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Nationals of the United States and six other countries can now use electronic passport control gates when they enter the UK.
People from these countries who don’t already have a visa will automatically be granted entry as a standard visitor for six months, with the usual prohibition on employment and recourse to public funds.
They can also use the e-gates if they already have a visa or a biometric residence permit, including when they first arrive in the UK with a 30-day visa. In the past, anyone arriving on a 30-day visa – a Tier 2 visa for instance – had to get the visa stamped by an Immigration Officer the first time they used it to enter the UK. They needed the visa stamped to be able to collect their biometric residence permit. This is no longer the case. They do not need to get their visa or their passport stamped.
E-gates can be used by adults and by people aged 12 to 17 who are accompanied by an adult. Younger children cannot use e-gates.
These people should queue up at the desks to see an Immigration Officer and get their passport stamped.
The new system will make entry to the UK much quicker for people travelling on business or for tourism.
Business travellers and their employers need to bear in mind that the same restrictions apply to people entering as visitors regardless of whether they are stamped in by an Immigration Officer or use an e-gate. Visitors are not allowed to work or study in the UK except in very limited circumstances. They are also not allowed to live in the UK for extended periods. The Home Office already collects entry and exit data from airlines and other carriers taking people to and from the UK. Anyone using e-gates can also expect to have their movements tracked. If a visitor appears to be spending most of their time in the UK they will run into trouble, whether or not they use e-gates.
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