Patel to unveil US-style digital visas to count migrants

The Home Office hopes to make entry to Britain fully digital by the end of 2025, reports Asian Lite News

Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to unveil a new US-style digital visa regime at the country’s borders in order to measure immigration levels in and out of the country.

The senior Indian-origin Cabinet minister is to confirm the so-called “sweeping changes” to the UK’s immigration policy to “streamline” the way in which people come into the country on Monday.

The post-Brexit changes will include the border being managed digitally, which the government says will be easier to navigate for businesses and allow for the first time to accurately count people in and out of the UK.

Digital identity checks will also be used to reduce the need to visit visa application centers. 

Since Britain completed its exit from the European Union at the end of last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been keen to set out a new independent vision on immigration. 

“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,” Patel was quoted as saying in the ‘Observer’.

“Our new approach will make it easier to identify potential threats before they reach the border. The British people will have confidence that the strongest controls are in place to keep them safe,” she said.

The Home Office hopes to make entry to Britain fully digital by the end of 2025.

Digitising the border will mean officials “can now count who is coming in and out of the country and whether they have permission to be here,” said her Home Office department.

It means people wanting to come into Britain without a visa or immigration status will have to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), similar to the US system, with 30 million applications expected to be processed every year.

As well as launching her latest immigration plans, Patel will also focus on failings in the asylum system and the need to crack down on people smugglers. Earlier in the week, she was filmed accompanying police as they arrested suspected ringleaders of a people smuggling gang that used minicab and lorry drivers to move migrants in and out of Britain.

“What I’m unveiling and proposing is a new legal migration and border strategy…, which is based upon digitalisation of our borders, but also the simplification of our immigration laws,” Patel told Sky News yesterday.

“I am introducing the new borders bill, which will come to parliament next month, where we will specifically clamp down and tackle the problems around illegal migration,” she added.

The British government has said that in the past 10 days, more than 140 foreign criminals have been removed from the UK, totalling more than 700 so far this year.

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