Beware la migra.
May 31, 2006 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Quick question: I plan on moving to England for an indefinite but legal period of time, do I need a round-trip ticket to get clearance into the country?

I'd prefer to buy just one-way seeing as it is cheaper. Additionally, are there any other quirks which might prevent me from getting in?

Any other advice for a naive immigrant?
posted by cloeburner to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure about immigration, but there is a workaround to keep legal no matter what. Buy two, one-way tickets: cheapest possible for the flight to England and a fully-refundable for the return. You can refund the second ticket and book cheaper when you know the return date.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:25 PM on May 31, 2006

Are you positive one-way is cheaper? One-way tickets are almost never cheaper.
posted by occhiblu at 7:28 PM on May 31, 2006

Best answer: Also, this link from the UK Embassy website seems to indicate that you just need enough funds to leave the country, not necessarily a return ticket.
posted by occhiblu at 7:39 PM on May 31, 2006

What is "an indefinite but legal period of time"? Legal (non-immigrant) visits are of definite length (max 90 days as a tourist, if I recall correctly, although I might not). I'm assuming from your question you don't have an immigrant visa.

At immigration control, possible questions might include how long you plan to stay, what is the purpose of your visit, whether you can demonstrate sufficient funds for the length of your stay, where you might be planning on living, etc. If you intend to immigrate into the UK and don't have immigration paperwork in order, your chances of being turned back at the airport depend on how convincing a liar you are. Are you planning on working in the UK? You'll need a work permit, if so.

And what occhiblu said. Are you sure you've thought this through?
posted by normy at 7:45 PM on May 31, 2006

For US visitors to the UK, it's six months that's legal.

More info on immigration requirements from the US embassy in London.
posted by occhiblu at 7:51 PM on May 31, 2006

I am Canadian now resident in the Uk, but in the past I have visited the UK for a few months at a time without a visa to conduct research. I didn't have any problems, but I knew when I was leaving again. They never asked to see my plane tickets, just my passport. I have friends who are American who have also had no trouble entering the UK for less than 90 days, again for research. I did have proof of my enrollment in a university in the States because I had a student visa for the States in my passport, maybe that helped.

But it really all depends on what you plan to do while in the UK. I had a research plan and, had they asked, could have told them where I was staying, where I would be doing research (supported by an outside scholarship), when I would be leaving. They didn't ask for all that, but I think they did ask what I was doing and I told them. If you come and just say "I'm visiting for an indefinite time", that might not go over so well. Even the Canadian border guards want to know how long I plan to visit when I come home, and I'm a Canadian citizen.
posted by jb at 8:04 PM on May 31, 2006

Thanks, occhiblu, it's UK tourists to the US that get 90 days
posted by normy at 8:05 PM on May 31, 2006

Last time I entered the UK, a week or so after my student visa expired, I was asked to produce an outward ticket at immigration and customs (coming from inside the EU, at that!).

While I imagine that this was because of my recently expired student visa, do know that customs and immigration can turn you away for any reason. Also, remember that the UK goes through variable fits regarding illegal immigration. As such, I'd err on the side of caution.
posted by lumiere at 10:27 PM on May 31, 2006

I had some jack-ass of a passport-control officer give me a ration of BS because, when he asked me where home was, I explained it was in Berkshire (UK). He disputed that, even though I had a resident's visa. This was coming off the ferry at Dover. I was with my partner (EU citizen), we'd just visted his family in Belgium for a long weekend.

All other times, entering the UK (from Europe or South Africa) I've never had any problems with the folks in the UK. (I have yet to see what happens if/when I return to the States!). I only enterered the UK as a tourist once, when I lived in Germany.
posted by Goofyy at 2:07 AM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you, my plans are more definite in that I'd like to stay there about 6 months and volunteer and do some menial labor just to survive [I plan on getting a work or partner visa while I'm over there].

I'm thinking of just risking getting the one-way ticket because to the best of my knowledge it is quite cheaper everywhere I've looked. Thanks for the advice though.

Hope this all works out.
posted by cloeburner at 4:17 AM on June 1, 2006

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