Heading to the Olympics
Dear Mr Bassie,
My son and I have been granted visitor's visas and I intend to go with him to the Olympics in London. This is our first trip to London and I do not know what to expect when I arrive at the border. Perhaps you can advise.
Congratulations! It seems that you will be on your way shortly to the Olympics now that you have been granted your visitor's visa to the United Kingdom. You should be aware of certain information pertaining to customs and immigration before you go to the United Kingdom (UK).
When you arrive at the UK border you should be prepared to show the border agency officer that you have a valid passport, valid visa and you should also have a completed landing card. At that point the officer will scan your passport. In addition, the visitor's visa and landing card will be checked to ensure that you have the right to enter the UK. Also, your fingerprints may be taken. Please take note that if you do not have a valid passport you will be refused entry to the UK.
Anyone travelling to the UK should be aware that the authorities work closely with other countries to ensure that persons entering the UK are who they say they are. There are fraud and forgery experts at the UK Border Agency and these experts have been able to stop many people attempting to enter the UK using false or forged documents.
It may be necessary for the officer at the border to ask the visitor for more information about his/her visit before allowing entry. Anyone who is found to have used false documents or provided false information to obtain a UK visa will be refused entry and may be banned from entering the UK for up to 10 years. In addition, it should be noted that it is also a criminal offence to assist someone to unlawfully enter the UK. If convicted, this can result in a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
With respect to travelling with children to the UK, it should be noted that the UK Border Agency has a responsibility and duty to safeguard children and this is taken very seriously. Hence, if a child, under 18 years, is travelling to the UK as an accompanied child, he or she must travel with the adult who is named on the child's visa and just for completeness if a child is travelling as an 'unaccompanied child', he or she may travel alone or with another adult.
Also, if a person is accompanying a child and he or she may appear not to be the parent, for example, if the parent has a different family name, the parent may prevent delays at the point of entry into the UK if the parent takes along evidence of his or her relationship with the child and/or the reason why you are taking the child to the UK. This evidence could include a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child or a divorce/marriage certificate if the parent has a different family name from the child; and possibly, a letter from the child's school detailing term dates; and any tickets for the events that you both may be attending. The visitor may also show the return tickets covering his or her period of stay.
I hope this helps.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is 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