Statement Of Changes HC 1715

Today, HC 1715, the second Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules this week, was published. It expands the list of nations whose citizens need a visa to visit the UK to include Dominica, Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu. With immediate effect, the modification will take effect at 3 p.m. on July 19, 2023.

The UK is reneging on a global visa agreement with Honduras for “public policy” reasons, according to the explanatory statement to the rules. It appears that the treaty permits this. I would imagine that reciprocal visa requirements will be placed on British nationals visiting at least some of these nations.

The reason for the modification is not explicitly stated in the explanatory statement. Suella Braverman, the home secretary, explained the reasons in a statement to the legislature.

It concerns the ‘golden passport’ programmes of Dominica and Vanuatu:

A careful examination of how Vanuatu and Dominica operate their citizenship by investment programmes has revealed blatant and obvious exploitation of the programme, including the granting of citizenship to people considered to be a risk to the UK.

With more people coming in the UK via safe and legal methods, there are an increasing number of asylum claims from countries like Honduras and Namibia:

From Honduras and Namibia there has been a sustained and significant increase in the number of UK asylum applications being made by these nationals, who have abused the provision to visit the UK for a limited period as non-visa nationals in order to claim asylum. As such, Namibians and Hondurans rank first amongst non-visa nationals for asylum claims. These high numbers are unsustainable, contributing significantly to operational pressures which have resulted in frontline resource being diverted from other operational priorities.

It appears that the Timorese are trying to use the EU Settlement Scheme fraudulently.

Lastly, there has been a sustained increase in the number of Timorese nationals arriving at the UK border as non-genuine visitors, often with the intention to fraudulently claim EU Settlement Scheme status as dependants or to work illegally in the UK.

Those who already have tickets to fly within the next month will not be subject to the new regulations, according to Braverman.

There will be a four-week, visa-free transition period for those who hold confirmed bookings to the UK made on or before 1500 BST 19 July 2023 where arrival in the UK is no later than 16 August 2023.

‘Golden passport’ programmes are not just disliked in the UK. For the same reason, the EU imposed a visa requirement on Vanuatu back in November 2022.

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Written by:

Ghulam Mustafa

Director, Barrister