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The Common Travel Area explained

The Common Travel Area, often referred to as the CTA, is an agreement between the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies – Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Under the agreement, Irish and British citizens are able to enjoy freedom of movement and other benefits when travelling with the CTA.

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    Regions Included and Not Included in the CTA arrangements

    The CTA covers the following:

    • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland);
    • Ireland (Republic of);
    • Isle of Man;
    • Guernsey; and
    • Jersey.

    It is important to be aware that all other British Overseas Territories, such as Gibraltar, are not part of the Common Travel Area agreement.

    British passport

    The Common Travel Area and Brexit

    The CTA is not dependent on British and Irish membership of the European Union (EU) and actually pre dates the creation of the union and therefore the free movement rights granted under the CTA arrangements are not voided by Brexit.

    Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the British and Irish governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding to confirm the long standing arrangement and commitment to maintain the CTA and the rights that are granted with it.

    Such rights mean that British and Irish citizens have the right to live, study, work and access healthcare and public services freely across the CTA without having to apply for immigration permission. However, it is important to realise that these freedoms only apply to British or Irish citizens – other foreign nationals will have to apply for the relevant visas.

    Travelling within the CTA

    For citizens from Ireland and the UK they are not subject to passport controls when travelling with the CTA. However, this does not mean they do not show ID to border controls.

    They may be asked by an immigration officer to prove they are a citizen of Ireland or the UK and this is usually done by showing a passport from the appropriate state.

    The CTA arrangements also means there is co-operation between both Ireland and the UK’s immigration services. For example, Irish border control could refuse someone permission to enter Ireland if they suspect they are travelling on to the UK but would not qualify for entry.

    What Rights Are Granted via the CTA?

    Education and work rights

    Under the CTA if you are a British or Irish citizen they you are able to work in the region without permission – this includes undertaking any self-employment work in the Common Travel Area.

    The agreement also means that both governments will recognise professional qualifications from either country and therefore, it is easier for Irish and UK citizens to find appropriate employment suitable to their skills.

    British or Irish citizens also have equal rights to access education in either country. The Irish and UK governments have also ensured that citizens can access a range of student support including student loans and other financial funds.

    Rights to access social security benefits

    Both British and Irish citizens are entitled to access social security benefits and other public funds within the CTA. However, it is important to realise that citizens can only be subject to one country’s social security legislation at a time.

    This means it is only possible to pay into one region’s social security scheme at one time – meaning you are entitled to the same social security rights benefits granted to all citizens of that state – this includes pensions.

    There is a strong bilateral agreement between UK and Irish governments to ensure that these rights to public funds will continue to be protected.

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      Globe showing UK and Ireland Map

      Health Care, Social Housing Support, and Voting Rights Covered by the CTA Arrangements

      A key advantage of the CTA is that Irish and UK citizens have the right to access health care wherever there are residing. This means Irish citizens visiting or living in the UK can receive NHS treatment and vice-versa.

      The same access is also given to Irish and British citizens in terms of social housing, supported housing or support if homeless.

      The Common Travel Area agreement also extends to voting rights, with Irish nationals and UK citizens entitled to register to vote in both local or national parliamentary elections – assuming they fulfil all other criteria such as being of voting age etc.

      How Can We Help?

      IAS can offer advice sessions, where one of our lawyers will discuss your circumstances with you. This session will give you the chance to ask our lawyers any questions you may have about citizenship.

      Our immigration attorneys can also assist you with your British Citizenship application and will ensure that you are able to keep your American nationality when guiding you through each stage of your application process. We offer a number of services to assist you with this.

      If you choose to get the help of IAS, you will be assigned a caseworker who will work with you one-on-one to gather and organize your supporting evidence. Your immigration attorney will also submit a detailed Letter of Representation to support your application, liaise with the UK government on your behalf.

      Our IAS attorneys will take care of every aspect of your application, for more details about the services our attorneys offer speak to one of our immigration experts today on +1 844 290 6312.

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