Which Queue For You?


Which line should be used if a person has entry clearance or a leave to remain stamp (aka a visa or a residence permit)? We are frequently asked by bi-national families which queue they should join upon arrival in the UK. Many families are travelling with small, tired children and do not want to split apart and have to find each other after clearing immigration. We have created this advisory in order to help those worried families better understand the accepted practices of the entry clearance staff at the UK ports of entry (ie airports, train stations, ferry ports, etc). According to information received by the advocacy team, individuals who are travelling with EU or British family members are allowed in the EU/British nationals line when passing through passport control checkpoints upon entering the United Kingdom. It is understood that the family member must be carrying valid entry clearance or a leave to remain stamp (aka a visa or residence permit) to go through the EU/British passports section. Two exceptions may apply. One exception is if the line is extremely long, the officials may request that non-EU or British citizens enter through the ‘other passports’ section. The other is if the person carrying the entry clearance or leave to remain stamp cannot be processed quickly and may impede the flow through the EU/British passports line. If the entry clearance officer has in depth questions or the case does not seem straightforward to the officer at the desk, the person will be asked to wait until all straight forward, EU and British citizens have passed through. This may occur if the circumstances regarding the person’s entry clearance or leave to remain stamp have changed.* Those who do not carry entry clearance or a leave to remain stamp (aka residence permit or visa) should go to the ‘other passports’ line upon entry even if they are relatives to an EU or UK citizen. If the person is carrying entry clearance (aka a visa from the British consulates), and it is their first time using this entry clearance, that person is asked to use the ‘other passports’ line, or if he or she does use the EU/British passports line, s/he will be asked to step aside until all other entrants have been cleared through. Anyone with a leave to remain stamp or entry clearance who is not with their EU or British family member is asked not to enter the EU/British passport line at airports or any other ports of entry. All ports of entry operate using the same standards regardless if a person enters using Eurotunnel, Eurostar, a ferry and enter with a car or any other first point of entry into the United Kingdom. A person entering the UK may only go through immigration entry lines at the Republic of Ireland if that person is entering Ireland before proceeding on to the UK. If entering from the Republic of Ireland, we suggest reading our advisory about entering the UK from the Republic of Ireland. *If a person’s circumstances have changed, this enquiries page gives the person an address to write requesting information that may be important if he or she is planning to leave and re-enter the country. Also, any person not informing the government of the change in their status may have committed an offence and face removal from the UK.

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