UK immigration to introduce Australian style cash guarantees

Published:  25 Mar at 6 PM
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As part of tougher immigration laws, the UK Border Agency is planning to make immigrant workers and students from as yet undetermined high-risk countries lodge cash bonds before entry.

The measure is intended to make sure immigrants on temporary visas don’t become overstayers and simply disappear, and there are calls to extend the plan to tourists planning to take advantage of the NHS. The plan calls for the bond to be returned in full to those leaving when their visa expire and, in the case of tourists, if they have made no use of NHS services.

The returnable bond system has been used in Australia for 20 years or so, and is regarded as successful in discouraging overstaying. For example, the Sponsored Family Visitor visa as aimed at those wishing to holiday, study or visit family for a special occasion such as a wedding. Three-month visas are issued, and only if immigration officers suspect an applicant may overstay is the bond system is called into use.

Certain categories of long-stay visas may also require bonds, such as when a permanent resident requests that his or her overseas parent aged over 65 be admitted to the country. Immigration expert Dr Anna Boucher explains that, in the case of aged parents, they are expected to stay permanently, with the bond used to pay future medical expenses.

An unnamed British expat told Sky News that he had to pay AD$14,000 to enable his parents-in-law to migrate to Sydney, adding he was fortunate to be able to meet the expense. Bonds are kept by the state for 10 years, even if the sponsored family member returns to the home country, as was the case with the Briton’s parents-in-law. He won’t see his money returned for another few years, although interest is paid on the amount.

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