Immigration Glossary

People applying for any type of British visa often encounter terms that are used by immigration officials both verbally and in writing. To help us better understand different situations, we offer our clients a short dictionary of the most important concepts and terms.

Administrative removal

Expulsion from the country is prescribed to those who violated the conditions of stay, whose visa got expired or who obtained it fraudulently. Not to be confused with deportation. Return to the country after administrative expulsion is possible immediately upon receipt of a new visa.

Administrative Review

The process of challenging the decision made by the Home Office or Visa officer, if there is no right of appeal.

Ancestry status

If you are a commonwealth citizen aged 17 or over and you have a UK born grandparent, you can apply for a UK ancestry visa to come to the UK to seek and take up work. To qualify you will need to provide evidence of your ancestral ties. Once your application is approved you will be allowed to enter and remain in the UK for five years. After this five year period you will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (settled status).

Appellant (lodging an appeal)

A person who opposes the immigration decision of the authorities by lodging an appeal.

Biometric Residence Permit (Biometric Resident Card)

This is an identification card with biographical data of the immigrant (full name, date and place of birth) and his biometric data (photo, fingerprints). It confirms the status of a person residing in the UK.

Border Force (Border Service)

A division of the UK Ministry of the Interior (Home Office) responsible for border control at airports, seaports and railway stations in the UK.

Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)

The abbreviation "COS" is also used. This is a certificate that the Home Office issues to the sponsor (employer), and on the basis of which the applicant (employee) submits an application for the visa categories such as Temporary Worker Visa or Skilled Worker Visa.

Commonwealth citizen

You are a commonwealth citizen if you are a national of any country within the Commonwealth of Nations. As a Commonwealth citizen you may receive certain preferential rights and privileges in many other Commonwealth countries, including the UK.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (Confirmation of admission to the course of study - CAS)

The abbreviation “CAS” is also used.  This is a unique reference number assigned by the sponsor (educational institution) to a prospective student enrolled in a course of study required to apply for a Student Visa.

Curtailment (Restriction or termination of the period of stay in the UK)

Reduction of the validity period of an entry visa or a permit to stay in the UK or their complete cancellation by the Home Office.


Forced return to the country of permanent residence. Deportation is mainly resorted to if a person is accused of a criminal offense and if his presence in the country threatens national security.

Dependent (Dependent family member)

Someone who is financially dependent on an immigrant and is going to enter the country together with the main applicant. Can be husband/wife, partner, child under 18 years old.


Generally speaking, according to English law you are domiciled in the country in which you have made your permanent home. This is the country in which you intend to settle for the remainder of your life. In many cases this is the county where you were born and grew up.

Dual citizenship

The presence of citizenship of two countries. It depends on the legislation of each particular state. In the UK, dual citizenship is recognized.

Employer Checking Service

The Employer Checking Service is an online system run by the Home Office for employers to check an employee or potential employee’s immigration status if:

  • they cannot show you their documents because of an outstanding appeal, review or application with UKVI;
  • they have an Application Registration Card;
  • they have a Certificate of Application that’s less than 6 months old;
  • they’re a Commonwealth citizen who started living in the UK before 1988.

Entry Clearance Officers (Visa Officers)

They are officials of British embassies and consulates abroad who have the authority to consider applications for temporary entry and immigration to the UK.

European Economic Area

For convenience, the English abbreviation EEA is used. Not to be confused with the European Union. EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

EEA countries: all of the above, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Citizens of the above countries have the right of free movement within the EEA.

Frontier workers

EU citizens who work in the UK as employees or self-employed, but live permanently in another country of the European Union.

Further leave to remain (FLR)

Extension of an existing residence permit in the United Kingdom (visa) for a limited time.

Great Britain, UK (United Kingdom)

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Gross and net pay (Payments with and without deduction of tax)

Gross pay – the amount of wages before taxes and other official deductions.

Net pay is the "net" amount paid to an employee after all taxes and deductions.

Home Office

The UK government department responsible for immigration, security, law and order. The Home Office consists of the following divisions: Border Force (Border Service), UK Visas and Immigration (UK Immigration and Visa Service) and a special unit of the Immigration Enforcement Service. The last two divisions were formed after the disbanding of the UKBA (UK Border Agency) in March 2013.  

Immigration visa category

The legal way to enter the UK or extend your stay in the UK, reflected in the immigration rules.

Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR

The right to reside in the UK indefinitely. Cancelled if the holder of the ILR has been outside the UK for more than two years.

Leave to enter/remain (Permission to enter/stay)

A permit issued by immigration authorities to enter and stay in the UK. It can be limited and unlimited in time.

Licensed sponsor (Licensed Sponsor)

An organization accredited by the Home Office that sponsors an immigrant who wants to come to the United Kingdom in certain immigration categories of the Points System (PBS).

