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Home Office sets sights on ‘digital by default’ immigration


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Priti Patel
Image source: Priti Patel from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

The Home Office has outlined plans to have a new digital, end-to-end process in place for the immigration system by 2025.

It is part of the New Plan for Immigration, published last week as a guide to the UK government’s policies for legal migration and border controls.

It says the government wants to make the new system easier to navigate and digital by default, with progress on the full digital journey already available to some users and the capacity to identify people believed to pose a risk to security.

The plan includes digital self-service and application processes, including methods of capturing and verifying identities, along with the roll out of e-visas, a digital case working process and increased use of biometrics.

The latter reflects a Home Office plan for a three-month trial of self-service biometric enrolment kiosks for potential migrants and overseas visitors to the UK.

Chatbots and voicebots

Other plans comprise the development of chatbot and voicebot functions to support applicants – to be ready for launch next year – and the further development of digital customer accounts for more intuitive navigation and integration with other services. The latter will involve the Home Office working with partners across government, including the team behind the One Login programme.

The document says there has already been notable progress with the introduction of digital routes for migrants from Hong Kong and refugees from Ukraine.

In a statement to Parliament, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The strategy statement sets out our ambition for transformational change for everyone using our systems and crossing the UK border. We will deliver a fully end-to-end digital customer experience which will bring benefits to all.

“This is an ambitious plan in which we will continue to deliver a world leading legal migration and border system. The plans we have set out in this strategy statement are essential for a streamlined, digital system which responds to customer needs and enhances the security of the UK.”

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