The New Electronic Travel Authorisation
The UK government will officially open the UK’s electronic travel authorisation (ETA) scheme on 15 November 2023. At the initial stage, only Qatari nationals will need the electronic travel authorisation to travel to the UK.
The idea behind introducing the electronic travel authorisation is to transform and digitise the UK border, helping millions of visitors who come to the UK.
Qataris could apply for their ETA starting from 25 October 2023, mainly by submitting a simple application via the mobile app.
What is an Electronic Travel Authorisation?
An Electronic travel authorisation is a digitally authorised and granted permission to travel to the UK.
In other words, it is a simplified version of an entry clearance application. Entry clearance is a visa application submitted outside the UK, asking for permission to travel to the UK.
Once granted, the results of the application will be linked to your passport.
Do You Need to Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation?
If your country of origin is not on the visa national list.
and you did not need to apply for a visa to travel to the UK, most likely, you will need to apply for an electronic travel authorisation. Even children and babies will need to apply.
You’ll need an Electronic Travel Authorisation to:
- come to the UK for up to 6 months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or study
- come to the UK for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession
- transit through the UK – including if you’re not going through UK border control.
If you are a visa national, a British citizen or an Irish citizen, you do not need to apply for Electronic Travel Authorisation before travelling to the UK.
What Happens after 15 November?
The Electronic Travel Authorisation application process opened on 25 October 2023. However, only Qatari nationals, those who intend to travel to the UK on or after 15 November 2023, can apply.
Then, on 1 February 2024, the scheme will also include nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. That is provided they intend to travel to the UK on or after 22 February 2024.
How Can You Apply?
It is going to be a simple, fast and straightforward process. You will be able to apply either with the help of the UK ETA app or online on GOV.UK website. You can apply on behalf of others.
How Long Will It Take for the Home to Consider the Electronic Travel Applications?
The Home Office states that it should take them no more than 3 working days to consider an Electronic Travel Authorisation application. As with other applications, some may be quicker, and some may require longer.
How Much Will It Cost?
Electronic Travel Authorisation application will cost £10.00 per person.
How Will You Get a Decision on Your Electronic Travel Authorisation?
You’ll get an email confirmation when the Home Office approves your application.
They will link it to your passport. Therefore, you will need to travel with the same passport you applied with.
How Can You Get Your Electronic Travel Authorisation Approved?
You will need to ensure that you meet all the requirements for this application.
There are three:
- The validity requirements
- The suitability requirement
- The eligibility requirements
How to Meet the Validity Requirements of Your Electronic Travel Authorisation Application?
You will need to follow very simple five steps to succeed:
- Submit your application either by using the ‘UK ETA’ app or by completing the ‘Apply for an ETA to come to the UK’ online form;
- Pay the fee (£10 per person);
- You will need to have a passport with a chip;
- Provide your photo; and
- Apply to enter the UK as a Visitor (other than a Marriage/Civil Partnership Visitor), staying in the UK for up to 6 months; or a Creative Worker.
How to Meet the Suitability Requirements of Your Electronic Travel Authorisation Application?
The refusal on suitability grounds can happen because of one of the following reasons:
Exclusion or deportation order grounds
This is where the Secretary of State has personally directed that you be excluded or deported from the UK. The UKVI will also reject your application if you are already subject of an exclusion or deportation order.
Also, they will refuse your application if you have been convicted of a criminal offence with a custodial sentence of 12 months or more. This rule applies to all convictions in the UK and abroad.
If your conviction was for less than 12 months, you’ll need to wait for at least 12 months before applying. Otherwise, the UKVI will refuse your application.
Practically any adverse circumstances can trigger this ground for refusal. This is provided the decision-maker believes that your presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good because of your conduct, character, associations or other reasons (including convictions which do not fall within the criminality grounds).
According to the Home Office guidance:
”Non-conducive to the public good means that it is undesirable to admit the person to the UK, based on their character, conduct, or associations because they pose a threat to UK society.”
- This can include, but is not limited to:
- Threat to national security
- Extremism and unacceptable behaviour
- Association with individuals involved in terrorism, extremism, or war crimes.
- Admitting the person to the UK could unfavourably affect the conduct of foreign
- War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide
- International travel bans
- Immigration offending
- Inciting public disorder
- Involvement with criminals and gangs
- Proceeds of crime and corruption
Previous breach of immigration laws grounds
If you were over 18 and became an overstayer (remained in the UK without a valid visa), breached immigration conditions (e.g. worked illegally), entered the UK illegally or were dishonest in your previous visa application/s, your application will be refused.
What is important to note here is that the decision-makers have no discretion here. If any of the above circumstances apply to you, your application will, unfortunately, be refused. The Home Office calls it a mandatory ground for refusal.
All of the above grounds are also mandatory.
False representations, etc. grounds
No matter how challenging your situation is, don’t be tempted to improve it by slightly twisting the facts. If you do, the Home Office will classify it as a false representation and refuse your application on suitability grounds.
According to the Immigration Rules, the application will still be refused even if you did not know that false representations were made on your behalf. For example, if you asked a legal representative to help you with the application, it is still your responsibility to ensure that all details of your visa application are correct.
Unpaid litigation costs grounds
This is a very rare ground for refusal. It applies when you were litigating with the Home Office, they won, and you did not pay the litigation costs you were ordered to pay.
Cancellation of Your ETA
You should also bear in mind that if the Home Office issued your Electronic Travel Authorisation and then one of the above events occurred, then they’ll cancel it.
How Long Will the Electronic Travel Authorisation be Valid for?
It will be valid for exactly two years. You can use it as many times as you want to during this period of time. However, if you are applying to enter the UK as a visitor, your ETA will only be valid for 6 months on each occasion. This is because a standard visitor cannot stay in the UK for longer than 6 months.
However, if your passport expires within less than two years, you will need to apply for a new Electronic Travel Authorisation as it is connected to the passport number. Your passport number will change after you apply for a new one.