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New UK Visa Regulations for Crew Members Cause Concern in the Shipping Industry

Jun 04, 2024

New UK Visa Regulations for Crew Members Cause Concern in the Shipping Industry

The recent changes in UK visa regulations for crew members have caused quite a stir in the shipping industry. The guidelines, which were updated in February, could leave overseas crew members stranded if their medical charges remain unpaid. This is a particularly concerning issue for seafarers who are joining a ship in the UK.

According to the new regulations, crew members may be refused visas to enter the UK if they have outstanding medical bills of two months or more from the date of invoice. Any medical charges of more than £500 that were accrued from 6 April 2016, or charges of £1,000 or more, invoiced between 1 November 2011 and 5 April 2016, are regarded as qualifying debts, and are issued in the seafarer’s name, even though the shipowner is liable for the charges.

As invoices are issued in the name of the crew member, it is the seafarer that could be ultimately responsible for unpaid charges, with some exceptions to this rule. This is a major cause for concern, as it could potentially leave seafarers in a precarious situation, unable to join a ship and earn a living.

In our opinion, these new regulations are unfair and unjust. The responsibility for these charges should lie with the shipowners, who are ultimately responsible for the health and well-being of their crew members.

Furthermore, these regulations could have a detrimental impact on the shipping industry. If crew members are unable to join ships due to unpaid medical charges, this could result in delays and disruptions to shipping schedules, which would have a knock-on effect on global trade.

It is imperative that the UK government revisit these regulations and produce a fairer system that does not penalise seafarers for medical charges that are not their responsibility. The shipping industry is already facing enough challenges, and we must not add to these challenges by implementing unfair regulations.

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