Immigration Corner | What to expect when arriving at the UK border
Dear Mr Bassie,
I will be travelling to England for the first time and I am not sure what to expect on arrival at the border. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
On arrival at the United Kingdom border control, persons’ passports or identity cards will be checked. They must: have their passports or identity cards ready - remove it from a holder or wallet if they are in one; remove their sunglasses if they are wearing them; move through passport control together if they are in a family.
If persons are arriving by bus or coach, they will have to leave the bus when they arrive at border control. Those persons should make sure that they are ready to get off the bus on arrival and have their travel documents ready for inspection.
Persons from a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland
Persons can use the EU/EEA channel at the Port of Entry to get their passports or identity cards checked - this is usually faster than the other channels. Please be aware that the EEA includes the European Union (EU) countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
Persons can use automatic ePassport gates at some airports if their passport has a ‘chip’ on it and they are 12 years old or over. If those persons are between 12 years and 17 years of age, they must be accompanied by an adult. Please note that these gates use facial recognition technology to check identities against the photos in the passports.
Persons from a non-EEA country
Those persons will no longer have to fill in a landing card. Their passports and visas, if they have one, will be checked at border control. They will usually be asked why they are coming to the United Kingdom.
They may be able to use the automatic ePassport gates if they are from:
• New Zealand
• South Korea
• United States
They must also:
• Be aged 12 years old or over and if they are between the ages of 12 and 17, they must be accompanied by an adult
• Have valid visas or biometric residence permits
• have valid passports for the duration of their stay
• have passports with a ‘chip’ on it
Those persons should follow the UK/EEA immigration lanes at border control.
When persons must see a border control officer
Persons must see a border control officer and get a stamp in their passports if they are from a non-EEA country and entering the United Kingdom:
• On a short-term study visa up to six months
• With a Tier 5 Creative or Sporting certificate of sponsorship for up to three months and if they want to enter without a visa
• On a permitted paid engagement
• To accompany or join their EEA family member
Please note that persons cannot get a stamp if they use the ePassport gates. Without a stamp they will not be allowed to carry out the activities they came to the United Kingdom to do.
If persons have joined the Registered Traveler service, they can use the UK/EEA channels and automatic ePassport gates if their passports have a ‘chip’.
Persons will have a UK biometric residence permit if their fingerprints were taken when they applied. Their fingerprints will be checked at border control and they will be checked against the ones stored on those persons' visa document.
If persons are joining or travelling with an EEA or Swiss family member, they should see a border control officer instead of using the automatic ePassport gates.
When persons are refused entry, they will be told in writing why they have been refused entry to the United Kingdom, if they can appeal against the decision and when they will be removed from the United Kingdom. Those persons will usually have to leave the United Kingdom immediately. They may be allowed into the United Kingdom temporarily, usually for up to a week, but their passports will be taken from them and they must report to immigration officers at set times.
I hope this helps.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Justice of the Peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org