Prior to 24 April 2015, Paragraph 28 of the Immigration Rules was (emphasis mine)...

An applicant for an entry clearance must be outside the United Kingdom and Islands at the time of the application. An applicant for an entry clearance who is seeking entry as a visitor must apply to a post designated by the Secretary of State to accept applications for entry clearance for that purpose and from that category of applicant. Subject to paragraph 28A, any other application must be made to the post in the country or territory where the applicant is living which has been designated by the Secretary of State to accept applications for entry clearance for that purpose and from that category of applicant. Where there is no such post the applicant must apply to the appropriate designated post outside the country or territory where he is living.

Source: archives at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/archive-immigration-rules

This meant that a person could apply in any country that had a British mission competent to issue visas. So for example, a Russian national who was in France could use the British mission in Paris to apply as a visitor.

But on 24 April 2015, Paragraph 28 now reads...

An applicant for an entry clearance must be outside the United Kingdom and Islands at the time of the application. An applicant for an entry clearance who is seeking entry as a short-term student must apply to a post designated by the Secretary of State to accept applications for entry clearance for that purpose and from that category of applicant. Subject to paragraph 28A, any other application must be made to the post in the country or territory where the applicant is living which has been designated by the Secretary of State to accept applications for entry clearance for that purpose and from that category of applicant. Where there is no such post the applicant must apply to the appropriate designated post outside the country or territory where he is living.

The text about visitors is gone. It appears to have been replaced by text about short-term students. Looking further, Appendix V to the rules contains this statement...

An application for a visit visa must be made while the applicant is outside the UK.

Note that this is in an appendix. So it looks like the applicant must satisfy three conditions...

  1. outside of the UK (Appendix V) and
  2. outside of the UK and Islands (Paragraph 28) and
  3. in their home country (Paragraph 28)

This means in my example that the Russian national touring France would have to return to Russia to get a UK entry clearance. Or alternatively, that an entry clearance issued in France to a Russian national would be illegal under Paragraph 28? Or would the consulate in Paris be required to reject the application? Or more confusingly, if the Russian national were in 'the Islands' (Guernsey or Sark for example) then it's ok for Appendix V, but forbidden by Paragraph 28.

Do all of these conditions hold? If not, which 'rule' is senior?

Current immigration rules for Paragraph 28 and Appendix V are at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-rules-appendix-v-visitor-rules

Note: Not very many of the various VFS and consular sites on the net have caught up with the recent rule changes yet so they are not totally reliable. Please use up-to-date links if citing something.

Note: Regarding ambiguity over the clause, "where the applicant is living", this has always meant "where the applicant does not require leave to remain or has been given leave to remain for a period longer than 6 months"

  • 2
    I would guess that this is a simple clerical error. Unfortunately, clerical errors in laws and regulations tend to be very hard to get fixed. – Michael Hampton May 19 '15 at 19:49
  • Hoping for a canonical answer citing authoritative and credible references – Gayot Fow May 20 '15 at 13:16
  • 3
    Paragraph 28 states "where the applicant is living", not home country. So you would need to find out the UK's requirements for proving you "live" where you apply. Some countries with similar rules only want to see that you have the proper entry stamp in your passport and an address (hotel, long stay room, etc). – user13044 May 23 '15 at 19:38
  • @Tom, thanks, nice call! Question edited. – Gayot Fow May 24 '15 at 16:46
  • AFAIK Japanese citizens don't need visas to visit the UK as a tourist for 6 months – EdmundYeung99 May 25 '15 at 0:28
up vote 1 down vote accepted

An email to the UKVI Rules Simplification Team produced this reply (in part)...

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In other words, those who need a visitor visa can apply at any British mission outside of the UK.

Discussion

Why the change? Apparently, the UKVI Rules Simplification Team went through the body of rules and plucked out anything having to do with visitors and put the various clauses into Appendix V of the new rules. The new rules mention the crux of it: i.e., that the applicant must be outside of the UK and can apply anywhere. The part about "the Islands" appears to have fallen through the cracks, so the law is not clear if the applicant is in Guernsey or The Isle of Man or elsewhere in "the Islands".

More Discussion

Following the natural meaning of the words, there is nothing about the applicant having legal status in the country where the application is made. So for example, a person who had entered France illegally would still be entitled to apply for a UK visitor visa via the British mission in Paris. That would not guarantee success, but if the applicant met all of the criteria then the sole fact of being an illegal entrant could not be used as grounds for refusing the application.

Even More Discussion

Visit visa versus settlement visa versus PBS visa: If a person is applying for settlement (as a spouse for example), they do not need to return to their home country to apply IF they have a visa issued for longer than 6 months. So a person in France with a French visa that was issued for a period longer than 6 months can use the British mission in Paris to apply for a spouse visa. The same rule holds true for Points-Based applicants (Tier 2 for example).

Finally

It is reasonable for the UKVI Rules Simplification Team to make some 'clean up calls' when Appendix V is refurbished in the next cycle. This may see a statement regarding "the Islands" appear. Between now and then, it is safe to assume that the applicant must be outside of the "UK and the Islands" in order to apply for a visitor visa.

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