Entry refusal

When refused entry into the UK

When trying to enter into the UK there will always be the possibility that you will be refused entry. It is important to know your rights before deciding what you should do next. 

There are a number of options available to you when you have been refused entry, depending on whether or not you have been granted entry clearance.

With entry clearance

If you’re refused entry and have entry clearance (i.e. a visa, entry certificate, letter of consent or work permit), you cannot, in most cases, immediately be sent back to your home country. Rather you are permitted to make an appeal (in the first instance to an independent adjudicator) and allowed to remain in the UK until it’s been heard.

However, within UK immigration law, there’s no right of appeal in the case of people with visitor’s visas, unless coming as ‘family visitors’ or as prospective or short-term students on a course of six months or less.

The reasons for refusal will be given in writing as as advice on how to make an appeal against the decision. There’s a strict ten-day time limit within which your appeal must be returned to the authorities. The address to which it must be sent is on the Notice of Appeal itself. (If returning it by post, always use the special delivery service.)

Appeals are made to the immigration and asylum tribunal and usually incur a fee. The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner  can provide you with information about where to seek legal advice before and during your appeal. You can also contact the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau  for information about national organisations that can help with immigration issues and legal advisers.

If you’re a student, you can also contact the United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). They also operate an advice line on (020)7107 9922 between 1pm and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Appealing can be a long process and even if accepted does not guarantee that you will be granted permission to stay in the UK; simply that the Home Office will have to reconsider the immigration decision.

Without entry clearance

If you haven't received entry clearance, you may be asked to return to your home country immediately or given a short period of temporary admission until a final decision is reached; this can be anything between 24 hours and a week.

In either event, you can contact the Immigration Advisory Service  (IAS), by telephoning the local representative; the IAS has representatives at all major UK airports. They can offer some advice and services for free, depending on your circumstances. You shouldn't take further action until you have received advice from the IAS or another legal agency; someone may be able to make a representation on your behalf to prevent your being deported. 

If you aren't granted temporary admission, you may be held in a detention centre or permitted to stay in private accommodation if you can reassure the authorities that you won’t abscond. If you are granted temporary admission on this basis, you will be given a date and time when you must report back to immigration. You must surrender your passport to the immigration officer and remain at the address you have supplied.

The period of temporary admission is to allow you time to provide the necessary evidence to support your case for entry into the UK. If, at the end of the period of temporary admission, you’re unable to provide the evidence required or you cannot convince immigration to allow you to stay, you should leave the UK voluntarily.

If you refuse to leave voluntarily, you will be detained and forcibly removed, which will probably make it impossible for you to return to the UK in the future.

If you leave voluntarily, you will be able to try again to enter the UK, provided you can satisfy the immigration officials on your return. You can appeal against the refusal within 28 days, but only after you have returned to your home country.

Passport stamps

If you’re granted entry to the UK (officially called 'leave to remain'), the immigration officer attaches a tamper-proof sticker to your passport, which indicates how long you may stay in the UK, whether you can work, and whether you’re required to register with the police. These stickers replace the old passport stamps which were easy to forge. Your passport sticker is important and may be one of the following:

  •  Leave (permission) to enter for a specified purpose until a specified date. No recourse to public funds;
  •  Leave to enter for a specified purpose until a specified date. No recourse to public funds. Work (and any changes) must be authorised;
  •  Leave to enter for a specified purpose until a specified date. No work or recourse to public funds;
  •  Leave to enter for a specified purpose until a specified date to work in a specific position with certain conditions. Changes must be authorised. No recourse to public funds;
  •  Indefinite leave to enter the UK;
  •  Must register with the police within seven days;
  •  No longer required to register with the police.

If you enter the UK legally to work, live or study, you’re usually given leave to remain for one year. Don’t be concerned if you plan to stay longer, as you’re able to extend this later, provided your circumstances remain the same. If you’re unsure about the meaning of the sticker in your passport, more information and advice can be obtained from the UK Border Agency .

Further reading

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