Passport exit checks introduced at cross-Channel borders

On the 29th of March 2015, the Home Office announced that passport exit controls will be implemented as travellers are leaving the UK. The legislation is due to be phased in as of the 8th of April 2015 with it taking full effect by mid-June through the government working closely with airports, seaports and tunnels across Britain. The exit checks will enable data to be collected on every individual leaving the UK through to the requirement for each passport to be scanned. The government claim that these exit checks will provide the Home Office with crucial information aiding both the security services and helping keep track of immigration more efficiently.

The exit checks are said to effect cross-Channel and Channel tunnel borders more than airports due to most airlines already requiring passport information prior to travel. Prior to the 8th of April, travellers leaving the UK via cross-Channel routes were not subject to passport scrutiny by border control.  The Home Office claim that this legislation will strengthen Britain’s border security, ensuring that all passports are now fully verified. The new border controls are said to cause little disruption to travellers leaving the UK, however some fear that delays will occur during peak times of travel.

By Moira Rrodhe

5 days until NHS surcharge is introduced to migrants

On the 19th of March 2015, the Home Office announced that a health surcharge for non-EEA migrants and students, will come into force as of the 6th of April 2015. This surcharge will only apply to migrants entering the UK for a period in excess of 6 months. The health surcharge is set at £200 per year and £150 for students, with the payment being accumulated by the Home Office when an immigration application is made. Dependants will be charged the same amount as their main applicant unless stated otherwise under the legislation. The health surcharge is to be paid fully upfront in relation to the visa application, for example if a non-EEA migrant is applying for a 5 year visa, the surcharge will be £1000 in addition to all the visa fees. Certain exemptions are made regarding the payment, for example Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer migrants are not required to pay the surcharge and neither are those seeking asylum.

The Home Office claim that the NHS surcharge will grant temporary non-EEA migrants and students the same level of access to the NHS as permanent UK residents. The estimated NHS cost of the temporary non-EEA migrants and students is £950 million per year, therefore the government notes that this secondary legislation, under the Immigration Act 2014, will ensure that financial contributions to the NHS are being made to cover the treatment given to the temporary migrants.

The Home Office argue that the health surcharge levels are competitive in comparison to some of the UK’s competitor nations and represent a mere 1% of the total cost required for students studying for a three year, undergraduate degree. In addition, the cost will also be lower than that of the most basic private medical insurance in the UK and countries such as the USA and Australia.

By Moira Rrodhe