Will The UK Get A Visa Process Like The American ESTA?

Brexit negotiations are underway, and the future of travel and working in the United Kingdom is a difficult and complex entity. There are numerous news sources and reports suggesting various different factors, and with this uncertainty, many people are left wondering about how they are going to travel to the UK in the future, on business and for pleasure, and whether there will be a much more complex process in place moving forward. One of the main questions that has occurred, is the likelihood of the UK adopting a system which is similar to the American ESTA form registration which allows travel to the country on a visitor visa for citizens of a particular set of countries. Here, we're taking a look at the likelihood of this visa process being set in the UK, and a look more closely at the future of the UK visa process.

How Does The ESTA Visa Work?

The ESTA Visa is an American travel visa application service, which is completed online, and serves eligible international travellers who are looking to head to the United States, under the Visa Waiver Program. Under this program, there are numerous countries which are allowed to travel to the US without the need for an official visa, as long as they tick the boxes of other criterion related to their previous travels, ancestral roots and criminal record. These countries include the majority of Europe, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and many more.

If a traveller is eligible for an ESTA Visa, then they are allowed to enter and travel the United States (although an ESTA does not guarantee entry as this is at the discretion of border control), for up to 90 days. Each individual traveller must have their own ESTA Visa, and it must be applied for online at a fee payable by debit or credit card. Visitors should not attempt to travel to the US without an appropriate visa.

Other Visas

Aside from the ESTA, the US has numerous other visa types, including B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visas, and C-1 transit visas, for those who are stopping over in the US on route to another country. If Brexit negotiations go sour, it is possible that the UK will introduce a visa system for travel in a similar manner.

In addition to this, the free movement of people will quickly be removed as soon as Britain officially leaves the EU in March 2019, meaning work visas will also be changing quite dramatically, which could impact new immigrants, and existing ones. The future is unclear as negotiations remain underway between the UK and the EU, and obtaining a visa for both work and travel could be much more difficult.

The Future Of UK Visas After Brexit

A leaked document which was discovered in September has shown a much tougher outlook for a UK Visa System than many businesses had initially expected from Brexit. While the policy stance is articulated as a 'Britain first' approach, this could lead to a shortage in staff and businesses will need to look at training existing UK citizens as opposed to hiring overseas. This means that employers in industries such as agriculture could be some of the worst hit, as there is a tendency to rely on low-skill seasonal staff, many of which come from European countries. Nevertheless, this document does not show any indication of EU immigration as a whole in regards to Britain after Brexit.

In regards to travel, it is highly unlikely that strict travel visas will be put in place for those looking to enter Britain, and a regime similar to that of the US ESTA is likely, depending on the security measures the country is looking to set in place. Currently, the UK grants visa-free travel to citizens of 56 countries, with passports being stamped on entry and tourists being able to stay for up to six months. The EU is already currently working on a travel authorisation scheme that will essentially work in a similar manner to the US ESTA Visa, but the future of UK travel for entering the UK and entering Europe will need to be formally proposed and negotiated prior to Britain leaving the EU in March 2019.