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Like many migrant workers, students or visitors, you may think that once you have the coveted ‘Visa’ stamp in your passport, your worries are over and you can hop on the next plane to London. 

However, you still have one final hurdle to get over before you can enter the United Kingdom – The UK Border Immigration Officer. 

The UK Border Agency immigration officer is the first person you will speak to in the UK, and if you are not careful it could be the last! 

The job of the immigration officer at passport control, where over 100 million people pass through every year, is to check the immigration status of the person before him or her and decide whether or not to allow entry to the UK. 

Based on the information they have before them (passport and visa, college acceptance letters, work permits etc) and a few pertinent questions they have to assess whether or not the purpose of your visit is genuine. If they are in any doubt the officer can refuse entry and send you home on the next plane. 

So what kind of questions are you likely to face at the border control? 

The obvious questions tend to be straightforward enquiries like:

“What is the purpose of your visit?” or “Where are you going to stay?” and “How long do you intend to stay in the UK?”. 

If you are a worker or student, you might be asked what sort of work you are going to do or what and where you will be studying. 

Depending on your answers, the officer may delve a little deeper and ask further questions. For instance, if you are coming to the UK on a six month visitors visa or a student visa and you have no idea where you are going to stay or what you are planning to visit, this will obviously warrant further investigation, possibly in an interview room. 

Visitors travelling on a one way ticket or carrying job applications will raise the suspicions of any immigration officer in the world. 

I have received many calls from immigration officers at Heathrow Airport asking why a person on a visitors visa is holding a set of job application forms, indicating that the real intention of the visit is to look for work.

In most cases the person is sent back on the next available flight with their record blight by the words “Refused Entry” stamped in their passport. 

As Sky TV’s ‘UK Border Force‘ show demonstrates, students arriving in the UK are often questioned about their course by Immigration Officers. 

In this weeks show, an international student arriving back in the UK from a holiday was asked to explain details about his management course. Being unable to satisfy the Immigration Officer that he knew anything about his course, he was taken to an interview room and questioned and detained overnight. 

He has also raised suspicions by claiming that he did not work at all, which was then contradicted by a relative speaking to the officer on the airport information line. 

After making further enquiries it was discovered that the student was working full time as a taxi driver and removal papers were promptly served on him. On appeal he was given temporary admission and is still fighting removal.

In another incident, an Australian tourist was refused entry when she admitted she was carrying very little money, but was carrying her Chefs knives and fifteen copies of her CV.

This scenario is played out every day at Heathrow Airport and demonstrates the need to be prepared to answer questions and, if necessary, justify why you should be allowed into the UK.

Points to consider before you embark on your journey 

What is the purpose of my trip to the UK?

Do I have the right documentation and am I travelling on the correct visa?

Do I have sufficient funds for the duration of my stay in the UK?

Do I have the full address of where I will be living in the UK in my hand luggage?

If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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