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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

We've just been successful in obtaining my wife's FLR (M) this morning at the Glasgow Service Centre. Absolutely delighted! :D I thought I'd share a few tips to help people in future. Particularly as my accounting dates for my sole trader business (earning around £23k a year) run from May - May and the tax year runs April - April - we initially struggled to get clarification on whether this was allowed or not (it was!).

Background: My wife had a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, it was due to expire on Tuesday (meaning a rejection today could have meant her having to leave the country tomorrow!). We were married in March in Edinburgh and live together. It was a "simple" switch from Tier 5 to FLR (M).

Both myself and my wife are reasonably intelligent people, but some of the FLR (M) guidelines seem ambiguous on first read. I phoned the Visa Office but was told they could not give us clarification on certain terms as "if we give you the wrong advice then you may sue us". Great. One thing that did help was speaking to a registered Immigration lawyer - initially they will often give some free advice on a certain issue - but we gathered up a list of questions (probably about 15) and did a Q&A style phone call for £150. We were allowed to ask any follow up questions within a week, which we did (another 3 or 4 questions). It might sound expensive, but compared to the £1,500-£2,000 on paying a lawyer for the full shebang was great value.

We had our appointment at the Glasgow Service Centre at 8am this morning - we arrived 20 minutes early (you're supposed to be at least 15 mins early for security). As others have said it's almost like airport security. We were quickly processed through this, straight to a guy at the desk to take our details then onto another guy who said he was our case officer. He explained what would happen and took our documents and photocopies. We sat in the waiting area, and around 20 minutes later my wife was called to do her biometrics.

Then, around 8:50 we were called over and given the news that our application had been successful! Just over an hour from entering the building to getting it all sorted, we were both over the moon! I've got to say the staff were all pretty decent too. I think being the first appointment in the morning we were before anyone else that's part of the reason we were so quick (that and submitting photocopies and being a fairly straightforward case too).

Here's what we submitted, in order:

-Contents Page (Basic version of the below list)

FORMS AND COVERING LETTERS
-FLR (M) Checklist (3 page document you can print out from your online booking confirmation page)
-FLR (M) Form (All 79 pages completed and triple checked, envelope with our passport photos with names written on back of photos (2 of wife, 1 of me) attached to relevant page at start of section 1)
-Covering letter from my wife (short paragraphs about application; our relationship; financial requirement being met; husband owns property; clarification on correspondence (explaining we only had one bill in joint names as we had not changed anything yet, also it had been a struggle as most bills we have are online but we had provided enough documents))
-Covering letter from myself (covering similar things - about us; my job and we meet the financial requirement etc)
-My wifes current and previous passport (all passports she's held during her time in the UK)
-My wife's old Biometric residence permit
-My own passport

*FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS - (SELF EMLPLOYED CAT F)
-Covering letter from accountant
-Last years (16/17) Tax Return (printed out from PC, showing figures for my accounting period)
-Last years (16/17) Tax Schedule and Tax Calculation from accountant (these are equivalent to the SA302 and SA300)
-SA302 (For tax year 16/17 from Inland Revenue, probably not required as we already gave similar above, but probably better with too much than too little)
-Business Bank Statements (for my 12 month accounting period relating to the last tax year)
-Personal Bank Statements (for my 12 month accounting period relating to the last tax year)
-Accountants Certificate of Confirmation (from my accountant, make sure they are registered with one of required accountancy bodies)
-Unaudited Accounts for the last full financial year
-A recent statement from a company and bill related to my work (to help show continued trading - this on its own may not have been enough but coupled with the below recent bank statements showing business transactions I figured it would be fine)
-Further business and personal accounts up to current date (This will not be necessary for most sole traders - we were only recommended to submit these by our lawyer as my accounting period is different to the tax year)

