Will I be able to get into the UK?
June 10, 2012 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Will I be able to re-enter the UK with a passport that expires in November (less than six months), and a visa that expires in January?

As I said, I have a Mexican passport that expires in November, and a Tier 4 student visa that expires in January. I'm going to the US, where I have permanent resident status - it shouldn't be problem to get in there. I just worry that UK Border Control could give me grief because my passport expires before the visa. Will I be able to get back in when I return, or should I hold off the trip and get a new passport here in the UK? I could attempt to get a new passport at the consulate in the US, but if it takes too long it may just be better to do it here.
posted by Partario to Travel & Transportation around England (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My best guess is that you will be fine if you have valid passport and a valid visa at the time of entry. Anyone who may feel it necessary to raise this point would reasonably be able to accept your answer that you will be getting a new passport from the Mexican embassy in London before it expires.

My answer is based on my general experience. Immigration officers have the prerogative of being unreasonable and slightly dickish on occasion so YMMV
posted by london302 at 7:53 AM on June 10, 2012

My UK visa is valid until 2014 and in my passport that expired in June 2011. I now travel with two passports rubberbanded together. No immigration checkpoint has questioned this approach. Last year, I traveled to within weeks of the passport's expiry but did face reminders from officers at every checkpoint.

All of this is conditional to WHEN you expect to travel? If your travel brings you back into the UK before November (and there's evidence that your student visa will be renewed or its the end of the study and you will return etc) then I don't expect there to be any issue. You may however get various immigration officers giving you the beady eye and making noises about getting everything done in time.
posted by infini at 8:30 AM on June 10, 2012

In general, the six months rule is in order to get leave to enter, and having a visa qualifies as already having leave to enter. See the following from the UK Border Agency site:
24. The following must produce to the Immigration Officer a valid passport or other identity document endorsed with a United Kingdom entry clearance issued to him for the purpose for which he seeks entry:

(i) a visa national;

(ii) any other person (other than British Nationals (Overseas), a British overseas territories citizen, a British Overseas citizen, a British protected person or a person who under the British Nationality Act 1981 is a British subject) who is seeking entry for a period exceeding six months or is seeking entry for a purpose for which prior entry clearance is required under these Rules.

Such a person will be refused leave to enter if he has no such current entry clearance. Any other person who wishes to ascertain in advance whether he is eligible for admission to the United Kingdom may apply for the issue of an entry clearance.

25. Entry clearance takes the form of a visa (for visa nationals) or an entry certificate (for non visa nationals). These documents are to be taken as evidence of the holder's eligibility for entry into the United Kingdom, and accordingly accepted as "entry clearances" within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971.

25A. An entry clearance which satisfies the requirements set out in article 3 of the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000 will have effect as leave to enter the United Kingdom. The requirements are that the entry clearance must specify the purpose for which the holder wishes to enter the United Kingdom and should be endorsed with the conditions to which it is subject or wish a statement that it has effect as indefinite leave to enter the United Kingdom. The holder of such an entry clearance will not require leave to enter on arrival in the United Kingdom and, for the purposes of these Rules, will be treated as a person who has arrived in the United Kingdom with leave to enter the United Kingdom which is in force but which was given to him before his arrival.

That said, I have a Mexican friend to travels to the UK fairly often, and from his stories, it seems like he does get more scrutiny at the border than a citizen of another North American country would.
posted by Nothing at 8:40 AM on June 10, 2012

There will be absolutely no problem at all if you renew your passport and travel with two passports together (new passport and old passport with visa). There, problem solved.

Only additional and separate problem I can foresee is you reentering the UK with a Tier 4 visa that expires in January. Are you still studying? If not, then this might be a problem.

- Resident in the UK for the past four years with several passports of visas with different expiry dates.
posted by moiraine at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2012

Moiraine, if the visa expires in January what difference does it make whether or not I'm studying? My course ends 26 September btw.

My trip as of now is scheduled for 18 June - 2 July. The reason I haven't gotten a new passport here is because it takes 6+ weeks to get a new passport from the Mexican embassy in London. In the consulate in the US, it's usually in one day, but with the ever-changing rules and general obnoxiousness of Mexican bureaucracy/bureaucrats one never knows...
posted by Partario at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2012

I'm an Australian living in the UK, so have had some experience with these issues.

As above, if you travel with multiple passports for whatever reason (this is my current passport, but my visa is in this old one, etc.), you shouldn't have any problems. I believe it's up to the individual officers, but Customs sees this a lot and I've never had any problems.

Now, if you travel on a visa or passport that's within 6 months of expiring, that may be an issue. I know this because I left unwittingly and re-entered the UK on a visa that was within 3 months of expiring. This resulted in a long conversation with the customs officer who was friendly but firm. I got in, but I can't tell you whether it could have gone the other way.

UK customs looks fairly closely at students, so I would suggest getting a new passport is safest. The visa expiration date is on the cusp of 6 months, so if you had other documentation or at least a story prepared (i.e. what you are going to do after your study finishes), that would be wise.
posted by outlier at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2012

Well, if the course ends 26 September, then you should have no problem with your trip as you are still a student. But I have had one horrendous experience about reentering the UK with a valid Tier 4 visa after my studies ended. I had finished my studies in November, my Tier 4 visa was to end on January. I travelled abroad, came back in December, and got a lot of grief for it. The key thing to emphasise is that you have plans to apply for another visa, or you are leaving the UK after you graduate.

I am really careful about immigration nowadays, and I would either postpone my trip until I get a new passport, or I would apply for a new passport and pray it comes in time for the trip. But YMMV.
posted by moiraine at 11:45 AM on June 10, 2012

I suggest that you call the Mexican consulate nearest your destination in the US and ask how long it would take to get a renewal. I suspect it would be overnight at worst.
posted by wierdo at 7:06 PM on June 10, 2012

The key thing to emphasise is that you have plans to apply for another visa, or you are leaving the UK after you graduate

I made sounds like this when I was close to my visa expiring and they let me through. YMMV.
posted by outlier at 11:18 PM on June 11, 2012

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