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Topic: User experiences of visiting the UK to spend time with partner/family  (Read 1250 times)

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Hi there,

I know this has been done many times before but just looking for any personal experiences of partners/family visiting the UK and any issues with gaining entry or being questioned.
Who were you visiting? How long did you stay? What was your experience with border staff? What questions were asked?

Would really appreciate any first hand experience as can only seem to find questions pre travel (that are never followed up with what happened) or horror stories of refused admission.

Would love to hear what it's really like. Especially for stays over 2 months etc.

If this type of thread exists elsewhere I apologise and would be super grateful if I could be pointed in the right direction.

Many thanks

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It's up to the Immigration Officer on the day to allow entry or not (if a visa is not applied for in advance).  Things to be prepared with:

a return flight
evidence of a job to return to
evidence of a home/apartment to return to
enough money to support the visit
a good UK immigration history (entering and leaving when you say you will, no refusals)

The longer the stay, the more scrutiny one will receive.  If you are nervous, you can always apply for a visa in advance.  Then you know you won't be turned away at the border.

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I had a personal experience a couple years back now.  My big piece of advice is - do your research. You are at the best place to do that, this forum is the best. These people really know what they are talking about so ask questions, do what is asked and be honest and everything will be just fine. 

I visited Britain for 5 months.  I got a visitor visa first, my now husband went to the citizens advise bureau and I asked tons of questions on this forum to arrive at the decision to get the visa. We both did a lot of work to get the visa but when arriving at border control the IO was very impressed with my knowledge of the process and the fact that I made effort to even get the visa Needless to say he stamped me through and I never had a problem ( I even left for a short holiday in Italy and upon returning still got stamped through with no problem).

I was asked the normal questions:
Who are you visiting? Why? (My boyfriend, friends and his family)
How did we meet? Where was he from? (Internet dating, Dorset)
Where did I find out about the visa and the process? (CAB, my boyfriend went and met with them)
He mentioned most people don't bother getting a visa and he seemed glad that I was aware of the rules.

If you want to know more, I don't want to ramble too long, just PM me.  I am now married to that same guy I was visiting and have been living in Hampshire for a year and a half. I had both good and bad experiences with this process ( mostly good because of the kind people on this forum) and don't mind sharing my experience.

Good luck with whatever you chose to do!!  :) :)

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I can't recommend getting a visitor's visa strongly enough.  It's a pain, but after what happened the first time I came to visit my now husband I would never take the chance of being turned back at the airport.

Two years ago last month I came to visit for 7 weeks.  At that point we had been talking on skype for several months and were ready to meet each other in person.  At that time I was 57 years old, on solid ground financially, and absolutely unaware of any of the immigration issues in the UK.  I was blindsided when the IO at Heathrow started asking more detailed questions and then had me sit and wait until he could get another IO to take over.  I was absolutely honest that I was coming to meet a friend and there was the possibility of something further, but we were just meeting at this point. The second IO called my now DH to check out my story, and continued to ask me pointed questions while I stood there at a complete loss.  Finally she said she was letting me go (grudgingly) and would be watching to make sure I left the day my return ticket indicated.  I was given a visa for the exact time of my 7 week visit.

I had no plans to do anything other than visit for 7 weeks, I had credit and debit cards with me, and about $15.00 cash in my wallet.  When I asked the IO why I was flagged for further questioning she said it's because I didn't have much money with me - only the 15 American dollars.  At the time I had no idea why she thought I would I have more US cash with me on a trip to a different country, but evidently credit and debit cards are meaningless without bank statements to verify funds.  I simply had no idea I was expected to be prepared for all this.  It was humiliating and probably the best thing that could have happened to me, because I knew just how serious the anti immigration attitude here is and, thanks mostly to this forum, did everything by the book from then on.

The most embarrassing part for me was when this woman told me - in a rather condescending manner IMO - that, unlike me, my "friend" didn't have any romantic notions toward me (I had simply said I didn't know, but it was possible - he was far more circumspect).  I walked away feeling pretty darn pathetic, but my poor future husband had to wait for me not even knowing if I was being allowed to continue on or if I was on my way back to the US because I wasn't able to get a signal to call him!

Not a lot of fun, but at least I was let through and able to continue with my plans.  I now realize I was lucky despite how humiliated I felt at the time.

Here 2 years as of Oct. 1, 2016.

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I will add my voice to those who say know the immigration rules.  I have visited the UK several times for varying length anywhere from 2 weeks to 7 weeks without applying in advance for a visitors visa.  It was fairly simple when I was a student visiting during my school holiday (the 7 weeks). 

When I visited in April of 2014 for 5 weeks, I was asked many more questions.  I was asked for evidence of my return flight, how I could afford my trip, how much money I had access to, from whom I could get more money if needed, what my husband did, how much he made, how much we spent, etc.  I was also asked many questions about our future plans: why I was looking for a job in the US if I was moving to the UK, why we hadn't applied for a spousal visa earlier, etc.  I believe that it was my understanding of the UK visa rules and valid explanation for why we were waiting to apply (visit was to bridge the gap while we waited to be eligible).

I am been fortunate not to need to apply in advance for a visitor's visa but I would definitely recommend it if you are in doubt.  It's certainly not as expensive as being turned away at the border and may just be worth it for the piece of mind.  Whether or not you are granted entry depends on the IO you get at the day.  You may get the jovial one who is fabulous or you may get one that is having an off day. 

Best of luck whichever way you go.  I hope that you are successful and have a great visit.
Met Mr. Beatlemania: 20 Jan 2010
Tier 4 Visa Approved: 17 Sep 2012
Spousal Visa Received:  22 Sep 2014
Ohio to Essex: 26 October 2014
FLR(M): 10 May 2017
ILR: 23 October 2019
Citizenship: 6 September 2022

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