UK LHR Immigration - Will I be okay?

May 20th, 2014, 09:49 AM
  #1  
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UK LHR Immigration - Will I be okay?

First off, I know that none of you can actually answer this question - but after watching UK Border Force and stressing about not being admitted into the UK I've been reading around, and decided to ask around here since this place seems to be filled with older, more experienced travelers. As a young traveler who has never been outside of North America, I value experienced advice. Anyway, on with it.

In a few months I'll be traveling to London Heathrow for a one week visit (under the VWP by the way), to visit with friends and see as much of the South London area as I can in a week.

--I'm a US Citizen, 19 years old, brand new passport (no history of international air travel)
--Currently unemployed, as I start my next college quarter in Fall I will be a full time student.
--I have proof of a return ticket after exactly one weeks time of arrival in LHR.
--I've saved up $2000 to spend during this week, so roughly 1100 pounds.
--I have an apartment already booked in London, which my friends in the UK and I are all staying, and have already split the cost.
--I know exactly where I will be and what I'll be doing while in the UK, if asked.

I'm also contemplating buying travelers medical insurance through my airline, this is probably a no-brainer - - but it's expensive which is why I haven't done so yet.

I've seen how strict Border Control can be, and how interrogative they are. Rightfully so indeed but still worries me. I know I'll set off a couple red flags being 19 years old and unemployed, but I feel like I'm competent enough in my planning and I hope the officer will see that.

Any advice on more things I should do? Or any other documents I should bring? What to expect at passport control given my info? I've been planning this trip for a while now and I don't want anything to go wrong.

Thanks!
ireallylikecoffee is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 09:54 AM
  #2  
 
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I think you will be fine, just relax and enjoy London!
raincitygirl is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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I'm also contemplating buying travelers medical insurance through my airline, this is probably a no-brainer

Medical insurance is a no-brainer, obtaining it through the airline isn't.

And why don't you want insurance for anything else that could go wrong?
dotheboyshall is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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I don't think you're going to encounter any problems at all. You'll be given a "landing card" on the plane which will be looked over and collected by the immigration officer. Maybe a couple of questions - where are you staying, for how long etc. - and you're through. They see traveling students all the time.
Gardyloo is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 10:01 AM
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Also take official letters from your college or university about starting your course in the fall. This will act as evidence of strong tie in US, compelling you to return home and not be tempted to overstay.
Other than that, you seem to have a good range of documents. I suggest you keep them in your possession and only produce them when asked. Be neatly dressed, be polite, and answer every question truthfully but succinctly, not volunteering any information not asked for. I'll be very surprised if you are denied entry (though can offer no assurance as I'm not Home Office immigration officer dealing with your case).

Further advice. Don't look nervous, look the officer in the eye and smile. Be pleasant. Don't carry in your luggage (carryon and hold) any incriminating evidence such as your résumé, list of job agencies, job ads etc. If you are visiting your boy/girlfriend, answer truthfully if you are asked a direct question ('Are you in a relationship? is how they ask) but just state calmly you are only staying for a week and show your return flight and college letters.
Alec is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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If you are really interested in real anecdotal "evidence" you may want to check the thorntree forum on another travel website.
Their clientele is much more often in your age bracket.
Many 19yo are technically unemployed, i.e. between school and uni or in uni without a real job.
Many 18-20yo travel all over the world.
So I guess there is a good chance that you get where you want to go

I would get travel/health insurance, though.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 10:22 AM
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If you are a student going back to classes and have a return ticket and some money you will be fine.

The problems are experienced by people with no return or ongoing ticket, no financial resources and who look like they are going to couch surf/sleep in the parks - and stay long-term.
nytraveler is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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Is it more expensive than you falling and breaking a bone or becoming sick and requiring hospitalization? Find out what your health insurance covers for overseas travel and then check out insuremytrip.com or squaremouth.com for additional coverage.
mirandaverandah is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 10:28 AM
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I agree with almost everything the others have said. You'll be fine. The exception is the insurance. For a healthy young person spending only a week away, it's a waste of money you could use having fun. Keep in mind the recommendations above come from likely very conservative and much older people, all things relative. I'm also much older but it wouldn't occur to me to buy insurance in your situation. Old fogies, maybe, not always even then. (Ignore all the "what ifs" to follow.)
MmePerdu is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 10:39 AM
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<
And why don't you want insurance for anything else that could go wrong?>>

Well, the specific insurance that my airline offered me appeared to include medical as well as 50 - $100 for extra baggage insurance if I read it right. I'm only bringing one bag which will be carry on (I don't need much for a week) which is why I only considered medical. I guess trip interruption insurance is another good one, but again it's only a week... maybe I'm just being naive but I figured I could survive without it for a week.

