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In addition to the original questions, are any of the following specific events broadcasted?

  • Being assumed to be an illegal entrant...
  • Visa expiration and overstaying...
  • Visa refusal
  • Deportation/removal

Another concern for the question would be... However murky the conditions and format and extent of the information shared among five eyes, would it then be shared further onwards by the other 5E members to other countries still?

Apart from SIS, VIS and Five Eyes, is the UK party to any other international data sharing agreements?

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    Information is shared between the Five Eyes treaty countries - UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I've never seen anything indicating exactly what is shared, but the working assumption is always 'if one knows, they all know'.
    – user105640
    Sep 18, 2020 at 0:36
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    The best answer you are going to get on this is the answers you got on this question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/158170/…
    – Moo
    Sep 18, 2020 at 0:37
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    @Arthur'sPass the Five Countries Conference agreement is discussed in this DHS document: dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/… - Section 1.1 covers a non-exhaustive list of data which is shared.
    – Moo
    Sep 18, 2020 at 0:38
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    @Moo: are you sure? I think the answer is no, just because the question uses a "following specific events broadcasted". I assume it is mostly a database lookup (maybe a common database), and not a "broadcast". But I agree with you on the general meaning of the question. Sep 18, 2020 at 12:50
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    Question seems valid to me, at least regarding EU data (SIS, VIS). The EU is very legalistic, the nature of the information and scope of data exchange are in fact largely public and subject to legal review. There are procedural safeguards but generally speaking, you have a right to know why you are refused a visa, what data is held about you, for how long, etc. IIRC, the UK's participation has also been examined by the EUCJ. If someone has time to dig up all this information, it should be possible to write a good answer. Five Eyes collaboration might indeed be different.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 18, 2020 at 15:31

1 Answer 1

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The UK has automated access to the following immigration databases:

  1. Immigration databases of the Migration 5 immigration countries beginning in 2021. The UK will be able to query anonymous fingerprints to the other four Migration 5 countries. If there is a match with any of them, a response will be automatically returned with limited information including any previous immigration violations, deportations, removals, refusals etc.

  2. Immigration databases of Ireland. The extent of the access is not publicly known but you should assume they share data based on biometric and biographic matches.

  3. The UK has NO direct access to the immigration information, including removals and deportations, in the SIS I/II. Only the countries who are signatories to the Schengen agreement have this access. Similarly, the UK has no access to the immigration information in the VIS. Data protection laws in the EU are very stringent. The UK, USA, Canada normally store visa/immigration related information for decades. The VIS only stores information for 5 years. Similarly, SIS alerts need to be regularly reviewed.

  4. The UK does have provisions through bilateral and multilateral agreements, including with the Migration 5 and EU countries, to share immigration data on a case-by-case basis. This means that the UK should have a reason to suspect that the partner country has derogatory information about an individual before a search request can be sent. This is a slow process requiring approvals and manual searching and is rarely(if ever) done.

  5. The data obtained by the Migration 5 countries may be shared with other agencies and governments provided data protection rules are followed. In reality, the chances of this happening are extremely low. Whereas the UK would automatically know about a visa refusal from the USA by fingerprint matching, they wouldn't know information shared by another country with the USA unless a follow-up request was made by the UK to the USA for it. In other words, with millions of applications made each year, the chances of manual checking are close to zero.

You can make Freedom of Information requests to the Home Office using www.whatdotheyknow.com and ask them the questions you have asked us. The Home Office will be legally bound to respond. My opinion is that most of the information that you seek will be provided (some is already available). Please do share the response with us here too. FOI requests in the UK can be made by anyone (you don't have to be a citizen or resident) and are free of cost.

The best places for information about data protection, sharing and retention are the government departments themselves who process our data. Thanks to data protection laws, most government agencies in the developed world are bound by law to share this information under most circumstances. The work of intelligence agencies, who are exempt from data protection and public oversight, is different. However, routine immigration casework is not the function of intelligence agencies.

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  • You, my friend, are amazing! I look forward to reviewing your answer more carefully in time, and to following up with it properly and sharing all of my findings!
    – Joseph P.
    Oct 12, 2020 at 1:00
  • By the way, where are the migration 5 countries enumerated and otherwise described? Try as I may I cannot find anything whatsoever on the interwebs...
    – Joseph P.
    Oct 12, 2020 at 7:18
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    @Joseph P. The Migration 5 partnership was previously known as the FCC (five country conference). The Wikipedia article is now outdated but you can read more here: canadainternational.gc.ca/kuwait-koweit/highlights-faits/2018/…
    – uberqe
    Oct 12, 2020 at 8:32
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    @Joseph P. 1) Indirect access would mean having to make a request through legal channels manually. There may be legal provisions for sharing (for serious crimes/terrorism) this data but in practice it is rarely ever done. 2) No. By access I mean the ability to obtain data with minimal human intervention of administrative processes. Whilst new information may be provided after a match, a third country does not have the ability to create new records. 3) The legal provisions and agreements exists and are set for implementation in 2021. The other M5 countries are already doing this among themselve
    – uberqe
    Oct 12, 2020 at 12:46
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    (+1) @JosephP. The distinction is based on the type of “alerts” (entries). For the moment, the UK can access and submit alerts regarding wanted persons and covert surveillance, documents, etc. in the SIS but not those about entry refusals or removals. The VIS only includes biometric data for Schengen visa holders and Schengen visa applications (no criminal records) so it's primarily relevant for Schengen countries and there is nothing left to access if the EU doesn't want the data to be (mis)used for other purposes.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 12, 2020 at 16:35

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