legitimate and paid thousands of pounds in taxes to HMRC. Our business is growing considerably and has trade agreements with over 10 UK distributors all of which are multi million pound businesses. We are also bidding for public sector contracts with most recent one being an IBM server infrastructure for local government in East Midlands, a project worth £90,000 . None of this could be achieved if our visa is refused. It is incredibly disappointing that this was a consequence of lack of responsibility by an organisation we trusted. We like to know the prospect of success if we proceed to Judicial review considering the merits of our application, protection of our business and investment and immigration history in the UK.
person 2 has legally lived in the UK for nearly 7 years and person 1 has lived here legally for over 5 years. We have never knowingly overstayed in this country. Had there been proper communication about the status of our application we wouldn’t have allowed this to happen. We have done everything we can to make sure our immigration status in the UK is legal . The fact that our application status was deliberately misrepresented and hidden from us made us victims with severe consequences. We will end up in a very difficult situation socially, financially and mentally. Our prospects of making an out of country application is also diminished due to the fact that Home Office now consider us as overstayers. Will the court of law provide any protection for us in this situation?