ACCOMMODATION / CORRESPONDENCE DOCUMENTS
-We listed and submitted around 19 documents in total (probably overkill, but figured it was better to have too many than too little and have one or two rejected as not suitable. We only had one in joint names so needed at least 5 others each (from at least two other companies each) to meet the required minimum.)
-Current mortgage statement (I've seen on forums and had advice from our lawyer that we need to prove we either own or rent (or staying with relatives etc) our house - although funnily enough I've never seen this listed as a requirement anywhere in the form or guidance notes, but we submitted it regardless)

RELATIONSHIP
-Marriage certificate (this was all we needed to produce here as already living in the UK and married here)
-Photos (around 26 of our wedding and trips away together printed off our PC - not asked for but our lawyer said it might help)

Additionally we provided both our birth certificates and her most recent payslip to show she was working, though these were not necessary and tbh probably not even looked at.

We also made photocopies of every document apart from the forms, covering letters and photos, and arranged them in the same order as above - this helps speed up the process and tbh anything that helps make the officer's life easier would hopefully reflect well on you if you need any additional help!

***

* With regard to my financial position - I am unusual in that my accounting period does not run the same as the tax year. My accountant says that only 2 of his other clients have their tax set up like this as a sole trader - while it's unusual it's still absolutely permitted by HMRC for sole traders to do their accounts this way. Most people will have their accounting period the same as the tax year i.e. at time of writing from 6th April 2016 - 5th April 2017 and will submit their bank statements etc for the same period. The following only applies if (like me) your tax year and accounting period are different - My accounting period for the last tax year was 9th May 2015 - 8th May 2016, so my accountant did my unaudited accounts and 16/17 tax return based on these dates and I submitted bank statements to cover these dates too. The guidance notes seem to suggest that this is not even a possibility and searching the forums most people did not believe it was possible either - but (at least in our case!) it was accepted no issues!
The immigration lawyer also said it would be fine too, but suggested we also submit my personal and business statements from May 2016 to current date in order to demonstrate that I still maintain a similar level of income, which we did.

Other Prep and advice: Read the forms, and all relevant guidance notes thoroughly. Also searching previous posts on forums such as these gives a good general insight into what is required - although paying for an immigration lawyers time like we did can help further.

Hope that helps some people - obviously everyone will be different but that's the basic gist of what we did.

Cheers,
Stuart
 

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Congrats!

We are going to post our documents tomorrow, but my husband has misplaced his birth cert and is still searching for it! If they really dont look at this then I will omit it from our checklist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think it depends on what your situation is. There are some circumstances they could potentially require a birth certificate so I wouldn't advise you to leave it out just because I did. Good luck regardless!
 

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Hi Stuartie,

Thanks for this post, it's really helpful. My wife and I are in a similar situation as you were. She's here on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa which expires in January and we have a premium appointment booked in for 18th December. We are both self-employed sole traders, but her income meets the financial requirement alone so we're just using that.

I do have some confusion over the documents required for self-employed. We're trying to find an accountant to help us with the certificate of confirmation (we usually do our own accounts as they are very straightforward), but we're struggling. It's hard to find accountants who know what it is we're talking about! I thought it was just a letter - with their credentials listed - saying that they confirm that what is claimed to have been earned has been earned. But (and apologies for what may be a stupid question) what are unaudited accounts?? Is that not just your self-assessment return, with statement of account, stating what your earned along with expenses and taxable income? Or is it a different thing??

We meet all the requirements, but I'm struggling to understand what all these documents are, and how to get them! Any help much appreciated.

Thanks

Arthur
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi tourist83,

I was the same as you guys, did my own accounts for years. I ended up paying an accountant to do my books. They can produce "unaudited accounts" for you at the same time. This covers the same period as your tax return, but isn't the same as it. I believe there's a certain format it has to be in. Also they had a double sided sheet of A4 "certificate of confirmation" that had their details on it and they filled in specific to me, saying they confirmed my earning were £23,450 over the last tax year. Make sure they are an accountant regulated by one of the specified regulatory accountancy bodies too.

