A visit visa is not the gateway to long-term residence in the UK

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.

A visit lasts for six months

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.

Image outlining queue of passengers at airport.

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 risk of trying to bend the rules

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.

A visitor cannot ask to stay forever

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.

  • Sallie was an amazing help and supported us through the full process. It was extremely difficult for us, and she helped make the whole thing very simple and ensured our application was successful. Thank you to Sallie and the team for the work you did tirelessly to help us.
  • For almost a year I had tried to get my wife's spousal visa. Two tries, two fails due to technical reasons. I contacted Immigration Legal Services, and Sallie & Angela took control of my wife's visa application. They were very supportive, told us exactly which documents were needed, and just over a month later, the visa was issued. We can't thank them enough.
  • We couldn't praise Sallie and her team high enough. Extremely professional and acted very fast to meet our deadline. 100% recommended!
    Mr E
  • Always thorough and highly professional throughout the application process for both my children, and I would definitely recommend! They also had a welcome sense of humour when it came to dealing with the bureaucracy involved in the process.
    Mr B
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  • We have been very impressed with the service we have received over the years of dealing with Angela. She went above and beyond to solve our specialised problem with very pleasing results. We would strongly recommend her work and knowledge in the field. A true professional.
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  • I highly recommend Sallie for her professionalism and lovable, kind approach. I am very happy to get her as my immigration lawyer for processing my kids Visa.
    Shiva K
  • I highly recommend both Angela and Karen. They both have been amazingly helpful throughout the visa application process of my wife. They do truly care for their clients. They look at the case in reasonable time periods and return with any missing information rapidly. Consulting them during this exciting yet stressful process was the best decision that I made. Today my wife got granted the visa just after 5 weeks of her biometric scans.
    Mr Yazici
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  • Just received a decision from the Home office that I would’ve NEVER thought was possible. So happy and over the moon! I would definitely recommend your services to friends & family if required in the future. Huge thanks to Sallie and the team, best immigration solicitor in the business!!
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  • Angela Cole is a wonderful, hardworking, honest, kind and reliable Solicitor. Her work is very high standard, very professional and her team is friendly. Me and my husband have no hesitation in recommending Angela Cole's excellent services.
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  • "Simply a team of experienced people who gave us excellent and honest advice. Having now taken an appeal through to a successful conclusion for the (very reasonable) price promised, I have no hesitation in recommending this firm."
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  • "The team went an extra mile and fought my case much more and much better than I would have expected. In the end, my case was successful and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done. If I ever need legal help in the future I will definitely use their services again and recommend them for their reasonable prices, supportive advice and first rate legal services."
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  • "Excellent people, excellent service. They made the process of bringing my husband to the UK painless. Couldn’t have done it without them, highly recommend!"
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  • A BIG THANK YOU , for your help in helping me acquire my British settlement and British citizenship application successfully done. Your professionalism and kind warm attitude and nature made this process very easy and stress free. You took all my concerns away. 

    My Lawyer, Sallie Davies, is very knowledgeable and competent and I have implicit trust in her. The fees are also reasonable compared to other law firms. I highly recommend Sallie and her team.
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  • Thanks to Sallie, my wife is finally in the UK after a horrible year and long delays with Home Office. Highly recommended Immigration Legal Services! 
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  • Angela Cole and everyone at Immigration Legal Services will work to produce the best outcome for you and, from our experience, they only concern themselves with your goal and not your wallet. Immigration Legal Services' charge was a very good price for all the help and security they provided
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  • Despite the high professionalism practiced within the firm, there is always a strong sense of compassion , and care, from both Angela, and lovely Karen, which has really helped to set our minds at ease. Absolutely recommended & Eternally grateful
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  • I would like to thank both of you, Sallie and Karen for your assistance in the way you handled my wife's Spouse Visa Extension to remain here with me in the United Kingdom. We will recommend The Immigration Legal Services here in Ipswich to anybody who wants to apply for a visa to come or remain here in the United Kingdom because the service they provided proved to be most reliable, simple and quick process. Much appreciated Sallie and Karen. Thanking you once again. We will be back again.
  • Excellent service, Sallie is very professional and lovely. Thanks to you what we thought it will be a long and exhausting experience, was so smooth and fast we couldn't believe it. Thank you very much.
    Mrs T
  • We engaged this firm based on a recommendation made by a friend who had used their services before. We required their assistance for my wife's first renewal of her spousal visa. The process was quite painless, they got in touch to collect documents and go over details but most communication was done by email. We received the renewal without any issues.
  • Sallie was the best solicitor I've met for immigration matters. She was straight to the job, focused on the matter and had an excellent transparent work process, a reasonable fee and no hidden charges. She is very helpful, confident and had the best communication. We got our parents' visa in one go! Thank you very much for the excellent job.
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