Minister targets digitisation of all immigration documents by end of 2024
Immigration minister Kevin Foster reiterates ambition to eliminate paper processes
Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0
Immigration minister Kevin Foster has outlined the government’s aim to replace all immigration documents with digital evidence of status by the end of 2024.
The Home Office first indicated in early 2020 that its ultimate aim was to eliminate all hard-copy immigration documents. The announcement came during the department’s delivery of the EU Settlement Scheme, in which successful applicants were not provided with any physical documentation, but instead given access to a digital service allowing them to prove their rights to live and work in this country.
The paperless ambition was cited again in the New Plan for Immigration, a ‘strategy statement’ published last year.
Foster has now reiterated the plan to “develop a border and immigration system which is ‘digital by default’”.
- UK’s asylum backlog has doubled since 2020 – and Home Office cannot say how many interviews it conducted last year
- Home Office admits some immigration data ‘only held on paper’
- EU citizens can still access digital status on expired passports, says immigration minister
As part of this agenda, immigration agencies “will increasingly replace physical and paper-based products and services with accessible, easy to use online and digital services”.
“Our ambition is to have physical documents replaced by eVisas – whereby individuals have access to online evidence of their immigration status information – by the end of 2024”, the minister said, in answer to a written parliamentary question from Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock.
“This change is being rolled out incrementally and we will continue to take into consideration the characteristics of each cohort as we do so, to ensure no one is left behind as we move to a digital system.”
The core strand of this rollout will be the introduction of an ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’ system – similar in style to the ESTA visa-waiver programme of the US, in which those arriving in the country for a short visit can fill out an online form prior to their arrival and receive automated authorisation.
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