For UK visitors whose entry are scrutinized and landing interview details recorded, including return flight date and airline etc, will departing earlier than stated on the landing card and via a different route cause any problem on subsequent visits?

Say your original departure was via a direct BA flight to the USA on the 24th of March however you end up leaving a few days earlier still via BA, on the 22nd to Germany for a two day stopover and then on to the USA on the 24th.

It is generally problematic when a visitor stays longer than planned and quite a few visa refusals here on travel stackexchange are because travelers changed their stated departure dates on a previous visit. The explanation is that such a person is viewed as fickle and/or not trustworthy by consular officers/IO's however does the same apply to those who leave a few days early? I would think departing early/on time is always a good thing.

  • 1
    Perhaps an answer could also explain whether or not it is useful to keep documentation of the change, like boarding passes, etc. so that on a subsequent visa application you can prove that you actually did leave earlier and with a legitimate travel plan.
    – CompuChip
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 10:51
  • @CompuChip I am keeping all that information for posterity regardless. Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 12:43
  • I can't get away from the somewhat trivial answer that anything can cause problems with UK immigration (or with any immigration) if the immigration officer wants it to. Changes of a few days' significance are presumably going to be much less likely to cause problems, but they could nonetheless cause them if the officer sees a way to use them as a basis for suspicion of deception.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


From the Visit Guidance:

Assessing an applicant’s personal circumstances

See: paragraph V 4.2 of appendix V: visitor rules.

The following factors will help you assess if an applicant is a genuine visitor: • their previous immigration history, including visits to the UK and other countries • the duration of previous visits and whether this was significantly longer than they originally stated on their visa application or on arrival - if this is the case, you should not automatically presume that the visitor is not genuine, but this may be a reason to question the applicant’s overall intentions

Since no mention of staying shorter than originally stated is made, it would appear staying shorter is not viewed as a negative.

However evidence gathered from immigration solicitors indicates leaving earlier sometimes leads to subsequent refusals.

“I have also come across numerous cases where visitors – predominately from African and Indian sub-continent countries – have returned to their countries before the expiry of their visitor visa due to some compelling factors. Further visit visa applications from such clients are regularly refused simply on the basis that they did not adhere to their original travel itinerary.”

  • 1
    Thanks. But that doesn't make sense. Visitor visas are normally issued for 6 months. Visitors will almost always return well before the expiry of the visa. In fact visitors are supposed to leave before the visa expiry. What does compel mean here? The wording isn't clear. It sounds to me that compelling factors may have forced them to stay much longer than their original plan but they still returned before the visa expiry date. It would have been slightly more clear if there was "just" or "right" before before.
    – user58558
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 7:00
  • That's not what I meant. Either the newspaper has misquoted the solicitor or the solicitor isn't very articulate. If you read the quote, it implies that visitors are expected to overstay. Most likely he is saying: visitors extending their stays by weeks or months until a few days before their visas expire. Refusals under those circumstances may be justifiable. Nowhere is it suggested that they are cutting short their visits or earlier than what they had said in their applications.
    – user58558
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 10:32

No, it won't cause any problems. Plans change. Everyone knows that.

Edit: I've visited the UK 10+ times. I have changed my travel dates by 2-3 weeks on many occasions. Once I had a return booking 5 days beyond the expiry of my visa. The IO simply asked me to change the booking.

I have had changed plans on my visits to the USA as well. I've never had a problem. It was easier when airlines allowed one change free. I would always book my flight 2 weeks late and then change. Now they charge $100+ so I try to be more precise.

The controlling technical reference for the question is in Part 9 of the rules, "General Grounds".

  • 1
    That's a lovely assertion, but do you have any references / case studies / etc. to link to, to back it up?
    – MadHatter
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 7:26
  • I've visited the UK 10+ times. I have changed my travel dates by 2-3 weeks on many occasions. Once I had a return booking 5 days beyond the expiry of my visa. The IO simply asked me to change the booking.
    – user58558
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 7:37
  • Personal experience is definitely a good basis for an answer, and many around here can attest to the importance of personal impact in discussions with IOs. Thanks for clarifying the basis for your answer, I feel it makes your answer significantly more useful. +1 from me.
    – MadHatter
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 7:40
  • I should add that most reports of problems with refusals are those who have stayed months beyond what they stated. Travel plans change but if you are staying for 5 months when you said you wanted to visit for 2 weeks without justifying why, it does dent your credibility and makes the ECO doubt your original intentions. Most IOs around the world are reasonable (with a few nuts as well).
    – user58558
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 7:46
  • 1
    +1, good answer, would you please elevate its quality by adding the paragraph or two that explains your personal experience? Also the controlling technical reference for the question is in Part 9 of the rules, "General Grounds", it wouldn't hurt to add that either. Or cut and paste this comment into your answer :) All good. Thanks
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 8:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .