Monday, 24 May 2021

UK Unveils Digital Visa

Priti Patel has unveiled a US-style digital visa system that she claimed would help the government to count numbers of people entering and leaving the UK accurately for the first time.

People coming to the UK without a visa or immigration status would in the future need to apply for an electronic travel authorisation (ETA), the home secretary said, which automatically determines the eligibility of visitors in advance. The Home Office anticipates about 30 million ETA applications each year.

The proposals to “digitise the border” are to be officially launched on Monday as part of Patel’s widely derided plans to change the UK’s asylum and immigration system. Critics have called her plans to deport asylum seekers back to other European countries incoherent and inhumane.

The digital system is being introduced after recent evidence suggesting that long-held estimates of migration data were significantly wrong.

It was widely accepted that 3 million Europeans lived in the UK and would apply to the government’s EU settlement scheme. By the end of last month, however, more than 5.4 million applications to the scheme had been received, with 4.9 million granted settled status.

Government figures show an estimated 144.7 million passenger arrivals in the year to June 2019, including returning UK residents. About 40 million were from the European economic area and Switzerland; those from elsewhere numbered 20 million.

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