Do Brits love a queue? Home Office changes to border control to speed up process for visitors
For the past decade, EU nationals holding a biometric passport were able to make use of ePassport gates at a number of UK airports in… Read more
For the past decade, EU nationals holding a biometric passport were able to make use of ePassport gates at a number of UK airports in order to avoid queues when crossing the UK border. However, as of 20 May 2019 this facility has been extended to visiting nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States, a move which the Home Office hopes will “speed up border controls for low-risk countries”.
Conversely, this will slow up border controls for EU and British nationals using the ePassport gates, unless more are installed.
ePassport gates work by making a comparison between the individual’s face and their digital image recorded in their passport, and can be completed much faster than the traditional manual border checks. Automated checks are monitored by Border Force officers, who are able to carry out a manual check where an individual is rejected by the gates.
In pursuit of a speedier process for visiting nationals, the Home Office has drawn criticism over a decision to scrap the requirement of landing cards on arrival into the UK. Although it is easy to see how this might speed things up, the Immigration Service Union pointed out that, with passengers no longer required to record the purpose of their visit or where they will reside during their visit, the move is likely to weaken the UK’s borders. Albeit an antiquated system, having originally been introduced in 1916, landing cards have proved useful to various government agencies in a number of immigration tribunal cases over the years. Despite this, the Home Office maintain that the decision will not cause a security risk, and that the cards were primarily used for the collation of statistics.
It looks like queues at the border are here to stay.
If you have any questions regarding this or any other immigration matters, please contact the immigration team.
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Anushka Sinha is an immigration senior associate
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