On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus will be travelling around the world to deliver presents. Many know him as the man of many elves, holiday cheer and toys. However there is a side to Santa that is lesser known; the outlaw.

Puzzled? Well think of this, he is able to fly to many international borders across the entire world. Does he have the appropriate visas to enter the various countries he visits?

Well, entering the UK on Christmas Eve may prove tricky, depending on where we consider Santa to be a national of. For example, some say he is Finnish, others say he is from Greece, whilst others say he is from Canada. Where do you think he is from? Remember, the North Pole is under the sea and not a part of any country!

Having a valid visa will allow Santa permission to enter the country. It’s different from a work permit, which would give him permission to work once he arrives. If Santa is not a citizen of one of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, he may need a visa to travel here. However if Santa is from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, he can work in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without a work permit. Nevertheless, simply being from Europe still doesn’t make it easy. For example, if he is from Bulgaria or Romania he will still need permission to work in the UK.

  • If his country has joined the EU, he may need to register to start work
  • If he is from Bulgaria or Romania, he may need to apply for permission before he can start to work – see below.

European Community law allows a person to live in the UK if they are an EEA citizen working here or if they have enough money to support themselves without public funds. They will normally have to register under the Worker Registration Scheme if they wish to work for more than one month and are a citizen of:

  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia.

They do not need to register if they:

  • Are self-employed (but they must contact HM Revenue & Customs immediately to register for tax)
  • Have been working legally in the UK for 12 months without a break in employment
  • Are providing services in the UK on behalf of an employer who’s not established in this country
  • Have dual citizenship of the UK, with another country within the EEA not listed above (or Switzerland)
  • Are related to a Swiss or EEA citizen (except the countries above) who’s working in the UK
  • Are related to a Swiss or EEA citizen living in the UK as a student, or as a retired or self-sufficient person.

Well in Santa’s case he is only coming through to work for one night and not a month!

If he’s not from the EEA, he must still get a permit to work in the UK. This will depend on the type of work he is doing. In Santa’s case, delivering presents. Well, what will be the Standard Occupational Code applicable for his job? He is unlikely to meet the required standard, I imagine. A further issue is that Santa will require sponsorship from a UK-based employer so he will need to have secured a suitable job and sponsorship before applying for the UK work visa. UK work visas are not currently available for casual or low-skilled employment, so it is not possible to enter the UK on another type of visa and take up casual, temporary or low-skilled work.

If Santa is coming to the UK to join family members or to study, he may be entitled to work.

Santa may have even considered use of a Standard Visitor Visa which replaced a number of previous visitor visa’s such as the Business Visitor Visa and the Prospective Entrepreneur Visa. This type of visa is issued outside the UK to non-EEA citizens who are subject to immigration control, and he will still require a visa to enter the UK. Under this visa, Santa will be required to comply with specific visa conditions during his stay and should he decide to breach these conditions then he will face problems. Under this visa he will be allowed to stay for up to six months with multiple re-entries during this time. These types of visas are determined on their own merit, based on the individual circumstances of the employee and the nature, duration, purpose and more, of their visit to the UK. For example the visa application will have to demonstrate that they will be undertaking permissible business activity during their stay which could include activities such as buying or selling goods or services, promotional activities, negotiating or signing deals or contracts, attending meetings, events or conferences. They will also have to demonstrate that they will not stay for more than six months and that they intend to leave the country at the end of their stay. Applicants will also have to show that they can fund themselves, and any dependents without recourse to public funds. These applications are not the simplest and therefore, Santa should seek advice in order for a specialist to prepare and submit the application on his behalf.

Well Santa, Christmas Eve is a few days away, and the question is have you considered your immigration status fully and will you be necessarily compliant to enter the UK to deliver your presents?

How can we help you…and Santa?

Whilst Santa may rely on his own special magic to get through his immigration compliance. The issues he might face serve to underline the complexities more mere mortals need to comply with.

If you, your employees or contacts need help with complex immigration compliance, we would be delighted to provide practical / commercial advice.

At Lupton Fawcett we provide support across a range of immigration services. The work we undertake in respect to immigration is done on a fixed fee basis which is highly competitive. Please contact Arif Khalfe to discuss your immigration enquiries further.

Whatever you do for Christmas, have an enjoyable and safe time.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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