Introduction to Immigration Law

Introduction to Immigration Law

  • The Immigration law principally deals with an individual’s ability to live, work and enjoy family life in the United Kingdom. That includes work permits, limited and indefinite leave to remain, citizenship, entry clearances, work visas, business visas, and many more.
  • The main legislation which deals with Immigration law is the Immigration Act 1971.
  • However, the Secretary of Home Office/State has been given discretion as to who, in appropriate circumstances and cases, may depart from the rules of the Immigration Act 1971.


Home office

  • The Home Secretary leads the Home Office. He/she is the person who makes the Immigration rules, appoints immigration officers and orders specific decisions such as deportation or removal or banning the entry of someone to enter the United Kingdom.

The Immigration Service

  • The UK Immigration Service is made up of immigration officers and immigration inspectors who are appointed by the Home Secretary and they are responsible for immigration in UK, control on entry to the UK. One would normally see them at ports and airports.

UK Visas and Immigration Service

  • UK Visas and Immigration Service is a department within the Home Office and is responsible for managing border control and it enforces immigration UK and customs It also considers applications for permission to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, Citizenship and Asylum.

The Identity and Passport Service

This department deals with issuing passports and is also part of the Home Office.

International Groups

They operate visa offices around the world. They are part of the Home Office and they are manned by Entry Clearance Officers. There are located in 250 locations around the world. The International Group has offices in Dubai and Mumbai, Delhi and Lagos etc. who deal with the applications on entry clearance.

The Immigration Service

Right of Abode

The right of abode allows a citizen to live, work and enjoy family and private life in the United Kingdom. Such a person is free to return back from anywhere irrespective of his absence from the country. The person is free from Immigration controls.

  • Ali acquired his citizenship in 2011, he now holds a permanent right of Abode. He left the UK in 2013 to live and work in the USA, now he plans to return back to the UK. Ali is free to return whenever he wants through any airport or port, however, he must hold a valid British Passport to do so.

Entry Clearance, leave to enter and leave to remain in the UK

Immigration to UK controls are exercised at the following three points:

  • Before a person travels to the United Kingdom. This is referred to as Entry Clearance.
  • On arrival in the United Kingdom at the airport or other port of entry. The process is referred to as Leave to Enter and everybody who is subject to immigration control or who does not hold British Citizenship must obtain permission to enter the UK on his/her FIRST ARRIVAL.
  • After arrival, if an extension is obtained or granted then this is referred to as Leave to Remain.

Visa Nationals

  • A visa national is a person who must always obtain an entry clearance well in advance of traveling to the United Kingdom irrespective of his/her purpose.
  • A visa national must obtain entry clearance from the British High Commission in his home country before traveling.
  • It is important to know that upon arrival at any port of the United Kingdom the visa national has to satisfy the immigration officer to obtain leave to enter the UK.
  • An immigration officer may refuse entry into the United Kingdom if he is not satisfied.
  • The list of Visa National countries can be found on the Home Office’s website.
  • In most countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana, etc, their nationals are visa nationals.

Sri Ram is an Indian national. If Sri Ram wishes to visit UK He will be treated as a visa national as well. 

  1. He must get an Entry Clearance Visa from the British High Commission in India and
  2. Upon arrival in the UK, Sri Ram must satisfy and convince the immigration officer that he is entering as a genuine visitor, student or worker.

Non-Visa Nationals

  • These are the person who does not need an entry clearance visa from the British High Commission in their country before they travel to the United Kingdom.
  • A Non-Visa national can stay up to 6 months as a visitor
  • Any longer stay would require an entry clearance like visa nationals from the British High Commission in their home country.
  • However, upon arrival, a non-visa national have to satisfy has to that he/she is a genuine visitor.
  • The list of countries whose citizens are non-visa nationals can be found on the Home Office’s website.

John is an American national who would like to visit the United Kingdom.

1.He does not need any entry clearance.

2. However, upon arrival in the UK, John has to satisfy and convince the immigration officer that he is entering as a genuine visitor.

3. If John intends to stay longer than 6 months, he has to obtain entry clearance from the British High Commission in the USA.

Settled Status

A person is referred to have a settler status if he/she holds an unconditional leave to remain, permanent stay, indefinite leave to remain and settlement.


It is important to know that Such Settled Person does not have the right to abode, which means that he can be deported, and his re-entry into the United Kingdom will be subject to Immigration Control. He/she would need to satisfy the immigration officer and obtain leave to enter on the basis that he is returning to reside again.

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legallex does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.

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