19 September 2012

UK visa checks relaxed to avoid border queues

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UK visa and passport checks have been relaxed once more in an effort to combat the lengthening queues which plagued UK immigration halls earlier this summer.

UK immigration

The average queuing times at the country's borders looks set to become an issue again.

While extra staff were drafted in to cope with the extra demand of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, regular numbers have since resumed and reports of long queues are beginning to re-emerge.

In order to prevent similar scenes from earlier this year, Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee recommended a return to a risk based approach of security checks, rather than the 100% policy.

Last summer, then-UK Border Agency Chief Brodie Clark used a similar approach but was accused of exceeding ministerial approval; the Home Secretary Theresa May maintained she did not permit Mr Clark to relax checks to the lengths he did. Mr Clark was dismissed and replaced by Brian Moore.

However, similar measures are now being reinstated, allowing groups of school children from Europe and other passengers deemed low risk to pass through border security without full biometric passport checks.

"Border force staff will do all the checks they are supposed to do in respect of on the accompanying adult," said Mr Moore.

"But in respect of the children it will not be necessary to open the biometric chip on their passport and run that through our computer systems."

Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee accused UKBA of simply reinstating measures which saw Brodie Clark lose his job.

"This is no different to what happened before," said Mr Vaz. "It's back to the future."


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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