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I am interested in purchasing a holiday home in the UK to use on a part-time basis. I love the theatre and the British countryside and also the idea of using London as a launching point to spend time in Europe, Ireland and the Nordic countries.

I know that as an American the standard visa is for a maximum stay of 6 months, but is there another visa category that would make it easier for me to visit the UK on a semi-regular basis without raising concern from UK immigration agents that I am making the UK my permanent home? Would a long-term visitor visa be a good option in my situation?

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    That's a really nice question! Enjoy your first up-vote – Hanky Panky Feb 26 '18 at 16:13
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    You could apply for a series of short term visas before applying for a long term one. In any case for what you're contemplating I am assuming some legal expertise will be sought both for the purchase and immigration purposes. Best. – user 56513 Feb 26 '18 at 16:57
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    Are you looking to stay for more than six months at a time? Or for a total of more than six months in a year? Or just several short visits a year? – DJClayworth Feb 26 '18 at 17:32
  • Paul, are you suggesting a series of short-term visas (2 years) because a longer term one (5 or 10 years) is more likely to be denied? If you know of a good solicitor for either representation, please let me know. – Kevin Callaghan Feb 26 '18 at 23:05
  • DJ, I can't imagine with all my travel interests that I would spend more than a couple of months each year in the UK. – Kevin Callaghan Feb 26 '18 at 23:06
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Our much-missed member-on-sabbatical, Gayot Fow, has answered this on his blog. With permission, and for the benefit of the OP, I post the text of his answer here.


Essentially the OP wants to purchase a house in the UK to attend cultural events and otherwise enjoy the offerings of this island. The OP understands that the 6 month Standard Visitor Visa (SVV) works for visa nationals and that the equivalent 6 months leave-to-enter (LTE) works for non-visa nationals. The OP wants to know if there’s another type of visa available to covers this, and if a long-term visa might be more appropriate.

First of all, there are lots of people that do this sort of thing, i.e., purchase a house or flat and then show up during the social season and maybe for a few weeks in the summer. I used to help them ‘back in the old days’ and can attest that it’s not a rare situation at all.

Without any doubt there is no other type of visa available other than the SVV/LTE mentioned above. They do not have a ‘rich person’s visa’ or a ‘house owner visa’. They used to have a “Retired Person of Independent Means” visa, but it was discontinued in 2010. And moreover, creating a new kind of visa like that isn’t going to happen, at least until the Brexit severance is complete, and even then I doubt it.

Over on the tiered side of the visa world, there’s various investor visas, but these are settlement visas and the OP’s intention is not to settle here. It might work up until the first leg of the investor visa expires and then they see that the OP has been visiting all along and hence abused the visa by deception. That’s a bad thing. Say goodbye and don’t expect to be back for a while.

Returning to the topic, the OP in this case wants to have smooth transits through UK immigration controls when they arrive even though they are (presumably American) and do not normally require visas.

There is only one answer to that: get an entry clearance. Even though you may not need one, an entry clearance saves wasted air fares and the distress of removal from port.

The entry clearance in this case is an SVV. And the OP wants to know if there are long-term SVV’s available. The answer is ‘yes’, but they are hard to get without a solid performance history and an impeccable premise. Having a vacation home might be a great premise, but they will continue to issue 6 month SVV’s until they see 3 – 5 years of performance. After that they will issue a 2 or 5 or 10 year SVV.

NOTE: having a 2 or 5 or 10 year SVV does not mean the person can stay for that period of time. No matter what kind of visa the person has they cannot stay longer than 6 months on any single occasion.

NOTE: “LTE” means ‘leave-to-enter’. It’s the stamp one gets when presenting a non-visa national passport, like American, Canadian, Australian, and so on.

NOTE: there are about half-a-dozen UK solicitors who have built up a reputable practice area in helping ‘high net worth’ individuals. It may be worthwhile instructing one of these alongside your house purchasing solicitor. The house purchasing solicitor, for example, will need to notify the Bank of England that a large amount of money is coming through and get permission from them to clear it; whereas the immigration solicitor, on the other hand, will know how to present your premise and explain your bank transactions. You won’t find both skills in a single individual, but you will have good luck locating a firm that offers both high-net-worth immigration and real-estate specialities. I can think of 3 offhand and I’m guessing there’s at least double that number of firms out there.

  • Thanks Madhatter. The post appears to suggest that until I have established a history of entries/exits without incident, I should not apply for a Long-Term Standard Visitor Visa as it will likely be rejected? An immigration consultant recently told me that such a long term visa, whether for 2, 5 or 10 years would make it safer for me to enter the UK as I would have some pre-approval. They did not indicate how likely it would be for me to be approved, only that the shorter the better. Would applying for say a 2 year Long-Term Standard Visitor Visa be likely to be approved? – Kevin Callaghan Feb 26 '18 at 22:54
  • @KevinCallaghan If they judge you to be an acceptable visitor, but with inadequate history of "performance," as they call it, they will grant you a regular six-month visitor visa and keep the application fee for the longer visa (hundreds of pounds more than the regular six-month fee). If your plans would allow you to get one six-month visa a year (for example if you're only going to visit between April and September), it would be cheaper than a two- or five- year visa. If I were you I'd just try my luck at the border once or twice and worry about visas only if it seems necessary after that. – phoog Feb 27 '18 at 3:36
  • Thanks phoog. My concern is that I may be buying a London flat that I may not be able to use. I may be overreacting but I have gotten some negative feedback from some sources who tell me to concerned about too frequent travel back and forth. Rules are no longer as hard and fast as before and immigration officers are now given a lot of discretion See link below. The two critical terms to understand appear to be "de facto resident" and "genuine visitor". gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/… – Kevin Callaghan Feb 27 '18 at 5:01
  • @KevinCallaghan As Gayot clarifies in this answer, entry with entry clearance really is a formality for non-visa nationals. Much of the discretion that worries you goes out of the picture, because as he quotes from one of the standard legal works, "where the person seeking entry already has entry clearance [...] the grounds for refusing leave to enter are much more restricted". Applying for an entry clearance really is the sensible thing to do. – MadHatter supports Monica Feb 27 '18 at 15:52

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