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Immigration Control

Volume 407: debated on Monday 23 June 2003

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The Government are firmly committed to maintaining effective immigration controls while at the same time ensuring that genuine passengers are able to pass through our ports with the least possible inconvenience.The number of people arriving at UK airports who are found to be inadmissible is unacceptably high. Certain nationals who are are required to hold a valid visa to enter the UK may transit this country for up to 24 hours without a visa. This provides a relatively easy and inexpensive way for those who are intent on circumventing our immigration controls to do so. We have identified nationals of 16 countries, Albania, Belarus, Burma, Burundi, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Nepal, The Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Vietnam, as posing a particular problem in this respect. Therefore, from 00.01 hours on Tuesday 24 June all nationals of those 16 countries/territories wishing to transit the UK will require a visa to do so.To avoid undue hardship for those who had already made their travel plans, we have agreed to operate a grace period. Until 23.59 hours on 28 June any transit passenger who bought their ticket on or before 23 June will not be refused entry solely on the basis of not holding a valid transit visa.Also, any person on the return leg of a journey they commenced before 23 June and who passed through the UK on the outward leg of their journey will be allowed to transit the UK without a visa.