CHAPTER 4 – SECURE AND SMOOTH UK BORDER CONTROL
After the UK leaves the EU, Free Movement under EU law will end and the migration of all non-UK nationals, including EU citizens, will be subject to UK law and the rules we set for entry and staying in the UK.
In taking back control of our border following the UK’s departure from the EU and the end of free movement, the Government will seek to improve the smooth flow of legitimate travellers and increase security to protect the UK against threats.
Under the future system, everyone (apart from British and Irish nationals) will need permission to travel to the UK and so we will know who wants to come to the UK and for what purpose, which will strengthen our ability to prevent criminals and those we consider a threat from travelling to or entering the UK.
4.1 In 2017, there were 137 million arrivals at the UK border, of whom 77 million were British nationals, 40 million were ‘other EEA and Swiss’ nationals and 20 million were non-EEA nationals. There has been a positive trend in the numbers since 2008. The following chart details passenger arrivals to the UK, by nationality group, between 2008 and 2017.
4.2 The majority of EU and non-EU citizens come as short-term visitors: as tourists, on business trips, or to see friends and family. We want to ensure these movements of legitimate travellers, which support our dynamic and inter-connected economies and enrich our societies and cultures, can continue smoothly in the future. At the same time, we will take the opportunity of EU exit to regain control over, and strengthen the security of, our borders.
Future border system
4.3 Our future border will be based on three complementary strategic principles:
Anyone wishing to come to the UK will need permission to do so before they travel. For British and Irish citizens, who do not require leave to enter the UK, their permission to travel will be linked to their national status and will be demonstrated by their passport. For those returning to the UK after having
been granted previous leave to remain, their permission to travel will be in the form of a visa or a biometric residence permit.
We intend to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme which will require visitors and transit passengers who do not normally need a visa to obtain permission prior to travel. This will be a simple online system which is more light-touch than a visa requirement. Further detail is set out below.
A more sophisticated approach to risk analysis, based on an individual’s travel history and compliance data, will inform the type of permission required for travel to the UK and determine the level of intervention required on arrival in the UK. Making better use of existing data, and that provided by an individual will also enhance our ability to identify and crack down on abuse of the future system and help to tackle exploitation of individuals.
Greater use of automation will enable us to focus staff where they add most value and facilitate the passage of legitimate travellers. For example, extending the use of e-gates for low-risk individuals and nationalities will streamline border procedures and allow Border Force officers to be deployed in higher-risk areas.
Crossing the border
4.4 At present, non-EU citizens entering the UK as a visitor will have a visa or are questioned at the border as to the purpose of their visit, and have their passport stamped with the date of entry and length of permitted stay. Non-EU citizens coming to the UK as migrants (e.g. to work or study) are required to have a visa.
4.5 British and EU citizens do not require leave to enter (although EU citizens may be refused entry or removed on public policy grounds).
4.6 After the UK’s exit, and following the Implementation Period during which the same rules as now will apply, EU citizens will no longer have free movement rights and will become subject to the same rules as non-EU nationals. The same is true for British citizens entering an EU Member State as a non-EU national. No visit visas for citizens of current EU Member States
4.7 For EU citizens of the current EU Member States, travelling to the UK as visitors (as tourists, on business trips, or to see friends and family), we do not intend to impose a visit visa regime. This reflects the considerable benefits visitors bring to the UK, for example through our tourism industries.
4.8 We will expect to agree reciprocal arrangements with the EU as part of our Mobility Framework, to ensure UK nationals are able to travel on holiday or on business to the EU with the minimum of bureaucracy. A reciprocal agreement could result in binding commitments.
4.9 At present, EU citizens may travel on national identity cards rather than passports. These identity cards can be insecure and open to fraud and abuse. All other nationals, including British citizens, must present a national passport to enter the UK – unless specific exemptions apply, for example, those seeking asylum or beingresettled in the UK.
4.10 For EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status, the arrangement agreed with the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement will apply. This means that they will be able to continue to travel on national identity cards until 2025 and thereafter if the cards meet the relevant International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) biometric standards.
4.11 For other EU citizens, we intend to phase out the use of insecure national identity cards as soon as practicable and will give fair notice of moving to a different arrangement.
Refusal of entry and deportation
4.12 After the Implementation Period, the UK Immigration Rules on the refusal of entry, permission to remain in the UK, and exclusion and deportation will apply to all those entering the UK. This will enhance our ability to refuse entry or remove EU citizens on the basis of their conduct or previous criminality or whom we consider a threat to the UK. This will ensure we apply a consistent threshold in
preventing those who present a risk to our communities from crossing the border.
4.13 We intend to use the opportunity of leaving the EU to create a single, consistent approach to criminality across the immigration system. Currently, EU citizens are subject to different thresholds for criminality than those for non-EU nationals.
4.14 Existing EU rules require that a person’s conduct must represent a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat before he or she can be deported. These rules do not specify the length of imprisonment or the behaviour which may result in the refusal of entry, exclusion or deportation of an EU citizen from the UK.Current UK rules for non-EU citizens are both stricter and more specific.
4.15 The application of the current EU public policy test is less certain and predictable in practice than we would like. After the Implementation Period, we intend to replace the EU test with current UK rules, which already apply to non-EU nationals, to improve the safety and security of the UK.
4.16 Immediately after the Implementation Period, EU citizens and their non-EU family members who commit a crime in the UK will be considered for deportation under the same criteria currently applying to non-EU nationals.
4.17 We will also extend the application of non-EU criminality criteria to EU citizens, both crossing the UK border and applying for permission to remain in the UK, to ensure equal treatment of EU and non-EU citizens.
