At Heathrow yesterday, a US-Swedish dual citizen presented his US passport to immigration, as he had forgotten his Swedish one at home.

He went in the non-EEA queue and was initially interviewed like a non-EEA national, but the officer then asked if he held any other nationality, whereby he said he was also Swedish but had forgotten his Swedish passport at home.

The officer asked if he had any evidence of his Swedish nationality, whereby he found (in his bag) his English-language signed and stamped birth certificate from Sweden, which doesn't contain a photograph, but states his nationality as Swedish.

Apparently this satisfied the officer, whereby he stamped his US passport, with the leave stamp saying "Given indefinite leave to enter the United Kingdom" (example below):

enter image description here

with a handwritten annotation saying "holder is also an EEA national".

I read in a UK guidance that "indefinite leave to enter" stamps are officially no longer to be used at ports of entry, having been replaced by visa stickers obtained in advance.

That's why I wonder: was this the correct procedure for handling an EEA national without an EEA passport?

If not, what specifically should the person have been given instead? And in the unlikely event of a police or immigration enforcement inspection, would he be OK with what he's got?

Note: picture is an example of what the stamp the traveller got looks like. This happened on 1 feb 2017, and he will now be in the UK for 4 weeks.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


A US/Swedish dual national transited UK immigration controls on his US passport. After a brief landing interview, the IO issued Indefinite Leave to Remain along with a handwritten note that the holder was a dual national.

This was a mistake on the IO's part. Sometimes this happens; I have seen it personally about twice, once in London and once in Moscow that affected about 200 people. There were also two cases of corruption: a case where an IO was selling ILR stamps at Heathrow because she was in debt; and another IO in Dover also female with the same personal issues. Corruption does not apply in this case allegedly.

ILR gives the holder immediate access to public housing and free NHS treatment plus all the other trappings of the welfare state. It's a serious mistake, although it's not the person's fault it still needs to be fixed.

Could you please write in an answer why this was inorrect, what leave stamp and with what code/annotation he should've got (I assume the rectangular, "custom" one as opposed to the default plain-text 6-month visitor one)

It's incorrect because his US passport is buggered up with an erroneous document that opens the door for further abuse. Plus a passport should never admit to multiple nationalities without the holder's consent. Think about it. He will have to answer questions about it every time they see it. It's also incorrect because the Border Force has the wrong person at a primary control point. Presenting a US passport he was supposed to get the standard leave-to-enter stamp. Like this...

enter image description here

Had he presented his Swedish passport then the answer from Henning Makholm would apply. And while he is ok from a freedom of movement perspective, he has no claim for permanent residence in the UK. EU nationals acquire permanent residence through a different rigmarole. Answers focusing on freedom of movement have missed the point. There is no occasion whatsoever for an IO to apply EU rules in a US passport.

and whom he can contact to fix this,

The next time he is air side, he should ask for the duty CIO and explain what happened. The CIO will know what to do immediately when he sees the stamp. They will (most likely) give him an undertaking to agree that he has not used public funds and (most assuredly) revoke the stamp with no prejudice. It's a procedure (they will investigate and probably put stop flags on the others the IO admitted). They will not fix it from land side for lots of reasons outside of scope here.

I read in a UK guidance that "indefinite leave to enter" stamps are officially no longer to be used at ports of entry, having been replaced by visa stickers obtained in advance.

Corruption. The Chief Inspector gets very upset about it. The British public gets upset about it. The Border Force higher-ups get upset about it. Can you blame them?

You asked for this answer and you got it. Henning invited it. As I pointed out, freedom of movement is a red-herring.

  • I see! You mentioned that he should've been given a coded landing. If I've understood it correctly this is used to note some special circumstance. What code should have been applied, and what purpose would it have served?
    – Crazydre
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:08
  • LOL, mate, you asked your question and you got your answer. You an established user on the threshold of trusted user and you know how the system works :)
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:20
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    Thanks for posting this answer. I have a couple questions: (1) why do they still issue "indefinite leave to enter" stamps to IOs if the stamps are not supposed to be in use? (2) The stamp says "enter" but you write about "indefinite leave to remain": is it really the same thing?
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:33
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    @Crazydre it's in chat, join us
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 18:59
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    Perfect answer as always, Gayot. Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 3:47

It sounds like the IO went above and beyond, with better service than the traveler could rationally have expected in advance -- but I can't see anything wrong about the outcome.

The EU/EEA freedom of movement rights apply to a person, not to a particular passport.

Once the IO was convinced that the traveler was indeed an EU citizen, it may not have been legal for him to grant a time-limited leave to enter, in the absence of a definite reason to do so. (But that's just speculation).

The freedom-of-movement directive explicitly contemplates that Union citizens may arrive without their qualifying passport:

Article 5, section 4. Where a Union citizen, or a family member who is not a national of a Member State, does not have the necessary travel documents or, if required, the necessary visas, the Member State concerned shall, before turning them back, give such persons every reasonable opportunity to obtain the necessary documents or have them brought to them within a reasonable period of time or to corroborate or prove by other means that they are covered by the right of free movement and residence.

The bolded part is what the traveler in this case was invited to do, and then successfully did.

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    @GayotFow: The particular form of the stamp may or may not compliant with internal UKVI procedures; I woudn't know. But I don't see how that is the traveler's problem -- his freedom-of-movement rights do not depend on any particular documentation, so once he's in, he will be legally present, no matter what the stamp. At worst, he may have to establish that right ab initio if he runs into a police check and the police are not convinced by the passport stamp, but that's a practical matter, not something that ought to get him in lasting legal trouble. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 13:18
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    While the freedom of movement directive says nothing about stamping passports of EU nationals, it does say that border officers shall not stamp passports of family members who are traveling with an article 10 residence card. This seems to imply the existence of a prohibition against stamping passports of EU nationals as well, whether that is explicit elsewhere or purely implicit or assumed.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 16:27
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    @GayotFow I realize that freedom of movement does not (immediately) bestow permanent residence. Are you saying the IO (may have) granted him an additional benefit to which he was not entitled (and which he does not seem to plan to take advantage of)? I don't see the problem there or why the traveler would want to spend time correcting that.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 16:38
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    Yes. I can't really understand why a traveler would go to significant lengths to seek out an immigration supervisor and explain this whole story, inviting scrutiny and hassle, where there does not seem to be any kind of problem requiring correction. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 23:27
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    Does it matter that the UK may not remain in the EU indefinitely?
    – Carsten S
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 18:19

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