9

Back in 2011 I was married and traveled to London to stay for a month. At the end of the month my wife and I decided to stay for a couple more months as we had an online marketing business. Being naive we believed that staying for 3 months and working from our laptops would be a great idea.

A great idea until we took a flight to Italy for a 4 day weekend to meet up with our Italian friends. Upon our return to Stansted airport we were in a casual conversation with immigration officer checking our passports when she asked the loaded question; How are you able to stay for 3 months? I naively answered "Because we have an internet based business and can work from anywhere there's an internet connection.

Well we were detained until the next flight back to Milan and then escorted to the terminal. This was in November of 2011 and we've never tried going back to the UK. Basically we were refused entry for not having the proper work visa. Does this denial of entry mean that we will have problems going back as a tourist?

Lots of flights to the EU go through Heathrow and we don't want any problems. We are also not as naive anymore and understand what the term "working" means in any capacity. Do you think we will have problems going for a short holiday or flying through to another destination?

I am from the USA if that wasn't obvious. Nothing on our paperwork says anything about a time duration to stay away. Also the Immigration officer that took our statement said we could try coming back in about a month or so and that if we work we need a work visa. I don't want to fly to London hoping to stay for a week or two only to have my family be denied entry and put back on a plane to the USA. Thoughts?

ANSWER: As received from the a website impersonating the British Embassy http://www.ambassadorpassportandvisa.com/local/british-embassy/california/los-angeles/british-embassy--los-angeles.html

I will need to apply for a Visa: Application is roughly $400.00. I will need to supply 3 months bank statements and 3 months of W2. Once approved the visa is good for one year. After the one year I can go back to using my regular passport. All of this goes without saying that I am still processed through immigration as I exit the plane. Moral: If you work even if its for yourself and you receive money in your US bank you still need a work visa if you're in the UK. Otherwise you are on Holiday and are not working. Lastly, I was advised to not even have a connector flight through any of the UK airports until I have a visa. This was a lifetime advisement.

Adding from comments......

The removal directions were served on an IS82A, "Notice of Refusal of Entry into the UK"

Biometrics were captured

Lots of intervening travel history since the removal
  • Thanks for adding the questions. I found my answer from the British Consulate in Los Angeles. I will add my findings to the main body – Johnnie J Jan 18 '16 at 23:32
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    @JohnnieJ, NO. you got something from a 3rd party agent. It's wrong anyway. You did NOT get info from the British Consulate General in LA (or any other place). – Gayot Fow Jan 18 '16 at 23:47
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    @JohnnieJ, no, your question has a link to a courier agent, not anything official at all... – Gayot Fow Jan 18 '16 at 23:54
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    @chx - It's been the UK government policy for a long while that working in the UK means working in the UK, regardless of who your employer is etc. There's obviously the provision for short business trips etc, but that only covers if there is a reason to be there. We've had other people on this very site before with this issue. There's even this question - travel.stackexchange.com/questions/45092/… - which the lack of answers implies that the actions described in the question are forbidden in most countries – CMaster Jan 19 '16 at 15:34
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    Also, that website is not the "British Embassy in LA". It's a thrid party website, out to take your money. The closest thing is the British Consulate General LA whose offical web presence is here gov.uk/government/world/organisations/… – CMaster Jan 19 '16 at 15:44
10

As a US citizen, you do not require a visa to enter the UK for stays of less than six months for tourist purposes. Source is the visa check on the offical UK government website.

On arrival however, you will face a landing interview, and it is likley that your previous removal will be flagged up. This will lead to additional questions regarding your purpose of travel etc. You may be able to reassure the Immigration Officer so that they let you in, or you may be refused entry.

If you wish to avoid taking this chance on arrival, then you can apply for a Standard Visitor Visa, as is in fact suggested by the visa check which says:

You may want to apply for a visa if you have a criminal record or you’ve previously been refused entry into the UK.

This will mean that your case (and liklehood to breach the terms of your entry) have been reviewed before landing. A standard visitor visa costs £85 (not the $400 you quote in your question). The same page as detailing the costs also notes what you can and can't do while visting the UK:

You can:

  • take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the Visitor Rules
  • study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit
  • take part in an exchange programme or educational visit (if you’re under 18)
  • convert your civil partnership into a marriage

You can’t:

  • do paid or unpaid work
  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • get public funds
  • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership
7

You were removed from the UK, presumably under Section 89 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and issued an "IS 82A" form. You want to know if you are ok to come and visit.

There are no legal impediments to your visiting the UK for a holiday. You can show up at a border point and present yourself for inspection.

This is confirmed by a screen shot of the Check if you need a UK visa site...

enter image description here

...however note their caveat "...or you've previously been refused entry into the UK..."

So the Immigration Officer has the option of landing you or removing you under Paragraph 320 of the rules depending upon several factors, most importantly your personal impact and articulation skills. In your favour (and massively so) is an enviable history of peripatetic experience since your removal, so don't change passports or do bring previous passports bearing this out.

The only rule working against you is that if you enter the UK from the Common Travel Area, like Dublin, and you get caught, you will be detained as an illegal entrant and matters will be worse. Immeasurably so.

With all of that background, if you were to take your question to a UK practitioner with a practice area in applicants with a prior removal, they would invariably tell you to get an entry clearance. I would guess you have great chances of success.

The advantage of an entry clearance is that it costs USD 119 and it removes all doubt about what happens at the border point. Moreover once you have received an entry clearance you'll have no problems from your removal (a question or two at most), but you do not have to apply for them any more.

To get an entry clearance, open an account at Visa4UK and fill out the form.

NOTE: it's fine to use a courier agent if you're in a hurry, but never, ever rely on them for professional expertise.

  • Thank you so much for the extended answer. I have been having difficulty reaching a conclusion to this challenge. Getting an entry clearance as you suggest makes the most sense. I really appreciate your input and your time. – Johnnie J Jan 21 '16 at 20:46
  • @JohnnieJ, you don't have to say thanks, it's all part of the service. Please read meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5234/… – Gayot Fow Jan 21 '16 at 20:55

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