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EEA nationals and visitor visas

Brexit is done, more or less, and the UK is no longer part of the EU. In the immigration field there are various transitional arrangements still operating at the moment but the overarching theme is that now EEA nationals are treated the same as everybody else from outside the UK and Ireland. 

This is true of the visitor visa regime, but all EEA nationals are “non-visa nationals”, i.e. they do not necessarily have to acquire a visitor visa in order to come to the UK. This is a step down from their previous situation before Brexit: they were not classified as either non-visa nationals or visa nationals (i.e. those who do require visitor visas) because European free movement law enabled them to come and go from the UK pretty much as they pleased. 

This is a situation that is no doubt difficult for some Europeans to come to terms with, and the difference between the previous situation and current one is not always obvious. Probably most EEA national visitors get through the UK border without too much trouble.

But there is always a possibility that a non-visa national can be refused entry to the UK for a visit: their passport does not automatically allow them to enter the UK. If the Immigration Officer at the border (most typically at an airport) does not think they are a bona fide visitor then they might not be let in.

There are a range of reasons why this could happen. There might be a suspicion that the real reason for the visit is to do something not permitted, e.g. to work. Or perhaps it might not be accepted that the migrant has sufficient funds or appropriate accommodation for the proposed visit. Or perhaps it might not be accepted that they actually intend to return home at the end of the visit. 

Or it might be that they have over the recent period spent a lot of time in the UK (and this is particularly likely to be a problem where it is more than half), and they therefore look more like a “resident” than a “visitor”. 

It is worth knowing that a non-visa national can, if they wish, apply for a visitor visa if they are worried that they might not, for whatever reason, be granted leave to enter the UK; if an applicant’s visitor visa application is refused at least they know where they stand. There is always the horrible possibility that a migrant visitor might be refused leave to enter the UK and sent back on a flight to where they came from. 

If you want advice or assistance on these sorts of issues we at GSN Immigration will be able to help you. 



Oliver Westmoreland

OISC Level 3 Immigration Lawyer

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