CHAPTER 13 – MAINTAINING THE COMMON TRAVEL AREA A
The Government will protect the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements between the UK, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland. The future border and immigration system will fully respect the UK’s long-standing approach to movement within the CTA. As now, there will be no routine immigration controls on arrivals in the UK from Ireland or the Crown Dependencies. The rights of Irish citizens in the UK, enjoyed reciprocally by British citizens in Ireland, are protected. The Government will continue to work closely with CTA membersto protect these arrangements.
All passengers arriving in the CTA will be subject to immigration and security checks.
13.1 The Common Travel Area (CTA) and associated rights will continue after the UK’s exit from the EU. Protecting these rights has been a shared objective of the UK, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland throughout negotiations. The Withdrawal Agreement23 included acknowledgement from the European
Commission that these arrangements can continue. Fundamentally, this means:
The status quo for all journeys within the CTA is maintained: there will continue to be no routine immigration controls on arrivals in the UK from the Crown Dependencies and Ireland and no controls for journeys across the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, nor between Northern Ireland and Great Britain;
Cooperation between all CTA members on the movement of people within the CTA is protected: we will continue our work with the Crown Dependencies and Ireland to ensure the CTA’s external border is secure against known threats, while facilitating legitimate travel and protecting the rights of people travelling within the CTA;
The rights of British and Irish citizens within the CTA are protected: the status of British and Irish citizens in the other state is preserved. So too are the wider reciprocal rights and entitlements associated with work, education, voting and access to social welfare benefits and health services.
Withdrawal Agreement and Political DeclarationThe future passenger journey within the CTA
13.2 Our future border and immigration system will maintain the existing ability of people to enter the UK from Ireland and the Crown Dependencies without passing through a routine border control. This unhindered movement is most notable across the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, faciltating north-south cooperation as provided for by the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement.
13.3 Non-Irish EU citizens will be required to meet the UK’s immigration requirements. However, they will continue to enjoy EU Free Movement rights in Ireland.
13.4 The future system will control access to the UK labour market and public services through in-country checks as part of compliance arrangements, in a way that is compatible with the principle of travel within the CTA being free of immigration controls, with decisions made away from the border.
13.5 This is already the situation for non-EU nationals who are able to enter the UK from Ireland (owing to the CTA), but are not able to live or work here without the right visa. For example, a US citizen in Ireland can currently enter the UK to visit, but may not work, study or access public services and benefits without obtaining the necessary visa. In future, the same will apply to non-Irish EU citizens. In this way,EU citizens arriving via Ireland or the Crown Dependencies will be treated in the same way as those arriving as visitors through the UK border: they will have visitor status and not be able to work, study or access public funds without obtaining avisa.
13.6 The Government will ensure that the entry clearance requirements when arriving in the UK from the Crown Dependencies and Ireland are clear.
13.7 We will continue to work closely with the Crown Dependencies to understand the impact of our future system on respective priorities and to develop an approach that protects our shared CTA interests to facilitate and promote legitimate travel between these islands. The joint approach to respective settlement schemes that protect the position of EU nationals currently living and working in the UK and theCrown Dependencies reflects this shared endeavour.
13.8 The integration of the UK’s and the Crown Dependencies’ immigration laws will be maintained. The value of the existing flexibility within the CTA arrangements enjoyed by all jurisdictions to apply their own tailored immigration and work permit policies within this overall, integrated legal framework is recognised, enabling local immigration and labour needs to be reflected. So too does the importance of
adopting a compatible approach to protect the overall integrity of the CTA.
Co-operation between CTA members to strengthen the external CTA border
13.9 We will continue to work with all CTA members to ensure the CTA’s external border is secure against known threats while preserving free movement within the CTA for legitimate travellers. All members of the CTA have confirmed their commitment to maintaining this arrangement. Ireland has confirmed that it is their intention toremain outside of the Schengen Area.
13.10 There is a high level of co-operation on border security to identify at whichever part of the CTA they are entering, those individuals who pose a threat, as well as to tackle abuse, including immigration abuse and criminality.
13.11 Everyone entering the CTA undergoes a passport control check in line with the national processes of the country they are entering. Co-operation is not limited to the security agenda. Members work collaboratively to promote tourism and support national economic growth, responding to shared and individual needs and priorities.