Alec -- Thanks for the advice! Got it on the college papers, unfortunately the date which I can register for fall courses isn't until (quite literally) right after the trip, so what I have is proof that I am a student with the college, past classes, but not that I am currently enrolled in classes. Will this be enough? Or should I really bug my college to write a letter for me?

and about not presenting documents until asked.. noted. I actually didn't think of that, I had the idea of giving the officer my passport with every document inside of it. I definitely won't do that, haha. Not looking nervous though, eh, I will definitely be nervous, but I'll try my best. I'm always respectful to civil servants anyway so I'm not worried about coming off as rude or anything.

Cowboy - thanks for the website reference, good info on there. I know people in my age group travel all the time without issues, I just don't want to take any risk. Especially since I've heard horror stories of (seemingly) innocent traveler plans being taken into the back and interrogated/detained for unknown reasons.

Thanks for all the responses so far, you guys are really calming my nerves!
ireallylikecoffee is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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If you have watched Border Patrol, as I have, you will now what NOT to bring - a CV as they may think you are looking for a job!

They are specifically looking for bogus students who register to attend the 100s of bogus schools here in order to work, and these 'students' usually plan to stay 3 months.

You will be fine, as you have an apartment, plans, money and a return ticket. Don't be nervous. Relax and have a great time in London.
OReilly is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 11:56 AM
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Based on everything you've told us, I also think you be just fine. When I was your age I also did much international travelling and never encountered more than the usual cursory questions for which I was prepared; I know things have changed since then, but you seem to have all the major things sorted really well so good on you. Be calm and confident.

Have a great time. You'll just be getting into the groove of things when it will be time to return and I'll bet you'll wish you'd have stayed for two There's always a next time. London is a great city.
Mathieu is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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I wonder why you think travel insurance is expensive? What's your idea of expensive?

YOu can go to www.insuremytrip.com and compare quotes, but I suspect your airline may use one of the major players. I always bought mine separately, but recently booked a RT on Delta to Mexico City and they did offer me travel insurance my a major carrier I've used before and it was actually really cheap, so I bought it. It did cover more than the airline ticket, it was a regular travel policy. It only cost me $26 so I don't understand what price you are calling expensive. I know from insuremytrip.com that the medical insurance is actually really really cheap (unless you consider $25 expensive). What makes those policies more expensive ios when you try to cover prepaid costs of cruises, tours, etc., that is the dollar amount you say you want to cover. But if you really only want medical insurance, just put say $50 in that box, and you can see how low the rates will be.

It is true that when I was younger, I did travel without it, but I just wonder what you are calling expensive. If it's only $25, I"d buy it if you don't have medical insurance that covers you abroad.
Christina is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 01:30 PM
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Ditto what Christina wrote.
If it was just medical insurance w/o any extras covered like lost baggage or else, would it be really "expensive"?
IMO, medical insurance could be one of those feared questions.. and makes more sense for younger travelers as they can probably pay much less likely for anything potentially expensive than the rich ole folks
Cowboy1968 is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 01:51 PM
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Oreilly - haha yes I have watched nearly every episode of UK Border Patrol! That's what provoked this post -- It started off as mere curiosity and then I couldn't stop watching just to make sure of what NOT to do! I remember that episode of a middle aged man who panicked at passport control, claiming his date of birth was 1993 - making him 15 at the time - I haven't stopped laughing since. I can't be that nervous.

Mathieu - Thanks for the reassurance I've always wanted to visit London, well all of Europe in general actually. So I'm going for a good first experience abroad.

Christina and Cowboy - I suddenly feel very stupid. I must have been looking at the costs of insurance wrong, I'm looking into it now. Can't hurt to have it in the first place and indeed, if I was asked about it I'd love to be able to give them everything I can.

Thanks for the information guys really.
ireallylikecoffee is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 02:30 PM
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UK Border Patrol??? Get REAL, Man! On the more than 40 trips I have made into the UK I have never been asked for any evidence of a return ticket and the first time I went I was about your age.
Dukey1 is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 02:52 PM
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Dukey1
Immigration control and checks have become a lot stricter since you were OP's age, and while middle-aged traveller with good profile is unlikely to get asked, this won't be the case for a 19-year old.
Alec is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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Guy, there is NO reason to be nervous about this, and STOP looking at that programme! I travelled though London hundreds of times, on a Canadian passport, and passport control people were always polite and kind.

I travelled to New York last year for a weeks holiday and passport control were bloody rude. You won't encounter that in London.

Do post when you arrive safely
OReilly is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 03:07 PM
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While border agents (immigration officers) at LHR are generally polite, they do scrutinise young travellers a lot more than middle-aged, typically affluent travellers. They use profiling and target their attention on those who may have something to hide.
Alec is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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OReilly - Good to hear that! Sorry about your experience in New York. Yeah I haven't heard much good at all about US Immigrations/Customs from friends/family who have visited here. In fact I imagined it would be more lenient between citizens of friendly countries but I guess Immigration Control is Immigration Control regardless.

Alec - Yeah that's what I suspected and why I'm here, even if it turns out to be 2 minutes of questions and a stamp in my passport I'd rather be prepared for the worst than look like a deer in headlights.
ireallylikecoffee is offline  

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