My partner is British and I’m American; we’ve been dating for three years. I visited back in March 2017 for a week, entering the UK visa-free.

We then decided I should visit him and stay for 6 months, so I applied for a tourist visa. I stated all sorts of things that I planned to see while there and, naively, I didn't include much evidence that I can support myself. The Standard Visitor Visa was refused, mainly because they think I have reason to stay longer than my intended visit.

I was upset and didn’t really know how to proceed, so we spoke to a lawyer and asked if we had grounds to appeal. I was told that I don't and that I should just buy a ticket and take my chances when I arrive at the border at Heathrow.

I’ve bought my ticket for 02/07/2018, with a return on May 22, planning to stay for 14 weeks. I’m really worried. His mom will write me a letter showing she has more than enough to provide her home and living expenses. I’m taking about $5,000 and my return ticket for my flight on May 22.

Is there anything else I should take to try and convince the customs and immigration that I am not there to stay, only visit?

  • 4
    There is a strong chance that you'll be denied entry. Why would they override a decision by the embassy at the border?
    – mdd
    Feb 2, 2018 at 2:53
  • 1
    I was hoping it would make a diffrence to have a face to face encounter instead of sending documents through the mail ..
    – sabine
    Feb 2, 2018 at 3:02
  • 5
    This is a seriously risky approach. You've been turned down for a visa, so almost certainly you won't be let in at the border. A letter from your boyfriend's mother is meaningless without supporting documentation, and I can't make sense of your dates. You will need to make a proper application for a visa. This will require a significant amount of paperwork, and it must be properly presented. You should take the advice of a lawyer experienced in UK immigration matters, which your existing lawyer clearly is not.
    – user67901
    Feb 2, 2018 at 3:07
  • 1
    My girlfriend is American, she lives here now, but before then, she used to come for 6 months without applying for a visa. I know you were trying to be safe with the visa but I think you would have had a greater chance just turning up visa free.
    – BritishSam
    Feb 2, 2018 at 10:29
  • 1
    Typically how did she get through customs any advice or specific documents ?
    – sabine
    Feb 2, 2018 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


You've been turned down for a visa, and now you intend to try and enter the UK visa free and get entry clearance at the airport. This might be possible, but will require excellent preparation. You're flying in four days time, so you'll need to work quickly.

First, expect to be delayed at Heathrow. This could be short (and they send you back) or it could be for some hours (and they might still send you back)

The Immigration Officers are concerned with two main things: can you support yourself while you're in Britain; and will you leave on time.

On the first point: $5000 is a good start. You need to be able to demonstrate that the money is yours. Think payslips and bank statements over a period of months. Money placed in your account by a friend to top up your funds wont be acceptable unless you can prove it's yours to use. If you hope to use a sponsor you will need a letter, and supporting documentation. If your sponsor claims an income of UKP20,000pa you will need something to support that, and so on. You will also need medical insurance to cover your stay.

On the second point, you need to demonstrate that you will return home at the end of your trip. This is especially important as they refused you on this. Concentrate on documentary evidence of ties to home: job, property ownership, family commitments, etc. For a fourteen-week stay this might prove difficult - most employers won't let their employees out for that long. If your boss has OK'ed this, get it in writing from him/her. In fact, get a letter from your employer detailing what they've agreed, regardless of the period.

Consider shortening your trip. It's a lot easier to cover, say, a four-week stay. Paying the airline to change the return ticket will likely be less painful than losing the whole trip.

Have a clear itinerary. Be clear about what you want to do, and when. If you intend to visit London, have a good idea of what you want to see and do. If you want to go hill-walking know which hills and travel with appropriate clothing.

Have your boyfriend and sponsor available and accessible, preferably in the airport, and prepared for a potentially long wait.

None of this is a silver bullet, and you may be refused anyway. The real solution is to apply for and get a visa. Two refusals will make it much more difficult to get a visa. If that happens you will certainly need a good lawyer to guide you through the process. Consider whether your approach is worth the risk, or whether you might be better abandoning this trip and dealing with the visa issue first.

Good luck.

  • 1
    Thank you so much I’ll definitely be looking into alternatives and a way to solve this.
    – sabine
    Feb 2, 2018 at 4:23
  • 1
    @Coke that's not what I've read elsewhere on here by former members who were very very well respected.
    – user29788
    Feb 3, 2018 at 20:20
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    @Coke not to begrudge his name, but after reading all his posts and rants over the years, I don't exactly trust what Sheik Paul has to say on these matters.
    – user29788
    Feb 3, 2018 at 20:25
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    @Coke I'm not making this into a discussion, just saying I trust some people's comments on here more than others.
    – user29788
    Feb 3, 2018 at 20:35
  • 3
    After I was detained for five hours, searched vigorously, locked in a room with no access to my things. They interviewed me and decided I was genuine and let me in. I even had asked if I could go home on the next flight. As far as wiping my slate clean, they didn’t gove me a chance to ask at all but thank you to everyone who helped.
    – sabine
    Feb 8, 2018 at 1:50

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