Under the reforms travellers will have to have an ETA before entering the country. Ministers have said that the fully digital system will be operational by the end of 2025.
“Our new plan will make it easier to identify potential threats before they reach the border”
It is hoped the use of ETAs will make the UK’s immigration system more secure by automatically checking for criminals from other countries and allowing more accurate statistics.
“This year, we will end the use of insecure ID cards for people to enter our country and we will apply tougher UK criminality rules,” said Patel during a speech at a conference organised by think tanks Bright Blue and British Future.
“We are working on further reforms, including Electronic Travel Authorisations, as part of a simpler and more secure, universal permissions to travel requirement.
“Our new plan will make it easier to identify potential threats before they reach the border, through targeted and effective interventions from co-ordinated multi-agency operations.”
Patel said that the UK’s new digital border will provide “the ability to count people in and count people out of the country.”
“We will have a far clearer picture of who is here and whether they should be – and will act when they are not,” she added.
The home secretary said that there will be “wholescale reform” of the UK’s immigration system.
She said that anything short of this would not meet the “demands of the British people”.
“They want a new system that works for the law-abiding majority and against those who abuse our hospitality and generosity.
“One that welcomes those most in need of sanctuary and one that slams the door on dangerous criminals,” she said.
Patel acknowledged that the UK government still wants to attract top talent from around the world.
“Yes, we want employers to train and invest in our domestic workforce. But we know that they always need access to global talent.
“This is why the system is designed to keep the UK at the forefront of innovation. We are introducing bespoke routes to enable more students, scientists, academics, investors, and entrepreneurs to come here,” she said.
Patel claimed that the UK’s global talent route for leaders in science, engineering, digital technology, medicine, humanities, arts, and culture “is already thriving”.
She noted that recent reforms mean that prestigious prize-winners can fast-track the endorsement process and make a single visa application.