It is called Electronic travel authorization (Eta) and it grants to stay in the UK for up to 6 consecutive months. For Europeans it will be triggered by 2024. Moreover, the British government has unveiled a bill providing for detention, automatic repatriation or relocation to Rwanda for migrants arriving by sea. The plan has raised much criticism.
What is the Eta, the electronic visa fee to enter the country
The United Kingdom is introducing a new paid electronic visa for people from countries where ordinary visas are not required.
The Electronic travel authorization (Eta) will be mandatory for any person who wants to travel to the island, even for a single day.
The system will undergo tests in the coming weeks for those coming from Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bahrain. While for European citizens and nationals will probably start in late 2024.
Who will need Eta and how to apply
Authorization will be mandatory for all citizens of countries with which the United Kingdom has signed visa waiver agreements, such as European Union states, the United States, Canada, Australia, and others in Latin America and Asia.
A visa will be mandatory for all incoming entries by air, sea or through the English Channel. While it will not be a requirement for British citizens residing elsewhere.
When the system is officially in act, those wishing to enter the United Kingdom will need to fill out an online form available at etauk.uk. Once completed and paid for, the application will be approved in a maximum of 3 days.
A biometric passport, valid email address, debit or credit card and accurate travel information is mandatory. The process will also check for any irregularities and criminal records of applicants. And must be done a few days prior to country entry.
How long does the Eta last and what does it give access to?
The permit will be valid for two years. During which time you will be able to enter and leave the United Kingdom without applying again and reside in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for up to six consecutive months.
If you want to stay for a longer period of time you will still need to apply for a visa. In addition, those who have obtained Eta will no longer have to undergo the normal checks, but can simply scan their passport.
The price for Eta is not yet public. But, according to the Schengenvisa website, it could be around 10 pounds, about 11 euros.
A new UK law wants to erase the right to asylum
The U.K. government has also introduced a bill to punish asylum seekers who arrive in the country illegally through the English Channel. London has announced a new crackdown on immigration, an issue that has long been at the center of public debate.
If the bill were to become operational, anyone arriving in the country by sea would be subject to detention and sent back to their home state, whatever the situation there.
It is a plan that has been criticized just about everywhere. And even opposed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In 2022, 45,755 people crossed the English Channel in more or less makeshift boats to reach the United Kingdom. The numbers are up from previous years. In 2021 they fell short of 30,000 entries. While in 2020 they remained below 10,000, also aided by the limitations given by Covid-19.
According to an analysis published by the Refugee Council organization in recent weeks, 60 percent of asylum claims made by those who arrived in the UK across the Channel in 2022 will obtain grant.
And the same analysis points out that most arrivals involve people fleeing wars. And whose day-to-day safety is not a guarantee in their country of origin. In fact, the five most frequent states of origin of those arriving by sea in 2022 are Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan.
The clash over immigration in the UK
Faced with this situation, the political clash over immigration has been heated in London in recent times. And, Conservative governments led first by Boris Johnson, then by Liz Truss, and finally by Rishi Sunak, have taken or tried to take radical measures to counter the arrival of migrants and their reception.
The most striking case is the one concerning Rwanda. In April 2022, British Home Affairs Minister Priti Patel and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta signed an agreement to deport to the African country quotas of migrants who entered the UK illegally, pending the outcome of their asylum applications.
A kind of intercontinental “parking lot,” in exchange for payment to Rwanda of large sums of money. A measure, however, blocked within hours of the first flight’s departure by a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. Which declared it unlawful.
In December, however, the High Court in London ruled the plan legitimate. And it is still at the center of a court battle.