Travel and visa application – entry clearance out of the UK

When applying for any UK visa from outside the UK (i.e. entry clearance application) you usually have to include your original travel document (i.e. your passport) which is kept by the authorities throughout the entire time the visa is processed by the Home Office. However, depending from which country you are submitting your UK visa application, there may be an option to choose an additional service allowing the applicant to keep their passport. There is usually an extra fee for this service but it will allow you to travel.

Processing time for visa applications do vary significantly depending on the visa category, but some may take months to be decided. For example, recently due to the war in Ukraine the spouse and family visa applications are taking in the region of 6 months to receive Home Office decision. That is why having the ability to travel during such a long time is quite important for many applicants.

In country application.

For visa applications submitted from inside the UK, applicants normally need to only submit a digital copy of their travel document/passport. However, it does not mean that those can travel out of the UK whilst their application is waiting for Home Office decision. It is quite the opposite.

With an in country application the applicants must remain in the UK until the Home Office makes decision on the application. This is stipulated in the immigration rules. If you decide to travel outside the UK during the processing time, your application is considered as withdrawn.

In the Home Office Guidance ‘Variation, Validation and Withdrawal of Applications’ it states: ‘If a person travels outside the common travel area (CTA) before a decision is made on their application for leave to remain, you must treat the application as withdrawn on the date they leave the CTA. This is set out in paragraph 34K of the Immigration Rules. If biometrics have already been submitted you must not refund the application fee but any IHS must be refunded. For guidance on when the full fee must be returned see the Immigration and Nationality refunds guidance.The CTA includes the: UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.’