Tue | Jun 22, 2021

Who needs a visa?

Published:Monday | October 20, 2014 | 11:37 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am being told that there are some exceptions to the rule that persons from countries that are considered to be 'visa national' countries are required to possess a United Kingdom visa. Is this true?
- GW


Dear GW,
There are some exceptions to the United Kingdom’s visa requirements and in some circumstances passengers who are visa nationals may travel to the United Kingdom without visas.
Such circumstance usually relate to transit without visa (TWOV). A visa national who is going to the United Kingdom just to travel on to another country may enter without a visa if the following conditions are met: the person arrives and departs by air; the person’s onward flight is confirmed and departs within 24 hours; and the person is properly documented for his/her destination and has a visa if he/she needs one.
It should be noted that transiting without a visa is a concession. This concession does not usually apply to nationals of the visa national countries. Nationals of these countries need visas, even when in direct airside transit, unless they are in possession of one of the following documents:

A valid visa for entry to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States of America and a valid airline ticket for travel via the United Kingdom as part of a journey from another country  or territory to the country in respect of which the visa is held; or
a valid airline ticket for travel via the United Kingdom as part of a journey from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States of America to another country or territory, provided that the transit passenger does not seek to transit the United Kingdom on a date more than six months from the date on which he last entered Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States of America with a valid visa for entry to that country; or
a valid USA I-551 Permanent Resident Card issued on or after 21 April 1998; or an expired USA i-551 Permanent Resident Card issued on or after 21 April 1998 provided accompanied by a valid I-797 letter authorising the extension, issued by the Bureau of Citizenship; or a stand alone US Immigration visa Form 155A / 155B attached to a sealed brown envelope;or  a valid Canadian Permanent Resident Card issued on or after 28 June 2002;or  a valid common format Category D visa for entry to an EEA state or Switzerland;or a valid common format residence permit issued by an EEA State or Switzerland pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No. 1030/2002.

Please note that in the abovementioned a "valid visa" shall include a transit visa.
If a visa national is a permanent resident in the United Kingdom they do not need a visa, as long as they return to the United Kingdom within two years of their last departure. If a visa national has a “Certificate of entitlement to the right of abode” label in his/her valid passport he/she does not need a visa; If the passenger holds a refugee travel document issued by the United Kingdom he/she does not need a visa. If the passenger holds any other non-national or refugee travel document they need a visa to enter the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, whether holders of non-national and refugee travel documents require a direct airside transit visa (DATV) depends on their nationality, and whether he/she qualifies for one of the exemptions listed above. Persons recognised as stateless under the 1954 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons are not required to hold a DATV and may transit without a visa.
In addition, a seaman travelling on duty, who is a visa national, including those in transit through the United Kingdom, does not need a visa if he holds a seaman’s book issued by one of the following countries:

Algeria, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Isles, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jersey, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Montserrat, Morocco, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Helena, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Sweden, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom (including the Falklands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey), Uruguay. Also, the seaman does not need to be a national of the country that issued the document.

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 (U.K.). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com