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21 Immigration and Nationality

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1. Introduction

2. Do I need permission to come to the UK?

3. How is entry to the UK controlled?

4. What sort of permission do I need to come to the UK?

5. What if I want to work in the UK?

6. What restrictions are there after I've arrived in the UK?

When you are given permission to enter the UK, you will be told the conditions of your stay. These conditions will be given to you in writing. If you arrive with a tour group, the notice may be given to the group leader. In other cases, the conditions will be written in your passport. If you don't have a passport, they will be in a letter from the immigration authorities.

Unless you are allowed to settle here straight away, the conditions will include a time limit on your stay. Depending on your reason for coming to the UK, you are also likely to be barred from having 'recourse to public funds' (claiming benefits, for example).

You may not be allowed to work or you may be allowed to do only some types of work. Visitors cannot do any work, even if it is unpaid. Students on courses of six months or more have restricted permission to work. They can work full-time during their holidays and part-time (up to 20 hours a week) during the term. If you are a citizen of a country outside the Commonwealth and you come here to work or for business reasons (and sometimes as a student), you may also have to register with the police.

Rarely, an immigration officer will tell someone coming to settle here that they must report to a medical officer (for example, if they have a certain contagious disease).

If you break the conditions of your permission to stay in the UK, you are committing a crime, and you may be sent back ('removed').

What if I want to stay longer than I was originally allowed?
If you want to stay longer than the time shown in your passport, you need to apply again. You can apply by post or at one of the four Home Office Public Caller Units around the country, although some of these deal only with certain kinds of application.

There are different forms for different kinds of application. You must:

  • fill in the corect form carefully;
  • make sure you include all the documents the form asks for (for example, your passport, proof of the money you have, and your student registration); and
  • pay the correct fee.

If you don’t provide all the information needed, or send the correct amount of money, the Home Office will send your application back to you without looking at it further.

The only circumstances in which you do not need to use a form are:

  • for a European Economic Area permit (see 'What if I am a citizen of a European country?');
  • if you are seeking asylum.

If the Home Office agree to give you more time to stay, it will place a sticker, known as a residence permit, in your passport.

Supporting yourself
In almost all cases where you are given permission to come to the UK, you must be able to support yourself and any family members with you 'without recourse to public funds'. This includes:

  • the cost of supporting yourselves while you are here if there is a time limit on your stay; and
  • paying for where you will live.

If you are coming for a short time, you must have a place to stay. This can be with friends or family, or in a hotel or guesthouse. You also need enough money to live on, including paying for where you are staying.

If you are coming to live here, you need somewhere suitable to live and enough money for your family to live on without claiming benefits. You do not need to own the place where you live – you can stay with relatives, as long as their house or flat won't become overcrowded.

If you are joining someone who lives here, you will not usually be able to claim benefits. If the person who lives here claims benefits, they probably won't be able to include you as a dependant for purposes such as working out whether they would qualify for certain benefits for people with a low income.

If you are receiving benefits and you are trying to sponsor a relative to come and live in the UK, you should get expert advice. See 'Further help' for where you can find advice.

7. What if I want to settle in the UK?

8. What if my application is refused?

9. What if I stay longer than I am allowed to?

10. Who has a right to British nationality?

11. How can I become a British citizen?

12. Where can I get help with my immigration application?

13. Terms used in immigration and nationality matters

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet


This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and Mick Chatwin, a barrister and solicitor specialising in immigration law.

Leaflet Version: June 2006

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