I'm an American entering the UK on a 180 day tourist visa. Are the 180 days (or less) consecutive days? Is it then 30 days out consecutive?

  • What did you say about your planned visit on your visa application? Did you say you intended to come for 6 months? – MadHatter Aug 27 '19 at 14:06
  • @MadHatter US citizens visiting the UK generally do not have visas and therefore do not have visa applications. People commonly refer to the visa-free grant of leave to enter they receive at the border as a "tourist visa," but this is not the terminology used in UK law. – phoog Aug 27 '19 at 14:09
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    @phoog yes, I know. The OP was pretty clear in his/her question, so I decided to take him/her at face value, because if it turns out (s)he does have an entry clearance, it might well affect the answer. – MadHatter Aug 27 '19 at 14:11
  • @MadHatter fair enough. – phoog Aug 27 '19 at 14:14
  • Thanks all very helpful. My situation is, I'm in Ireland and planning a pilgrimage of Southern Europe over the winter. I'll start next month with a border entrance into North Ireland, then onto Scotland, England, wales. Then the tube into Paris and will begin my Schengen visa. – Tenzin Tharpa Aug 28 '19 at 15:36

There is no "180 days in." There is no "30 days out."

As a US citizen visiting the UK, you normally will not have a visa. Instead, you are a visa-exempt visitor. You are normally admitted for six months, not 180 days. You can enter for up to six months each time you enter. There is no minimum period outside the UK before you can enter again. For example, you can in theory take a short trip to Paris and return to the UK later the same day, the next day, or any time thereafter.

However, UK border officials are very diligent about the requirement that visitors be "genuine visitors." If you have been present in the UK for close to six months, and you leave the UK for a short period, you are likely to face more probing questioning on your return than you did the first time. You may be taken to "secondary inspection" where officers may interview you for as long as several hours before making a decision. Of course, it is also possible that none of this will happen.

The officers will consider whether you are trying to live in the UK through successive visits, which is not permitted. They will investigate whether you have been working in the UK or are likely to do so, which is also forbidden (this includes working remotely for an employer outside the UK). They may decide to admit you for six months or for a more limited period, which may be as short as a few days, depending on your circumstances.

It seems from the title of the question that you are considering visiting the UK for 180 days and then for 60 days. This might be possible, but you'll probably be more likely to succeed if the reason for wanting to stay for six months the first time, and the reason for wanting to come back after the initial six-month visit, are unusual.

In fact, when you enter the first time, you are likely to face a higher level of scrutiny when you tell the officer that you're planning to stay for 180 days. As noted in a comment, you can probably avoid this by using an ePassport gate. If you use a gate on your return, you might get lucky and be admitted directly by the gate, but you might also be flagged for an interview with an officer. The algorithm used to select visitors for such interviews is, naturally, secret. There is some more detailed but slightly outdated guidance about the gates at the website of the registered traveler service.

If you do manage to stay for so long in the UK, you will want to consider whether your extended presence there has any effect on your tax liability in the UK. This is a major consideration for Canadians, typically retired Canadians, who spend a lot of time in the US.

  • US citizens can use ePassport gates at many UK airports, so first visit would probably go through fine, you are automatically granted 6 months leave when you use these, second visit in quick succession might flag them up to speak with a border force officer. – BritishSam Aug 27 '19 at 14:29
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    @BritishSam that reminds me of Passport eGates: turning visitors into overstayers since 2019 (the basic point being that a visitor using the gates will no longer have stamp in the passport disclosing the conditions of the leave to enter -- six months, no employment, no recourse to public funds -- so some visitors will probably be unaware of these conditions). But it does seem to make the possibility of such a plan succeeding rather higher for anyone who is able to use the gates. – phoog Aug 27 '19 at 14:41
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    @Tenzin Tharpa For reference, the UK Immigration Rules for visitors are here gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/… For such a long stay/repeat visits you might want to consider the UK’s advice to visa-free entrants to have with you the same documents you’d use to apply for a visa, to show to Border Officers if asked eg proof of funds gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y/usa/tourism – Traveller Aug 27 '19 at 14:57
  • @phoog there is a notice board after you pass the gate, not that people will take notice of it. – BritishSam Aug 29 '19 at 9:42
  • @BritishSam l suspect that most people who would fail to notice the sign would also fail to read the stamp in their passport, so maybe it won't have a huge effect. But what does the notice board actually say? Not everyone using those gates receives leave to enter for six months; I rather suspect that such people are a fairly small minority at this point. To be sufficiently precise to identify the people to whom it applies, it would have to be rather wordier than the (already somewhat wordy) passport stamp. – phoog Aug 29 '19 at 13:00

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