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Entry Clearance

4 min read

Immigration law is any law that determines who can enter, work in, and live in the UK. Immigration law can be incredibly complex, so it’s essential you have a professional on your side. 

What is Entry Clearance?

Entry clearance is the procedure used by Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) at British Posts overseas to check, before a person arrives in the UK, if that person qualifies under the Immigration Rules for entry to the UK. There are many different reasons for people wanting to come to the UK including visiting family or friends or to work or to study, or simply as a tourist or with the intention of settling here temporarily or permanently. Entry clearance applications can only be made from outside the UK. Usually from the applicants country of origin or a country where they have a legal right to reside.

In some cases, entry clearance is mandatory, in others, it is optional, in all cases, and the authority to admit someone to the UK ultimately rests with the Immigration Officer (IO) at the port of entry.

Applicants must submit biometric information as part of their application and pay a fee. You should contact one of our specialist solicitors for assistance, as they will be able to give you advice on your situation.

Who needs a UK entry clearance?

All visa national countries referred to as “visa nationals” must apply for entry clearance before they enter the UK regardless of the length or purpose of their stay. In respect of non-visa nationals, entry clearance will be required where they are seeking entry to the UK for a period exceeding six months, or for a purpose for which prior entry clearance is required under the Immigration Rules.

How do I apply for entry clearance?

Where an entry clearance is required under the Immigration Rules, an applicant must be outside the United Kingdom and Islands at the time of the application’. The type of documents you would need to provide will depend entirely on the visa you need. You would need to pay for your visa on line and will be required to attend an overseas visa application centre to enrol your biometric information.

Your supporting documentation will need to demonstrate your eligibility for the category of visa you are applying for. The document checklist in your application will explain what to provide, although you may also want to seek expert advice here, not least given that any refusal of entry clearance will have a significant impact on your plans to live, work or study in the UK.

Information on entry clearance applications, processing times and local administrative arrangements for submitting an application can be found on the GOV.UK website at: Apply for a UK visa, which provides links as to the websites of the commercial partners and the local embassy or High Commission. Visa processing times can be found. As at June 2022, visit and skilled workers visas typically take 3 weeks, student visas 3 weeks, and family settlement applications (after a lengthy period where 24 weeks were routine) should take no more than 12 weeks from April 2023 (12 weeks for international protection family reunion). For those who want quicker decisions, various priority services are available at an additional cost at some posts.

What if my entry clearance is refused?

In the majority of applications where an Entry Clearance Officer has concerns on the grounds of eligible or suitable, they will ask for further information or invite you to attend an interview. This will provide you with a valuable opportunity to satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer that you meet the requirements and your intentions are entirely genuine.

In particular, during the course of this interview, you must be able to satisfy the ECO that you are genuinely seeking entry for the period and purpose stated. The burden of proof will lie with you, as the applicant, in proving that you satisfy the relevant requirements under the UK Immigration Rules.

Your application may then be approved, refused, or deferred until more evidence has been provided. Entry clearance may be refused if the Home Office believe:

  • Where false representations have been made, or false documents or information have been submitted, or material facts have not been disclosed in this or any previous application
  • Where you have previously breached the UK’s immigration laws, for example, by overstaying or breaching a condition attached to your leave
  • You are currently the subject of a deportation order
  • You have been convicted of a recent or serious criminal offence
  • Where your exclusion from the UK is deemed conducive to the public good, for example, because your conduct, character, associations, or any other reasons, make it undesirable to grant you entry clearance.

If your application is refused, your decision letter will outline if you have a right of appeal.

In any event, we recommend speaking to an immigration Solicitor in the UK who can review your situation and recommend the best way forward.

Please contact us on Tel: 020 3096 5984 for more information on we can assist you.

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