Sanctions against wealthy and high-profile Russians have been well-documented over the past weeks. Recently proposed inclusions to the Nationality and Borders bill indicate that government measures may now be extended to enforcing visa penalties for ‘countries posing a risk to international peace and security’.
During a debate in the House of Lords, Home Office minister Baroness Williams stated that ‘Although we do not believe this war was in the name of the Russian people, disadvantaging Russian nationals in this way as part of our wider package of sanctions will contribute to the pressure on the Putin regime’.
If passed by the House of Lords, the Nationality and Borders Bill will grant the Home Office wider powers to slow down the application process for visas, invalidate applications, require people to pay a surcharge, or even suspend granting their entry clearance completely. At present, the Home Office may only carry out these additional measures where there is deemed to be an ‘immigration risk’, whereas the new bill will enable blanket visa restrictions against countries posing a ‘risk to international peace and security’. Baroness Williams confirmed that the government is minded to use these powers in respect of Russia.
A third reading of the bill will take place on Monday 14 March 2022, following which the bill could receive Royal Assent and become law in a matter of days.
Various countries in the EU, including Greece, Latvia and the Czech Republic, have already imposed a ban on issuing visas to Russian citizens as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Additionally, on 9 March, European Union lawmakers approved a decision to restrict the issuance of ‘golden visas’ to Russians, unless the applicant(s) met the newly established EU-level regulations, which are believed to be stricter.
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