UK Visa Loopholes Plugged By New Rules

The British government is tightening up visa rules to plug loopholes exploited by visitors to the UK.

The new rules will take effect from the start of April 2015.

The main change hits medical tourists in the pocket. Visitors from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who come to the UK for more than six months and take advantage of the free National Health Service will have to pay a fee.

The charge is £150 a year for students and £200 a year for any other visitors with a temporary visa or immigration application.

Biometric residence permits will be introduced for immigrants, students and workers on permanent or long visas.

Biometric data

This new measure brings the UK into line with European Union legislation.

Visitors who given biometric data will have a special sticker inserted in their passports and will have to collect a permit from a Post Office within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

The card then allows the holder a right to stay study or work in the country as well as giving access to public services.

Biometric permits are due to be issued across Europe and dozens of other nations later this year.

The Home Office has also announced all secure English language testers have been axed and will be replaced by two new providers from April 6.

Workers will also see several changes in Tier 1 and 2 visas. The major alteration is axing the three month cooling off period for Tier 2 permits, so employers can sponsor interns and then return them to the UK for a permanent posting with 12 months.

Simplified visa categories

Tourists and short-term visitors will also have simplified visa systems.

Instead of the current 15 different categories of visa, the old system will be scrapped in April.

Four new visas will replace the old categories.

“The aim is to make applying for a visa easier to understand for foreign visitors,” said a Home Office spokesman.

“We are also bringing in other new rules to align British visas with those in other countries and to close some loopholes that have allowed immigrants to enter the country and stay unlawfully in the past.

“We want to encourage business and tourists but we also need to guard against people coming here for benefits and accessing the health service without making a contribution like other citizens through their tax and national insurance contributions.”

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