Anna Blackden

Senior Associate | London (City)

Anna Blackden Photo

Based in the City office, Anna is a highly experienced immigration lawyer advising employers, education institutions and private individuals in the areas of immigration, human rights and Skilled Worker (Tier 2) and Student (formerly Tier 4) Sponsor Licensing.

Ranked as a recommended education sector lawyer in The Legal 500, Anna previously worked at a UKVI licensed student sponsor where her role included advising her employer how to protect its sponsor licence and minimise compliance risks.

Having personally participated and successfully passed UK Home Office audits, Anna now draws on this experience to conduct mock audits for schools, colleges, universities and employers. Anna also regularly provides bespoke training for clients on sponsor compliance. Anna has been invited by UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) and the Association of Colleges to give talks to their members on student sponsor compliance. Anna also has expertise in assisting individuals with applications outside the Points Based system, including asylum, human rights, judicial review and citizenship applications as well as advising EU nationals on the implications of Brexit and applying under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Education Practice

Examples of recent work

  • Assisted an independent school successfully apply for a Child Student Sponsor Licence. Our comprehensive sponsor licence application service aims to avoid the need for further enquiries from the Home Office, which is why the application was approved in less than 4 weeks and without a pre-licence visit from the Home Office.
  • Advising an Overseas Higher Education Institution on its eligibility to apply for a Student Sponsor licence to enable its students to undertake part of their studies in the UK.
  • Assisted an independent boarding school successfully sponsor a South African national on a Tier 2 visa as their new housemistress, a key role that the school had struggled to recruit for.  
  • Conducting Mock Home Office Compliance Audits for an independent school holding a Child Student licence (formerly Tier 4 Child) as well as a University holding a Student Sponsor licence (formerly a Tier 4 General licence). The Mock Audits identified areas where compliance could be strengthened, allowing the education institutions to take the necessary steps to protect their Student Sponsor licences.
  • Anna was instructed by a French national applying to naturalise as a British Citizen with excessive UK absences as a result of overseas research trips for her Masters studies. By submitting substantial evidence and drafting persuasive representations, the citizenship application was successfully granted.

Feedback received from education sector clients includes -

“It was a pleasure to have you on Friday [Anna] and I think everyone found the [Tier 4 compliance] very helpful. I'm sure we will be in touch should we require any of your services in the future.”  

Suzanna Liu, Admissions and Visa Officer, Ashbourne College

“Anna ensured we remained compliant with our Tier 4 Sponsor responsibilities and therefore protect our Tier 4 Sponsor licence. Her previous experience as an immigration lawyer added a huge amount of value.”

Sarah Gore, International Business Manager, Edinburgh College

“We have already started to address your detailed recommendations [from the Tier 4 Mock Audit]. It was a sharp reminder to the rigors of Tier 4 compliance and a huge help to us.”

Sam Swann, International Business Development Manager, Exeter College

Anna Blackden, from Doyle Clayton, was extremely helpful with her advice and assistance in applying for our Tier 4 Visa Licence.  The mock audit that she went through with us was particularly useful in preparing for the visit that we subsequently had from the Home Office.   I have found Anna to be professional but friendly in her approach, and she left no stone unturned; her attention to detail being exemplary.” 

Wendy Archibald, Deputy Head/Administration, Kensington Wade School

“On behalf of the School I wanted to thank you so much for all your support in obtaining the visa for our new staff member.  It turned out to be such a complicated process and we really could not have done it without you!  Your patience, attention to detail and persistence managed to get us there in the end  - and you really did help us every step of the way.” 

