Immigration Bill

Written evidence submitted by Clive Evans (IB 26)

Summary

1. This submission is from a UK National resident overseas and makes recommendations with regard to Clause 33 Immigration Health Charge as it relates to travel insurance policies.

Personal information

2. My name is Clive Anthony Evans, a UK National resident in Thailand and married to a Thai National for 5 years. I have visited the UK twice in that period with my wife who obtained a 6-month visa for the purpose.

3. On each occasion we have taken out travel insurance to cover my wife for any medical emergencies that might arise, therefore she truthfully specified that she would not be receiving any benefits while in the UK.

Background

4. Clause 33 (1) enables the Secretary of State to provide for a charge – an Immigration Health Charge- to be imposed on subsection (a) persons who apply for immigration permission.

5. Clause 33 (2) subsection (a) defines Immigration permission as ‘leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a limited period; other associated definitions are covered by subsections (3)(b) and (3)(c).

6. Clause 33 (3) provides for the methods for imposing the charge and the penalties for non-payment. The paragraph that is pertinent to my submission is subsection (3) (e) whereby the Secretary of State may provide for exemptions from a charge.

7. Additionally Clause 33 (4) states that In specifying the amount of a charge under subsection (3)(b) the Secretary of State must (among other matters) have regard to the range of health services that are likely to be available free of charge to persons who have been given immigration permission

8. During the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State commented (Hansard 22 Oct 2013 : Column 164) Temporary migrants seeking to stay in the UK for more than six months will have to pay an immigration health surcharge on top of their visa fee. I assure the House that this surcharge will make the system fairer and will not undermine our aim to attract the brightest and the best. We have carefully examined what other countries do and will ensure that the UK offer is a competitive one in a tough global market.

My submission

9. With regard to paragraph 8 above, the facts are that applicants for Schengen visas are required to provide proof of travel insurance as part of the entry clearance process.

10. When I have visited the UK I have taken out appropriate travel insurance for my wife, as stated in paragraph 3 above.

11. I submit that when making orders under Clause 33 (1)subsection (a),Clause (2) and Clause (3) the Secretary of State should have regard to Clause 33 (4) subsection (3)(b) and provide exemption from the immigration health surcharge under Clause 33(3)(e) for those applications for immigration permission who provide proof of appropriate travel insurance covering the period of their proposed travel.

12. I foresee one problem that should be addressed if the statement made by the Secretary of State (paragraph 8 above) does not prove to be true and the charge is applied to those seeking to stay in the UK for less than 6 months.

13. Applications for immigration of less than 6 months are currently awarded a 6 month visa valid from the day of acceptance of the application, whereas applicants are likely to obtain travel insurance for the period of travel only.

14. If the alternative to the cost of a 6 month travel insurance policy is a much costlier immigration health surcharge, the applicants are likely to obtain the travel insurance that covers the period of visa validity, thus avoiding any problems if a delayed return is necessary. In any case the travel insurance covers more than medical cover as it covers travel delays, lost luggage etc and will always be the preferred option.

November 2013

Prepared 8th November 2013