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I am an Indian Citizen going to the US on a J1 visa. The J1 visa is valid from 23rd Aug to 13th September. I am transitioning through London on my way to the US.

For the journey from India to the US, my travel date is the 21st August. I will be halting at London for 6 hours and then will catch my onward flight to the US (New York). I will not be changing terminal at London. Since my US visa start date is the 23rd Aug and my journey date is the 21st Aug, it is evident that I will be in the US visa grace period when I arrive at London. In such a situation, will I need a UK transit visa?

The situation is identical for my return journey too. My US J1 visa will expire on the 13th Sept but I’ll be flying New York – London – Mumbai on the 15th Sept. Again, I’ll be on my grace period after visa expiry. I’ll be halting at London for 3 hours and then will catch my onward flight to India. Again, I won’t be changing terminals at London. Do I need UK transit visa in this case?

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1 Answer 1

The J1 grace period is a matter arising under US law only and not recognised outside of US jurisdiction. The UK Border Force will use the starting date on your J1 to determine if you qualify for visa free transit. Based upon what you wrote, you will not qualify because you will not have a valid exemption document.

It means you will need a UK transit visa, or alternatively to change your schedule so that your J1 can be used as an exemption document.

Overall, you cannot rely upon 'grace periods' and other concessions that arise outside of UK jurisdiction. NOTE: the transit visa rules may be changing between now and your travel dates.

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