Government step up plans to tighten visa rules
BRITONS who call over foreign relatives on a visitor visa could face jail or be forced to pay a hefty fine if the relative overstays their visa.
The new plans are outlined under revised Home Office proposals which were published yesterday.
An original plan to force Britons to pay a £1,000 cash bond before relatives land in Britain was abandoned after it faced strong opposition.
In its place Britons will instead be asked apply for a licence before sponsoring a ‘family visitor visa’ for relatives from aboard.
The sponsor could be sent to jail for up to 14 years if the relative stays too long, or be hit with a £5,000 fine.
Licences with only be issued to Britons once checks on financial capability, criminal records and immigration status are passed.
The new plans aim to deter foreign visitors from staying beyond their visa limit as well as forcing Britons to ensure the relative returns to their homeland.
The definition of a relative under the scheme will include spouses, parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren, siblings, aunts, uncles and first cousins.
Immigration minister Liam Byrne said: “Now we are introducing an Australian-style points system for selective migration, it makes sense to tighten visit visas at the same time.
“The changes I am announcing will help create a fairer Britain with fair treatment for those who play by the rules, but tough action against those who break the law.
“We want the UK to stay open and attractive for both business and visitors. But at the same time we are determined to deliver a system of border security which is among the most secure in the world.”
The latest announcement comes after a consultation into changes to marriage visas were published last week.
The government is considering increasing the age at which Britons are able to sponsor a spouse from 18 to 21, while controversial plans to deny visa’s to foreign husband and wives coming to Britain who cannot speak English may be abandoned after opposition from respondents.
Mr Byrne said a final decision on the later has not yet been made.