US immigration officers could be stationed at UK airports

Passengers should expect more expense and longer waiting times at UK airports if preclearance is introduced

Rachael Revesz
Sunday 09 July 2017 15:12
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Border control: Manchester and Edinburgh airports are considering running operations similar to those at Shannon and Dublin in Ireland
Border control: Manchester and Edinburgh airports are considering running operations similar to those at Shannon and Dublin in Ireland

Britons visiting the US could undergo longer waiting times and more security after reports that US immigration officers could be stationed at UK airports.

People boarding transatlantic flights might soon clear immigration before arriving in the US.

The plan which is being negotiated in Washington and Whitehall will resemble US preclearance operations at Dublin and Shannon airports in Ireland.

A Home Office spokesperson told The Telegraph, “Discussions are ongoing with the US.”

The US government negotiates with airports directly as each airport would need to adapt its operations accordingly.

“However, the introduction of preclearance operations would also require approval by the UK Government,” the Home Office added.

Airlines might be required to pay for US immigration staff and their families to live in the UK, and extra costs could then be handed down to passengers.

As well as extra expense, passengers will likely be asked to turn up at the airport earlier to undergo questions from US officials in addition to the normal security checks.

Two airports – Manchester and Edinburgh – are reportedly considering the scheme.

It could take up to five years to be implemented, and raises questions over whether American immigration staff would be armed, a usual custom in the US.

US Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, and his predecessor, Jeh Johnson, have both publicly supported establishing pre-clearing immigration procedures in the UK as they say it could improve flight security and shorten waiting times at arrival.

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