Q: What is Entry Clearance?

A: Entry Clearance is the procedure used by Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) at British missions overseas to check, before a person arrives in the UK, if that person qualifies under the Immigration Rules for entry to the UK.  Any conditions attached to the visa will be endorsed on the face of visa.

You will not need a visa if you hold a UK passport or a passport issued by another country in the European Union or European Economic Area, or Switzerland.

Visa nationals require an Entry Clearance whatever the purpose of their travel to the UK and should anticipate refusal of entry if they travel without one.

Non-visa nationals seeking entry for a period exceeding 6 months or for a purpose for which prior Entry Clearance is required under the Immigration Rules also need to obtain Entry Clearance.

Q: How to Make the Application for Entry Clearance?

A: Applicants must be outside the UK and Islands at the time of their application for Entry Clearance.  An application for Entry Clearance must be made to the British diplomatic post in the country or territory where you are living.

An application for Entry Clearance will be considered in accordance with the appropriate provisions in the Immigration Rules governing the grant or refusal of leave to enter. An application is not deemed to have been made until the appropriate fee has been paid. An application for Entry Clearance is to be decided in the light of the circumstances existing at the time of the decision, save where a minor attains the age of 18 between making the application and the decision upon it.

Q: Can Entry Clearance be Revoked?

A: Entry Clearance may be revoked by the ECO, however, the ECO should have strong evidential grounds to revoke an Entry Clearance.   The grounds of revocation are:

Under Paragraph 30A(i) of the Immigration Rules

i) Whether or not to the holder’s knowledge, false (i.e. inaccurate) representations were employed or material facts were not disclosed, either in writing or orally, for the purpose of obtaining the Entry Clearance;

(To assess whether a fact is “material”, the ECO should consider what effect disclosure would have had on the application.  The ECO must show that an applicant has failed to disclose material facts which the applicant knew or ought to know would be relevant to whether or not to grant a visa  - this should usually be determined by the information sought in the application form and by any additional questions in interview).


Under Paragraph 30A(ii) of the Immigration Rules

ii) A change of circumstances since the Entry Clearance was issued has removed the basis of the holder’s claim to be admitted to the UK, except where the change of circumstances amounts solely to his exceeding the age for entry in one of the categories contained in Paragraphs 296-316 of the Immigration Rules since the issue of the Entry Clearance.

A non-exhaustive list could include:  the withdrawal of an offer of employment, the withdrawal of sponsorship, the permanent departure of the sponsor from the UK.


Under Paragraph 30A(iii) of the Immigration Rules

iii) The holder’s exclusion from the UK would be conducive to the public good.

(This may be in the light of the person’s character, conduct, associations, criminal history etc. The Entry Clearance Officer must specify what past, current or future action of the person makes their exclusion from the UK conducive to the public good.  Vague generalisations are not enough. The onus is on the Entry Clearance Officer to provide evidence).

If the Entry Clearance Officer revokes the Entry Clearance, the Entry Clearance Officer will stamp ‘REVOKED’ diagonally on the Entry Clearance.  The Entry Clearance Officer should, thereafter, serve the applicant with a revocation notice explaining the reason for revoking the Entry Clearance.

There is no right of appeal for Entry Clearances revoked under Paragraph 30A of the Immigration Rules. However, following the revocation of an Entry Clearance the original decision should be reconsidered and, if the applicant does not meet the requirements of the Rules, a refusal notice should be issued.  Only if the Entry Clearance originally applied conferred a full right of appeal will the applicant have a further full right of appeal.

Q: Can Conditions be Imposed on my Visa?

A: Limited leave to enter or remain may be given subject to conditions:

  • Regarding restriction of employment or occupation in the UK;
  • Requiring maintenance and accommodation of the principal and any dependants, without recourse to public funds; and
  • Requiring registration with the police.

Q: What is Adequate Maintenance?

A: Providing the level of maintenance is broadly equivalent to that of a person receiving income support and the associated benefits that normally accompany it (e.g. housing benefit, council tax relief, free school meals) then that will be considered to be adequate for the purposes of the immigration rules.  Maintenance can usually be provided by a third party sponsor such as a relative.

Q: What is Adequate Accommodation?

A: Accommodation must be adequate for the person coming to the UK other than in the student category. For people seeking entry on a long-term basis there are two main considerations:

  • The sponsor/applicant must 'own or exclusively occupy' the proposed accommodation in family cases. Accommodation can be shared with other members of a family provided that at least part of the accommodation is for the exclusive use of the sponsor and his dependants. This may be as small as a separate bedroom but must be owned or legally occupied by the sponsor.
  • The proposed accommodation must not be overcrowded once the applicant arrives. A room must have a floor area larger than 50 Sq. ft. and normally used as a bedroom or living room. It relates number of rooms to number of persons, allowing for the fact that children aged between 1 and 10 years only count as half a person: 1 room = 2 persons, 2 rooms = 3 persons, 3 rooms = 5 persons, 4 rooms = 7.5 persons, and 5 rooms = 10 persons.

Q: What are Reporting conditions?

A: Any foreign nationals from certain countries or territories need to report, as do the stateless and those holding non-national travel documents, where they are given limited leave to enter the UK for longer than 6 months or given limited leave which takes them over 6 months from arrival.

