The Government are today laying before the House a statement of changes in the immigration rules. The first change will allow the UK Border Agency to refuse entry or stay in the UK to those subject to immigration control with outstanding unpaid NHS charges of £1,000 or more. This change will be phased in from 1 November.
On 18 March 2011, I announced the Government’s response to the 2010 consultation on refusing entry of stay to NHS debtors and signalled my intention to lay a new rules change in respect of outstanding NHS charges. This will deter overseas visitors from misusing the NHS and encourage overseas visitors to meet their obligations to pay for the NHS services that they use. The UK Border Agency will continue to work closely with the Department of Health on a range of measures to prevent health tourism.
I can also confirm that we are publishing the impact assessment for the changes in respect of outstanding NHS charges on the UK Border Agency website and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the House Library.
A minor technical change to the evidential requirements for settlement is also being made which will oblige economic migrants to provide supporting documents to show they are earning a minimum amount before they are granted settlement.
I am also making minor changes to rule 317 on parents, grandparents and other dependent relatives to improve the drafting and transparency of the rule. Consequential changes will be made to rule 319(v) which deals with the dependent relatives of refugees and those with humanitarian protection.
We are also making some technical corrections to the rules for other dependent relatives of a refugee or beneficiary of humanitarian protection. We are deleting a provision in the rules that requires an applicant to be refused if he or she has one or more unspent convictions within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 when they apply for entry clearance or further leave to remain in this route. This provision was included in error, as Government policy is that indefinite leave to remain (ILR) should be refused to people with unspent convictions, but not that an application for entry clearance or limited leave to remain should be refused. We are also clarifying the existing rules to ensure that other family members who wish to switch into the further leave to remain or settlement route in this category can do so. The amendments will also affect the criteria for granting settlement as we are clarifying the need for an applicant to have valid leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom so that those who have overstayed do not qualify under the rules.
We are also making minor, technical changes to the immigration rules on students, including: to reflect that Education Scotland is the new name for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education; to amend the definition of UK-recognised body to confirm that this includes foundation programme offices for post-graduate doctors and dentists; to clarify the definition of who benefits from the streamlined application process for tier 4. A minor correction is being made to the rules laid on 6 April to make provision for spouses and civil partners of a British citizen or settled person in the United Kingdom in line with the policy intention relating to in-country switching.
Minor changes are also being made to the immigration rules relating to unmarried and same-sex partners of a British citizen or settled person in the United Kingdom to enable in-country switching into this route, reflecting the policy intention.
The last change relates to the Olympic and Paralympic games. The UK needs to manage effectively the entry and stay of persons accredited for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games such as athletes, umpires, technical staff and broadcasters and other individuals before, during and after the games in order to deliver a safe and secure games. Such persons are referred to as games family members.
In order to do this, and fulfil contractual and agreements reached with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), it is necessary to make two sets of changes to the UK’s immigration rules.
The first change amends appendix 1 to the immigration rules by exempting certain holders of the Olympic Identity and Accreditation Card (OIAC) and Paralympic Identity and Accreditation Card (PIAC) from visa requirements during the accreditation period of the games, which runs from 30 March 2012 to 8 November 2012, providing the card is presented with a valid national passport or other document satisfactorily establishing nationality and identity, and providing the requirements set out in the statement of changes to the immigration rules have been met.
The second change amends the visitor category of the immigration rules by creating two new categories of visitor—an “Olympic or Paralympic games family member visitor” and an “Olympic or Paralympic games family member child visitor”. Leave in these two visitor categories will only be available during the accreditation period of the games to games family members who meet the requirements of the immigration rules. Individuals granted leave to enter or remain as an Olympic or Paralympic games family member visitor and Olympic or Paralympic games family member child visitor, during the period of 30 March 2012 to 8 May 2012, will be admitted for up to six months, while those who are granted leave to enter or remain during the period of 9 May 2012 to 8 November 2012 will be admitted up until, and including, 8 November 2012. In both cases conditions prohibiting recourse to public funds and restricting employment to employment only related to Olympic and Paralympic games, will be attached to the leave.
These changes to the immigration rules will help the UK facilitate the entry and stay of games family members in the UK during the games while also allowing the UK Border Agency to maintain a robust immigration control.
We previously informed Parliament, in the explanatory memoranda accompanying the Immigration (Provision of Physical Data) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 and the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Amendment) Order 2011 and during their debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords, that we would be amending the Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 1993 and Channel Tunnel (Miscellaneous Provisions) Order 1994 to enable the collection of fingerprints and facial images from visa nationals accredited for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games at the UK’s train juxtaposed controls in France and Belgium. The aforementioned 2011 regulations enable biometric information to be taken from persons accredited for the Olympic and Paralympic games who would usually be required to apply for a visa and therefore have their biometric information taken as visa nationals but as part of the host city contract Her Majesty’s Government gave a commitment that in specified circumstances there would be no requirement for certain holders of an accreditation card to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK. The amendments to the channel tunnel orders are no longer considered necessary as the 2011 regulations, when read with the provisions of the channel tunnel orders, provide us with the legal power to make the collection at the UK’s train juxtaposed controls in France and Belgium.