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License needed to bring family visitors to UK?

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Under proposed changes to the United Kingdom's visa system, people will have to become licensed to sponsor family members to visit them from abroad. Sponsors will be required to ensure that visiting family members leave Britain before their visa expires or face severe penalties.

If sponsors fall afoul of the proposed rules, they could be banned from bringing anyone else to Britain in the future, face penalties of up to £5,000, or even receive a jail sentence.

The tough new rules are just one of a number of proposed changes to Britain's short-term visa system which will sit alongside the new points based system for people who wish to live and work in the UK. The other changes include:

  • introducing two new business visas for sportspeople and entertainers
  • setting the maximum leave for visitors at six months
  • introducing an appeal system for those coming in under the family route
  • a new short-term, low-cost group travel visa to promote British tourism
  • a visa for people coming to the UK for one-off cultural events

"Now we are introducing an Australian-style points system for selective migration, it makes sense to tighten visit visas at the same time," said Immigration Minister Liam Byrne. "The changes I am announcing today will help create a fairer Britain with fair treatment for those who play by the rules, but tough action against those who break the law."

"We want the UK to stay open and attractive for both business and visitors. But at the same time we are determined to deliver a system of border security which is among the most secure in the world," he added.