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Travel Whilst Awaiting an Immigration Decision

Oct 18, 2023

Out-of-Country Applications

Often individuals applying for UK visas that involve them relocating, such as through the Skilled Worker visa would like the option to go to the UK in advance of their work start date to organise their new lives. Understandably this is a reasonable request, especially with everything that needs to be prepared including organising a place to live and even schooling if your children are dependent on your visa application, these are just two of the many important personal and professional considerations that come alongside the application of a work visa. Importantly life continues once a visa application is submitted so it may be essential for your job to do some business travel whilst you obtain permission to work in the UK.

It is unsurprising that one of the most common questions we get asked as immigration professionals is whether it would be permissible to enter the UK whilst their work visa is pending. Legally, under the Immigration Rules, Part 1, para 28 an applicant for entry clearance must be outside the UK and Islands at the time of the application. However, there are no explicit restrictions on travelling to the UK while that application is being considered. Additionally, travelling to the UK does not serve to withdraw a pending application. This is not without its risks as some practical implications include ensuring access to a passport.

It should be noted that you cannot enter based on your application on a pending route, i.e., you cannot enter the UK based on the fact you have submitted a Skilled Worker visa application. Therefore, the individual travelling to the UK would be admitted as a visitor, for which they would require either a pre-existing visa or to be a non-visa national. Of course, applicants will have to satisfy all aspects of the visitor rules, notably the requirement that they intend to leave the UK upon completion of their visit. As they have a pending application in another route, they may wish to bring evidence of their intention to leave.

In-Country Applications

With the changes to the immigration process through the UK Visa and Citizenship Services, notably, you can keep your passport during the process. Due to this many applicants may see it as feasible to travel especially given the time it takes to receive a decision. However, applicants should not travel overseas until a decision is made as doing so will have serious legal implications to their immigration status. The reason for this is that the Home Office will view your application as withdrawn if you exit the Common Travel Area (UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man).

Paragraph 34K of the Immigration Rules states: 34K. Where a decision on an application for permission to stay has not been made and the applicant travels outside the common travel area their application will be treated as withdrawn on the date the applicant left the common travel area.

Most importantly exiting the UK will not give you any right to re-enter the UK unless your existing permission has not expired and is not cancelled at the border.

Final Remarks

It is important that you let your immigration advisors know whether you have upcoming travel plans and seek their advice as to whether it is possible to work around your travel plans to submit the application. Don’t overlook how important making decisions about travel is to immigration applications and the legal implications of doing so.

Our team or professionals are happy to support you through the visa process. We take a strategic approach in immigration choosing what works best for you. Feel free to contact us via email or call, or submit an enquiry through our live chat, we will be happy to help.


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