Britain plans to fully digitalize its border. A US-style electronic authorization system will determine the eligibility of UK visitors prior to travel while keeping count on those entering and exiting the country.
The UK is set to unveil a new plan for a digital visa system by the end of 2025. Once the system is implemented, travelers to the UK without a visa or immigration status would need to apply for an electronic travel authorization (ETA) -- similar to that used in the United States. The British government says that the system will determine if the visitors are eligible for entering the UK before their travel.
The British secretary of state, Priti Patel, officially launched the proposal on May 24. The new system will be easier to navigate for businesses and reduces the need to visit visa application centers, she said.
30 million travelers are expected to submit visa applications every year.
Stricter border controls
A major aim of the plan, Patel says, is to measure immigration levels in and out of the country and "to control who comes to the UK." According to Patel, the system will allow automated security checks to take place before arrival and help the government to stop serious criminals coming to the UK from abroad.
A plan widely criticized
Introducing E-visas is a part of Patel's widely criticized plans to change the UK’s asylum and immigration system.
Earlier in March, Patel presented a reform for the asylum system to the House of Commons that suggested people who enter the UK irregularly should not enjoy the same rights as those who enter the country through legal ways.
Patel has also sought to deport migrants who enter the UK "illegally" to safe countries such as "France and other EU countries." These proposals evoked criticism from the UN, rights groups, and other British politicians.
While setting out the new immigration plan, Patel cited the numbers of foreign national offenders in the UK and addressed "those who seek to disrupt the efforts of [UK's] enforcement officers": "They should think about whether their actions may be preventing murderers, rapists, and high harm offenders from being removed from our communities."
"Our asylum system is fundamentally broken," she said on Monday, "Our New Plan for Immigration is key to fixing it."
With Reuters, AFP