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When applying for a UK visa, do they see all countries I have been to?

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    There's a lot of questions like this on the site. The short answer is that there is no way to tell; they may even have secret information sources that nobody knows about. If you want them to know that you have visited a certain country, you should say it in the application instead of assuming they already know it. And if you choose to conceal that you visited a certain country, there is no way you can feel safe that they won't find out - you should be prepared to face the consequences of deception (usually a ban). Commented May 6, 2023 at 15:33
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    IIRC the UK visitor visa application asks about countries you’ve been to in the last 10 years. It also asks about countries that have ever denied you entry or refused you a visa. I’d hazard a guess in general the UK is more interested in the latter than the former.
    – Traveller
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 20:33
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    If you want an answer that will help you resolve an actual problem you have regarding your application and previous travel history, it would help a lot if you state why you are asking this question. As written, it’s hard not to infer some underlying intention to deceive.
    – Traveller
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 16:47

2 Answers 2

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Unfortunately, this question smells like XY problem. Someone asking that is likely preparing for an immigration fraud.

While it's impossible to say for sure what the UK authorities know and what they don't, here's what happens in practice:

  • If you falsify visas or passport stamps from countries you've supposedly visited, they will find out. You will be banned for a long time, and not just from the UK.
  • If you don't tell them that you've been denied entry to some country, they will find out. You will be banned for a long time, and not just from the UK.
  • If you conceal the fact that you've overstayed in some country, they will find out. You will be banned for a long time, and not just from the UK.
  • If you hide the fact that you've worked illegally in some country, they will find out. You will be banned for a long time, and not just from the UK.
  • If you get a new passport or change your name in order to do any of the above, they will still find out. You will be banned for a long time, and not just from the UK.

Those are people whose only job is literally finding out the truth and verifying every possible document, statement, database and piece of information they have access to. They've seen it all. If you've had problems in the past and somebody promised you help in getting a UK visa in exchange for payment, it's unlikely that they're going to come up with anything innovative enough to deceive UK Immigration. It's just going to hurt you in the long term, possibly for life.

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    Most of this is pessimistically accurate (i.e., you may be lucky and get away with it, but there’s an equally good, or in some cases better, chance that they’ll find out and you won’t). The fourth bullet needs some caveats, though. ‘Working illegally in some country’ is too vague and broad a term to be useful. For example, I went to the US as a tourist twice while I was an editor, and while I was there, I did a bit of editing work in the evenings at the hotel (marginal comments on a printout). That was technically illegal, but no visa authorities have the slightest chance of finding out. Commented May 8, 2023 at 1:38
  • (I should note that I was not aware at the time that it was illegal – that is something I found out from this site, in fact.) Commented May 8, 2023 at 1:39
  • Also worth mentioning that they don't actually need to find out the whole truth. The moment they get convinced that you're hiding something, you get a refusal (if you're lucky,or a disastrous ban for deception if you're not). That's much easier than figuring out the whole story.
    – TooTea
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 10:07
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    (-1) Actually, most of this is just plain wrong, vastly exaggerates the means and resources of immigration authorities.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 12:57
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Have you given a list with all countries you have been to? If so, yes.

If you have not they cannot know all countries. Many people do not even know for sure themselves and there is no worldwide register for who visited where.

As indicated in a comment, the UK may have more information than you have provided them with, from countries they exchange information with or from searching your personal history if they suspect you of serious issues. This is rare but better be honest when you give your list of countries.

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    The UK will know those countries which the applicant listed on the forms, and those countries with which the UK exchanges such data. The latter is a short list of countries. If the applicant is of special interest to UK intelligence, they might know even more.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 12:17
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    @o.m. they will also potentially know from which countries the applicant has flown to from the UK, and conceivably its allies.
    – mlc
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 15:18
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    I don't think it's a good answer to say that they cannot know. You have no way to be sure what sources of information they may or may not have. In fact your third paragraph directly contradicts the second. Commented May 6, 2023 at 15:30
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    @NateEldredge, the standard is that they do not know, the exception is that they might know or find out if they suspect something and go searching.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 19:38
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    @NateEldredge While we always advise people not to lie to immigration, it’s good to be realistic and not assign superpowers to government agencies. Yes, they have some data exchange with some countries and yes, people get caught lying all the time, but it doesn’t mean they’re omniscient. If they truly knew everything they wouldn’t even bother asking you on the form.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented May 8, 2023 at 12:36

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