Limited Leave to Enter/Remain (Limited Stay)

Permission to enter the UK for a limited time or a temporary residence permit in the UK.

Maintenance funds (Funds for accommodation)

The amount (depending on the immigration category) that must be on the applicant's bank account for a certain period of time in the form of an irreducible balance. It is considered proof that the applicant will be able to support himself and his family in the UK for a certain time period.


The legal process during which an applicant over the age of 18 obtains British citizenship on the basis of permanent residence in the UK. At the same time, he receives the same rights and privileges as any citizen who was born in the UK.

NHS Health Surcharge (Additional charge of the NHS - the UK Public Health Service)

An additional fee in favour of the UK Public Health Service, introduced from 6 April 2015. The fee must be paid by applicants for an entry visa or a permit to stay in the UK if the period of stay in the country exceeds 6 months. The amount of the fee depends on the duration of the visa and currently amounts to £624 pounds per year. For students - £470 per year. Applicants for ILR, EEA citizens and their family members are exempt from paying this fee.

OISC - Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner

An independent public body set up under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The OISC is responsible for ensuring that immigration advisers fulfil the requirements of good practice.

Overstayer (Violator of the period of stay)

A person who entered the UK on a visa with a limited validity period, but remained in the country after its expiration without the permission of the immigration authorities.

PBS or Points-based system (Points scoring system)

The immigration system of scoring points for those who wish to come to work or study in the United Kingdom in various categories included in it.

Pre-Settled status

A 5-year residence permit issued to EU citizens and their family members (including unmarried partners and second-generation family members) in light of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union in accordance with the provisions of Brexit and the “EU Settlement Scheme".

Public funds

In terms of immigration, public funds means claiming any of the following benefits: income support, family credit, council tax benefit, housing benefit, child benefit, income-based jobseeker's allowance, attendance allowance, severe disablement allowance, invalid care allowance, disability living allowance, disability working allowance.

Registration (Registration)

The procedure for obtaining UK citizenship by persons under the age of 18, if they comply with certain rules.

Residence Card

The document is issued to family members of EEA citizens exercising contractual rights in the UK, if the family members themselves are not EEA citizens. It is issued only if the applicant is in the UK. Confirms his right to residency.

Resident workers

Citizens of the United Kingdom, citizens of the EEA countries or persons with temporary or permanent residence, including those obtained under the new EU Settlement Scheme (Pre-Settler status or Settled status).

Settled person

Someone who lives in the UK without any immigration restrictions and time limits.

Settled status

An indefinite residence permit, which is issued to EU citizens and their family members (including unmarried partners, and family members of the second generation), provided that they have lived in the UK for at least 5 years, and in light of the UK's exit from the European Union in accordance with the provisions of Brexit and the “EU Settlement Scheme”.


A person who is in the UK in a certain visa status, which helps another person to enter the UK in any immigration category.

Sponsor Management System (SMS)

The Sponsor Management System is UKVI’s online portal accessible to employers and educators that hold sponsor licences for Skilled Workers (formerly Tier 2) or Students (formerly Tier 4) respectively. The licence holders use the SMS to meet their compliance duties and day to day activities, including communicating with UKVI.

Subject Access Request (SAR) 

A Subject Access Request is a request that can be made for the personal information of the immigration character held by the Home Office in their borders, immigration and citizenship system. 

Subject to Immigration control (Persons subject to immigration control)

Persons who are allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, and their stay is subject to certain conditions and restrictions.

Switching (Switching to another visa category)

Switching from one immigration category to another without leaving the UK.

Travel documents (identity document for travel)

A document (other than a passport) that allows stateless persons to travel abroad.

UK Border Agency

A division of the UK Ministry of the Interior (Home Office), formerly responsible for immigration control. Since March 2013, it has been abolished, and its functions are performed by two divisions: UK Visas and Immigration (UK Immigration and Visa Service) and a special unit of the Immigration Enforcement Service.


A vignette is the sticker issued by UKVI to individuals who have applied for and have been granted an immigration status whilst they are abroad. The vignette is usually for a limited period (for example, three months) and allows the individual to lawfully enter the UK and then collect their Biometric Residence Permit (‘BRP’) or Biometric Residence Card (‘BRC’) once they arrive in the UK.

Some individuals who were granted an immigration status in the UK many years ago may hold a vignette issued by UKVI or one of its predecessor organisations whilst they were in the UK.

Visa nationals

Citizens of other countries who need to obtain a visa to enter the UK without breaching the immigration law.

Voluntary return

Voluntary return is the process by which a non-British individual can return to their country of nationality by their own choice. Voluntary return can be at the expense of the individual or at UKVI’s expense. There can be a ban on returning the UK following voluntary return. The ban, if any, depends on the individual’s immigration history and the immigration category they wish to rely upon to re-enter the UK.

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