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Do You Need a UK Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorisation?

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When you are planning to visit the UK to see family, study, work or tour around the country it is not always immediately obvious if you need to apply for a family visa or work visa or visitor visa. The UK government has announced that it is rolling out an electronic travel authorisation scheme so your question to immigration solicitors may be to ask whether you need a UK visa or an electronic travel authorisation.

In this article, our UK immigration solicitors reveal what we know so far about the planned electronic travel authorisation scheme.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For legal advice on UK immigration law and your visa options call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

A new plan for immigration

The UK government has a new plan for immigration and part of that plan includes the introduction of an electronic travel scheme. The scheme will commence in 2023.

Immigration solicitors stress that the electronic travel authorisation scheme does not replace the visa system or the UK points-based immigration system scheme but is intended to run alongside it.

Under the new scheme, you will need electronic travel authorisation before you travel to the UK. You may think that it will be easier to apply for electronic travel authorisation than applying to the Home Office for a visitor visa or family visa but the scheme is restricted to non-visa nationals.

If you are from a country where you need a visa to secure UK entry clearance you will still need to apply for an appropriate visa from the Home Office before you travel to the UK.

The intention behind the scheme is to give officials advance notice of who is travelling to the UK so border officials can carry out advance security checks rather than waiting until an airline passenger or ferry passenger is disembarking and then doing checks that result in the refusal of entry clearance. Some say that advance checks make sense as there is nothing more frustrating for those visiting the UK than to be told they are refused entry after travelling for hours. From the government’s point of view, advance checks also mean savings as there should be no need to detain as many people. That’s because a large proportion of those who would have travelled and been refused UK entry clearance will not bother to travel because they will not be able to secure electronic travel authorisation.

Who will need to apply under the electronic travel authorisation scheme?

The electronic travel authorisation scheme is for overseas nationals who are exempt from having to apply for a visa to come to the UK for 6 months or less. The scheme will only cover trips for tourism or to see family.

If you want to work whilst in the UK you will need a visa and you will need to comply with the work-related visa conditions. For example, the visitor visa allows you to work in the UK but you can only carry out what is referred to in the immigration rules as permissible activities. These activities include attending conferences or job interviews.

You will not need to apply under the electronic travel authorisation scheme if you are:

  • A British or Irish citizen
  • A holder of settled status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • A holder of indefinite leave to remain
  • In possession of a valid visa and returning to the UK. For example, a spouse visa and you have been overseas on holiday to see family or you are a skilled worker visa holder and you travelled overseas on a short work secondment

Do you need a visa?

Some travellers are uncertain about whether they need a visa. Others know that strictly speaking, they do not need a visa but to reduce the risk of entry clearance refusal they apply for one.

For example, a traveller from the USA is coming to the UK to work on a time-limited basis. If the visit is for less than 6 months and they do not plan to do work outside of the permissible activities a visa is not necessary. However, in case the trip overruns the 6 months or to avoid entry clearance problems a visa application may be made. If the work trip is definitely going to be for over 6 months or the type of business to be conducted does not fall within the visitor visa permissible activities then a skilled worker visa or senior or specialist worker visa may be necessary.

Our specialist immigration solicitors can advise you on whether you need a visa and, if so, which visa best suits your circumstances and needs. We can then apply for your visa taking the stress and hassle out of a trip to the UK.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors 

For immigration law and visa advice call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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