My wife is a US Permanent Resident with a valid green card which does not have an expiration date. This time, when I took a flight through British Airways from San Fransisco to Bombay via London (LHR), British Airways did not allow her to board the flight on account of not having a transit visa for the UK.

They did not refund my ticket and are requesting for a date change penalty. I have flown with other airlines before and this was not an issue. How can I fight with the airlines when our immigration should ideally be valid.

  • 1
    When you say that other airlines didn't have a problem with this, were those airlines which had you transiting somewhere other than Heathrow? Only the rules for who does/doesn't need transit visas vary based on the country you're transiting in, so just because you're valid to TWOV in country A doesn't automatically mean you're valid for country B
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 8:19
  • While both the UK and the Schengen countries allow visa-free transit for US permanent residents, the rules are slightly different so it might explain the discrepancy.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 9:00

1 Answer 1


I'm going to presume your wife is an Indian national.

Indian nationals will normally require a visa to transit through the UK, however there are a few exceptions. In particular, an Indian national may transit the UK without a visa if they have :

  • a valid U.S. I-551 Permanent Resident Card issued on or after April 21, 1998; or
  • an expired I-551 Permanent Resident Card issued on or after April 21, 1998, provided accompanied by a valid I-797 letter authorising the extension, issued by the Bureau of Citizenship; or
  • a stand alone U.S. Immigration visa Form 155A/155B (attached to a sealed brown envelope).

Given your wifes Green Card does not contain an expiry date, this means that it was issued between 1977 and 1989, and thus it does not meet the requirements to transit the UK without a visa.

The airline was absolutely in the right in denying boarding, as she did not have the correct paperwork to be able to transit the UK. In order to travel via the UK she will need to either obtain a visa to transit the UK, or obtain an updated Green Card.

  • Given my GC was issued in 2018, am I entitled to transit through the UK? Do these exceptions valid disregard the nationality?
    – Suncatcher
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 16:54

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