UK Immigration and Ireland sign agreement for enhanced border controls

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30 December 2011


The UK and Irish governments have now signed an agreement to continue with the Common Travel Area, a passport-free zone that comprises Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. According to UK immigration authorities, the agreement will help reduce illegal immigration. Although the stricter controls may make it more difficult to gain entry into the area, once you are in you can travel freely between the participating countries.

The agreement updates border controls for initial entry to the Common Travel Area which has existed between the countries since Ireland left the UK. The new agreement will feature enhanced electronic border control systems, which are aimed at identifying incoming passengers who do not already have the right to enter the Common Travel Area before they arrive at an international border.

People travelling within the Common Travel Area do not generally need to carry a passport or national identity document for immigration purposes.

The agreement also stated both countries immigration departments commit to sharing important immigration related information, such as fingerprint biometrics, particularly from 'high risk' individuals, as part of the visa issuing process and to help crack down on illegal immigration.

"This agreement will help us quickly refuse those with poor immigration records, identify asylum shoppers and speed up the removal process in those cases where people have entered the Common Travel Area," said Immigration minister Damian Green.

"The benefits the Common Travel Area brings to travellers and the economies of our countries are well-established but it should not be exploited by those with no right to be here," he added.

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