UK Immigration Guidelines Impacting Seafarers’ Medical Treatment in the UK

Britannia’s Club has been informed by Van Ameyde Marine about UK Immigration guidelines affecting seafarers receiving medical treatment in the NHS. New legislation emphasizes payment efficiency, with outstanding debts potentially impacting a seafarer's immigration status. Qualifying debts over £500 could lead to visa refusal, affecting UK crew changes for shipowners.
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Van Ameyde Marine has informed Britannia’s Club about changes to UK Immigration guidelines that may affect seafarers receiving medical treatment in the UK through the NHS. When a crew member falls ill or injured in UK ports, they are usually treated as an Overseas Visitor by the NHS, and the shipowner is responsible for paying the medical bill. However, new legislation is being introduced to improve payment efficiency, making it clear that non-payment could impact the ongoing immigration status of a seafarer.

The new guidance, published on 19 February 2024, states that overseas visitors with qualifying debts of £500 or more that have been outstanding for 2 months or more could face visa or entry clearance refusal. This could potentially affect UK crew changes for shipowners, as seafarers seeking entry clearance must meet specific criteria and not have any outstanding NHS charges. Part nine of the Immigration Rules outlines the grounds for refusal, including failure to pay NHS charges of at least £500.

Seafarers must ensure they do not have any outstanding NHS charges to avoid potential visa or entry clearance refusal when joining a ship in the UK. The new legislation aims to improve payment efficiency and ensure that seafarers are compliant with the NHS regulations on charges to overseas visitors. Shipowners must be aware of these changes to avoid any issues with crew changes and immigration status for their seafarers.

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