Over the last few months, we have worked on several cases involving Ghanaians who are visiting the UK having been detained at Heathrow Airport, sometimes having their visas cancelled, detained and served with removal directions—to be ‘deported’ to Ghana.
It’s sad and expensive to have paid the fees and qualify for a UK visa and to have bought a plane ticket only to land at Heathrow Airport and be returned to Ghana because of certain avoidable ‘mistakes.’
The circumstances and stories are not the same but there is always a common denominator. And in almost every case that we have dealt with as legal experts specializing in UK Immigration Law, the distressed clients facing removal after the cancellation of their leave to enter seem to have wrongly thought that once they had a UK visa in their hands, they were good to enter the UK.
To explain things in simple terms: a UK visa only allows you to travel to your port of entry. Once you get to the port, be it Heathrow Airport or Gatwick, a UK Border Force officer may decide to question you in relation to your visit to the UK.
While this questioning at the port of entry may seem informal, it’s an important process which finally determines whether you would be granted entry into the UK or not. A lot of people have been denied entry in recent months because they have given lousy answers or have said things which contradict the information they provided during their visa application.
This is the UK—everything you will say during a visa application or interview is recorded and provided to the appropriate bodies that should have access. A lot of people visiting the UK seem to think the UK Border Force hold no information about them even when they have provided a lot of information on their visa application.
The fact is, whatever you say on your visa application is accessible by the officers at the Airport and when questioned, any huge contradiction would lead to further questions and if the officers “smell” lies, they can detain you, cancel your visa and remove you from the UK.
If you said on your visa application that you have £1000 available for your 1-week trip to the UK based on which you have been issued a visa and you turn up to Heathrow with only £400 on you as your available funds for the duration of your visit, this may seem like nothing.
But per Appendix V: Immigration Rules for Visitors: V 9.2, an already granted visa or leave to enter the UK may be cancelled if an officer at the port is satisfied that there has been a change in the circumstance based on which the visa or leave was granted. This is what a lot of Ghanaians seem not to know and therefore continue to make mistakes leading to cancellations of their visas and removals.
Similarly, if you state on your visa application that you do not know anyone or do not have a family in the UK and you are granted a visa based on such information, and it turns out to be a lie because it becomes clear during the Border Force’s questioning that you have friends and family in the UK, your visa will be cancelled, you will be detained and then be removed from the UK.
Of course, certain people make genuine mistakes during the UK Border Force questioning, sometimes caused by duress. Others are also sometimes unable to explain certain issues better to the Border Officers, leading to wrong decisions to cancel their visas, followed by removals.
If UK Border Force officers unfairly or wrongly detain a person, cancel a visa, remove or sought to remove a person from the UK, that’s when such a person will need a competent Immigration Lawyer to come to his or her aid to challenge the unfair decision.
Any challenge to a visa cancellation or removal decision must be swiftly made as most of the removals happen within 24-48 hours. Therefore, the moment a person realizes that he or she is facing detention at the Airport, the first prudent thing to do is to call a specialized Immigration lawyer familiar with such cases.
From making legal representation to the Home Office to filing urgent Judicial Review applications at the court, we’ve been able to stop decisions or removals that have been deemed unfair or unjust.
The UK court has the power to make an order to quash the Secretary of State (Home Office) decision to cancel a visa or remove the bearer from the UK when it is satisfied that the Secretary of State’s decision is not in accordance with the law.