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What is Leave to Enter?

Leave to enter is the permission given to a person travelling to the UK by an immigration entry clearance officer to enter and remain in the UK. You must have leave to enter if you are travelling to the UK and you are not a British citizen, an Irish citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen with the right of abode in the UK.

Leave to enter differs slightly from indefinite leave to enter UK. Leave to enter is typically granted for a certain amount of time (i.e. it has an expiry date), whereas indefinite leave to enter (ILE) and indefinite leave to remain (ILR) do not have time restrictions (or they may be set to expire at the same time as the holder’s passport).

Leave to enter may be granted on the basis of a successful immigration application (e.g., a visa) made outside the UK or on arrival at the border. You may not require leave to enter before you travel to the UK if you are coming as a visitor for 6 months or less.

If you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months, you will most likely require entry clearance before travelling to the UK. For example, if you are travelling to the UK to work, study, or for business for more than 6 months, you will need leave to enter before you arrive in the form of a visa. Your leave to enter will then be activated on arrival at the UK border.

Leave to Enter vs Leave to remain

Leave to enter is required by non-British/Irish citizens travelling to the UK from another country. Limited leave to remain UK, on the other hand, provides visa holders already present in the UK with the right to remain until their permit expires.

For example, if you intend to join your spouse in the UK and make a successful visa application from outside the UK, you will be granted leave to enter as a spouse, allowing you to pass through the border and stay in the UK. If you are already present in the UK and make a successful UK Spouse visa application, you will be granted leave to remain for the duration of your visa.

What if your Leave to Enter is refused?

Leave to enter may be refused for a wide range of reasons, including:

  • If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for the visa you apply for
  • If your presence in the UK is deemed not conducive to the public good on the grounds of:
    • Serious criminality
    • Posing a threat to national security – e.g., terrorism
    • Extremist or other unacceptable behaviour
    • Previous breaches of the immigration rules – e.g., overstaying visa in the UK
  • Providing false or misleading information in your application

If your leave to enter is refused, you may have a range of options available, including an administrative review, a UK visa appeal (if your application was made under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights), submitting a fresh application, and/or a judicial review.

The options available to you will depend on the exact circumstances of your case and the reasons for refusal. Get in touch with our immigration solicitors for a telephone consultation at 020 3744 2797 or email info@reissedwards.co.uk.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Reiss Edwards specialises in all aspects of and leave to enter applications. Our friendly and experienced immigration solicitors can:

  • Check your eligibility for UK leave to enter
  • Handle your application for a UK leave to enter on your behalf
  • Handle the refusal of UK leave to enter, whether your application was made outside the UK or inside the UK
  • Advise how to gain leave to enter outside the rules
  • Advise what to do if your leave to enter has expired

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O.L

Reiss Edwards is absolutely amazing. As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that they know their stuff, gentle, responsive, care about you and not just about the money, very professional.

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Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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