The nationalities of five further countries will now require a visa prior to arriving in the UK as a visitor.
The UK has supplemented its list of ‘visa nationals’, requiring the following additional countries be to make an immigration application prior to their arrival in the UK:
- Timor-Leste, and
Previously, the nationals of these five countries were able to get entry clearance at the border without obtaining a visa.
Three of the five countries – Dominica, Namibia and Vanuatu – are members of the Commonwealth.
Notably, two of the five additions, Dominica and Vanuatu, have citizenship by investment programmes. Citizenship by investment programmes allow for nationality to be obtained in exchange for a lump-sum investment to the country, or investment by other means, such as purchasing property. One of the attractions of the programmes is visa-free travel to many countries. Referring to these two countries, Home Secretary Suella Braverman expressly stated that this was the reason for them being added to the list, claiming that “operation of a citizenship by investment scheme has shown clear and evident abuse”.
Honduras and Namibia have been added to the visa national list as a result of ranking high in the list of nationalities from which people claim asylum. The Home Office is seeking to restrict citizens of the two countries from coming to the UK legally as a non-visa national and subsequently claiming asylum. Not addressing the merits of such asylum claims, Suella Braverman cited ‘operational pressures’ as warranting their new status.
In addition, it will present difficulties for those who successfully secure a visit visa and claim asylum at the border, as one of the requirements of the visa is that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit.
The Nationality and Border Act 2022 introduced powers for the Home Office to assign ‘differentiated status’ to refugees who arrived in the UK illegally, attracting fewer rights and protections than those who arrive legally, effectively creating a two-tier asylum system. Whilst the system was suspended in June 2023, the Illegal Migration Bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, will also seek to introduce greater powers of detention and removal of those arriving in the UK illegally.
Restricting the ways in which a national from the added countries can come to the UK legally is likely to prevent genuine refugees from accessing the asylum system.
How Gherson can assist
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