Think carefully before you pack up everything and come to the UK. You cannot arrive with a UK visit visa and apply to stay on a more permanent basis.
It is tempting to think that as the partner of a British citizen, you can arrive in the UK as a visitor and apply to stay on a more permanent basis once you are here. Not so. We are seeing an increasing number of clients who have sold up everything in their home country. They intend to start a new life in the UK. The foreign national has arrived with their British partner and perhaps British children, expecting to stay for the long term. Only to find that it is just not that simple.
Anyone who arrives in the UK as a visitor has only six months to stay before they must leave. Like visitors anywhere, it is good not to outstay your welcome. You visit friends for the weekend and go home on Sunday afternoon. You do not usually ask to stay for good. The same applies to visitors to the UK.
The rules say you cannot apply for permission to stay as the partner or parent of a British citizen, while in the UK as a visitor.
Unfortunately for those who have given up everything, they face a dilemma. The UK immigration rules say that the visitor must return home and apply for permission to enter the UK as the partner of a British Citizen. It is currently taking six months for decisions to come through on these applications. So that person is facing at least six months away from their family. They may have to wait until their British partner can meet the financial requirements of the immigration rules. This can take months too.
The foreign national parent will have to stay with relatives or rent somewhere in their home country. Often the children are already in school when the non-British parent realises they have problems. It would be too disruptive for the children to move back to the home country with the parent. Or the children are very young and need care. Do they stay in the UK or do they leave with one of the parents? Either way, this route means a long separation for the family.
The other option is for the visitor to stay in the UK and apply for permission to stay as the partner of a British citizen. This involves asking the UK Home Office to accept that there are exceptional circumstances in this case. The argument is that it would breach the family’s human rights if they are separated for a long period. It would also not be in the best interests of the children to be separated from a parent for so long.
This is a riskier application. After all, the visitor is trying to bend the rules – rules which many partners and parents follow. The application might be refused which will lead to an appeal. It can be a lengthy and costly process. In addition, the non-British parent will be unable to work, drive or rent while waiting for the decision.
Many couples avoid this stress by making the right application before the family leaves the other country. In that way the family can come together if they meet all the criteria of the Immigration Rules.
Our advice is never to arrive as a visitor and expect to stay as a partner. Check before you pack up everything and leave for a new life in the UK. It could be more stressful than you think.
Contact our team for more information about the UK Visit Visa process.