Tories unveil new visa proposals

Shadow immigration minister Damian Green unveiled the new proposals
Shadow immigration minister Damian Green unveiled the new proposals

The Conservatives have announced their intention to crack down upon UK visitors who outstay their visas through increased punishments.

As part of the new proposals announced by shadow immigration minister Damian Green, those who outstay their welcome after being granted a conditional stay in the country could face fines or even jail terms.

Such punishments could also be meted out to sponsors of the visa holders, he added, saying it was necessary to be stricter on identifying a named individual who would be culpable for the visitor.

Mr Green, whose proposals have come about following a nationwide consultation on the issue, said the current process is "cumbersome" and does not deal with some of the main problems surrounding visas.

New systems to be introduced may include ways to prevent 'sham marriages' in order for foreign nationals to obtain British visas - which could include a minimum age limit of 21 and English language tests for foreign spouses.

Mr Green said the existing structure of awarding and policing visas "relies too much on delay and inconvenience for applicants, as a substitute for a robust but responsive system".

"We wish to improve controls by having clear rules enforced by competent specialists," he continued.

"At the same time we want genuine applicants to be made welcome, treated courteously and competently and dealt with quickly."

The Labour government has already proposed some changes to the way the visa system works, including bonds of up to £1,000 payable by sponsors to ensure visitors adhere to the restrictions of their visa.

A new system introduced by the Tories, Mr Green added, would involve these sponsors being more 'hands-on'.

He has also proposed certain workers who are already legally working in the UK be taken off the points-based asylum seekers programme to free up administrative time to assist other areas.


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