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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: info@immigrationmatters.co.uk or visit www.immigrationmatters.co.uk

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Cynthia Barker is an Immigration Adviser and Co Author of the book: How 2 Come to the UK to Live Work Study or Visit. Cynthia writes a regular immigration column for Planet Philippines and Europhil Journal.

11 Responses to “Yes, you can still be refused entry to the UK upon arrival”
Read them below or add one

  1. bilobounce@gmail.com'
    bilobounce@gmail.com'bilal abbasi says :

    hyloo i want to ask a question that my father is trying for our two brothers and for my mother the quedtion that my mother cannot speak english well can yuo tell me that what question are ask on the uk airpot for immigration

  2. rana_samar786@yahoo.com'


    I m textile engineer from pakistan I m 34 5.8

    I have Uk student visa but i m looking for British

    national girl for marriage and want to settle permanently

    in UK


  3. oshun92@hotmail.com'
    oshun92@hotmail.com'natalie says :

    HI, i tried to go to the UK, birmingham to be exact in october of 2010 but they refused me because i only had a one way ticket and i was not studying or working in my country, i am american, but now i have but now i am married to a british citizen but he is currently unemployed, what can i do to enter the UK under my circumtances? thank you

  4. haroman53@hotmail.com'

    hello everyone,

    hi im abdul. im a usa citizen. i spent some time in south africa in 2009 and i flew to the uk in 2010. during my stay in south africa i had some unfortunate circumstances occur and i overstayed in the country for a two extra months. when i flew to the uk they seen this and denied me entry. also they said i didnt have enough funds. i had some cash on me but not enough to satisfy their needs. i told them i have plenty of family in the uk so i dont need to work or search for employment but still no go. so they denied me entry and put a cross sort of a symbol on my denied visa stamp and deported me back to the states..somebody told me this means im banned from the uk? and if so for how long and can i appeal this?


  5. doreena_grant@yahoo.com.au'
    doreena_grant@yahoo.com.au'Doreena says :

    never under estimate the fact that you are australian and will have a problem free entry into the UK. My second visit(2008) to stay with my partner(UK resident) for christmas,new years and our birthdays turned into a nightmare of a 2 hour interrogation and assumptions that i was there to live and work and had no inclination to return on my return ticket bought 6 months prior. My professional emloyment of 11years had no bearing and they made no effort to confirm it, together with my house and child where in Australia, basically my fantastic life in Australia had no relevance to their mindset. I was honest and upfront because i had nothing to hide, other than admitting that i was not a fan of that cold,depressing place i was forced to return to for a few weeks, just so i could maintain a 4 year relationship with the love of my life while processes where in progress for him to come to Australia. UK immigration you disgust me with your code of conduct and i see it again and again with border security. Did i ever return to the UK? Never again. They from that point viciously sabotaged my life in the space of 24hours and with the continueing complexities that followed. Our relationship did not end through “lack of love” it ended because of “lack of humanity” and government redtape. For this UK immigration i am “unforgiving”. Working in Tourism here in Australia has enabled my quest to spread words of truth about entering the UK and has somehow helped me release my utter most disbelief in a country that has influenced the world with negative impacts since their beginnings of settlement to all areas of the globe. A book i hope to write in this lifetime…!

  6. joedoe@yahoo.com'
    joedoe@yahoo.com'joe doe says :

    fuck going to the uk it’s shit, poor weather and expensive living, uptight englishmen and full of chavs, go to another country, their education system is way over rated with lazy lecturers full of arrogance and can’t find real jobs so they teach – tossers place man!

  7. sabirsabirsabirsabir2002@yahoo.com'

    can we apply visa on diploma of business administarion and how much cahances to get a visa on point base system.
    and how much enough money to take with uk.
    and ielts is required for a student visa.

  8. […] are repeatedly forced to justify their entry and even with all the correct paperwork and are still be refused entry to the UK upon arrival. The approach of the UKBA is chiefly designed to close the door on the legacy of the British Empire […]

  9. […] a recent article, ‘Yes, you can still be refused entry to the UK upon arrival‘, for Immigration Matters, Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker highlighted several cases where […]

  10. solankiashwin2000@yahoo.com'
    solankiashwin2000@yahoo.com'virendra says :

    no that is not confirm that if student get 40 points than he granted the visa .ECO has refuse the entry on any points like finance problem,student is not genuine that he is not coming to uk for study but he is coming only for earning money but in the sort that is not confirm that student will get the visa if he is getting 40points.

  11. kalpeshpatel82@yahoo.com'
    kalpeshpatel82@yahoo.com'kalpesh says :

    hi, i am kalpesh patel from north west london,according to the new point base system the student who apply for the student visa ,how can they decide to 30 point for education provider and 10 points for enough money for college fees and accomodation cost,and if the student get 40 points so they will granted visa 100%,thank’s

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