Soon, the UK’s current system of visa waivers will be replaced. In its place will be the new ETA programme, a scheme expected to be introduced by the year 2024. Omani visitors to the UK will need to acquire an ETA before entry. Find out how to apply and how the system will function in this complete guide.
What Is the UK ETA for Omani Citizens?
Although the ETA, which stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation, is new to the UK, seasoned travellers may already be familiar with similar programmes. It is based on the ESTA in the United States and the ETA in Canada. Like those systems, the ETA is designed to digitalise the country’s borders, giving the government more oversight and control. Once it is in place, it will be easier to monitor people entering the UK and identify potential risks to the country’s security.
The ETA functions as a kind of digital travel permit and will replace the UK’s current visa waiver programme. It is not a visa and has a much simpler application process. Unlike a visa, Omani citizens can apply for the ETA online through a standardised application form.
How Does the ETA Affect Omani Travellers?
Although Oman is not a member of the Commonwealth, it is a former British colony and still has a strong connection to the UK. As such, it is on the list of 92 countries with which the UK has visa waiver arrangements. This means that, under the current system, Omani visitors can enter the UK with just their passports and no other paperwork. This will change when the ETA is introduced. Travellers still will not require a visa, but they will need to apply for the UK ETA for Omani citizens.
While many Omanis come to the UK for holidays, this is not the only reason they travel to the country. Reasons may include:
• Business trips
• Short-term courses or study programmes
• Visits to friends and family
• Medical treatment
There is one application form for the ETA. All Omani visitors who do not plan to work there and intend to spend less than six months in the country must go through the same application process. This will not change depending on the reason for their trip.
Omanis who currently need a visa to enter the UK will still need one when the new system comes into effect. Essentially, this includes anyone who wants to spend a long period of time in the UK (defined as more than six months), live there permanently or work in the country. The visa application process is unaffected by the introduction of the ETA, as ETAs are entirely separate from visas.
Applying for the UK ETA for Omani Citizens
Visitors will need to complete the ETA application form and pay the application fee online. The ETA system is entirely digital, so paper-based alternatives will not be made available.
A list of requirements for the ETA has been released, but not all details have been finalised. The price of the ETA application has not been set, and some of the information may be subject to change — for example, travellers may need to hold a passport with a certain amount of validity past their travel dates. Although some details may change, the requirements give travellers an idea of what to expect. Requirements include the following:
• A valid biometric passport from a country on the list of eligibility.
• A recent digital passport photo.
• Personal information — this will include various data, such as the date of birth, employment information, contact details, etc.
• The reason for the traveller’s visit to the UK.
• Some details about the planned trip to the UK, such as an address while in the country.
• A credit or debit card for the ETA application fee.
• Disclosure of criminal records, past immigration offences, and membership (past or present) of proscribed groups or organisations.
The ETA system is designed to help safeguard the UK against potential security threats. The sensitive information that travellers will disclose as part of their application is used to identify risks. An applicant who is flagged as a threat to the safety of the United Kingdom or its citizens will be rejected for an ETA.
Before a UK ETA application can be processed, the form must be entirely completed, and the fee must be paid in full.
Processing the UK ETA for Omani Citizens
There is a precedent for carriers making electronic travel permits a condition of carriage. This is expected to happen in the case of the ETA, so travellers will need to apply for their ETA with plenty of time to spare. A passenger who presents themselves at their departure airport without an approved UK ETA for Omani citizens may be denied boarding.
With that in mind, travellers should organise themselves and complete the application process early. It is expected that an ETA application will take up to 72 hours to process before it can be approved or denied. Travellers with an approved ETA will need to present it at their departure airport and again when they reach the UK and go through their arrival airport’s border control.
Rejected ETA applications can be appealed. If the appeal fails, travellers still have some options they can pursue. For example, they can apply for a UK visa instead. The visa application process is longer and more complicated than an ETA application.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Omani Citizens
An Omani citizen who holds an ETA has permission to enter the United Kingdom and spend up to six months there. During this time, they can enrol on short-term courses of study, but they cannot work. They can move freely around the United Kingdom. The four nations that make up the UK, which include England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, do not have any border control separating them. This means that Omani visitors can travel between the four countries as they wish. However, the independent Republic of Ireland is not part of the UK, and the ETA does not cover it.
It is common for Omanis to visit other European countries as part of their trip to the UK. Travellers should be aware that the United Kingdom is not part of the European Union or the Schengen common travel area. The ETA has no validity outside the UK, and Omani citizens who want to visit other European countries will need to ensure that they meet all the relevant entry requirements. The EU’s own digital travel permit system, the ETIAS, is currently being developed.