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I am a British citizen, currently living in Japan on a working visa. My girlfriend is a Japanese national, but has only lived in Japan for the past year (before that she lived in the Philippines).

We'd like to go back to the UK to visit my family this Christmas, but we're a bit worried about visas.

Before getting my working visa (which my company sorted out before I moved here permanently) every time I came to Japan I just turned up at the border and was given a 3 month tourist visa. I (probably naively) never even thought about the possibility of being denied entry.

However, my girlfriend was looking at the visa application documents online and it suggests bringing bank statements and other supporting documents. This, to me, suggests that there is a chance that my girlfriend will be denied entry.

She is studying the language while she tries to find a full time job, but the studying is all self-study and private classes so she isn't tied to any institution providing her with proof she is a student. She is also currently only employed part-time, with a very variable income.

Will just turning up at the border be OK? Should we print out some bank statements just in case? Should we apply in advance in some way? Can I (a British citizen) 'vouch' for her in some way? If so, how? I assume I can't just follow her through immigration.

  • As a point of clarification, does your girlfriend have a Japanese passport? – Greg Hewgill Jul 24 '18 at 7:42
  • Yes, she's half Japanese and switched from a dual citizenship to Japanese only a couple of years ago. Currently she has a Japanese passport. – Omegastick Jul 24 '18 at 7:43
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As a Japanese citizen, your girlfriend does not need a visa to visit the UK:

You won’t need a visa to come to the UK

You can stay in the UK for up to 6 months without a visa.

However, you should bring the same documents you’d need to apply for a visa, to show to officers at the UK border.

  • You may want to apply for a visa if you have a criminal record or you’ve previously been refused entry into the UK.

In your case, perhaps the most important document to show is a return ticket (or onward ticket) for your girlfriend to show that she won't try to stay in the UK. The fact that you have long-term residence in Japan will work in your favour.

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    why not mentioning girlfriend? Lastly: I would recommend also to have something to document the last fact. – Giacomo Catenazzi Jul 24 '18 at 8:42
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi Having a relationship with a British resident can be damaging to the chances of admission, since the border officer may count this as evidence that they are intending to settle in the UK. In this case, I think it is not too big a risk, since Omegastick is not themselves resident in the UK. – MJeffryes Jul 24 '18 at 10:27
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    @MJeffryes That's very bad advice. Saying "friend" when it's actually "girlfriend" is deception and is a great way to be refused entry and possibly banned. This unfortunately happens every single day. – Michael Hampton Jul 24 '18 at 14:02
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    @MJeffryes I've read of UK immigration officers taking exception to the use of "friend" to describe someone in a romantic relationship. One might be able to talk one's way out of it if that happened, but it's probably better not to test those waters. – phoog Jul 24 '18 at 22:10
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    I've changed my answer to not mention the girlfriend/friend distinction. Thanks for the feedback. – Greg Hewgill Jul 24 '18 at 22:29

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