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24 May 2021

Comment: Priti Patel launches new digital visa system

2 mins

Solicitor Abigail Evans and paralegal Shanaz Ali, from our Immigration team, comment on the government's new digital visa system, as covered by the Guardian

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, continues to experiment with new ways to control UK borders. The latest is a digital visa system, known as the United Kingdom Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which has gone live today to help the government ‘count people in and out of the country'. The government estimate around 30 million applications for an ETA will be made each year.

The ETA is an application that can only be made online, for the purposes of tourism, business, medical treatment or to study. If granted, the applicant will be issued with a digital travel authorisation valid for a total stay of up to six months. However, it can only be used for a single entry. This system is designed to assist the government with security checks in reviewing criminality, all details of which must be disclosed as part of the ETA application.

From 30 June 2021, EU citizens without a right of residence in the UK will also be required to apply for an ETA before travelling here.

Given the reports of EU nationals being detained, and in some cases, removed from the UK because the Border Force officials are unable to ascertain their right to enter/remain in the UK from the current electronic records provided under the EU Settlement Scheme (see our previous comment here), it is a real concern that the new electronic ETA system is going to cause further difficulties and delays for anyone wishing to come to the UK.

If you are seeking entry to the UK and are concerned about the new ETA system, or wish to apply for entry to the country for more than six months, please contact our Immigration team.

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