13.12 This work will continue, adapting to threats and opportunties and responding to advances in technology. Comprehensive and effective data-sharing between CTA members is central to this. Intelligence-led checks and joint operations with CTA members are carried out on journeys within the CTA to identify and pick up persons of interest (immigration abuse; criminality; national security). People identified anywhere in the UK attempting to circumvent controls are liable to be detained and,
if they are not lawfully present within the UK, removed.
The rights associated with the CTA
13.13 The CTA evolved in support of the principle of free movement for British and Irish citizens between these islands and to facilitate enjoyment of their wider rights including access to benefits and healthcare. The importance and relevance of these rights in today’s world has been reinforced – they are as relevant today as they have ever been.
13.14 Irish citizens have long held a special status in UK law. Ireland is not considered a ‘foreign country’ for the purpose of UK laws and Irish citizens are not ‘aliens’. They are treated as if they have permanent immigration permission to remain in the UK from the date they take up ordinary residence.
13.15 These rights and entitlements will be protected after the UK leaves the EU. The special status of British and Irish citizens in the other’s jurisdictions will be preserved, as now. There will be no change to the constitutional relationship between the UK and the Crown Dependencies as a result of EU Exit. Nor will there be any changes to nationality legislation which sees the Crown Dependencies treated as if part of the UK.
13.16 The wider reciprocal rights and entitlements associated with work, education, voting and access to social welfare benefits and health services as enjoyed by British and Irish citizens in Ireland and the UK respectively will also be protected. This includes the birth right of all people in Northern Ireland to identify themselves, and be accepted, as Irish, or British, or both.
13.17 Although the CTA precedes the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement, the principle of free movement for British and Irish citizens carries symbolic significance in implementing the commitment contained therein to the continued respect of the civil, political, social and cultural rights of the communities in Northern Ireland.
13.18 An Irish citizen’s status in the UK is currently based on an individual’s point of departure. Irish citizens arriving in the UK from Ireland have a right to enter as a result of domestic legislation. The right to enter from anywhere other than Ireland is provided for by EEA Regulations. We will protect the current status enjoyed by Irish citizens in the UK. This will remove the current point of departure distinction and firmly base these rights on an individual’s (Irish) nationality.
13.19 As now, Irish citizens will be able to enter, reside and apply to work or study in the UK without applying for an immigration permission and be treated as resident from day one, including when considering an application for naturalisation or the nationality of any children born in the UK, subject to specific exceptions.
13.20 The status of British subjects who have a connection with Ireland will also not be
affected by these changes.
The Common Travel Area (CTA)
The CTA supports the long-standing principle of free movement for British citizens and Irish citizens. In practice, the internal borders of the CTA are generally subject to minimal border controls, if at all. British and Irish citizens can move freely within the CTA while other nationalities are required to meet the entry clearance requirements of the state they areentering, for example visa nationals.
The CTA is made up of the UK, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland. The arrangement reflects the long-standing and historic ties between these states, the social and economic connections, the shared culture and identity, and current inter-governmental relations.
Currently non-EU nationals are subject to national immigration regulations when entering and residing in the CTA (visa requirements; restrictions on employment and length of stay). In the UK and Ireland, EU citizens have prevailing rights of entry and residence under EU Free Movement law.
All members of the CTA maintain their own visa and immigration policies. Each has a different approach to conducting controls within the context of the CTA, based on an overarching common approach. Neither the UK nor Ireland are members of the Schengen Area. Our joint programme of work includes investment in border procedures, data sharing to inform immigration and border security decisions, unified passenger data systems and harmonised visa policy and processes.
The Crown Dependencies
The Crown Dependencies are the Isle of Man, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. They are self-governing jurisdictions, but part of the Common Travel Area. They are not part of the UK or the British Overseas Territories. However, for nationality purposes, they are treated as if part of the UK.
The Crown Dependencies set their own immigration legislation. However, to maintain and strengthen the CTA, their immigration systems are closely aligned with the UK’s. The Crown Dependencies’ current relationship with the EU is set out in Protocol 3 of the UK’s Act of Accession (1972). This provides that they are neither EU member states nor associate members, and only certain limited parts of EU law apply to them. The free movement of people acquis is not included among the applicable provisions. Article 4 of Protocol 3 further guarantees that the Crown Dependencies must apply the same treatment to all EU citizens in areas covered by EU law. This means that, currently, the Crown Dependencies must apply the same rules on immigration to EU and UK nationals.