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Changes in Immigration Rules

Volume 607: debated on Friday 11 March 2016

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules.

A new rule is being added to the general grounds for refusal rules (with consequential changes to armed forces, family and private life, and visitor provisions), to provide a new discretionary power to refuse applications on the basis of litigation debt. Each year, the Home Office is awarded considerable litigation costs by the immigration and asylum chamber of the tribunal and the courts. A number of applicants do not pay these costs. At present such litigation debts are not taken into account when considering applications to be granted entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain. The new rule provides a power to refuse such applications if the applicant has not paid a litigation debt, in order to encourage payment of such debts. It is right that people who are ordered to pay costs to the Home Office should do so.

The threshold is also being reduced from £1,000 to £500 at which foreign nationals who incur NHS debt can be refused entry clearance or further leave to enter or remain in the UK. These changes are aimed at preventing the abuse of our valuable public services.

There are a number of changes to visitor rules, which will:

allow Kuwaiti citizens to benefit from the electronic visa waiver and for holders of Indonesian diplomatic passports to travel visa free to the UK as a visitor

update the permit free festival list (which allows visitors to perform at listed festivals and receive payment) for 2016-17

remove the mandatory entry clearance refusal for holders of 'non-national' documents, which do not establish a nationality, owing to the holder’s status, but which the UK is otherwise prepared to accept as they are recognised as valid for travel in all other respects

simplify the journey for those non-EU citizens who usually do not require a visa for the UK, but whose passport has been lost or stolen and are therefore returning home on an emergency travel document.

Updates are made to the definition of ‘public funds', to include payments made by local authorities and devolved Administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland which replace the discretionary social fund.

The changes insert appendix SN into the immigration rules. This specifies how notices that applications are invalid or void and the outcomes of administrative review applications will be served. The new rules set out unified provisions for service of the notice types that it covers.

The statement also makes changes to the immigration rules on skilled and highly skilled work routes, students, family and private life, and administrative review, and the changes to the rules concerning overseas domestic workers set out in my statement of 7 March 2016.