The second Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules this week landed today: HC 1715. It adds Dominica, Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu to the list of countries whose nationals require a visa to travel to the UK as a visitor. The change has been introduced with immediate effect, from 3pm 19 July 2023.
The explanatory statement to the rules also states that the UK is repudiating an international visa treaty with Honduras on grounds of “public policy”. This is allowed for in the treaty, apparently. We can expect reciprocal visa regimes to be imposed on British citizens travelling to at least some of these countries, I would guess.
The explanatory statement itself does not say why the change is being made. A statement to parliament by Home Secretary Suella Braverman set out the reasons, though.
For Dominica and Vanuatu, it’s about their ‘golden passport’ schemes:
Careful consideration of Dominica’s and Vanuatu’s operation of a citizenship by investment scheme has shown clear and evident abuse of the scheme, including the granting of citizenship to individuals known to pose a risk to the UK.
For Honduras and Namibia it’s about rising numbers of asylum claims by people arriving on safe and legal routes to reach the UK:
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.
For the Timorese, it’s apparently about making fraudulent use of the EU Settlement Scheme:
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.
We can see the asylum numbers in the chart and table below:
Here’s the data from that so you can see the really small numbers for some of those nationalities.
|2020 Q1||2020 Q2||2020 Q3||2020 Q4||2021 Q1||2021 Q2||2021 Q3||2021 Q4||2022 Q1||2022 Q2||2022 Q3||2022 Q4||2023 Q1|
Braverman also announced that those with existing tickets to travel in the next month would be exempt from the new rules:
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.
The UK is not alone in taking a dim view of ‘golden passport’ schemes. The EU imposed a visa regime on Vanuatu back in November 2022 for the same reason.