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In October 2022, the UK abolished the requirement that a Colombian citizen entering the country for up to 6 months for tourist purposes or to stay with friends or family should apply in advance for a visa.

But what does a Colombian citizen need to show at the British border if a British friend has invited them to stay with him for 3 months?

In this particular case the Colombian citizen will be coming with their child (also a Colombian citizen) and both of them will be supported by the British friend for the whole of their time in Britain. There won't be any hotel stays because they will be staying in his house.

I have read the official UK info here:

You may also be asked to prove that:

  • you’re visiting for tourism
  • you’re able to support yourself and your dependents during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you)
  • you’ve arranged accommodation for your stay
  • you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else)
  • you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit

Leaving aside the first point because they will be in Britain to enjoy spending time with their friend rather than for tourism in the usual sense, how do they prove these things?

Will a return ticket and a signed letter from their British friend (stating the address at which they will be staying, that he has enough room to put them up, that he makes an irrevocable promise to support them, and that he has put £X aside and here is a bank statement) suffice?

If I'm thinking along the right lines here, is there any official guidance on how much X should be, given that no hotels or renting will be involved?

There is a need to avoid a situation where an immigration officer says at the border that because of a lack of proof on a certain point he will only stamp their passports for a week or for some other time shorter than their intended stay of 3 months. If there were still a requirement that a visa be applied for in advance then there would probably be a period of several weeks during which whatever missing documentation were needed could be obtained, but standing at the border with their luggage, and with passports but no visas, would be a different matter. If proof of employment, for example, or something like that were required, that's not necessarily something you can do within a few hours in a foreign country without prior notice.

Therefore they need to be sure everything is in order before departure, because by the time they have flown across the ocean and landed at the British airport they won't actually have made an application for anything yet. If I understand the position correctly, the first time they will show their passports to the British authorities will be when they're standing at the border.

Thanks for any help with this.

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    It's possible to apply for a visa to avoid the worry of flying across the ocean without having made any formal application, though I suspect that it may not be worthwhile to go to such lengths (especially since there would need to be two applications in this case). Still, everyone has different tolerance for risk, and the option is there if it makes sense for this traveler.
    – phoog
    Feb 9, 2023 at 15:51
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    Note that if a visa were to be applied for, there would be no period of weeks during which any missing document could be obtained. A visitor visa application stands or falls on what is submitted at the time.
    – Traveller
    Feb 10, 2023 at 7:50
  • @Traveller - A new application could be submitted, though. There could be time, unlike if they were standing at the border. Not that this is in any sense a desirable route.
    – Tut
    Feb 10, 2023 at 13:18
  • @Tut The applicant would still have a refusal on the travel history though.
    – Traveller
    Feb 10, 2023 at 13:50
  • If your friend doesn't own his home/flat, a letter from the landlord or owner stating that the stay is permitted might be useful.
    – mkennedy
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:52

1 Answer 1

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Will a return ticket and a signed letter from their British friend (stating the address at which they will be staying, that he has enough room to put them up, that he makes an irrevocable promise to support them, and that he has put £X aside and here is a bank statement) suffice?

Most likely, yes.

If I'm thinking along the right lines here, is there any official guidance on how much X should be, given that no hotels or renting will be involved?

No. Even without hotels and renting, the cost of the visit could vary wildly. How many meals will be eaten at home or in a restaurant? How many days will be spent walking in the park or engaging in costlier recreation? The UK tends to take a more flexible and therefore less deterministic approach to the question of sufficient funds.

Your question shows that you understand the criteria fairly well. The British host should be easily reachable by phone when the travelers arrive, preferably in the airport's arrivals hall, available to address any concerns immigration officers might have.

The main concern, it seems to me, is the last: leaving the UK. A return ticket shows the capacity to do so, but says little about the intention: many illegal entrants are prepared to throw away an airline ticket as part of the cost of getting in. To that end, evidence of a settled life to which the traveler will be motivated to return will be useful, if not critical.

They might ask about the host's interest in the visitor: why is the host willing to spend so much money for the visit? This could arise, for example, from suspicions of human trafficking or abduction. If the relationship is not one of long standing, be up front about it, but always be prepared to show why such a visit is reasonable in the context of the relationship.

(And here I have to note the possibility that this is a romance scam; red flags would include the traveler asking for money to buy the plane ticket instead of asking the host to buy the ticket directly.)

The traveler should be prepared for these questions but should not anticipate them. Offering too much evidence too readily could also arouse suspicions. In other words, answer all questions truthfully and completely, but do not offer more information than the answer requires.

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