A historic MoU was signed between UK and Ireland today by Home Secretary Teresa May and Irish Minister Fitzgerald. This agreement will enable sharing of data and exchange of information based on immigration and travel between the two countries. While this might be an upgradation of relations between the two countries, India and China stand to benefit greatly from it. As per the new MoU visitors from India and China can travel between UK and Ireland more easily without much hindrance.
CTA or Common Travel Area is a travel zone that comprises of Republic of Ireland, UK, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. The CTA’s internal borders are almost open or are subject to minimal border controls for citizens of Britain and Ireland possessing minimal identity documents.
With the inking of this agreement, Indian and Chinese tourists need to apply for one travel permit to visit both the countries. The visa scheme will be applied to Chinese tourists by the end of October and later on to Indians.
The agreement allows automated and seamless sharing and cross checking of immigration data between London and Dublin. The biometric data collected on the borders of either country will be matched and shared. Once the agreement starts to run successfully, international tourists will be able to apply for an Irish-UK travel visa at any of the 200 UK visa application centers in the world. After a certain point of time this permit will be extended to other countries too.
CTA comes close on the heels of the other successful bold program introduced by the UK Govt called the Short-stay Visa Waiver Program. This program allowed visitors to visit Ireland if they have a UK visa stamping for 180 days. The Short-stay Visa Waiver Program was extended to UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, India, China, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Oman, Qatar and other Middle East countries.
UK and Ireland stood to gain a whopping 70% increase or 45,000 visitors between 2010 and 13 with the successful run of the Short-stay Visa. Emboldened by its success both the countries are now looking forward to increased cooperation between INIS ( Dept of Justice’s Irish Naturalisation and ImmigrationService) and the British Home Office to secure CTA.
News Source: Irish Times, Wikipedia, GOV.UK
Image Source: http://www.francesfitzgerald.ie/
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