The UK government has issued a new Statement of Changes (HC 1715) to the Immigration Rules, which came into effect on 19th July 2023 at 3 pm.
This update adds Dominica, Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu to the list of countries whose nationals now require a visa to travel to the UK as visitors.
The explanatory statement reveals that the UK is repudiating an international visa treaty with Honduras, citing "public policy" grounds. As a result of this change, we can anticipate reciprocal visa requirements for British citizens traveling to some of these countries.
While the explanatory statement itself does not elaborate on the reasons for the change, a statement by Home Secretary Suella Braverman provided the following justifications:
For Dominica and Vanuatu, the decision is linked to their 'golden passport' schemes, which have been found to be subject to widespread misuse, including the granting of citizenship to individuals deemed risky for the UK.
Honduras and Namibia have experienced a significant increase in asylum claims by nationals arriving on safe and legal routes to the UK. These individuals exploit the provision allowing non-visa nationals to visit the UK temporarily and subsequently claim asylum. Namibians and Hondurans rank highest among non-visa nationals in terms of asylum claims, putting considerable pressure on UK resources and diverting attention from other operational priorities.
Timorese nationals have been increasingly arriving at the UK border as non-genuine visitors, often with the intention of fraudulently claiming EU Settlement Scheme status as dependents or engaging in illegal work in the UK.
To accommodate those who already have confirmed bookings to travel to the UK, there will be a four-week, visa-free transition period for arrivals no later than 16th August 2023, provided the bookings were made on or before 19th July 2023 at 15:00 BST.
It is worth noting that the UK is not the only country expressing concern over 'golden passport' schemes. The EU had already imposed a visa regime on Vanuatu in November 2022 due to similar reasons.