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-   -   For those who wonder if limits to the length of your stay are enforced in England... (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/for-those-who-wonder-if-limits-to-the-length-of-your-stay-are-enforced-in-england-668077/)

SusanP Jan 7th, 2007 01:31 PM

For those who wonder if limits to the length of your stay are enforced in England...
 
I just returned from Rome, and during my flight cancellation at JFK, while waiting for the shuttle to the hotel and then at dinner, talked with a woman who had been sent back from London. She had stayed in England for six months, returned to the US and stayed there for two months, and was returning to England for another six months. In all her research, all she had found was that you could stay for six months, nothing about how long before you could return. (I know for the Schengen countries, it's 90 days there and 90 out before being able to return.)

She was a perfectly average middle-aged American woman with nothing to make them suspicious. This woman was interrogated for three hours in London and treated like a criminal. They were sure she was planning to stay indefinitely. She had a couple of thousand in her checking account and a CD soon to mature that was going to cover her expenses while there. She could have cashed the CD immediately if necessary to prove she had enough to support herself. They would not listen. She was not allowed to call her bank and was not allowed to call her friend who was picking her up at the airport. She had an absolutely horrendous time, and it was as though they had made up their minds before the three-hour interrogation started. At the end, they were in a hurry because the plane was leaving and made her sign a report which was not even correct. They shipped her back to the US, giving her no recourse at all.

I've read numerous times here of people who stay over the limit and claim nobody ever checks and there's never any problem (although maybe those instances were for Schengen countries). So for all those who think nothing of disregarding visitation limits (which in this case apparently aren't even spelled out), beware!

LoveItaly Jan 7th, 2007 01:55 PM

Interesting SusanP. I think that sometimes people think that because they or someone else gets away with something that everyone can.

I was interested in rkkwans Sicily etc. trip report here on the Europe Board.

Sometimes when a poster ask if the Internationl Driving Permit is "really" needed to drive in Italy they are told that no it isn't because the car rental co. doesn't ask to see it (which wasn't our experience once btw) and there is no need. That even though under Italian law a visitor must have the IDP or have their local drivers license translated by an authorized interperter in Italy (much more expensive then getting the IDP through AAA in the states). Anyway, rkkwan in his trip report said he had to show his IDP to the clerk at the rental car agency in Sicily. And further into the trip he was stopped as the police were doing a traffic check. And yes, they required him to show them his IDP.

I would imagine, giving the world we are living in today, that countries, law enforcement agencies etc., will more and more crack down on those that are not following the country's laws and regulations. Innocence is not an excuse to break the law.

I wonder Susan, is this lady you met going to have a difficult time returning to GB in the future? I imagine she had to purchase a last minute one way ticket when the authorities sent her back to the US? If so that was quite expensive.


SusanP Jan 7th, 2007 02:06 PM

LoveItaly, she is worried about being able to go back, as this goes on her record. She's going to go to the Consulate in Washington to see if she can straighten it out. I don't think she paid for the trip home, since they were forcing her on the plane. But she's probably losing the cost of the original flight she booked.

lincasanova Jan 7th, 2007 02:16 PM

amazingly enough, my dual national (usa/spanish) daughter went to the u.s. from spain for my fatherīs funeral. when she was leaving the U.S., the delta check in ground personnel asked to see her VISA to go back to spain since she had no return ticket, and they were responsible for being sure she had the correct residential documents since there was no return ticket.

(She travels on her U.S passport always when going into and out of the USA, as required by law).

My daughter said she didnīt need a visa because she lived there and was spanish, too.

They asked to see her spanish documents for the first time in 29 years. so, yes, there are agents, and agents.

on the other hand, i am a U.S national with NO dual citizenship and NO indication in my U.S. passport that I hold a resident permit of spain.

I leave and come into spain every few weeks or months from either the U.S.A. or another shengenn or non shengen country.

I have NEVER been asked HERE in spain or ANYWHERE to proove WHY i have "overstayed" my 90 days.

so.. i think it is just hit or miss, but one COULD be taking a chance, no matter how low the probabilities. when it happens to you.. it must be upsetting.




She said

lincasanova Jan 7th, 2007 02:17 PM

amazingly enough, my dual national (usa/spanish) daughter went to the u.s. from spain for my fatherīs funeral. when she was leaving the U.S., the delta check in ground personnel asked to see her VISA to go back to spain since she had no return ticket, and they were responsible for being sure she had the correct residential documents since there was no return ticket.

(She travels on her U.S passport always when going into and out of the USA, as required by law).

My daughter said she didnīt need a visa because she lived there and was spanish, too.

