UK E-gates open to US nationals and six other countries from June 2019

The days of US nationals and nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea waiting in long queues for UK border control are numbered. From June 2019, nationals of these countries will be granted automatic entry to visit using the Electronic gates.

The government announced the widening of e-gate use, currently limited to UK and EU nationals in October last year. These automated e-gates use facial recognition technology to allow faster and efficient border control processing.

Those who have had immigration problems in the past or intend on entering the UK for any other reason except to visit will still be subject to the normal procedure and not be able to use these gates.

The necessary statutory instrument to enable this was laid before parliament on 18 February 2019. The statutory instrument provides for the following conditions to be met for the use of e-gates:

8B.—(1) A person to whom this article applies may obtain leave to enter the United Kingdom by passing through an automated gate.

(2) This article applies to a person who–

  1. is a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the United States of America;
  2. is travelling on a passport issued by one of the countries listed in sub-paragraph (a);
  3. is aged 12 or above; and
  4. is seeking to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor (standard) under Appendix V to the immigration rules.

(3) Leave under paragraph (1) is given for a period of six months.

(4) Such leave is subject to conditions prohibiting employment and recourse to public funds (within the meaning of the immigration rules).”

Comment

This is welcome news for the nationals of these 7 countries who have routinely faced long delays at border control. This rather long wait in the past has caused a somewhat distressing and frustrated start to their visit to the UK. This system will allow seamless entry into the UK to allow them further time for their visit. The move will especially be welcome by business travellers who often travel for short periods of time and therefore need all the time they can to focus on their business activities.

This move will also encourage and improve the use of border force to tackle other complex immigration issues.