Exempt from this requirement are seasonal agricultural workers, private servants in diplomatic households, ministers of religion, missionary or member of a religious order, persons whose leave flows from marriage to a person settled in the UK or unmarried partnership with a person settled here, persons exercising access rights to a child resident in the UK, parents of children at school, and those given leave following the grant of asylum.

Q: What is Intention to leave?

A: Intention to leave the UK is a pre-requisite for all categories which do not lead to settlement.  In practice this requirement is not applied to students who are studying at a higher level and who therefore may be able to switch into another category on completion of their studies. In considering an intention to leave the UK the decision maker can look at all the circumstances of the applicant but must not make decisions based purely on suspicion.

Relevant factors for the Entry Clearance Officer and on appeal will include:

  • Immigration history (previous compliance with Immigration Laws is an excellent indicator of intention to leave); and
  • Family links with own country, such as wife and children or elderly parents; and
  • Other links, such as a job to return to or studies to complete
  • Levels of income (not decisive taken alone, but it is not possible to argue this is not a relevant consideration); and
  • Absence or otherwise of links in the UK - this could cut both ways, as having a sponsor is helpful, especially if he or she can give evidence at an appeal hearing, and having someone to visit provides a visit-like purpose, but if the family has shown a 'history of immigration' this may cause some Entry Clearance Officers to refuse the application.

Q: What are the General Grounds for Refusal?

Paragraph 320 of the Immigration Rules (IR) sets out a number of general grounds for refusal.  The general grounds for refusal can be either mandatory (IR 320 (1)-(7)) or discretionary (IR 320 (8)-(20)).

The Entry Clearance Officer, in considering your application, will also consider whether your application falls to be refused under any of the general grounds for refusal.

The grounds for refusal are as follows:-

                     Mandatory Grounds for Refusal
320 (1)
Entry is being sought for a purpose not covered by the Rules
320 (2) Applicant is subject of a Deportation Order
320 (3) Failure to produce a valid passport
320 (6) Secretary of State directs that exclusion is conducive to the public good
320 (7A) False representations have been made or false documents have been submitted (whether or not material to the application, whether or not to the applicant's knowledge and irrespective of the applicant's age or the category of visa sought), or material facts have not been disclosed.
320 (7B) The applicant has previously breached the UK's Immigration Laws by overstaying; breaching a condition attached to his leave; being an illegal entrant; using deception in a visa application, leave to enter or remain (whether successful or not).


the applicant overstayed for 28 days or less and left the UK voluntarily, not at the expense (directly or indirectly) of the Secretary of State;

used deception in an application for entry clearance more than 10 years ago;

left the UK voluntarily, not at the expense (directly or indirectly) of the Secretary of State, more than 12 months ago;

left the UK voluntarily, at the expense (directly or indirectly) of the Secretary of State, more than 5 years ago;

was removed or deported from the UK more than 10 years ago;

was unaware that the documents submitted or representations made were false;

was previously issued a visa in the knowledge of the immigration breach; or

was in the UK illegally on or after 17 March 2008 and left the UK before 1 October 2008;

They were refused LTR as a student solely on the basis that they made an out of time application;

The applicant has been accepted by UK Border Agency as a victim of trafficking.


320 (7C) The provisions of 320(7B) will not apply to:
  • Those applying for settlement categories to join family members in the UK or to exercise rights of access to a child;
  • Those accompanying family members who will be submitted for settlement on arrival;
  • Those applying under family reunion;
  • Those whose breach of immigration law took place when they were under 18yrs.

If an application has been refused in these categories between 1 April and 13 May 2008 and the reasons for refusal were solely under paragraph 320(7B), the decision should be revoked and then issued.

  Discretionary Grounds for Refusal
320 (8A) Where person is outside UK and fails to supply documents or medical report.
320 (9) Failing to meet the requirements as a returning resident.
320 (10) Failing to produce a valid passport or travel document.
320 (11) An applicant should normally be refused for ‘contriving in a significant way to undermine the intentions of the immigration rules.' This is where an applicant has previously:
  • been an illegal entrant;
  • overstayed;
  • breached a condition attached to his leave; or
  • used deception in a previous entry clearance, leave to enter or remain application.

but only where there are aggravating circumstances.

320 (13) Failure to satisfy the ECO that he will be admitted to another country after a stay in the UK
320 (14) Refusal by a sponsor to give notice in writing that they will maintain and accommodate a applicant
320 (15) Whether or not to the holder's knowledge, making false representations or failing to disclose any material fact for the purpose of obtaining an immigration employment document.
320 (16) No written consent given by parents / legal guardian to a visa application made by a child under 18.
320 (18) Conviction in any country including the UK of an offence which, if committed in the UK, is punishable with imprisonment for at least 12 months or (if committed outside the United Kingdom), would be punishable by imprisonment for at least 12 months if the offence had occurred in the UK.
320 (19) Exclusion conducive to the public good; if, for example, in the light of the character, conduct or associations of the person seeking leave to enter it is undesirable to give him leave to enter.

For refusals under paragraphs 320 (1) – (6), there are limited rights of appeal.

For refusals under paragraphs 320 (7) – (20), the appeal rights depend on the category of application.