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November 12th 2018 my girlfriend (US Citizen) arrived in Manchester airport and was detained for 10 hours before being refused entry as they did not believe she was a genuine visitor and would not return to the US within the six months.

We contemplated applying for a Standard Visitor Visa (SVV) a month after her denial, but were told this is perhaps too soon and shows, some even said desperation, to get into the UK. We backed off a little, took our time to figure out what to do next.

December 26 2018 - January 23 2019 I visited her in the States for four weeks, and we had a great time. I plan to marry her in the USA some time next year. Since December 10 2018 she has been employed as a teacher in the USA, holding down two roles - teacher, and admin assistant.

She obviously wants to visit me in the UK for three weeks in May 2019, so she'll be applying for a SVV just before then.

I understand why she was denied, she had no return flights as we agreed to book them once she was in the UK after we decided if I was going to the USA with her, and she had a lot of stuff - a single bag of that were gifts for my family from when she and I traveled China through mid-2018.

Anyway, circumstances have changed, we're both a lot more knowledgeable on immigration law and understand why they make these decisions. To support her SVV application, she'll be including a letter of leave from her teaching position for three weeks, a letter of invitation from me, and a cover letter.

Since we plan on marrying next year in the States, we're going to get engaged when and if she comes to the UK. Is this even worth mentioning to the ECO? Or the border officer? I'm worried they may thing if we get engaged in the UK we could get married here, although I'm certain most registry offices require four weeks (28 days) notice before you can get married there which is impossible if she comes to visit for less than 28 days.

Is there anything else we should mention on her application, or advice on when to apply for a SVV? Come the end of April 2019 it will have been five months since her denial, and as I said, I visited her in the USA for a month (not sure if they'll know that, or even care).

  • "Is this even worth mentioning to the ECO? Or the border officer?" If you apply for an SVV, you won't have any significant interview at the border. It's only if you don't apply for an SVV that you'll be questioned (and in this case, due to the previous entry refusal, bring the same paperwork that you would for an SVV application, as well as anything disproving the reasons for the previous entry refusal) – Crazydre Feb 7 at 20:05
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If you haven’t already, read this detailed Visit guide https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/673351/Visit-guidance-v7.0EXT.PDF Her circumstances have changed significantly since the refusal and IMHO the chance of success is high. Keep the visa application, your invitation, and the covering letter factual - where/when you met, how often and how you communicate, your joint travel history etc. What details should a good cover letter contain to back up a UK Visit Visa application? As you probably already know, getting married on a Standard Visitor visa is not allowed; I see no reason for you to mention the possibility of getting engaged during her visit.

  • Thank you for your answer, I will read the Visit Guide in a moment. I understand marriage is not allowed on a SVV, but if the IO or the ECO wants to know if we plan on getting married, I am unsure what to say. Yes, we plan on getting married. No, not in the UK. It's in the USA next year in 2020. We plan on getting engaged during her visit, but I'm worried declaring this if they ask could be our downfall. – LReuan Feb 7 at 17:30
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    I think I am worrying a little given her previous refusal but if we are asked about marriage plans, I will tell them that we're aware marriage isn't permitted on a SVV and we simply plan to get engaged and then get married in the USA via the K1 visa for me. Thanks for your help. – LReuan Feb 7 at 17:45
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    No need to volunteer unnecessary information about getting married. Keep it simple. Also keep the invitation letter simple. Finally after getting the visa, she should be prepared when meeting immigration at the airport. Also only apply for the visa in late March or April so she would have been working at least a few months. – cHiEf Immigration vIoLaTer Feb 7 at 18:00
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    @LReuan Getting engaged is not a problem. You might owe customs duty on the ring if you import one though. – Michael Hampton Feb 7 at 18:50
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    Ok, great. I was unsure if getting engaged in the UK to a foreigner required some sort of permit. She's going to apply for her visa around April and hopefully we can spend three weeks together in May this year. Thanks for your guys' help. – LReuan Feb 7 at 19:15

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