Do UK immigration officials have the discretion to refuse entry to arriving visitors solely because of condescending answers, rude behavior and arrogant answers to questions?

I know the officers are free to refuse you entry by deliberately making unreasonable inferences, e.g. £3,000 for a one week visit is not enough and does not convince me you’re a genuine visitor, etc. I get that.

However my question is specifically: Do the rules allow them to refuse entry because Mr. XYZ was rude to an officer of UK immigration and thus...?

Does such a case fall under General grounds for refusal Section 3 of 5 – Considering entry at UK port

Paragraph 320(19) V 3.3

Refusing the applicant entry to the UK is conducive to the public good. For example, because of the applicant’s character, conduct or associations, it is undesirable to give them leave to enter.

For clarity I am referring to non-violent, nonaggressive, noncriminal behavior.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 29, 2019 at 0:58

3 Answers 3


Denial of entry (’exclusion ’) is used to prohibit non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals from entering the UK if their presence would not be conducive to the public good. Exclusion of a person from the UK is normally used in circumstances involving national security, criminality, international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide), corruption and unacceptable behaviour.

The types of activities covered by the term ‘Unacceptable behaviour’ are described in this Guide https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/741420/exclusion-from-the-uk-v2.0ext.pdf and generally relate to expressing views which foment terrorism, criminal acts etc.

‘Ordinary’ rudeness therefore should not lead to denial of entry in and of itself. However, I imagine it may well result in the Immigration Officer looking more closely at the individual’s eligibility for entry, which could lead to a denial for other reasons.

Edit: the general grounds for refusal of entry clearance or entry at a U.K. port are available here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/general-grounds-for-refusal-modernised-guidance

  • 11
    Precisely so. Failing the 'attitude test' will invariably lead to the inspector finding that you've failed other tests. How sure are you that your signature is entirely inside the box?
    – Valorum
    Jan 26, 2019 at 20:06
  • Yes, indeed. Seconded @Valorum. Keep in mind that in the original post it is quite clearly mentioned how that the asker knows that "officers are free to refuse you entry by deliberately making unreasonable inferences, e.g. £3,000 for a one week visit is not enough and does not convince me you’re a genuine visitor etc." That gives them effectively arbitrary denial power and thus they can use it for this purpose as well. The person need not be any worse for the country than its ordinary grouch, but it'll still leave a bad taste in the IO's mouth and that's all that counts. Jan 26, 2019 at 23:11
  • 1
    @The_Sympathizer The general grounds for refusal of entry clearance or entry at a U.K. port are available here gov.uk/government/collections/… I don’t see anything in them that allows an Immigration Officer to refuse entry by making unreasonable inferences or capricious or arbitrary judgements. It stands to reason the those who receive visas/are allowed to enter go away happy; those who are refused are inevitably distrustful of the whole process.
    – Traveller
    Jan 26, 2019 at 23:33
  • 3
    @Traveller You can have two people with exactly the same profile walk up to an immigration counter and one would be denied entry and the other allowed in. That’s why we have the canonical question about personal impact and articulation skills. One person with £500 will be let in and another with the same profile and £500 denied. So yes immigration officers can and do make arbitrary and sometimes capricious judgments. They’re after all human beings. Jan 27, 2019 at 2:04
  • 1
    @Traveller Appendix V3.3 of that document states “An application will be refused if the decision maker believes that exclusion of the applicant from the UK is conducive to the public good because, for example, the applicant’s conduct (including convictions which do not fall within paragraph V 3.4), character, associations, or other reasons, make it undesirable to grant their application.‘. The decision maker need only “believe” that exclusion will serve public good. This is very broadly left to the judgment of the decision maker. Jan 27, 2019 at 2:16

Consider a hypothetical Snarkgirl, whose superpower is being rude.

She cannot be arrogant, rude or condescending in a vacuum

The root problem is it is impracticable to separate these trivial traits from the non-trivial things they imply.

When she gives a rude answer, she "uses up" the one slot where a straight answer would plug in. That means she is not giving a straight answer, which means she is evading.

