US Citizen denied entry into UK this wknd. Thoughts?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by edekba, Feb 25, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    So this wknd has been a very interesting one for my friend. Thought I'd share because honestly I have no idea why this occurred.

    She is from the Bay area, (Cali) who went on a work visa to Australia for 1 year. Her work visa expired over the summer and her plan was to travel around the world until her funds were gone. and then head home afterwards So she decided to goto various SE. Asian countries (Thailand/Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam/Indo/Malay), and I actually met up with her in Krabi in January. After SE Asia she went to Seoul to meet up with other friends. Last week she decided to goto London/UK and she booked an Aeroflot flight from Seoul to LHR.

    And now the funny thing, while @ immigration in LHR, she said they asked her a bunch of questions. I asked what kind and it sounded the usual ... where you staying, when you leaving, what ya doing here etc etc. Since she's been backpacking she said she was staying @ a hostel (that wasnt booked yet) or a friend's house & that she wasnt sure when she was leaving. She was just traveling the world. Then they asked her how much money she had on hand, etc & eventually they said she wasnt allowed into the UK. (At this point I was shocked & had a wtf look on my face.)

    UK immigration stated that since she was a US Citizen, she would need to go back to the US because that's the only place for sure that they'll accept her and she had a choice. Either pay cash to fly LHR - SFO; or wait and they'll force Aeroflot to fly LHR - SVO - LAX her for free. She choose the later & I went and picked up her at LAX on Friday.

    Sorry for the long post, but ... now comes my question. Why? How? I mean US/UK are pretty much in bed with each other, and I've never heard of this before. My thoughts ranged from they suspected she was a drug mule, a fugitive, attempting illegal immigration, and even a traveling prostitute...

    Can anyone shed some insight on this?
     
  2. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,510
    Likes Received:
    5,767
    Status Points:
    4,170
    Did she have an onward bound ticket?

    Those questions seem very common and are in place to prevent people from entering countries as a tourist and then staying to work (without permits). Based on what you describe it seems like her plans were fairly flaky and thus the immigration officers likely did not want to take the risk that she would abuse her tourist entry.

    Lots of people bum around and take odd jobs to keep traveling, but you would need immigration to think that you are not one of “those people”. Here is a post re US and no onward bound tickets = no entry:
    http://boards.bootsnall.com/do-i-need-proof-of-onwards-travel-to-enter-the-us-t28752.html

    I wonder if these rules are enforced more as local economies experience more financial issues?
     
    sobore, jbcarioca, GoodBoy and 3 others like this.
  3. craz
    Original Member

    craz Silver Member

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    234
    Status Points:
    425
    Its not only the UK, many Countrys are simply making sure that the person coming in was not doing so in order to become a ward of that Country or will be looking to work illegally.

    Once she wasnt able to tell them where she was going to stay and obviously had very little funds they Denied her entry. Had she simply said Im a tourist and will be at xxxxx Hotel.They would have let her thru, now next time shes heading anywhere in the UK or maybe even the Commonwealth she better have a Hotel res in hand (taht she can CX later that day if she wants) Otherwise she will be simply doing an Immediate turn and will be sent right back. But if I was her Id wait at leasta yr before trying getting into the UK again
     
    jbcarioca, GoodBoy, LETTERBOY and 3 others like this.
  4. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,510
    Likes Received:
    5,767
    Status Points:
    4,170
    http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/general/requirements/
     
    jbcarioca and GoodBoy like this.
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,507
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Any of the above or something else that we won't be able to guess.

    I am sure that US CBP occasionally denies admission to citizens of friendly nations.

    Did your friend get miles for the LHR-SVO-LAX flights? ;) (hey, this is milepoint... someone's gotta ask)
     
  6. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    I asked ... but she didnt sign up for any FF accounts! :( that mad me very sad
     
    Gargoyle, jbcarioca, GoodBoy and 3 others like this.
  7. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    I can see that; but I mean she did goto all those other countries & left w/o an issue. She didn't have an outward bound flight yet because she wasn't sure when she would be leaving. They did ask how much $$$$ she had, and she had about $400 in Korean Won .... + a couple thousand in her bank account; but they werent interested in her bank account, just the cash on hand is what she said.

    Still very strange
     
    jbcarioca and GoodBoy like this.
  8. viguera
    Original Member

    viguera Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    6,913
    Status Points:
    4,745
    Not strange in the least... if she had no plans to leave the country or any solid plans on where she was staying, it would have looked suspicious to me too. Sounds like she was just planning to walk the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu or something, and some countries frown upon visitors without a plan.

    I'm surprised they didn't try to send her back and rather gave her the option to go into the US (perhaps because of her nationality) but I'm not surprised that they denied her entry.

    You yourself could try going into the UK without a return ticket and really sketchy plans about your stay (maybe a hostel, maybe a friend, whatever) and you see what happens. :)
     
  9. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    2,797
    Status Points:
    1,445
    Not that strange. Britain has long had a minimum funds requirement. I'm not sure how enforced it is these days, but it used to be pretty rigorously examined. Back in the day, one trick used to be to "lose" your traveler's checks and get them replaced. Although the "lost" checks could never be used, at border crossings it would make you look like you had a lot more money than you really did.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that Britain is undergoing an Arizona-style "keep them out and throw them out" movement with respect to workers from other parts of Europe so they may have tightened up on people who look likely to try to find work.

