Arriving outside of the dates on your UK Visa Entry Vignette (Sticker inside your passport!)

Have you arrived before the valid from date on your vignette sticker or after the valid to date? Does this mean your visa is not active? Can you start work? What steps you can take to ensure you are working in the UK legally?

Even without the disruption of Covid many of our BritBounders have, for a myriad of reasons, arrived outside of the ‘valid to and from’ dates on their entry vignette. The entry vignette is the piece of paper that was stuck in your passport following your UK visa application.

Trying to get to the bottom of this has been challenging to say the least, no written document seems to exist that definitively answers exactly what your situation is should you be one of these people. What we do know, so breathe out, is that if your employer checks your legal status, then it will show you are here on the correct working visa. So, the issue is primarily around border control and what happens at the point of entry to the UK.

So, following pointless phonecalls and e-mails to the UKVI, don’t even get me started on the quality or lack of answers, even after being forced to pay for the UKVIS services, which seem to have been outsourced to a call centre in Asia. Which means that you not only feel that you are speaking to someone who has absolutely no desire to help, even if their life depended on it, but seems to have no more answers than you, as you here them searching the Government website for an answer! Even if you do reach someone in the UK, don’t think you will have a different experience. I don’t know what the criteria is to land a role at the UKVI help centre but being friendly, helpful and knowledgeable certainly aren’t among them! Sorry, whinge over! I clearly spend far too long making enquiries!

After so many dead ends and being passed pillar to post, I decided to raise a Freedom of Information request, but this enquiry not been responded to yet (a situation that is getting quite familiar to me now!). So, I can only pass on now what I’ve pieced together from my telephonic research and enquiries. Unfortunately, I cannot direct you to the source material online…because frustratingly….IT DOES NOT APPEAR TO EXIST! Well at least I feel I have exhausted every asset on the .Gov.uk website. But if you do find something (ideally on the .gov.uk website) then please, please share it with me!

Your legal status in the UK - What I believe your situation is.

As far as your right to work and legal status is concerned: As you have not entered within the arrival window allocated, and assuming you came through the e-gates, then I understand (following numerous conversations!), that the system marks your entry to the UK as a tourist. Basically, the system (apparently) looks for a valid active visa and if one does not exist then it defaults you to a tourist visa, provided you are from a country where there is no application requirement for a tourist visa and as such is granted automatically. Where it marks this status, I do not really know, because surely if your passport number be looked up then it would show that you have a visa. But hopefully I will hear back from the UKVI and this will be answered!

This means that whilst you can still enter and collect your BRP, (which is your evidence of the right to live and work in the UK), Border Force (who manage our borders), 'could' come looking for you after 6 months, as technically at that point you would be flagged as being an ‘overstayer’. This is all hypothetical because there is no information or evidence for me to back this up. Though if you have any GET IN TOUCH, I NEED IT!

In the absence of any other guidance out there, my advice would therefore be to fly out of the UK at your earliest convenience and really within the 6-month period to re-enter and enable the system to update your status correctly.

How it does this, and whether you will be asked to speak to an immigration officer in person to explain your situation, I cannot tell you. But if you have any experience to share then I’d truly love to hear from you.

What I still am not clear on is whether the outcome is any different if you arrive after your entry vignette has expired. So this is something I hope to one day get to the bottom of.

Lastly, I just want to say that your BRP is not ‘inactive or void’ because you have arrived outside of your entry vignette dates.

As far as your employer is concerned:

So, from an employer point of view things are less complicated. Because provided you have your BRP then they can use a system to establish your legal status here, and will see that you have a working visa.

What I would not advise doing is confusing them with the situation surrounding your airport entry and your vignette issues! An employer is required by law (I believe) to cite your BRP and it is your BRP that proves your ability to work in the UK.

To do this you should first go to: https://www.gov.uk/employee-im... you will need your BRP number.

Then this will show this.

Your employer can then go here - but only once you have given them the permission to do so. https://www.gov.uk/employee-im...

If you have not yet arrived here but know you are outside of your vignette validity dates, then it is best to just apply for a new vignette, also called a transfer of conditions. It will be easier in the long run than trying to find out whether you can legally arrive outside of the valid to and from dates, read more about this here.

Questions?

If you have any questions that are not answered by the above, which to be fair is really my interpretation of what I have found out, then feel free to get in touch. info@britbound.co.uk