The UK to Launch ETA System

The UK to Launch ETA System

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced the launch of a US-style digital visa system in the UK. This new system will help the British government accurately count, for the first time, the number of people entering and exiting the UK. 

Under the new system, people travelling to the UK without a visa or immigration status would have to apply for an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) document,  similar to the US ESTA. An ETA will automatically determine the eligibility of visitors to enter the UK in advance.

The Home Office said it expects around 30 million ETA applications to be made each year. The plans to ‘digitise the border’ is part of Patel’s widely criticised ‘New Plan for UK Immigration’, which seeks to overhaul the UK immigration and asylum system. 

Wrong Migration Data

The new digital visa system is reportedly being introduced after recent evidence seemingly indicated that long-held estimates of migration data were significantly wrong. It was widely accepted that three million Europeans lived in Britain and would apply to settle in the UK under the government’s EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

However, by the end of April 2021, more than 5.4 million applications for the scheme had been made, 4.9 million of which have been granted. 

Meanwhile, government figures show an estimated 144.7 million passenger arrivals in the year to June 2019, including returning UK residents. Approximately 40 million were from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Those from elsewhere numbered around 20 million.

According to reports, the UK Home Office has said that it plans to make UK entry fully digital by 2025

Our new fully digital border will provide the ability to count people in and out of the country, giving us control over who comes to the UK.

Priti Patel, UK Home Secretary

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