Do I Need UK Transit Visa – USA to India with Expired H1B and Valid B Visa

Raghuram Sukumar Travel 17 Comments

I have one question for you regarding my travel from US to India via UK. I am traveling from Seattle to India in coming month on British Airways. I have H1B, recently I got H1B extension but my visa stamping is pending I am planning to do it in India during this trip.  So currently I don’t have valid US visa stamping on my passport.

I want to know while traveling from US to India is there any issue because of this ? I googled about it and there are many threads saying British airways will not allow you to board the flight. In addition to H1B I also have valid B1/B2 visa does this will help.

I’m an Indian national residing in the United States. I was scheduled to fly from Houston to Mumbai on British Airways recently. My itinerary involved a short stopover in London.

Summary of your situation

  • Do I need transit visa for UK while traveling to from USA to India with expired H1B visa but valid B visa or how to avoid transit visa to UK from USA?

To know if you need Transit Visa to UK, you can fill-out the following form located at this site.

do I need uk transit visa

You get the following answer when you submit the above form

If you are coming to the UK briefly as part of your journey to another country, you will generally need to obtain a UK visa before you travel.

  • If you will arrive on a flight, remain in the arrival lounge of the airport without passing through immigration control, and then depart on another flight from the same airport, you should apply for a direct airside transit visa.
  • If you will arrive in the UK, pass through immigration control and then leave the UK within 48 hours, you should apply for a visitor in transit visa.

But, last paragraph says that under certain circumstances, you don’t need to get transit visa for UK when traveling from USA.

In some circumstances you may be exempt from the need to obtain a visa – this is called the ‘transit without visa concession’.

When you don’t need UK transit visa if you meet one of several conditions, but here couple of conditions that applies to your question

  • you must arrive and depart by air; and
  • your onward flight must be confirmed, and must depart within 24 hours; and
  • you have proper documentation for your destination, including a visa if necessary.

Additionally, you must hold:

1) a valid entry visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, and a valid airline ticket for travel via the UK, as part of a journey to or from one of those countries; or
2) a valid airline ticket for travel via the UK as part of a journey from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, if you are transiting the UK no more than 6 months after the date when you last entered Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA with a valid entry visa for that country; or Continued here.

According to condition 1 – You don’t need to get Transit Visa, because you still hold valid B1/B2 Visa, even though your H1B is expired.

How to confirm if you don’t need transit visa?

I can think of 3 ways

  • You can take a print out of the above page when going to board the flight.
  • Take the same print out, go to British Airways agents in the Airport  and confirm you will be able to travel
  • Call British Airways, make a not of the agent’s name, id and time of call. If possible get written confirmation

I don’t understand the last part of your question. If you planned to have a stopover in UK, then you should have applied for some form of UK visa (like visitor). If that’s the case, you don’t need transit visa for going to India from USA via UK.

Related : 10 Tips to find cheap flight tickets

Avoid Transit Visa to UK from USA

If your US visa is expired, try to travel via Emirates with stopover in Dubai or other Middle Eastern countries or other Asia and European countries that doesn’t require transit visa.

Check the transit visa requirements before booking the flight tickets.

Friend of mine had the exact same problem. when he had booked ticket to India visa UK with expired H1B Visa. He had to rebook the flight to fly via Dubai. He found about transit visa requirement at the airport on the day of the travel.

It’s your responsibility to find the transit visa requirements, not your travel agent’s or airline’s.

Next –  Avoid this $850 MISTAKE while booking flight from India to USA

Comments

  1. Hi,
    I am travelling to India from USA with Indian passport. My USA Visa has expired but I do have valid Canada Tourist Visa . Can I travel from USA via London with valid Canada Visa.. Thanks for your help

  2. I am travelling from USA to India having Indian Passport but have Schengen Visa do I need a Transit Visa for UK, I have layover of 3 hours and 20 min and travelling with British Airways.

  3. I am travelling from US to India Via london with British airways
    I have my h1b expired but valid I 797
    I dont hv enough time to apply as I came to knw this at very last moment .. shall I travel ?
    Anybody had any issue for travelling with I 797 with British airways ???

    1. hey pradeep..i am planning to travel in the exact same situation…how was your experience?

  4. My experience was different. Back in May 2014, I travelled to India via London with an expired H1B visa stamp on my passport but with a valid I-797. My connecting flight to India was within 24hrs and no one checked my passport while transit. I don’t know if the rules have changed but I was able to transit via London without any issues. But again, you never know if UK authorities change their mind and create issues. Good Luck !!

  5. I am planning to travel to India via London with BA in couple of months.
    I have valid H-1B visa on my passport.
    Is it OK to travel with this or should I apply for DATV?

  6. I asked this question here is my experience …

    Even after listening to so many issues about transit visa and British airways visa rules I decided to stick to my original plan. When I was checking at Seattle as my H1B was expired they check other visa in that case B1/B2 help me. They used B1/B2 visa for stamping and I was good to go.

    While coming back there was no problem because I did H1B stamping in India.
    Thanks for comment and post.

    1. Hi Vidya! I am in the same shoes as you are. May I ask you another question? What is the time gap between the expiry of your visa and your travel date out of US?

    2. Thank you very much Vidya for you experience posted .
      I am in the same situation . I have Expired H1B and valid H1B extension(I797) and In addition to H1B I also have valid USA Business( B1/B2 )visa till 2020.

  7. If you dont have visa of countries like USA, Canada, UK, schengen for Europe, Australia, New Zealand stamped in your passport, best advice is that go for direct flight. Air India has a direct flight from Chicago, Newyork, Newark to Delhi and Mumbai. United has direct flights from Newark to Delhi and Mumbai. Fly from your city in USA to these cities and then take a direct flight.

  8. Short answer, you don’t need a visa, but do not rely on British authorities. They are well known to tweak visa rules, and hold the passengers in transit. I am from one of the countries that need visa to go anywhere, and when I went to the British consulate to check, the personnel told me that I don’t need a visa, but ‘will issue me one, if I need it’. I am like, if I don’t need it, why would you issue me? No answer.

    LHR is bazaar as it is. They may offer cheaper fares, but not worth the hassle. If you are in Seattle, why not use Korean Air instead? May be it will cost a bit more, but less headache.

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