The most recent Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules were announced in a written statement to the House of Commons on 9 March 2023.
We look at the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), including what it is, who can apply and when it takes effect from.
What is an Electronic Travel Authorisations?
An Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) is a new requirement for people visiting the UK. It will be electronically linked to your passport and will give permission to travel to the UK for:
- up to six months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or study;
- up to three months on the Creative Worker visa concession; or to
- transit through the UK.
Summary of changes
The ETA scheme will eventually apply to all visitors wishing to travel to the UK (excluding British and Irish nationals) including non-visa nationals who currently are not required to apply for a visa prior to travelling to the UK as a visitor.
The scheme has been introduced as part of the Home Office’s plan to strengthen the UK’s border. The expectation is, the introduction of the scheme will provide increased knowledge about those wishing to travel to the UK which will in turn allow the Home Office to prevent criminals entering the UK prior to their travel.
How do you apply for an ETA?
Although the full details are yet to be revealed, the Home Office has confirmed the process will be a ‘quick, light touch and entirely digital with most visitors applying via mobile app and receiving a swift decision on their application.’
It is expected the cost will be in line with similar international schemes but the exact cost is yet to be revealed. If successful the applicant will have permission to make multiple visits to the UK during the two-year validity period. When that period comes to an end, a further application will be required.
Who can apply?
Qatari nationals will be the first to apply. The scheme is due to open on 25 October 2023, for those who intend to travel to the UK from 15 November 2023. From 1 February 2024, the scheme is due to open for the following nationals who wish to travel to the UK from 22 February 2024:
- United Arab Emirates
- Saudi Arabia
It is anticipated by the end of 2024, all nationals (excluding British and Irish nationals) will be required to apply for an ETA prior to traveling to the UK as a visitor.
How can we help?
When the full details of the ETA application process are announced we will be able to support you with the application.
If you receive a negative response following the ETA application you will be required to submit a visa application seeking permission to travel to the UK. We can advise you on the prospects of success and support you with the visa application, providing representations dealing with the issue highlighted following the ETA decision.
If you would like to discuss this visa route contact Calum Hanrahan at email@example.com.
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