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Immigration Queues at Heathrow Border Control

This is an old blog post from our team at Westkin. Take a look at our blog to read some more recent updates.

Why are there horrendous queues at Heathrow’s Border Control?

News reports confirming that there have been consistent 45 min delays for those seeking to pass through immigration control at Heathrow Airport have been numerous. Whilst the outrage has been widespread, there has not been any explanation as to why the queues are so long.

The reasons are varied and some are obvious, some less so. Failure to provide enough staff to man desks is always a recipe for inefficiency. Immigration lawyers and solicitors are aware however of greater issues which have lead to the delays, some which are not immediately obvious from media coverage.

Most people entering the UK will require prior immigration permission in the form of a visa. These visas are granted by the British embassies and High Commissions around the world. You would expect that immigration officials, following immigration law, would check and interview all visa applicants to ensure they were entitled before they flew to the UK.

These officials, known as Entry Clearance Officers, now, amazingly, do not interview applicants. A business person suggesting that he has a good level of English , does now not need to do anything than provide a certificate, and of course abuse can be rife.

In a real sense, the first time anyone from the immigration authorities actually sees an applicant face to face is when they present themselves at Immigration control at airports like Heathrow.

Immigration lawyers are well aware of this and advise applicants to have a full collection of evidence when they travel to the United Kingdom, even if they have the visa previously granted.

Immigration officers at Heathrow are therefore now primed to ensure that those visa holders are entitled under Immigration Law to enter – hence a standard document and visa check moves in to a detailed Immigration application, hence delays.

A decision to reduce resources around the world has simply pushed the pressure onto the airports, Heathrow in particular.

The UKBA forgot that a stich in time saves nine.

Westkin Associates


5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

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