|First, when Mr Odbody was asked what he was doing in Glasgow he explained that he’d travelled to meet with a local who’d found 2016 too much to bear. Mr Odbody said he had a history of helping people in similar situations and was coming to the aid of this individual. The Immigration Officer thought this sounded a lot like work, which visitors are not allowed to do.||Mr Odbody tried to explain that he wouldn’t be working, but he said that his trip was to help him achieve a professional qualification. The Immigration Officer had never heard of a “WINGS” qualification but he knew that a visitor wasn’t allowed to study while in the UK.|
|When Mr Odbody explained that he wouldn’t be studying but would be gaining practical experience this raised more concerns, as business visitors can undertake classroom training but can’t get hands on experience with clients.||When the officer asked Mr Odbody to explain exactly what he was going to do, he replied that he would meet with an individual and help them understand the consequences of their decisions. The Immigration Officer was still sceptical as this sounded like the work of a life coach and would surely involve some payment, which is prohibited for visitors.|
|Even when Mr Odbody tried to explain the purpose of his visit as a volunteering trip, this caused problems. Visitors are allowed to carry out some volunteer work in the UK but it can’t be the main purpose of the visit and it should be with a registered charity.||The Immigration Officer asked if he could contact the individual Mr Odbody would be helping, but he was told this wouldn’t be possible as they didn’t know Mr Odbody was coming. When asked who’d sent him Mr Odbody just pointed to the ceiling and smiled.|
|Even US nationals have to demonstrate that they intend to leave at the end of their visit, but Mr Odbody wasn’t sure how long he’d stay. He hoped his task wouldn’t last more than a day, but the Immigration Officer pointed out he’d come a very long way to spend less than 24 hours and doubted if Mr Odbody was telling him the truth.||In these situations it always helps to have a return ticket booked, but Mr Odbody said he wouldn’t need one once he had his WINGS, but he couldn’t explain why a professional qualification would mean he didn’t need to fly.|
|Moving on, the Immigration Officer tried to identify how Mr Odbody would meet his living expenses in the UK. This appeared to be of particular concern since he didn’t know how long he’d be staying. He wasn’t carrying a bank statement or any evidence that he had assets and seemed not to be bothered by the question of expenses. Apparently he has a very good relationship with a well known financer who is happy to lend money to those in need, but without any evidence the Immigration Officer wasn’t able to accept this.||Finally, Mr Odbody caused even more concern when he asked not to be sent back to the US. Apparently, on a previous trip he had his work had brought him up against a well known figure in the financial world who had recently, and unexpectedly, successfully transitioned into politics and Mr Odbody was concerned about possible repercussions. This gave the Immigration Officer even more cause for concern as he became worried Mr Odbody was going to claim asylum, or at the very least overstay his visit.|
By the end of the interview, things didn’t look good for Clarence. The Immigration Officer was worried that he was going to try to work or study in the UK, he didn’t have paperwork to explain why he was coming and there was no evidence to suggest he’d go back to the USA at the end of his trip.
While this is a light hearted look at the issue, many of these problems are common for visitors who don’t require visas before travel as they do not realise they must still provide details of their visit, and evidence in support of it, at the border. At the end of a long flight it can be easy to misstate the purpose of a visit and in many cases legitimate confusion has led to people being detained until the next flight home.
Fortunately, in this case, the Immigration Officer used his discretion to allow Mr Odbody entry to the UK and later that night, while sitting at home, he was surprised to hear one of the bells hanging from his Christmas tree jingle.