Cynthia Barker writes…Thank god it’s Friday! Public holiday on Monday, so looking forward to a long weekend, yippee! Not so great for holiday travellers and UK visitors who faced long queues at London Heathrow Airport following a fault on UK Border Force computers today.
International passengers arriving at a number of British airports have reportedly been told they may have to wait of up to four hours to get their passports stamped. Wow, almost as long as USA immigration!
A Home Office spokesman said: "We are currently experiencing temporary IT problems which may add to the time taken to conduct passport checks.
"We are working to rectify this issue and are providing extra staff to get passengers through the controls as quickly as possible. Our priority remains security of the border.
"We apologise for any additional time this adds to passengers' journeys."
Passengers, most non-EU, reported problems at passport border control desks, largely affecting those trying to enter the country. The non-EU line for immigration control is always jammed full of people waiting to enter the UK and this extra delay will make things even worse.
Hundreds of thousands of passengers go through Heathrow every day and this bank holiday weekend will be crazy. Hopefully things will get sorted out soon.
I have spent many hours waiting for migrant nurses, care workers and students to arrive at Heathrow Terminal 3 and 4. The flights from the Philippines nearly always arrived at 6am! And British Airways always landed early.
Although I hated getting up in the middle of the night to go to the airport I knew that those arriving on early flights usually faced fewer hassles, such as medical examinations, and were less likely to be detained.
I dreaded having to pick up that dirty yellow phone on the wall to speak to an immigration officer. Still, we won most of our appeals and none of our nurses got deported back onto the flight home.
Visitors on UK visit visas are not always so lucky. Classic cases are those who arrive on a UK tourist visa from a visa national country, such as the Philippines, Nigeria or India, carrying their CV's and job applications!
Obviously, the immigration border officer will not believe you are a genuine tourist if your real intention is to work illegally or try and switch visas once you are in the UK.
Other problems occur when visitors fail to declare a relationship in the UK, for instance a Fiance, which will also arouse suspicion when the immigration control office searches your luggage only to find a love letter!
Have a great weekend if you are flying off to somewhere nice...if not, have a boring one at home! Ha ha!
If you need advice on any immigration matter, including overstaying your visa, EU or UK immigration law, or want to appeal against a refusal, call Cynthia Barker on 07850 307687 or 0208 731 5972 or email her your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cynthia Barker is a qualified OISC Registered Immigration Adviser, with 15 years experience in immigration matters, with a team of Level 3 Immigration Law Practitioners, Concept Care Solutions, Middlesex House, 29-45 High Street, Edgware, HA8 7UU.