They asked to see her spanish documents for the first time in 29 years. so, yes, there are agents, and agents.

on the other hand, i am a U.S national with NO dual citizenship and NO indication in my U.S. passport that I hold a resident permit of spain.

I leave and come into spain every few weeks or months from either the U.S.A. or another shengenn or non shengen country.

I have NEVER been asked HERE in spain or ANYWHERE to proove WHY i have "overstayed" my 90 days.

so.. i think it is just hit or miss, but one COULD be taking a chance, no matter how low the probabilities. when it happens to you.. it must be upsetting.





alanRow Jan 7th, 2007 02:17 PM

<<< I don't think she paid for the trip home, since they were forcing her on the plane. >>>

I think you'll find she did - neither the UK or US governments will pay for a deportation if they can avoid it.

But think positive, no shackles, no stay in a 3rd world jail, no appearance before a court

rkkwan Jan 7th, 2007 02:19 PM

There's a pretty big difference between UK immigration and the rest of Europe. I have never been asked any question entering a Schengen country, including France, Italy, the Netherlands. But UK is like Canada and US, where the immigration officers do "chat" with you while they flip through the passport to see where you've been, etc.

They even read your landing card, which there's none for most(?) Schengen countries). Just last weekend, the officer at Gatwick asked whether I actually have a reservations at the Arora International Gatwick (in Crawley, two train stops away) since that's what I put down for an overnight stay enroute from Italy. [Yes, I do, thanks to Priceline.] I guess he asked because that's not a normal tourist transit hotel for most visitors through Gatwick.

Barbara Jan 7th, 2007 02:46 PM

My first thought was six months per year, which is what the 90/90 for Schengen countries would work out as. But if whe wasn't sure, why didn't she make a point of finding out before flying back to London?

Also Susan, although she looked perfectly nice to you, you really know nothing about her.

henneth Jan 7th, 2007 03:03 PM

There could be any number of reasons why this 3 hour interogation took place. Alarm bells would ring if they knew of her previous 6 months stay and then immigration may ask for evidence of her residence in the US. In this case producing a passport just wouldn't do, a job and a permanent address would help. What sort of job did she have that allowed her all this time in the UK. Did she even have a job or a home? I'm speculating here and just giving a scenario but it wouldn't help her case if she arrived at the port of entry after a previous long stay with no obvious ties to the US through work or residence.

LCBoniti Jan 7th, 2007 03:13 PM

But, aside from all the speculation, I think Susan's point is well-taken. Some of us (myself included) are very ignorant/inexperienced in traveling outside the US. This experience shows that it is always the best course to be sure of the laws and obey them, whether immigration, traffic, or whatever.

I have had some dealings with US immigration in the past (non-citizen husband) and they can be quite heavy-handed. And that was long before the current climate. Just because some have not been questioned or had a problem does not mean it won't happen. And what a horrible experience when it does!

Thanks for sharing this very interesting story, Susan.


SusanP Jan 7th, 2007 06:23 PM

The point is, she did extensive research before going back and found no restrictions to returning. And I suppose you're right, I don't really know her, but I can assure you that if you met her, your first thought would not be that she had nefarious plans while in England.

I just wanted to give a heads up that they ARE paying attention when you go for extended stays!

Christina Jan 7th, 2007 06:46 PM

I think this is certainly worthwhile advise for people who want to test the limits and don't want to check things. However, it is true one knows nothing about this woman or what her problems or issues were, but I'm sure the immigration people don't have time nor care to make special exemptions for people for no reason, they must encounter hundreds.

The woman sounds like a total ditz who didn't have much money to show for herself (anyone planning an extensive trip who doesn't even have resources without having to make special arrangements to prematurely cash in a CD shouldn't be traveling when it depends on that IMO, and that cannot be done on-the-spot in an airport, whatever she claimed), and her extensive research doesn't seem to have included checking with the property authorities, like the British embassy etc.

nona1 Jan 8th, 2007 12:32 AM

I don't believe there are any official limits on how soon after one visa you can apply for another. Each 6-month visa is treated separately. Did they tell her that she was sent back because she had returned too quickly, or was this just her guess?

She probably fell foul of the requirement to have sufficient funds among other things.

to gain entry you have to be able to PROVE that
you do not intend to take employment in the UK
you have enough money to support and accommodate yourself without recourse to public funds or taking employment
you can meet the cost of a return or onward journey.

Someone with a 'couple of thousand' dollars can only support themselves for a short period, not 6 months. The CD, well, I suppose if money had been their only concern they might have let her cash it. There must have been something else as well. she must have said something that got their alarm bells ringing. Someone who wants to spend 12 out of 14 months in a country may well be doing more than just simply visiting for tourism. Perhaps she said something that made them suspect she was going to continue using visitors visas to essentially live here in the UK.

lincasanova Jan 8th, 2007 12:55 AM

i believe there is NO VISA involved here.


