I have a loved one (Syrian citizen) coming to the US from Europe, and he was stopped in the UK for a layover (transit between flights without entering the UK). The UK flight officer allegedly told him that he did not have a visa to visit the UK, and essentially broke the law, so he will be deported…despite having an accepted US visa.

Then this officer allegedly claimed they contacted the US to reject this individual's visa.
I'm very confused.

  1. Can the officer do this?
  2. What can I do?
  • What citizenship does he have? Where was he checked?
    – Relaxed
    May 20, 2014 at 6:06
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    When you say intermediate stop - do you mean spent time in UK, or remained in transit in the airport between flights.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 20, 2014 at 6:29
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    Unfortunately, I won't be able to offer an answer but in the interest of making the question as specific as possible, I edited it to include the detail you provided. Two more questions: You said your relative lives in Europe, where and with what status? Where is he now? Also, what does he mean by “UK flight officer”?
    – Relaxed
    May 20, 2014 at 7:04
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    @user13813 - the difference is between entering the UK (no matter what is going on there) and staying in the airport 'outside' zone w/o entering UK even for a second - you wouldn't even go through customs/etc for that, simply move from one flight to another. If you need a layover to, say, go to another airport, then a transit visa generally is required.
    – Peteris
    May 20, 2014 at 8:34
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    @peteris In the UK, there is something called a direct airside transit visa and spot checks can happen right at the gate/when leaving the jetbridge so it's not the only thing that matters.
    – Relaxed
    May 20, 2014 at 10:18

2 Answers 2


There is an excellent page that will tell you if you need a visa for the UK. Feeding in the details from the question indicates that this person doesn't need a visa to transit the UK. However there are a couple of important conditions:

  1. The person must have the US visa with them, or some other conclusive evidence that it exists. Without the valid US visa the person would need a 'transit visa'.
  2. The person can only spend 24 hours in the UK, and must have their onward flight booked.

It's also not unknown for these websites to be wrong, and it's up to the immigration official to decide.

I've never heard of a case like this, but it's absolutely up to the US immigration official to decide to admit this person or not. If they were told that the person had been deported recently from a friendly country that coulld affect their decision.


The most probable reasons they were refused are:

  • not the right transit visa
  • the transit visa maybe be not long enough between the flight from Europe into UK
  • the job they are in (the qualifications may not be recognized by the US government)
  • past jobs they have been in
  • who they are or if they had any criminal past however petty

Sadly to say, our UK customs are very discriminatory and I feel they have no respect for UK passport holders or people born here even! The UK and US governments see people coming from countries that have been at war with them as very high risk passengers. They worry the passenger will abscond from the airport despite the large number that don't abscond. Here in the UK and the US more people somehow disappear on transit visas than on any type of visa.

My advice is make sure every angle is covered in getting a transit visa. Also, ask your Syrian relative to contact the UK and US embassies before leaving. The consulates can help to get right the paperwork for a transit visa for the UK and maybe any additional paperwork to convince both countries that your relative will return to Syria when stated. Also maybe take personal references from your relative's employers stating they work at [workplace] and what day they are expected to go back to work. Maybe even get a official letter from Syrian police authorities stating your relative has no criminal record.

I know its a pain. My advice is to be open and honest with either customs, to increase the chance you will get to see your relative. Also get every piece of paperwork checked at both embassies too, before your relative leaves, as both embassy have direct contact with customs and visa departments and they will without doubt tell your relative if it's ok to fly though the UK on to the US or not.

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    Welcome to Travel.SE. As it stands this answer is very difficult to read. It would help to proofread it for spelling and grammar, avoid unnecessary abbreviations like "u" and "gov", and insert paragraph breaks where appropriate. You can also use Markdown for formatting such as numbered lists. Jul 1, 2014 at 17:15

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