Motion to Consider
My Lords, I shall begin by observing that this is a highly technical order.
The UK welcomes record numbers of visitors to come and enjoy our historic sites and experience our vibrant culture. In the year to June 2015, 9 million non-EEA visitors came to the United Kingdom, an increase of 0.5 million compared to 2014, with 1.9 million visit visas issued in 2015—an increase of 2% compared to the previous year. The Government are keen that the UK continues to attract business and leisure travellers, who will help our economy grow further. So in April 2015 we simplified the immigration system for people visiting the UK. We streamlined the visitor routes by reducing their number from 15 to four and created more flexibility for visitors to do a wider range of activities.
The order’s provisions, which are of a technical nature, have two basic purposes: first, to update provisions in the 2000 order relating to the extent to which entry clearance will have effect as leave to enter and to the categories of person who may be granted leave to enter automatically and who can be granted or refused leave orally; and, secondly, it makes provision about lapsing leave.
The order extends the period for which entry clearance takes effect as leave to enter for certain categories of visitor, who may, exceptionally, be granted a visa for a period that is longer than the usual six months. These are private medical treatment visitors, who may be granted a visa for up to 11 months, and academic visitors, who may be granted a visa for up to 12 months.
With the simplification of the visitor routes of entry, two routes—those for visitors coming to study for a short period and for parents coming to stay with their children at school here—are no longer treated as visitors. This was done to make their purpose clearer. The order makes a change to ensure that short-term students and parents of tier 4 child students are included in the categories of person to whom leave may be given or refused orally.
The order also makes changes to update the categories of person who may, provided they are a registered traveller, be granted leave to enter automatically if they enter by an e-gate. A registered traveller is a low-risk frequent traveller of a specified nationality who can benefit from quicker processing at the border by entering via an e-passport gate. This is available at most UK airports.
Finally, the order makes a change to ensure that leave granted to partners and children of certain British or settled Crown servants and British Council employees does not lapse after two years when they are accompanying their partner or parent on an overseas posting. The change also means that those granted leave under the family provisions of the Immigration Rules can complete their probationary period outside the United Kingdom before applying for indefinite leave.
I commend the order to the Committee.
I note that the Minister gave me a look when he started by saying that the order is of a highly technical nature, which I think was a suggestion that he hoped that I might not have too much to say, and I am able to grant him his wish. Since there appears to be nothing in the order of a controversial nature, there are no questions that I wish to raise or meaningful comments that I can make, so I will leave it at that and sit down.