Beginning in 2024, any person planning on travelling to any of the countries that make up the United Kingdom will be subject to a new ETA system. An application for an ETA needs to be made in advance of the start of any UK-bound journey and will apply universally, including to travellers who may currently qualify for a visa waiver.
The article below will lay out all of the relevant information pertaining to East Timorese citizens who are planning on travelling to the UK and how they might be impacted by the ETA. It also reviews the detailed guidelines on how to apply for a UK ETA.
What Is the UK ETA?
An immigration system similar to the USA ESTA and Canadian ETA systems, the UK ETA is a newly developed Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) programme. It is planned to have a full rollout by the end of 2024. This comes as a result of key changes to the UK government’s Nationality and Borders Bill.
Under this new legislation, all UK borders are scheduled to become fully digitalised, with the ETA working as a digital permit for foreign visitors. The permit grants entry to all four United Kingdom countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The UK has published an eligibility list of countries whose citizens will be able to apply for an ETA. There are 92 countries on the list (currently), and East Timor is included. A UK ETA for East Timorese citizens is required whatever the reason for travel, including tourism, visiting family or friends, business, studying or medical treatment.
It is important to note that the ETA will apply to all possible methods of legal travel and arrival in the United Kingdom from 2024. Every official port of entry will have a digital system in place, meaning airports, seaports and Eurostar train ports.
How Will the New System Affect East Timorese Citizens?
Prior to the intended introduction of the ETA, any East Timorese citizen wishing to travel to the UK for the purpose of tourism was free to do so without having to apply for a visa as long as they met standard visitor requirements and their stay was for a duration less than six months.
From 2024, all East Timorese travellers wishing to enter the UK for a short stay will need to apply for an ETA, no matter the reason. The rules have not, nor will they be, changed for any citizen from Timor Leste who wants to work or spend more than six months in the country. This will still require a UK visa application.
What is the Application Process for an ETA?
Although there may be some changes before final implementation, there are sufficient details about the new ETA system available. To give the citizens of Timor Leste an idea of what to expect, the following will be required for a UK ETA for East Timorese citizens:
• A valid biometric East Timorese passport.
• A recent passport photograph in a digital format.
• Personal details – full name, date of birth and current residential address.
• Passport details – number, date of issue and country of issue.
• Employment details – employer’s name, address and contact details.
• Travel details, including the purpose of the visit and the address to be used while in the UK.
East Timorese ETA applicants will also be required to disclose information about certain elements of their personal life and history. This information includes questions on affiliations to proscribed groups, immigration history and criminal records.
This information will be checked against both national and international databases on behalf of border forces and the UK government. An ETA will not be approved for any applicant who is considered to be a threat to national security. If an ETA is refused, a visa may be granted, but it depends on personal circumstances.
How Is the Application Processed?
Once the online application has been completed, payment is required. A non-refundable fee can be paid by credit card or debit card. Any application without accompanying payment will not be processed. Standard processing is estimated to take 48 to 72 hours. It is recommended that an application for a UK ETA for East Timorese citizens is made well in advance of the intended arrival date.
How Will an ETA Affect the Entry Process?
If an ETA application is approved, it is granted to the traveller in the form of a digital permit linked to their passport. The details of every approved ETA will be logged on the Advanced Passenger Information, and it will be the responsibility of travel carriers around the world to make sure that their passengers possess valid permits to be able to enter the United Kingdom legally.
Travellers from East Timor who are unable to provide an approved ETA can be denied access to any train, boat or aircraft crossing into UK territory. Access may still be denied at a UK border if officials believe the holder of the ETA is inadmissible under UK law.
What Is the Time Period an ETA Covers?
A UK ETA will be valid for a period of 180 days from the date of issue. The only exception to this rule is if the linked passport is set to expire before the end of that period. No visitor from any of the 92 countries on the aforementioned list, including East Timor, will be permitted to stay in the UK beyond the expiration date of their passport, regardless of the time that might be left on their ETA.
If an ETA expires during the course of a stay in the UK, then a new application will need to be made in order for the stay to be extended. In certain cases, travellers may even need to return to their native countries in order to remake the application. For more information on the process of the UK ETA for East Timorese citizens, visit the frequently asked questions section.
Note that during the ETA’s valid period, the holder has freedom of movement throughout the UK. The border point of entry, regardless of where it is, covers all four countries. There are no internal borders between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, East Timorese travellers into Northern Ireland from any of the other constituent countries will be required to show their passports.