Having lived in both cities, I was surprised that Glasgow didn't make the top 10 despite being renowned for its friendliness. There are many reasons people visit Edinburgh, and the rest of Scotland, and tourists spend a lot of time planning their visit to make sure they see as much as possible. For anyone who is a not a UK or EU national an important part of their planning needs to be considering their visa.
Who needs a visa?
Anyone from outside the EU needs permission from the UK Government before they can travel to the UK. For most nationalities this means applying for a visa before they leave their home country. This is done online and by booking an appointment at a visa centre.
It is often said that some nationalities, for example Americans and Canadians, do not need a visa to enter the UK. This is not strictly correct. Whilst it is true that they do not need to apply for a visa before coming they still require permission from the Home Office to enter the UK. Rather than applying before coming to the UK they are instead assessed by an Immigration Officer at their port of entry. This is not always straightforward and the Immigration Officer does have the power to refuse a person entry to the UK if the view is taken that they are not a genuine visitor.
Regardless of where someone seeks permission to enter the evidence to be provided to allow the decision maker to assess their application must be carefully considered.
Who is a genuine standard visitor?
For immigration purposes a "standard visitor" is defined as anyone who is coming to the UK for less than 6 months, and is not intending to work, study or get married here. However, the Home Office and Immigration Officers do not simply take someone's word when considering why they are here and how long they intend to stay. People who have previously been refused visas and people who do not provide precise details about their visit can experience difficulty when coming to the UK.
In our experience most people who are refused permission to enter the UK (either because they have been refused a visa or because they have been stopped at the airport) are refused because the person assessing their application is not satisfied that there is an intention to return to the country of origin at the end of the trip. This is particularly difficult where someone has to apply for a visa before travelling.
If someone is applying for a visa before coming to the UK, it is unlikely they will have booked their flights since there is no guarantee that their visa will be issued in time. In the absence of a return flight ticket how can someone prove they intend to return to their home country? There is no list of evidence that the Home Office requires for these applications and what should be provided depends on an individual's circumstances.
How much money is needed?
Another important consideration is how much money is needed to pay for a trip. If someone applies to come to Scotland for 4 weeks but has no savings, the Home Office may legitimately ask as to how they will pay for their living expenses while they are here. If someone cannot establish they have sufficient funds to support themselves they may not be allowed to enter the UK as it may be argued that they may seek to work while they are here.
Regardless of where someone applies to enter the UK they should ensure they can provide evidence that they will be supported financially. This can include bank statements showing savings, or a letter from a friend confirming they will meet the cost of the trip along with evidence of their savings.
What happens if the application is refused?
If someone is refused a visa, they cannot appeal this to the Immigration Tribunal unless there is a potential breach of their human rights. This is difficult to establish and can take a long time to resolve. Instead they will need to consider whether to make a fresh application or apply for an administrative review. My article on visa refusal covers this in more detail. If someone is refused entry at the airport the position can be more complicated. Sometimes the Immigration Officer can be persuaded to allow someone to enter the UK temporarily before returning to their home country the next day, in which case it is possible to make submissions asking for a review of the decision. Our experience is that it is possible to successfully argue the visitor's case in such a situation.
If the person is not allowed to stay in the UK, an application for a visa in advance of any further trip might minimise the chance of being refused entry on arrival again.
The Home Office and Immigration Officers have a great deal of discretion when deciding if someone is a genuine visitor or not, and when planning any trip to Edinburgh, or elsewhere in the UK, it is important that this is taken into consideration.
Our immigration team can help ensure the visa process is smooth and your trip doesn't start with an unexpected refusal. Let us make your experience in Scotland more enjoyable by starting your journey by contacting us:
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