Arriving at the UK border

What you need to know before arriving at the UK border

Receiving stamp in passport by border control officer

Individuals must normally attend a staffed immigration desk and either present entry vignette in their passport (visa nationals) or their supporting documents (non-visa nationals). 

Visitors falling under one of the listed points below will also need to see an Immigration officer: 

  • Visiting under the Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) These visitors require a specific one month grant of leave, which has to be given by an immigration officer in the form of a stamp. Without this stamp the visitor will be unable to evidence they can undertake the permitted paid activity.
  • Short Term Studentscoming for up to 6 months
  • Visitors travelling with children under the age of 12
  • Visitors who do not hold a passport with a biometric chip

Using the eGates

Visitors (including Business and Academic visitors) coming for less than 6 months from EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America can use the automated eGates on arrival into the UK, free of charge. The eGates are available at 15 major airports and Eurostar terminals across the UK. 

The visitors will no longer complete a landing card or receive an entry stamp in their passport from an immigration officer.

Departments, faculty and colleges should continue to issue the appropriate invitation letter ahead of the individuals visit and undertake an immigration status check upon their arrival to Oxford. For these nationals this will result in holding a copy of their passport details page only, as there will be no stamp, and a copy of the invitation letter on file for the duration of their visit.



Application Process

Visa Nationals

All Academics visiting for 6+ months

Over 100 counties including China, India, Pakistan, Turkey.

Full visa national list under Appendix V

Must apply in advance to enter the UK.

Non Visa Nationals

Nationals not listed on Appendix V above.

Immigration Officer provides entry stamp upon arrival to UK

Non Visa Nationals using eGate

*Cannot be used for the PPE route

Nationals from the following countries: 
EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and USA

Not seen by an Immigration Officer and will not receive an entry stamp in their passport

Visitor Visa

There are many types of visitor routes which depend on the purpose of the visit:



Standard Visitor visa

  • The maximum length of stay is 6 months;
  • Genuine intention to visit:
  • Prohibited activities:
    • do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person
    • claim public funds (benefits)
    • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits
    • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership - you’ll need to apply for a Marriage Visitor visa
    • Marriage Visitor visa instead

Family Visa

This visa is for people who have family members working and residing in the United Kingdom and want to join them as their dependents for more than six months. You may be eligible for a UK family visa if you want to live with your spouse or partner, child, parent, or relative who will look after you long-term.

Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) visit

·         You may be able to visit the UK for a paid engagement if you’ve been invited as an expert in your profession by a UK-based organisation or client.

You can visit the UK for up to 1 month. You cannot extend your stay in the UK.

·         You can be invited and paid by a UK-based organisation or client:

    • as a professional artist, entertainer or musician
    • as a professional sportsperson
    • as a qualified lawyer - to represent a client
    • to give a lecture or series of lectures
    • as an academic - to be a student examiner or assessor
    • as an air pilot examiner

·         You cannot:

    • do paid work unrelated to your main overseas job or area of expertise
    • study
    • live in the UK for extended periods
    • claim public funds (benefits)
    • pass through the UK to another country (‘in transit’)
    • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership - you’ll need to apply for a Marriage Visitor visa
  • You may not have to apply for a visa. What you need to do depends on your nationality.


All visa types can be found on the government website, along with eligibility, fees, and other necessary information.

You can check if you need visa to enter the UK on the Government website.

Long-term Visitor Visas

If you need to visit the UK regularly, you can apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa. This can last for 2, 5 or 10 years if you need to visit the UK regularly over a long period. You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you are applying for and pay the UK application fee.

Guidance can be found on the UK Government page.


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