Basically you'll need to pay for the services of an accountant, doesn't seem to be any way round it. Also remember you need to provide all documents relating to the previous tax year (ie 6th April 2016 - 5th April 2017). This means having your tax return done early (it won't be due until 31st January 2018 at HMRC, but you can will need to submit it before your visa appointment if you haven't already).

Good luck, any other questions please feel free to message or pm...

Stuart
 

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Hi,


*FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS - (SELF EMLPLOYED CAT F)
-Covering letter from accountant
-Last years (16/17) Tax Return (printed out from PC, showing figures for my accounting period)
-Last years (16/17) Tax Schedule and Tax Calculation from accountant (these are equivalent to the SA302 and SA300)
-SA302 (For tax year 16/17 from Inland Revenue, probably not required as we already gave similar above, but probably better with too much than too little)
-Business Bank Statements (for my 12 month accounting period relating to the last tax year)
-Personal Bank Statements (for my 12 month accounting period relating to the last tax year)
-Accountants Certificate of Confirmation (from my accountant, make sure they are registered with one of required accountancy bodies)
-Unaudited Accounts for the last full financial year
-A recent statement from a company and bill related to my work (to help show continued trading - this on its own may not have been enough but coupled with the below recent bank statements showing business transactions I figured it would be fine)
-Further business and personal accounts up to current date (This will not be necessary for most sole traders - we were only recommended to submit these by our lawyer as my accounting period is different to the tax year)
Hi Stuartie,
congratulation for your success.
I believe that you have applied as a sole trader. Do you have any idea if the above check list is also relevant for a director of a limited company?
 

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Hi Stuartie,

Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, I'm coming to the conclusion that we're going to have to pay an accountant to do the books. I had read on one of these forums that someone found an accountant happy to provide a certificate of confirmation etc for £150. Needless to say, I can't find one like this myself! I also can't find a list of "specified regulatory accountancy bodies" that they accept. Aside from ICAEW.

Everything else is sorted. Tax return is filled out online, just not submitted as I want to sort this accountant thing out first. So far we've been quoted almost as much for an accountant as we were quoted for getting an immigration lawyer. We decided against the lawyer because of the cost, and because our case seems fairly straightforward. What with the NHS surcharge we have to pay, this visa stuff isn't cheap!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tourist 83 - you're right it's not cheap getting all this done. Pretty shocking the charges tbh, but I suppose there's no choice :(

As for costs of accountant, I paid £360 all in, that covers everything for this tax year. To be honest he was able to save me more money on my tax bill than I paid him on things I hadn't even considered (laundry allowance for washing workwear and depreciation on my laptop I use to do my accounts on being a couple of things). I just printed out section 7 of the above (specified financial evidence for self employed) and asked if he was able to meet the requirements (especially the member of a relevant body part in 7h(i)bb). I'm sure he'll be able to tell you if he's a member of one of the required accountancy bodies or not.

Good luck.
 

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Thank you so much for sharing! I'm applying for the first visa through Category D savings but we're hoping to do self-employment for FLR and I've been fairly confused about it. Glad it all worked out well for you.
 

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Netan, the requirements are different for company directors - see section 9 of the FMSE here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigra...endix-fm-se-family-members-specified-evidence
from what I understand the requirements as described in sections 9.7/9.8 for director of a limited company are:
• Company Tax Return CT600 for the last full financial year (i.e. 2017)
• Evidence of registration with the Registrar of Companies at Companies
• unaudited accounts for the last full financial year and an accountant’s certificate of confirmation
• Corporate/business/personal bank statements covering the same 12-month period as the Company Tax Return CT600
• A current Appointment Report from Companies House
• A certificate of VAT registration and the VAT return for the last full financial year
• Payslips and P60 (if issued) covering the same period as the Company Tax Return CT600
• Dividend vouchers for all dividends declared in favour of the person during or in respect of the period covered by the Company Tax Return CT600


However, I can't see any requirement for a personal tax return or SA302 forms, does this make sense?
 