What's more, such speech has a subtext. One is not rude randomly. One is rude to establish dominance over another person, or to lodge a complaint in a passive-aggressive manner, or to deflect attention from something else. They are going to care about that subtext. Since Snarkgirl hasn't directly stated it, she is being deceptive and worse, she is leaving Immigration guessing as to her actual motivations.

Show a photo of a man leaning over a baby carriage. Citizens tend to say they see a doting father. Cops tend to say they see a child abduction. That is why you must be careful around cops, they are the most paranoid people around.

It's easy to Mary-Sue yourself into being the hero of your own story. But remember, unlike every amateur sleuth on TV, you don't have plot armor: there is no mechanism by which they come to their senses by the end of the episode.

If you are compelled to be clever, you would have to be very, very careful to structure your responses so you are plainly giving a straight and honest answer, and then simply capping it off with a Dennis Leary snark.

  • 4
    @HonoraryWorldCitizen: It is common to emphasize the actual answer to the question, because internet users have a nasty habit of skimming and then complaining that the question was not answered when in fact it was.
    – Kevin
    Jan 26, 2019 at 23:13
  • Yeah, bold text isn't normally meant to imply yelling, but rather to emphasize an important point. ALL CAPS IS NORMALLY USED WHEN PEOPLE WANT TO IMPLY A TONE OF YELLING.
    – reirab
    Jan 27, 2019 at 0:44
  • 1
    @HonoraryWorldCitizen larger text like that is not yelling. It is a section header. It is done by putting a line with only --- underneath it. I was expecting to have another section. Regardless, Ivam not accusing you of being rude. I am answering the hypothetical that you asked. Jan 27, 2019 at 1:09
  • This is the best answer. Similarly, compare the difference between "open carrying a gun in rural West Virginia" (fine) versus "sticking guns in people's faces in rural West Virginia" (not good). Jan 27, 2019 at 13:01
  • 2
    Good answer, but: It's easy to Mary-Sue yourself ... What does this even mean? Jan 27, 2019 at 16:10

The rule is "Refusing the applicant entry to the UK is conducive to the public good. For example... "

If you are rude, and the immigration official is annoyed by your rudeness, that would not be a reason to not let you enter.

But if the immigration official decides that your rudeness implies the UK is better off without you, then they can refuse you entry.

So it depends on what rudeness we are talking about. If you said to the immigration official "you are an a******e" then this should not be grounds for refusal. If you said "you are an a******e, the same as all the Brits", that could be grounds for refusal. Obviously the government official is not bound by my opinion, and saying either thing would be rather stupid if your goal is to enter the UK.

  • 3
    You seem to be saying that a UK immigration officer can refuse entry on grounds of "not conducive to the public good" simply because they feel "I don't like you and most British people wouldn't like you, either." Please justify this claim: it seems very unlikely to me. Jan 26, 2019 at 20:17
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby seems to me that, quite to the contrary, immigration officers have a lot of discretionary powers when it comes to denying entry. Not rudeness but still (US not UK immigration): theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/20/… and cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/… Jan 26, 2019 at 22:29
  • 1
    @ZeroTheHero I asked for justification of a specific claim about UK immigration officers and you've responded with generalities and links to articles about US immigration. Your comment does nothing at all to address mine. Jan 26, 2019 at 22:33
  • @DavidRicherby The immigration process could be vastly different in the Uk than elsewhere but there seems to be easy-to-find examples elsewhere where immigration officers refuse entry on quite flimsy grounds. It does not seem unlikely to me that a UK immigration office could refuse entry to someone simply because said immigration officer felt the entering person was rude. It would certainly be rare for this to happen, but I’m really curious to learn if it is actually illegal to refuse entry on such ground. Jan 26, 2019 at 22:41
  • 1
    @ZeroTheHero I was very specific in my question, I asked if the rules allow refusal for rudeness. And I also acknowledge immigration officers can make up anything to refuse entry to an alien. Jan 26, 2019 at 22:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .