Brexit came with its attendant effects on foreign policy, and, as expected, traveling into and out of the UK did not go unaffected.
In essence, the travel laws and requirements for non-UK citizens wishing to travel to the UK have been adjusted. The same is also true for UK citizens who intend to travel abroad.
This article provides concise information for prospective visitors to the UK. Where are you traveling from? Are you visiting the UK for a short time as a tourist, or do you intend to stay for a more extended period, perhaps work or study here? Are you coming over with your family? You’ll find out how to travel to the UK after Brexit in this post.
The UK entry requirements depend on;
- Your citizenship, and
- The type of UK visa you’re applying for.
Citizenship of the Traveler
When You Are Coming From Common Travel Area
Countries in the Common Travel Area (CTA) include the UK, Ireland, and the Crown Dependencies (i.e., Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man).
If you’re traveling from any of these locations, you don’t need a visa to enter, live, work, study, or access healthcare in the UK. Any document that confirms your identity and nationality would suffice to travel to the UK, as long as the immigration officer clearing you is satisfied that such document is genuine.
As an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen
You can travel to the UK as an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen without a visa as long as you don’t intend to stay beyond six months. A valid national passport would suffice for your visit. Your ID must be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the UK.
During your stay in the UK, you can work or conduct business without a permit. However, you must not exceed six months from the day of your initial entry. And while you can leave and re-enter the country as you wish during this period, you may not travel in and out of the country to extend your stay beyond six months. Hence, the duration of your stay in the country is capped at a cumulative of 90 days within any six months.
As an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen who intends to work in the UK beyond the six-month no-visa period, you must apply for a work visa.
As a Non-EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen
Non-EU citizens seeking to enter the UK are classified into two groups, with each group having different entry requirements.
Suppose you have a family member with EU, EAA, or Swiss citizenship. In that case, you only need to present a valid national passport together with one of an EU Settlement Scheme family permits, a UK-issued EEA family permit, or a UK-issued biometric residence card.
Otherwise, you must present a valid passport and a visa at border control. There are exceptions for travelers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. Citizens of these countries are eligible to use the automatic ePassport gates, hence do not require a visa to enter the UK.
Type (Purpose) of Visa
If you’re an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, you should first check whether you qualify for the EU Settlement Scheme. The EUSS confers a settled or pre-settled status on you. To get the settled status, you must have lived in the UK for five years. This, according to the UK government, means that “for five years in a row you’ve been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least six months in any 12 months.”
A settled or pre-settled status allows you to, amongst others, work, study, travel in and out of the UK, and, subject to additional eligibility criteria, use the NHS for free and access public funds.
Prospective workers in the UK who do not qualify for the EUSS have to use the points-based immigration system to apply for a work visa. There are several work visa categories, including skilled worker visas, health and care visas, and global talent visas, amongst others. Each of these visa categories has a minimum points eligibility requirement. You should be able to score the required points if you can prove that you:
- Have a job offer from an employer recognized by the Home Office,
- Understand and can speak English to the required standard
- Have relevant academic qualifications, etc.
Citizens of the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland with EUSS do not need a visa to study in the UK.
If you don’t have a EUSS status, you need a student visa to enter the UK. Requirements for this visa include;
- Admission offer by an institution the Home Office recognizes
- Ability to speak, write, read and understand the English language
- Proof of enough funds to support yourself while studying
The different visa categories and their unique requirements can be confusing, not to talk of the convoluted process of obtaining a visa. To make things easier, you should get the services of reputable UK immigration lawyers to guide you through.