    Things to watch out for when entering other countries:

    1. Minimum funds requirement.

    2. In-country address requirement.

    3. Minimum validity of passport requirement (sometimes six months!)

    4. Onward ticket requirement.

    5. No evidence of having visited country X, Y, or Z.

    There's no way to know what tipped the scales in your friend's situation (it could have been something about her travels), but the funds issue alone is enough for her to have been denied entry. And, truthfully, from the sound of it she answered almost every question she was asked in precisely the wrong way to get admitted.
     
    jbcarioca, GoodBoy, LETTERBOY and 6 others like this.
  10. tommy777
    Original Member

    tommy777 Co-founder

    Messages:
    2,674
    Likes Received:
    6,596
    Status Points:
    4,570
    What kind of a friend are you?? ;)
     
    OY-JFS, jbcarioca, GoodBoy and 3 others like this.
  11. viguera
    Original Member

    viguera Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    6,913
    Status Points:
    4,745
    This used to be common for Schengen countries going back years, although I'm not sure if that's still the case. My friend needed a Schengen visa to go to a wedding in Amsterdam and the process was like pulling teeth. Bank account records, hotel/flight reservations plus a ton of questions about where you were staying and why.

    This whole thing happened pretty much within earshot of everyone waiting through a glass partition, and even the answers prompted more questions -- I remember someone was staying near the airport and they asked him why, if there was nothing to see near AMS.
     
    jbcarioca, GoodBoy and iolaire like this.
  12. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    So basically if you're broke don't come to the UK?
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  13. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,510
    Likes Received:
    5,767
    Status Points:
    4,170
    Or come with firm plans, and a ticket to leave?
     
    OY-JFS, jbcarioca, GoodBoy and 2 others like this.
  14. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    2,797
    Status Points:
    1,445
    If you cannot support yourself during your visit, that is correct. That is also the policy of most countries. Many years ago I spent two hours convincing a immigration officer in Jakarta that my credit card was sufficient guarantee that I could be trusted to support myself in Indonesia -- he only gave up when he saw that I was (politely) happy to sit in his office past the end of his shift.

    I'm sorry to say that the answers your friend gave combined with her travel history (working in Australia) made it look mightily like she was going to try to find casual work in the UK.
     
    jbcarioca, GoodBoy, LETTERBOY and 2 others like this.
  15. viguera
    Original Member

    viguera Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    6,913
    Status Points:
    4,745
    Agreed. Like it or not, these people are the doorkeepers to the country, and some of them take their job very seriously -- although some of them exceedingly so. The impression that they get from you affects their attitude and decisions, sometimes more so than the truth.
     
    jbcarioca and LETTERBOY like this.
  16. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    2,797
    Status Points:
    1,445
    And also bear in mind (us Americans here) that few countries treat their visitors with as much suspicion, needless requirements, and cost to visit as our own.
     
    OY-JFS, boondr, jbcarioca and 4 others like this.
  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,507
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    $400 isn't a whole lot if you're going to London and have to buy a ticket to leave the country. And I don't think the immigration officers are interested in validating bank balances.

    That said, no one has ever questioned me about my cash on hand, and I usually don't have a huge amount when I travel to a country where I expect to use ATMs and credit cards. But I always have a ticket out of the country.
     
  18. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    I agree, but then again I never travel with more than $500 in cash. Credit / ATM is always the real source of funds for travel, so just using a cash basis seems strange
     
    travelpye, jbcarioca and GoodBoy like this.
  19. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    2,797
    Status Points:
    1,445
    Did she have a credit card?
     
    jbcarioca and LETTERBOY like this.
  20. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    yeah. & an ATM card. she offered to show them balance/credit limit if she could have access to a computer; she could show them but the declined. I think they already decided she's a no go
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  21. viguera
    Original Member

    viguera Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    6,913
    Status Points:
    4,745
    I'm not sure that it matters though... as someone said before, the immigration officer is not going to check the validity of your bank balances, and they won't be able to know what your credit limit is... :)

    Best they can do is force you to buy a return ticket on the spot, but you can always turn around and cancel that too.
     
    jbcarioca, kyunbit and edekba like this.
  22. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,384
    Likes Received:
    2,797
    Status Points:
    1,445
    Yes, but very few people visiting London are carrying enough cash for their stay. The average cost of a hotel room there is $4,500 a night, and a tube ride is $150!

    In this case, it must have been a combination of factors -- no cash funds, no onward ticket, no pre-booked accommodation, and extended travels including work stops that did it.
     
  23. viguera
    Original Member

    viguera Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,737
    Likes Received:
    6,913
    Status Points:
    4,745
    And don't forget the fact that she told the truth... :)

    Had she said she was staying with a friend at xyz address for 2 weeks then going to San Francisco for her friend's wedding, she probably would have been just fine.
     
    jbcarioca, GoodBoy and edekba like this.
  24. thesterlingtraveler

    thesterlingtraveler Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,197
    Likes Received:
    2,334
    Status Points:
    1,225
    I honestly didn't read most of the responses, but sounds like your friend gave them all the reasons to deny her entry. I gave almost the same responses first time I went to Canada and was almost denied entry. I had a place to stay and return ticket, but at the time I was unemployed and I was questioned for almost 20 minutes. I chalked that up to a lesson learned (tell the truth, but don't blatantly give a reason to deny entry) and your friend should do the same.
     
  25. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,507
    Likes Received:
    20,199
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Yes, which is something I always wonder about when visa applications require an existing reservation. It's not that difficult to cancel that ticket.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.

Share This Page