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Hi Stuartie,

After a lot of research, we've managed to find an accountant happy to help us out (and one who has done this sort of thing before), which is a relief!

I have one other question that you might be able to help me with... The SA302 form. These days, you're able to print this off from your online tax account (if you submit your return online). Do you know whether this print out is satisfactory for the visa application? HMRC have been making it harder for people to get this form posted out to them (I guess because of the costs), and we're a little concerned that once the accountant has done the certificate of confirmation etc and my wife has submitted her return online, we'll only have 2-3 weeks before her premium appointment in which to get the SA302 sent out to her. HMRC aren't the quickest with posting things, so relying on that might be a bit nerve-wracking! Did you use a print out or did you get yours posted to you??

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yup, a printed SA302 is fine (says that in the guidelines). HMRC will not post them out to accountants anymore I believe. Also, depending how your accountant does your tax return (possibly using specialised software instead of self assessment) it may not be possible to get one. Don't panic though, they can print out a tax calculation that will be equivalent to an sa302 and is also accepted by the visa office I believe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Netan, I'm not sure of the requirements for a director of a limited company particularly, but if it doesn't list sa302 then I suppose you won't need it?
 

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Brilliant - and thanks for the quick reply again! As far as I'm aware, the accountant won't be submitting the return, just checking it and doing the certificate of confirmation and unaudited accounts (which I think is basically an excel spreadsheet with earnings and expenses on it!). It feels like they ask for multiple documents that all say the same thing! Your tax return, unaudited accounts and SA302 all essentially say the same thing, don't they??

What with the (very under-the-radar) u-turn this government just did on Class 2 NI contributions, they really don't like to make self-employment easy!
 

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Also (I don't know if you experienced this, Stuartie), but some of the guidance notes haven't been updated to reflect the latest rules from HMRC. For example, the Visa application using self-employment requests that you provide proof of ongoing self-employment by showing payments of Class 2 NI through direct debit or a bill from HMRC. However, for the last 2 tax years, Class 2 NI is collected through self-assessment and NOT on a monthly or quarterly basis. So showing ongoing self-employment through that route is difficult. I guess recent bank statements with payments for self-employed work highlighted will have to do... I hope so, anyway!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As far as I'm aware your tax return needs to be submitted (either by you or the accountant) before you go to the visa interview. You won't be able to print certain documents out before anyways.

There are differences between the forms - sa302 tax calculation is just one sheet, the tax return is all the details you completed for the Inland revenue (about 20 pages worth) and the unaudited accounts are slightly different still - they give a more in depth financial look at the running costs and assets etc of the business.

But yes I agree with you it all seems unnecessary, after all you can do self assessment to pay your own tax bill and apply for a mortgage with just your sa302 print outs. The cynic in me thinks they're just making it as difficult as possible for people to apply to cut down on immigration numbers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Careful you are looking at the latest version of the guidance notes as I made this mistake originally too by looking at an older version. They have been updated with the class 2 NI contributions part removed - you just need to show recent evidence of ongoing trading of the business. There is a list of acceptable documents for this in the guidance notes too I think.
 

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Ah - that makes sense! I've struggled to find the full guidance notes for completing the flr (m) form. The guidance notes on this page:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publi...-extend-stay-in-the-uk-as-a-partner-form-flrm

are just 10 pages long and tell you how to book an appointment etc. They don't take you through each stage of the 79 page application form and certainly don't list the documents you need. What I've learned about the required documents I've learned from forums such as these! I did find a page listing in detail the immigration rules, but this page seems to be more of a reference for the actual immigration caseworkers as they assess an application. The language is confusing, to say the least. Am I being really stupid?? Is there a website that has the full guidance notes that I can download? If there is, and you know of it, I'd be super appreciative if you could post it here!

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The link I posted earlier in this thread (FMSE) is what you need to look at for the specified evidence. Relevant to you is section 7.
 
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