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Agreement to speed up travel between the UK and US

Agreement to speed up travel between the UK and US

HM TREASURY News Release (PN/70/08) issued by The Government News Network on 2 July 2008

The Home Office today announced plans to speed up travel between the UK and the US for trusted people who move regularly between the two countries.

Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne MP presented details of the agreement signed with the US Government as he and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Kitty Ussher MP met with City representatives today. The new scheme would benefit trusted travellers who travel frequently between the two countries, underlining the importance of speedy travel between the UK and the US.

The agreement sets out the shared determination to develop a swift channel across the two borders for trusted travellers, which uses fingerprint, iris or facial recognition technology to speed-up border controls while maintaining their security.

This builds on the success of the UKBA's IRIS scheme for trusted travellers, which enables registered passengers to enter the UK without queuing, following an eye scan. Already over 200,000 people have enrolled and over 1 million crossings have taken place since its launch in March 2006.

Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said:

"Speedy travel between the UK and the US is crucial to large financial organisations. That is why today I was delighted to meet representatives of large City employers, including foreign banks, to announce an agreement made with the US to speed up movement between the US and the UK for trusted people who regularly travel between the two countries."

Also today, Liam Byrne and Kitty Ussher agreed to publish further details on how the new Points Based System for those seeking work in the UK will apply to the financial industry. The document, which will be jointly developed by the Corporation of London, HM Treasury and the Home Office and published in September, will set out how the new points system will impact on employers and workers in the City.

Economic Secretary Kitty Ussher said:

"We know the huge contribution that the talented people who come to work here make to our financial services sector in particular - around a quarter of senior managers in finance and business in London are born abroad.

"That is why the Treasury, the Corporation of London and the Home Office will shortly be publishing some practical guidance about how the Points Based System will work for the financial services sector."

Notes for Editors

1. The Joint Statement Regarding Co-operation between the US Customs and Border Protection and the UK Border Agency toward Development of an International Expedited Traveller Initiative was signed on 24 June.

2. IRIS enrolment stations and gates are available at all five Heathrow terminals and at Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham airports.

3. In March 2006 the Government published a Command Paper setting out the new PBS, 'A points-based system: Making Migration work for Britain'. The new system consolidates the many complex routes into just five tiers. It is designed to facilitate entry to the UK of all those wanting to come to work, train and study. A Statement of Intent for Tier 1 of the PBS was published in December 2007. The Command Paper and Statement of Intent can be found at

4. Tier 1, for highly skilled migrants, was introduced in February this year. Tier 2 is the second of five tiers of the PBS due to be rolled out over the next 12 months. It will be introduced this autumn, along with Tier 5, for temporary workers such as musicians, actors and sportsmen. Tier 4, which covers students, will follow at the beginning of 2009.

Non-media enquiries should be addressed to the Treasury Correspondence and Enquiry Unit on 020 7270 4558 or by e-mail to

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