ePassport gates, which were previously only open to UK and EEA nationals, have been expanded to allow travellers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and United states to use the gates.
Although this provides a faster route through the border, it has caused issues for some travellers who are not granted the correct leave, or who arrive earlier than their Entry Clearance allows.
Who can use the eGates?
It is possible for a person to use an eGate if they:
- have a biometric symbol on the cover of their passport;
- are aged 12 or older (those aged 12 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult); and
- a British citizen
- a national of:
- an EU country
- New Zealand
- South Korea
What leave is granted when non-EEA nationals use an eGate?
When a traveller from one of the eligible countries uses an eGate and does not already hold Entry Clearance in advance of arrival, visitor status is automatically granted. This will allow the individual to undertake activities permitted on a Standard Visit Visa for a maximum of 6 months. For a full list of permitted activities please refer to Appendix V of the immigration rules.
When entering using an eGate as a visitor for up to 6 months, a vignette/stamp is not obtained in the passport.
Who is unable to use eGates?
Travellers who are coming to the UK to undertake the following activities are not permitted to use the eGates and should see a Border Force officer:
- short-term students (for up to six months) or
- holders of Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Certificate of Sponsorship (up to 3 months) or
- those due to undertake a Permitted Paid Engagement
- family members of an EEA national seeking to join them in the UK
All other non-EEA travellers who are not from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and United states.
Travellers who hold Entry Clearance before arriving in the UK
Should the individual arrive before the Entry Clearance start date and an eGate is used, visitor status will be automatically granted. In order for the Entry Clearance leave to take effect, the individual must arrive within its validity.
Where an individual arrives early and visitor status has been granted, they must leave the UK and re-enter on or after the Entry Clearance start date for the correct leave to be valid. If the individual does not leave the UK and return on or after the Entry Clearance start date, they will not have the permission to work or undertake activities outside those permitted as a visitor.
Additional documentation to evidence right to work in the UK
At present, the Home Office have not offered legislative changes to manage the issue of travellers obtaining the incorrect Entry Clearance as a result of using eGates. Until such time, employers are required to obtain additional evidence to ensure the individual arrived within the validity of the Entry Clearance.
When presented a passsport without an entry stamp, evidence of the date of travel must also be taken such as a travel ticket or boarding pass.
More detailed information can be found here.
Home Office guidance: