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UK to pilot immigration bonds for 12 months from November

Maverick Report

british_flagISLAMABAD: The UK Home Office is planning to run a pilot from November for 12 months which will require financial bonds from selected visitors with the purpose of testing the effectiveness of bonds as a deterrent against visa abuse, such as overstaying.

According to a press release issued by the British High Commission here, this pilot scheme will operate in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana. “The pilot will be highly selective and focused on the highest risk applicants — we will not require all visitors from the selected pilot countries to pay a bond. The number of bonds issued during the pilot will be limited,” the release said.

The level of the bond will be set at £3,000 per adult; children under 18 years will be exempt. The bond payment will be returned if the visitor returns home after their visit visa has expired and within the time period specified by their visa.

To bring the scheme into force, the British home secretary will lay a Commencement Order before Parliament to activate the power in the Immigration and Nationality Act 1999 to require a bond from visitors, and make changes to the Immigration Rules to establish the pilot schemes.

According to the release, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “This is the next step in making sure our immigration system is more selective, bringing down net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands while still welcoming the brightest and the best to Britain. In the long run we’re interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services.

“We’re planning a pilot that focuses on overstayers and examines a couple of different ways of applying bonds. The pilot will apply to visitor visas, but if the scheme is successful we’d like to be able to apply it on an intelligence-led basis on any visa route and any country.”

Following careful evaluation, the home secretary will then decide whether to establish a permanent scheme, the release said.

Australia and New Zealand apply similar amounts between 5k and 15k Australian dollars (£3k-£9k) and 5k and 10k NZ dollars (£2.5k-£5k). Australia and New Zealand have similar schemes where financial bonds are applied to visitors in order to mitigate the risk of them overstaying their visa.

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