US/UK Immigration Update

Morgan Lewis, a BABC Club Level member, regularly monitors developments in US/UK immigration law through their Immigration and Nationality Services Practice, and the past few months have included some important changes that affect trans-Atlantic business travel.

On the U.S. side, DHS now requires all eligible citizens or nationals from the United Kingdom and other Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries to obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the United States. The VWP allows nationals and citizens of VWP countries to travel to the United States as visitors for business or pleasure for a temporary period of 90 days or fewer without first obtaining a B-1/B-2 visa stamp from a U.S. consulate. ESTA is a web-based system that determines the preliminary eligibility of nationals and citizens from a VWP country to board a carrier for travel to the United States. If approved, the authorization will be valid for multiple entries for up to two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever is shorter. Nationals and citizens of VWP countries who wish to travel to the United States as visitors for business or pleasure for a temporary period of 90 days or less and without a B-1/B-2 visa stamp should obtain ESTA approval as soon as travel is expected.

In addition, the UK government implemented a new immigration system for sponsoring foreign nationals (that is, foreign nationals who are not from one of the countries that make up the European Economic Area, or “non-EEA foreign nationals”) effective November 27, 2008. The new system is “points based,” and migrants now need to pass a points-based assessment before they can work in the United Kingdom. The system will consist of five tiers. Each tier has different points requirements. The number of points the migrant needs and the way the points are awarded will depend on the tier under which he or she is applying. Points will be awarded to reflect the migrant’s ability, experience, age, and, where appropriate, the level of need within the sector in which the migrant will be working.

For more information on the Morgan Lewis Immigration and Nationality Services Practice or these Immigration Alerts, please go to

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