Priti Patel hails new 'fully digital border' for UK

Priti Patel hails new ‘fully digital border’ as she launches new US-style electronic checks to screen every traveller heading for UK before they have even boarded a plane

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel will detail plans for the new system on Monday
  • Travellers to the UK will need to apply for an electronic travel authorisation
  • The process allows background checks to be carried out on potential travellers
  • It will make it easier to ban high-risk foreign criminals from entering the UK
  • Last year, the Mail revealed that hundreds of foreign killers, rapists and paedophiles had entered Britain without any checks
  • In 2014, Alice Gross, 14, was murdered in west London by convicted killer Arnis Zalkakns who had moved to the UK from Latvia under freedom of movement

Priti Patel has hailed a new ‘fully digital border’ ahead of the launch tomorrow of plans for US-style electronic checks that will screen all travellers heading to the UK. 

The home secretary is set to unveil details on Monday of the system which will allow security checks to take place before travellers have even boarded a plane.

It will also make it easier to ban high-risk foreign criminals from entering and leaving the country.

Those coming to the UK without a visa or immigration status will be required to apply for the US-style electronic travel authorisations (ETA) and  their details will be automatically checked against watch lists and criminal databases.

Those who have previously committed crimes will have their applications reviewed to decide if they should be let in. 

Some 30million ETA applications are expected to be processed each year, the Telegraph reported.

Priti Patel has hailed a new ‘fully digital border’ ahead of the launch tomorrow of plans for US-style electronic checks that will screen all travellers heading to the UK

The home secretary is set to unveil details on Monday of the system which will allow security checks to take place before travellers have even boarded a plane [Stock image]

‘Now we have taken back control and ended free movement, security is at the very heart of our immigration strategy,’ the Telegraph reported Patel ass saying.

‘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.’

The immigration system revamp will also make it easier for Government to keep track of the number of migrants living in the UK, which will assist public services in planning.

The reforms are expected to be completed by the end of 2025. 

The plans – modelled on the Esta system of pre-flight checks introduced in the US after 9/11 – were first reported in March, with the Mail revealing that the Sovereign Borders Bill they are part of will also include controversial plans to send asylum seekers who arrive in the UK via illegal routes to a third country, such as Turkey. 

They would then remain there until they could be repatriated to either their home country, or the one they travelled to the UK from. 

Currently, foreign travellers from almost 90 countries – including EU member states, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina and Chile – do not need a visa to enter the UK for stays of up to six months.

This means British officials can have only limited information about them prior to their arrival at the border.

Last year, the Mail revealed that hundreds of foreign killers, rapists and paedophiles had entered Britain without any checks.

More than 2,000 serious offenders were arrested over a three-year period after arriving here unhindered – a rate of two a day. 

Their convictions emerged only after they were arrested and officers requested police records from their home countries. Some arrived under EU freedom of movement rules.

Although EU nationals have their passport details checked against a ‘watchlist’ of suspected terrorists and foreign criminals when they arrive at the border, any convictions are unlikely to be raised unless they are a high-profile offender.

Alice Gross, 14, was murdered in west London in 2014 by convicted killer Arnis Zalkakns who had moved from Latvia under freedom of movement rules. 

Under the new plan, everyone other than British and Irish citizens will be required to have completed an online ‘permission to travel’ form as part of a new Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme. Rules will stop airlines from letting people board unless they have filled the form in. 

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