Kate Tuttle, HR Director, Downe House School

Business Immigration Practice

Examples of recent work

  • Presented a live webinar as part of our Autumn Immigration series on the topic ‘Are Your EU Employees Safe to Stay in the UK?’ The webinar focused on what EU workers and their family members need to do to secure their right to remain in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme, whilst also sharing top tips and immigration strategies to help corporate clients plan global staff mobility in the lead up to Brexit. Click the following link to view the webinar recording: Brexit Webinar.
  • Successfully assisted a prestigious hotel group to apply for a sponsor licence and thereafter hire a Filipino national as their Asian Specialist Chef. Satisfying the strict Shortage Occupation criteria for chefs involved submitting substantial supporting evidence to the UK Home Office. 
  • Acting for a leading digital and casino gaming company, Anna assisted a senior US employee transfer to their UK branch with his unmarried partner under the Tier 2 route, with whom he had not yet cohabited. Despite the PBS dependant rules providing that unmarried partners must have cohabited for two years, we submitted persuasive representations highlighting human rights grounds and the couple’s extenuating circumstances, which resulted in a successful visa application.

    “The Grove is a 5 star resort hotel located in Hertfordshire… we commenced an international recruitment campaign to appoint a specialist chef for the Asian section.  Novices in the field of international recruitment, we worked closely with Liz Timmins and Anna Blackden who expertly guided us through unchartered territory, successfully taking us through the process of applying for a sponsor licence and assigning that licence to the successful candidate who started in September on a 3 year Tier 2 visa.  I am truly grateful for their specialist knowledge of immigration law, their patience in explaining complex details with such simplicity and, above all, inspiring us with the confidence that our challenge was indeed possible (although there were no guarantees).“

    Danielle Michaels, Human Resources Manager, Ralph Trustees Limited (The Grove Hotel)

Private Client Practice

Examples of recent work

  • Acted for a US national during the Covid 19 lockdown and assisted with an exceptional switching application outside Immigration Rules from a visitor visa to Tier 2 (General visa) to work as a doctor in an NHS hospital.
  • Acted for a Turkish national currently in the UK on a Tier 2 sponsored work visa. Provision of comprehensive advice about claiming political asylum and whether to switch from her current sponsored work route. 
  • Acted for a Canadian national who had inadvertently overstayed her UK ancestry visa as a result of extenuating circumstances. Our representations submitted alongside her application and compelling evidence resulted in the successful grant of leave to remain under the 5 year Family route.
  • Assisted an Indian national successfully obtain his first UK spouse visa. Due to their international careers, the married couple had never cohabited since their marriage 8 years previously. We submitted substantial supporting evidence and representations to demonstrate the couple remained in a genuine and subsisting relationship.

Feedback received from clients includes -

“Anna Blackden was critical to helping secure my Tier 2 Visa to assume a new position as a Consultant in the NHS. Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges of closed government services during the height of Covid-19 lockdown, she ‘miraculously’ navigated the process in ways I am sure I couldn’t have done myself, and kept me thoroughly informed from beginning to end. This could have only been possible with someone as skilled and experienced at Attorney Blackden. I am truly grateful for her assistance.“ 

Dr Lawrence Kaplan

“Doyle Clayton has represented me in applications for Permanent Residence, citizenship, and other immigration issues over the past two years.  I have been perpetually awed by the quality of service offered by the firm.  Responsiveness, specialist knowledge, and billing transparency were just a few of the virtues demonstrated by my solicitor, Anna Blackden, and Anita de Atouguia, over the course of our professional relationship. “ 

Nathalie Demirdjian, International Student

“Anna Blackden assisted us with two applications: for indefinite leave to remain for myself and for spouse of a settled person for my husband. We had an excellent experience working with Anna and Doyle Clayton overall. She was informed, supportive and solution-oriented, which made both application processes much easier for us. Anna was very patient, and made a huge effort to explain confusing processes and make it hassle-free for us.” 

Neha Batura and Prithviraj Banerjee

To meet some of Anna's Education team colleagues please click here and to meet some of her Immigration team colleagues here.

Experience and qualifications 

  • Qualified in March 2005 
  • Specialist in Immigration Law since 2006
  • Immigration and Asylum Accreditation since 2006, Law Society of England and Wales

Some of our immigration services you may be interested in -

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