In this four-part blog, we will look at the legal requirements and changes for visiting the UK and the EU (as a third country national and a UK national) as a result of Brexit, as well as update on the European Travel Information Authorization System for future travels.
The UK’s post-Brexit transition period ends by 11pm on December 31st, 2020, leaving questions about the potential effect on third-country travelers to the UK or to one of its many associated countries and territories. In this first blog, we will provide an overview of the UK’s jurisdiction over immigration matters of the territories and countries in its orbits. In practical terms, if you were to visit one the UK’s territories and associated Commonwealth countries, this blog lets you know where you should go to apply for your visa (if you are not visa-exempt).
The United Kingdom: Officially named the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it consists of Northern Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland, with the latter three regions located on the British island, and Northern Ireland located on the northeastern portion of the Irish island.
The UK is responsible for the foreign and immigration affairs of all of these regions (except Ireland), which means that the UK’s Home Office is where you need to apply for your visa.
Crown Dependencies: The Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man (“Dependencies”) are self-governing possessions of The Crown. They are not a part of the EU and have their own legal systems, assemblies, and courts of law. However, in areas of foreign affairs and immigration, they rely on the UK. The UK’s Immigration Act of 1971 integrates these dependencies and makes their immigration requirements similar to those of the UK. When you visit these territories and need a visa to do so, you must apply through the UK’s Home Office, and select the proper Crown Dependency destination. Since there is no internal border check point between the Dependencies and the UK, you may also travel freely among the UK and its Dependencies once you have been permitted to enter one of them.
British overseas territories: Being born on one of the following territories before a certain date, or by having a qualifying relationship with someone born in these territories before the date, allows the residents to avail to British citizenship. These territories span all major parts of the ocean – Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific. They consist of Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territories, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Eono Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and Turks and Caicos.
Current British Overseas Territories are not a part of the UK and generally are self-governing. In immigration matters, the UK’s Home Office provides visa processing only to Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, and Turks and Caicos. You would apply for a visa to these areas the same way you would for the UK, however, you must select “Overseas Territories & Commonwealth” on your application form. The rest of the territories require you to apply directly on arrival or prior to arrival by various means, such as online or by email. For instance, you will have a 14-day visa-free period to visit the Pitcairn regardless of your nationality, and can apply for long-stay once you have reached the island.
Common wealth nations: The Commonwealth nations is an association of 54 sovereign countries that were formally part of the British empire, but gained independence peacefully, and retain Queen Elizabeth as a Head of the Commonwealth. Members of the Commonwealth includes Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, and Zambia.
Of these Commonwealth countries, the UK Home Office provides visa services only for the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago (where these countries do not have a local Embassy, Diplomatic Post or visa acceptance center). If you need a visa, you can select “Overseas Territories & Commonwealth” on the UK’s online visa application portal. For the rest of the countries, you will need to apply directly with the country through their diplomatic posts abroad.
For additional support on applying for visas post-Brexit, please consider registering to our Visa Adviser App to get both a do-it-yourself guide as well as hands-on support from a visa consultant. There you will also get information such as the latest travel advisory, real-time currencies, relevant travel forms, and vaccination information.