The UK government announced amendments to its visa policy today, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, imposing a visa requirement on citizens of five countries: Dominica, Vanuatu, Honduras, East Timor, and Namibia.

This amendment takes immediate effect. Consequently, citizens of these five countries who intend to travel to the UK for ordinary visits, with a maximum duration of six months, now need to apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa before their departure. Additionally, they will require a transit visa to transit via the UK airports.

According to the UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, the decision also includes a transitional grace period of four weeks for travelers from these countries who have already made travel bookings before 3:00 PM GMT on July 19, 2023. This grace period extends until 3:00 PM GMT on August 16, 2023, allowing these travelers to enter the UK without a visa as long as their arrival date is within the specified period.

The UK Home Secretary attributed the government’s decision to introduce visa requirement for Dominica and Vanuatu to concerns over their citizenship by investment programs. Regarding Honduras and Namibia, the decision was driven by the significant and sustained increase in asylum applications submitted by citizens of both countries in the UK. For instance, the number of asylum applications from citizens of Honduras reached 789 in 2022, and during the first quarter of 2023, it reached 275, compared to only nine applications in 2017. Citizens of Honduras and Namibia account for the highest proportion of asylum applications from visa-exempt visitors to the UK.

The UK Home Secretary clarified that her country’s decision to impose these visa requirements is solely based on immigration and border security reasons, and it “is not a sign of poor relations with these countries”.