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Visa Conditions for Entry into the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 4 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
Visa Conditions For Entry Into The Uk

The visa terms and conditions for entry into the UK depend on:

  • the traveller’s country of origin; and,
  • the purpose of their visit to the UK.

People travelling on a UK, a European Union, a European Economic Area or a Swiss passport do not require a visa to enter the UK. Citizens of some other countries who would ordinarily require a visa may be exempt from the visa requirements for some other reason. For diplomats do not require a visa. However, they would still need to provide a formal document which shows that they are exempt from the UK visa rules.

Visa Nationals

Under the immigration rules which govern entry into the UK by foreign citizens, people from some countries always need a visa to enter the UK. They will need a visa regardless of the length or purpose of their stay. Citizens of these countries are known as visa nationals for the purpose of entry into the UK.

Appendix 1 of the immigration rules lists all the countries whose citizens require a visa to enter the UK. The full list can be found on the UK Border Agency website. People who are “stateless” will also require a visa and are classed as visa nationals.

Non-Visa Nationals

Nationals of countries not listed in Appendix 1 of the immigration rules may not need a visa to enter the UK if their visit will last less than six months. For immigration purposes citizens of these countries are known as non-visa nationals. However, some non-visa nationals will still need a visa to enter the UK due to the purpose of their visit.

Where and When to Apply for a UK Visa

Foreign citizens who require a visa to enter the UK must apply for the visa before they travel to the UK. Even though the Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann are not part of the UK for immigration purposes, foreign citizens cannot travel to either of these territories and apply for a UK visa from there.

Foreign citizens applying for a visitor visa for a stay of less than six months can apply from any British embassy or consulate which offers visa services. However, those applying for other types of visas must apply in the country where they live. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website contains a list of all British embassies and consulates which provide visa services.

UK Entry Clearance Requirements for Non-Visa Nationals

Depending on the purpose of their visit, non-visa nationals can often enter the UK without a visa. However, if a non-visa national intends to stay in the UK for longer than six months they will have to obtain entry clearance before they travel to the UK.

Advance Passenger Information

The UK Border Agency is introducing a system which requires airlines and other carriers to collect information from all passengers, including crew, who are travelling to the UK. The information is passed on to the UK Border Agency before the travellers arrive. The information is used to detect those travellers who could pose a security risk to the UK, who may then be questioned or even arrested upon their arrival.

This advanced screening system is known as e-Borders and its formal implementation is due to begin in October 2008. Any traveller who refuses to provide the requested information is unlikely to be allowed to travel to the UK.

Transit Through the UK

It should be noted that visa nationals may need a visa even if they only intend to transit through the UK as part of their journey to another country. Visa nationals in transit to another country may not need a visa to travel through the UK if they will be in the country for less than 24 hours and have all the necessary paperwork to guarantee them entry to their final destination. However, the nationals of some countries will always require a visa, even for transit. Therefore it is vital to check the UK Border Agency website before making any travel arrangements.

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I'd like to know what other people's experiences have been regarding Spouse Visa applications.
Gibbo - 4-Apr-17 @ 11:13 AM
@papy - if you are applying for a general visiting visa you can access the information and documents you will need via the link here. I hope this helps.
AboutImmigration - 27-Jan-15 @ 1:56 PM
i want to go touk to visit my friend than are british citizenship, si my friend send my a invitation letter, please tell me if i need a bank statment for to apply for visa
papy - 26-Jan-15 @ 12:20 PM
Hi i have refugee status, which form can i fill in for my partner to include him on my status
Ladi - 12-Oct-14 @ 10:54 PM
I'm from the Philippines and do I need to travel to the UK immediately after my spousal visa has been issued or is it possible to stay for 4 more months after my visa has been grantedbefore flying into the UK ?
Ara - 12-Oct-14 @ 1:12 PM
my daughter has been married to a Turkish national for four years living in turkey for five years. they have a daughter aged two, who has a uk passport.. what are the restrictions for them all to relocate to the uk
pilgrim - 9-Jul-14 @ 7:33 AM
I am 55 years old and have always worked in Australia. My Fiancé is English and is 60 years old and has just returned to England to help look after her sick sister. My Fiancé wouldlike to move back to England on a permanent basis.We have a house in Australia we are paying off. We don't have a lot of excess cash as we put this into the house. My Fiance is on a pension in England and not earning the required $18600.00 for me to enter on a Fiance visa. What are my chances and options of relocating to England to be with my partner and get married?
Budgie - 1-Jul-14 @ 11:05 AM
I have a friend who lives in Cairo Egypt who wants to come to the UK for a visit. He holds Guatemalan passport. He has tried to find out from the British Embassy if he needs to get a visa to come as a tourist. Can you please advise? If he does, how should he go about it? Also, if he doesn't require a visa, what sort of documentation does he need she arriving at UK immigration?Many thanks
Cara - 7-May-14 @ 9:39 PM
I came to the UK on a 6 months visiting visa, met a Polish national, fell in love and got married. What are my chances of getting a family visa to live in the UK?
OMO - 2-Jul-13 @ 11:26 AM
I am a Malaysian married to a British Citizen. I am now a Permenant Resident. I have 2 children under the age of 4 and would want to visit my Parents in Malaysia. My husband does not allow us saying that he has the absolute right not to allow me to visit my parents as both the children are British. He also says that the immigration won't allow me to,leave the country with my 2 children, even for a visit, without his written consent. Has he the right to do so? Where is my freedom as a mother then. Or is he threatening me just because I am a foreigner married to him.
Sujita - 15-Mar-13 @ 11:23 AM
I I have overstayed my UK visa for 5 and a half years, then i left the country by my wish. Now i am married and have a kid and we want to apply for student visa in Australia. Am i gonna have any problems about all this? Thank you.I am from Macedonia by the way.
Biljana - 25-Apr-12 @ 4:41 PM
Does a New Zealand citizen who holds an ancestry visa and is at present living in UK need a passport and/or extra visa to visit the Channel Islands for a period not exceeding four days? Dennis
Dennis - 8-Apr-11 @ 8:49 AM
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