In light of the events of Friday 29 November 2019, security has once again been brought centre-stage. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, focused on the issue in the Conservative Party’s manifesto, which waspublished on 24 November 2019. Among other points, the party has promised to “strengthen” the UK’s borders after Brexit, re-affirming the position it first introduced with the immigration white paper of December 2018.
Home Secretary Priti Patel backed the manifesto, voicing her intention to enforce an immigration system capable of protecting the UK from “terrorist attacks, serious cross-border crime and abuses”.
Her plans include the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (“ETA”) – a universal permission to travel which will allow the Home Office to run security checks on anyone intending to come to the UK, including visitors and those transiting the country.
The USA and Canada have relied on similar measures for a number of years to perform pre-travel security checks. The ETA system appears to draw from the American Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (“ESTA”), which has proven an efficient security measure since its introduction in 2009.
It is envisaged that EU nationals seeking entry to the UK after the Brexit implementation period will also be required to obtain ETA. This will run in parallel with the European Travel Information and Authorisation System(“ETIAS”), which is likely to apply to British citizens travelling to EEA countries after Brexit. In the UK the scheme will boast a “light-touch online application form” for preliminary security checks to prevent serious criminals from entering the country. It will also see passengers who do not normally need a visa (such as EU nationals, non-visa nationals) being required to obtain permission prior to travel.
The scheme will rely heavily on the automation of border control. Passengers will be issued with digital documents upon the successful completion of the checks. Airlines and other carriers will require the production of the document and additional passenger information in advance of travel. There are plans to make greater use of e-gates at the border which will also likely lead to an increase in the use of biometric travel documents.
With the aim of delivering a range of security benefits, as well as enabling smooth border crossing, ETAs are expected to form a key element in the Conservative’s Australian-style immigration system, should they succeed in forming the next government and implementing it.
We continue to monitor the polemics in the run-up to the election on 12 December 2019 and Brexit, and what all these proposals may mean for future of UK immigration laws. Subscribe to our newsletter today for regular updates.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.