Dukey Jan 8th, 2007 01:06 AM

I thought those stamps in passports are, in fact, visas.

Mucky Jan 8th, 2007 01:17 AM

It is encouraging to see that UK immigration is finally taking some notice of people entering the country.

About 10 years too late in my opinion.

Immigration is a huge political concern here, subsequently it is being monitored by everyone, especially the newspapers. Subsequently this kind of thing is being increased.

Welcome to the UK Average looking American woman.

;-)

Muck

(Entering the USA is no stroll in the park either by the way)

lincasanova Jan 8th, 2007 01:39 AM

maybe they really ARE,(but i always thought they were entry stamps.. period) but i have always understood a visa is something one APPLIES for and is granted, whether it be for tourism or residency.

americans do not need VISAS to enter england or shengen countries if they are TOURISTS. likewise for europeans going into the U.S. They belong to the visa EXEMPTION program.

sheila Jan 8th, 2007 02:16 AM

I'm going to take my life in my hands here since I practice immigration law. But there are a number of misconceptions in the foregoing posts.

1. There is no ENTITLEMENT to enter the UK for anyone who is not British. Everyone is subject to Immigration Control. Although you do not NEED a visa to come in from the US, you must fit the rules in other regards. It is explicitly stated in the rules that you can be refused entry even if you have a visa; so, the more so, if you don't.

2. There is no time limited re-entry, but you should realise that if you come in again that quickly you will raise questions in the minds of the Immigration staff- mainly about your intention to leave again- and you need to be able to answer those questions and, if necessary, prove the answers. the losser your ties to the US, the harder that will be.

2. If you get a UK visa, it will take the form of a paper document just smaller than the page in your passport, and it is not the entry stamp.

3. She will not have paid for her trip home. Her airline probably will have.

4. It WILL be an issue for her if she chooses to return. I would advise her to get a visa.

Just out of interest, I'm coming to the US for my hols this year- first time since 1985 or thereby. I discovered by accident that, as a consequence of my careless driving conviction in 1975, that I have to have a visa. I had assumed I was covered by the exemption scheme. God knows what would have happened on entry.

nona1 Jan 8th, 2007 03:17 AM

OK sorry, visa was the wrong word. She had to satisfy the immigration authorities to give her entry clearance. there is no automatic right of entry.

Visas are advised if you have ever previously been refused entry.

My guess is that she appeared to be abusing the tourist/visitors entry. You can't just come and live here even if you can support yourself without working unless you qualify for one of the special visas. For example, you can get a visa (and you do need a visa, not just entry) as a retired person of independent means?
You will need to show:

you are at least 60 years of age
you have an income of at least £25,000 a year that you control and that you can transfer freely to the UK
evidence of any property you own in the UK
evidence that you may legally transfer your money to the UK
that you can support yourself and any dependants without working (as an employee) or getting help from anyone else or from public funds
that you will make the UK your main home, and
that you have a close connection with the UK.

pantelia Jan 15th, 2007 07:28 AM

I was searching under 'dual citizenship' and came across this post, and thought I'd post another 'story'!

Quick backgroud...my mother is from Yorkshire, came to the States as a nanny, and met my dad in NY. They married, had me, and in the late 70's she became a US Citizen. I spent many summers in the UK growing up with my nana and my sister (who is older and was still in England).

One summer, when I was 11 or 12, I ended up staying (for reasons I still can't quite figure out!) with my sister, and was enrolled in school. I spent two full years at a Catholic school in West Yorkshire. The summer between my second and third year there, I came home (to FL) for a summer break, with every intention of going back to finish school. Now keep in mind, I was only 13 or 14. No problems coming back into the US. Getting back into the UK was another story!

I landed in London, and was to make my way to the National Express to head back north. I was asked, when going through passport control why I was coming back so soon (this was 1983 or 1984) so, being the honest kid I was, I told them I had to go back to school. He asked me where my Visa was, and I looked at him and (thinking he was a complete idiot) told him I was too young to have a credit card!!

I spent about 6 hours sitting in a small room, with only a water fountain, table, chair and payphone, I managed to make a collect call to my parents, who couldn't understand me as I was hysterical.

Long story short, somehow my parents or sister convinved them to allow me to continue on to W Yorks (their plan was to put me on the next plane out, which would have landed me in NY at night, with no family, or way to get to FL from that point) I was given 6 weeks to leave the country and had a big DEPORTED stamp placed in my passport.

Not a very pleasant experience for a child, I will tell you that! I have been back to the UK numerous times since then, even with the same passport. They did however, verify my return ticket each time!!!



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