An article in the NZ Herald on 14th March 2016 told the story of a New Zealand ballet student who was returned home after completing incorrect paperwork to study at the London Russia Ballet School.
‘Galia Kushnir was due to start at the prestigious London Russian Ballet School after securing a scholarship worth more than $12,000. The talented 17-year-old flew out on Tuesday morning with a tourist visa, with the hope of attending classes while her student visa was being processed.
But officials at Heathrow claimed Galia had the wrong paperwork and after less than 12 hours in London she was put on a plane and sent home.
She had flown to London last year to audition for a place at the London Russian Ballet School. After the audition she was invited to stay on for six weeks to allow teachers to assess her talent in various disciplines. To her delight, she was offered a full scholarship to the private school, which charges students $12,255 for a full term.
According to the United Kingdom Government website, you do not need a visa to study for 6 months or less if you have a New Zealand passport. However, it states that you should bring documents with you to show at the border. The gov.uk website then directs you to the relevant student visa guide to see what documents to bring’.
Laurent Law does not provide immigration advice for travel to other countries, but some matters will be common to most countries. One important issue is a person’s intentions for travel and how they are communicated, either when applying for a visa, or on arrival at the border. The arrivals card is not just for statistical purposes, but requires the traveller to be specific in her or his reasons for travelling.
The article recognises that the UK immigration website directs the enquirer to a student visa guide to identify what documents to bring. But should Ms Kushnir have been expected to read student visa material, when she was travelling on a visitor visa and the student visa was being applied for her by the school? Or, did she do what so many others do, read as far as identifying she could study for 6 months, and then not check further?
Some of the most dangerous words in immigration are, “It’s only a visitor/work visa, how hard could it be?