My friend - an American citizen is coming to stay with me in the UK long term soon. She has a work visa and an updated vignette. She is concerned that she will need a return ticket for the next day of her arrival just in case immigration decide to send her back. Is she worrying unduly?

  • I did wonder whether this would be a better question for Expatriates. But while this question is about a person who's staying in the UK long-term, the question itself does seem to be about the actual travel part of it; and therefore I would be inclined to let it remain open here. Mar 6, 2023 at 15:14
  • If anything, she needs the means to buy a return ticket, rather than an actual ticket. But she is over-thinking it.
    – Traveller
    Mar 6, 2023 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


She is worrying unduly. If there is any realistic chance of immigration sending her back, the airline won't let her on the plane from the US (they will get fined by the UK immigration authorities).

Now, we can't guarantee beyond any shadow of a doubt that she will not be sent back - but it is extremely unlikely. The difficult bit was getting the work visa; the Home Office has already said she's welcome to stay in the UK as long as she likes.

As noted on a comment to the question, if UK immigration does reject her, she will be put on a flight - with or without a ticket. The airline might then try to recoup the costs from her, but this is such a fantastically unlikely occurrence that she is much better dealing with those costs when they (don't) arise rather than buying a ticket which she won't use.

  • Thanks all. That's really useful and reassuring Mar 7, 2023 at 11:25
  • People arrive at Heathrow every day as 'tourists' from the US and are sent back. Airlines have no way of telling who will be refused entry. The OP has a work visa. If she was claiming to be visiting for two weeks to 'look at the castles' and they found her diary in her baggage saying 'I'm moving to England to be with my online boyfriend' that would be different. Apr 11, 2023 at 8:56
  • @MichaelHarvey "People arrive at Heathrow every day as 'tourists' from the US and are sent back." - do you have a feeling how many? and what percentage that is. My suspicion is that it is actually very rare (as I said, the airline probably won't let them on the plane). Apr 11, 2023 at 12:06
  • US citizens are 'non-visa nationals' and can arrive at UK ports of entry as tourists and be admitted without first seeking a visa if they do not intend to stay more than 6 months. If they are sensible they carry documentation tending to support the idea that they will leave within the time they are 'stamped in' for. If the immigration clearance officer believes they may overstay, are really intending to work, live with a UK resident, etc, they can refuse entry. Apr 11, 2023 at 12:39
  • @MichaelHarvey Yes. It can happen - but I suspect you are over-estimating how often it happens. I asked for specific figures (I couldn't find them in a brief search). Apr 11, 2023 at 12:42

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