Visa Applications May Be Deemed Withdrawn Because Of Travel

Immigration attorneys frequently inform their clients in the UK that leaving the Common Travel Area (CTA) while an application is still pending will cause the application to be classed as withdrawn. Immigration attorneys frequently inform their clients that entering the UK while a request for entrance clearance is pending could, in some cases, be problematic. This article examines your travel capabilities and the significance of geography to your application.

Does It Still Matter Where You Were When You Submitted Your Application?

An applicant has to physically hand up their passport when submitting an application to the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) over the mail or in person at a public inquiry office. The impossibility of getting the passport back led to the majority of the problems associated with overseas travel being overcome. The question of where an applicant is and when it occurs seems to take on more of a technical character than a practical one in light of applicants keeping their passports and the digitization of some application processes.

Immigration consultants frequently start by considering the applicant’s physical location at the time the application is submitted.

When someone requests permission to stay using the UK Immigration: ID Check app, it is frequently assumed that the technology is not as smart as to figure out their present location if they submit while outside the UK. Yet any permission given would be categorically wrongly provided in accordance with immigration laws (for example for Skilled Worker applications, see Rule SW1.5).

Most of the time, EEA nationals applying using the app outside of the UK must do so in a nation where they are legally residing (see paragraph 28 of the immigration rules). Yet, the application might also be unlikely to encounter a difficulty if they happen to be on vacation someplace else in the world (or even in the UK, some speculate).

It is a requirement for those who apply in the UK that they remain in the country until their application has been decided. It is upsetting and difficult to witness applicants fight for UKVI to expedite their applications under really sympathetic and compelling circumstances so that they can leave the country quickly for a family emergency.

Applying From Abroad And Arriving In The UK

While their immigration applications are pending, non-visa nationalities can enter the UK as a visitor, for example (subject to meeting the visitor rules). Yet, due to the rigid procedural requirements of present law, these persons must depart the UK and return at the beginning of their visa. To ‘activate’ their new status, this is in effect. This still applies even if they have an eVisa rather than a passport vignette.

Application In The UK And Subsequent Travel

Before to recent adjustments, it was not quite clear whether the restriction on travel outside the CTA began to apply at the time an online application was submitted or at the time an applicant attended a biometric appointment.

This was clarified by the amendments made under paragraph 34K of the immigration regulations on October 6, 2021. Anybody applying in-country should refrain from leaving the CTA as soon as they complete their online application. Validity, variation, voiding, and withdrawal of applications: UKVI Caseworker Guidance confirms:

If an applicant has applied for permission to stay and travels outside the [CTA] before a decision has been made on their application, you must treat the application as withdrawn on the date the applicant left the CTA.

The need that applicants not travel while their application is ongoing is rather obvious. Nonetheless, the immigration system has shown to be more lenient in practise when it comes to the application of the regulation.

Travel Dangers In The UK Following Submittal

An application is rarely treated as withdrawn by UKVI because of someone’s travel outside the CTA. At times, it seems as though UKVI is barely enforcing the law at all. Because of someone’s journey outside of the UK, their systems are currently not sufficiently effective to treat applications as withdrawn automatically. Yet given that the Home Office has begun carrying out plans for a border that is entirely digital, that may alter now.

In the interim, difficulties seem to have only occasionally emerged when a candidate had to speak with an immigration officer upon returning to the UK. It makes sense that individuals with visas who depart the Country are more likely to run into issues. The actual dangers of having their application deemed withdrawn appear to be minimal for those who fly back after receiving a decision on their application, enter through the eGates with legal authorization, and are extending their permit.

Permission granted even after someone has left the UK while the application was pending appears to be without controversy.

Of course, even though they are less likely now, horror scenarios are still conceivable. Many outcomes are possible if a person departs the UK and UKVI learns that they were travelling while their application was still pending. They could not be permitted to enter the UK again if they are a visa-national. If they come from a country where a visa is not required, they would enter the UK as visitors and might violate visiting restrictions by, for instance, going back to work. Future applications may, at some point, also be impacted by the violation or time spent as a guest in the UK.


The discrepancy between UKVI’s procedures and the laws has widened considerably in recent months. Although while the catastrophic repercussions feared by applicants and counsellors may frequently be more theoretical than practical, applicants must comply with the law, which is remarkably clear in what it demands. Some of the more nonsensical requirements may be dropped as the UK implements its digital border ambitions.

Need Help?

Here at Law Lane Solicitors, we have the experience and expertise to advise you on Immigration and Visa Applications. If you would like to speak to one of our specialists, then please call us on 0207 870 4870 today.

Written by:

Tahir Shahab Khan

Managing Director