Dear Mr Bassie,
I would like to visit the United Kingdom and I understand that there are different documents that provide permission to enter there. I am aware that there have been some changes recently. Can you please let me know what documents currently grant permission to enter the United Kingdom?
Thanks in advance,
Presently, there are various types of documents, such as visas, that are issued and used to confirm permission to go to the United Kingdom. The British authorities use the term 'entry clearance' and this describes these documents and the permission that they grant.
There are four types of entry-clearance documents that can provide someone with permission to travel to and enter the United Kingdom.
A visa is for use by a category of applicants known as 'visa nationals' and this category of persons refer to nationals of the countries or territories that are listed in Appendix 1 of the Immigration Rules. There is also an entry certificate and this is issued to those persons whom the British authorities refer to as 'non-visa nationals'. These are persons who are nationals of any other country that is outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. It should also be noted that an EEA family permit is for the family members of EEA nationals.
There is also an exempt vignette and this is for people such as diplomats, who are exempt from the requirements of the Immigration Act 1971.
When a person makes an application to obtain a visa before travelling to the United Kingdom, the success of such an application will largely depend on that person's nationality and the reason for which he or she would like to travel to the United Kingdom. A person will not need a visa if he or she holds a passport that is issued by the United Kingdom or any other country in the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
However, if the applicant is a 'visa national', that person will need a visa before going to the United Kingdom. If the person is a 'non-visa national', then he or she might need a visa if wanting to go to the United Kingdom for up to six months. A person will need a visa if he or she would like to go there for more than six months. Some 'visa nationals' will not need a visa if they would like to 'transit' the United Kingdom for a short time while on their way to another country.
It is worth noting that a person must be outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man when applying for a visa, or other forms of entry clearance. Such applications are processed by a network of visa-application centres around the world that process applications for entry clearance.
The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have their own immigration laws and policies; nevertheless, the British authorities' visa offices also issue visas for these islands. An applicant can apply for a visitor visa at a visa-application centre in any country, but the applicant must apply for any other type of entry clearance in the country or territory where he or she lives.
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 (U.K.). Email: email@example.com