Current UK Immigration Rules in relation to criminality for non-EU nationals
These are set out in UK immigration law under the Immigration Rules and include a number of specific requirements which may lead to a non-EU national being refused permission to come to the UK or entry at the border or being subject to deportation. These rules include:
- length of custodial sentence;
- committing an offence which caused serious harm;
- minor offences committed within the last 12 months;
- being a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law;
- character, conduct or associations which are not conducive to the public good; and
- deception (where this involves failing to declare convictions).
Non-EU nationals sentenced to 12 months or more in prison must also be considered for
automatic deportation under a power in the UK Borders Act 2007. Where the automatic
deportation criteria are not met, a non-EU national can be considered for deportation under
the Immigration Act 1971, where it is conducive to the public good.
Currently, these criteria do not apply to non-EU national family members of EU citizens
exercising free movement rights in the UK.
Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme
4.18 As set out above, the Government intends to introduce a requirement for visitors and transit passengers who do not currently need a visa to come to the UK to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), as an additional security measure. This is similar to systems in place in other countries; the US, for example, requires travellers to obtain an ESTA before travel. An ETA will be valid
for multiple entries over an extended period. The ETA scheme is under development and requires primary legislation. However, this requirement will not apply to British or Irish citizens or to those individuals who are exempt from immigration control (e.g. diplomats posted to the UK, who travel on diplomatic passports).
4.19 The ETA scheme will require applicants to complete a light-touch online application form, which will enable the Government to conduct security checks on passengers and make more informed decisions on information obtained at an earlier stage, as to whether individuals should be allowed to travel to the UK. It will also provide individuals with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel.
4.20 Carriers will be expected to confirm that an individual has an appropriate permission to travel, in document or digital form, before they bring them to the UK. Otherwise, they may be liable to a penalty charge. The ETA will enable us to conduct more security checks in advance of arrival, protect the border better and smooth the passage for legitimate travellers.
4.21 The ETA scheme will be complemented by our continued use of passenger information. To protect the UK against terrorist attacks, serious cross-border crime and abuses of the immigration system, we will continue to check passengers arriving in the UK against our systems before they travel, through the collection of Advance Passenger Information (API) and the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) – that is, passenger data collected by air carriers as part of the operation of their business.
4.22 ETAs are a key element of our future border and immigration system and deliver a range of security benefits, as well as enabling smooth border crossing. The EU has proposals for a similar system, called ETIAS, for third country nationals who do not need a visa to travel to the EU. There is every indication that the EU intend to apply their ETIAS system to UK nationals (as third country nationals by default). It is our intention to require EU citizens to obtain an ETA, but we intend to discuss this further with the EU in the next phase of negotiations.
Automation at the border
4.23 As part of the future border system, the Government’s strategy is to make greater use of automation at the border by allowing low-risk individuals and nationalities to enter the UK through e-gates. E-gates are currently restricted to UK and EEA citizens. Queuing times and the border experience are better for
those using e-gates. As people using e-gates will not be questioned routinely, this approach is not suitable for all people or nationalities, especially those considered to pose a higher immigration risk. However, the e-gates carry out identity and
security checks on all passengers.4.24 The Government is preparing to allow entry through e-gates to a wider range
of nationalities. Subject to approval by Parliament, from next summer, specified
low-risk nationalities, including nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New
Zealand, the United States of America, Singapore and South Korea will be allowed
to use e-gates to pass through the border on arrival.
4.25 EU adults (and some children aged 12 years and over) who possess biometric passports may also continue to use e-gates. This will enable the vast majority of EU citizens to continue to enter the UK smoothly and without the need to have their passport stamped. We will seek to agree reciprocal treatment for UK nationals travelling to EU Member States to ensure that they can also benefit from smooth passage at the border.
4.26 If the EU is willing to offer reciprocal treatment to British citizens entering the EU, we would be prepared to enter into a binding agreement to create certainty. If a reciprocal agreement is not achieved, the UK will keep the arrangements under review, taking account of all relevant factors as to their continuation, including any abuse by nationals of individual Member States.
4.27 This does not mean that those entitled to enter through the e-gates, will be able to bypass new rules on rights to work or study or access a range of benefits and services. Our ability to encourage compliance with restrictions on rights to work, study etc. and to take appropriate enforcement action, will be enabled through incountry compliance mechanisms, carried out by employers, education institutions,
the Home Office and other delivery partners, and departures will be monitored through exit checks.
4.28 Nor does it mean any diminution in border security. As now, security and identity checks will be applied at the border for all those passing through. And whilst those using the e-gates will not be questioned routinely at the border about the purpose of their journey, they may be subject to additional examination on arrival where necessary or appropriate for border security reasons.
4.29 As we move towards the introduction of the future border and immigration system, we will continue to keep our border arrangements under review, taking account of all relevant factors as to their continuation, including any abuse bynationals of individual Member States.
Case Study – Visitor
Antonia is a Spanish national who wants to visit Manchester for four days to attend meetings with a UK company and negotiate a contract.
Pre-arrival – Antonia books her flight and accommodation and provides her Advance Passenger Information (API) to the airline as part of her booking, as is currently the case. She may have to apply online prior to her trip for an Electronic Travel Authorisation if the scheme has been introduced.
At the UK border – Antonia will continue to have the option of either using the e-gates or queuing to show her passport to a Border Force officer, as is currently the case. She will be subject to the standard security checks but would not normally be questioned. However, if the Border Force officer had concerns that Antonia would present a threat to the UK, she could be denied admission.
In practice, Antonia’s experience at the border will remain as it is under the current system.