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This question concerns tourists and 'visitors' only, it is not about those seeking long-term migration strategies.

The rule is Paragraph 41 concerning visitors. The clause is (ii), and in 2014 this clause was expanded to include this text...

and does not intend to live for extended periods in the United Kingdom through frequent or successive visits; and

This new text is clearly directed at something. But what? Juxtaposed to this rule, there is a Schengen rule that requires a visitor to undergo a cooling off period such that the rolling 90 days out of 180 days is not violated. Because the UK qualifies as a place where a person can spend their Schengen cooling off period and the UK is adjacent to the Schengen zone, visitors may be attracted to that strategy.

Related question US Citizen: 90/180 Schengen Stay & Bilateral Agreements w/Poland, Denmark, etc

Surely the rule is worded to cover a lot of 'grey areas' that the authorities see as borderline abuse, such as digital nomads who work on foreign-based contracts, and people who are attempting to qualify for residency under Article 8, and people who might be visiting the UK a lot because they are traffickers or drug dealers. It probably also covers people who are conducting long-distance relationships because such people are not bona fide visitors along with people who frequently come and go with no apparent reason who are also not considered to be bona fide visitors.

I'm not asking if you agree with the rule, or if you think the rule will be effective; I am happy to take it as read that the rule exists and will be enforced until Parliament or the courts change it.

Would this new rule affect people who habitually use the UK as a place to reset their Schengen clock? If so, how would they be affected, and why doesn't the rule explicitly say 'Schengen' cooling off period? Is there a possibility that they would be refused entry? Or have their leave to enter shortened? How many times can a person make successive visits before this happens?

The rule itself is here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/381797/Immigration_Rules_-_Part_2_final.pdf

  • 2
    This used to happen earlier, people used to take regular family/business visas and stayed major part of a year in UK under this guise. Nowadays people exploiting this are regularly caught at the borders and deported. – DumbCoder Dec 11 '14 at 15:12
3
+50

This rule was made by orders in council so there's no parliamentary debate that we can refer to understand the motivation behind it.

When the rule was published, the Home Office gave this brief statement...

To clarify the current General Visitor rules to guard against abuse by those whose repeat visits amount to de facto residence.

source: Explanatory Memorandum

...which can be interpreted as they do not want someone building up a private life in the UK to the extent where the person's human rights become engaged. This leads to expensive judicial procedures which often result in the person gaining permanent residence (which bestows access to public housing, income support, and ultimately a British passport). The British public has found these incidents to be a massive source of annoyance.

To the point, however, people hopping back and forth to reset their Schengen clock are not the sort of people who make human rights claims, and there's nothing to suggest that these people are specifically targeted by the new rule.

So is it OK to tell the IO that the purpose of your visit is to reset your Schengen clock? It may work once, possibly twice, but not repeatedly. IO's have it firmly in mind that visitors should be doing 'visitor things' and these are 1. maintaining relationships with family/friends or 2. touring, shopping, entertainment, or similar 'visitor things'. If it becomes clear that the person is establishing a pattern, the person can expect problems.

As always, the person's 'luck' at clearing UK immigration will largely depend upon their personal impact and their behaviour during the landing interview. As long as the landing interview goes smoothly and the person has a viable premise for his visit, there's no need to be concerned about running foul of this new rule.

This answer also holds especially true for people who make continual back-to-back visits like taking the ferry to Calais (in France) and returning on the same day (i.e., setting their 'UK Clock'). These are the people targeted by the new rule. Once is OK most of the time; twice will attract a more probing landing interview; and three consecutive back-to-back visits will almost certainly result in detention.

To summarize, the new rule is a vaguely worded, imprecise tool that gives the IO a lot more discretion in detaining and removing visitors, but there is nothing to suggest that Schengen hoppers are specifically targeted.

Update 17 March 2015

The new visitor rules were posted earlier today at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-rules-part-2

  • How does this rule target people who repeatedly make day trips to the UK? It seems clear to me that a day trip to the UK is inconsistent with "living for extended periods" -- or even living at all -- in the UK. – phoog May 29 '15 at 5:18
  • @phoog, resetting the Schengen clock cannot be done in a day trip. – Gayot Fow May 29 '15 at 12:40
  • Of course. I asked that question on the assumption that the rule is not solely targeted at those resetting the Schengen clock. To rephrase my previous comment, I do not understand "This answer does not hold true for.... These are the people targeted by the new rule." I presume I am misreading, but it seems nonsensical: "The explanation I just gave of the new rule doesn't apply to (certain people); those people are the targets of the new rule." I assume you wouldn't offer an explanation that doesn't apply to the targets of the rule; what do your two sentences mean? Thanks in advance. – phoog May 29 '15 at 16:42
  • @phoog, this was a horrible editing error on my part. Now fixed. Thanks – Gayot Fow May 29 '15 at 16:58
  • @phoog, what kind of people are you talking about? People making daily trips to the UK are, I would imagine, largely people with work or long term family commitments in the UK. Neither of these are intended to be covered by visitor visas. – Calchas May 29 '15 at 17:15
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The text seems more targeted at people using the Schengen area to reset their UK clock rather than the other way round.

Having said that, given that many visitors can only spend 90 days out of 180 in the Schengen zone, anyone trying to alternate 90 days in Schengen and 90 in the UK long term might fall foul of the changed rule.

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