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My Mexican girlfriend has bought a ticket to the UK for 6 months at the start of June. With a little over a month until she comes we've become a little concerned about whether immigration officers will have a problem with her or not. I am 34 and a UK citizen, she is 31 and a Mexican citizen. We have been dating for 6 months and I have visited her in Mexico twice. Her intentions here are to strictly be a tourist, no working, no studying. I work full time but we plan to travel around the UK together at weekends and to parts of Europe as well. The things she will have are:

  • A letter from me saying I will support her in any way whilst she is here (as she won't have many personal funds)
  • A return ticket home
  • A lease for her apartment which she will sublet to a friend whilst she is here.
  • A letter from her employer stating they will offer her a job at the company once back (She is a graphic designer for a fashion company)
  • travel insurance for 6 months

Is the 6 month trip a huge red flag? Would we be better reducing the trip to 3 months?

We obviously want to spend as much time together as possible that's why we chose 6 months and we know that we don't have any ill intentions but are now a bit worried.

We'd really appreciate some advice and guidance if anyone has been in the same situation before.

Many thanks for reading.

Edit...

Thanks for all your help so far. It seems a lot is based on opinion which isn't really allowed on here. Could I please ask some specific questions?

  • Has anybody had experience getting advanced entry clearance for something like this.
  • Is entry clearance the same as getting a specific tourist visa?
  • Would an advanced entry clearance mean she would not be interrogated before being let in?

We are thinking of reducing her time here to 3 months or less. This would mean she would keep her lease car she planned to sell which would be another tie to Mexico.

  • Does she have a prior travel history to the UK or to any other country? That could help. – jcaron Apr 25 at 20:41
  • She visited Canada for 4 months 10 years ago. She has never visited the UK though. – Jordan Apr 25 at 20:44
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    I’d wager a good amount of quid she gets into problems if she mentions how long she’s staying and is questioned in-depth. – user 56513 Apr 25 at 21:05
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    It's probably worth preparing for at least the possibility of her being sent to a room for questioning if she turns up for a six month visit under these circumstances. She may well be admitted after that, but many people don't do great with coming off an international flight and having an intimidating officer questioning their circumstances at length, possibly in a non-native language. It's possible her possessions (including the contents of her phone) could be searched. Being prepared for that in advance, and being able to stay calm and answer questions, is a skill. – Zach Lipton Apr 25 at 21:44
  • agree with @ZachLipton. Theres also a good change they could admit her but not for 6 months, they may reduce the time allowed. – BritishSam Apr 26 at 10:35
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I'd say you're on shaky ground here.

UK immigration are looking for the ability to support oneself in one's own right. Your girlfriend's lack of funds will be a problem.

They're also looking for ties to the home country. You've already identified this. Anyone who can leave their daily life for as long as six months isn't really tied to it. Your girlfriend's letter from her 'employer' counts for little since they're proposing to offer her a job when she returns. Clearly she's not working there now in a role that she's tied to.

Her apartment will help but is sublet, which weakens the argument.

We can't say you'll be unsuccessful, but there are potential problems. Improving her finances, shortening the trip, addressing her employment situation will all help.

Don't be tempted to try to game the system by telling the border guards she's staying for a month or two and staying for six. Technically this might be legal, but it will raise questions on the next visit.

Good luck!

  • Thanks for the reply. She will have some funds. Any idea how much funds she will need per month, as she will be staying with me so not paying for rent or food? – Jordan Apr 25 at 20:47
  • @Jordan Be very careful with adding funds to her account before the trip. If the deposit(s) don't reflect what she might have earned by herself, UKVI will see the new deposits as "funds parking," a huge red flag. Search SE:Travel for "funds parking," there are several useful answers. – DavidSupportsMonica Apr 25 at 22:09
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    "UK immigration are looking for the ability to support oneself in one's own right": this is not correct. People visit the UK all the time with support of others. Being supported by someone else can make the application harder, but it's not an automatic disqualifier. – phoog Apr 26 at 4:51
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In addition to Redd Herring’s answer I suggest that, if you decide to continue with a 6 month-long visit, as well as the documents you mention your girlfriend has her bank statements with her, and that you provide her with a full letter of invitation (see eg What should a sponsor tell the ECO?) plus a copy of your passport and your bank statements to prove your existence and that you can afford to support her. There is no published minimum funds requirement, but your invitation should state eg an estimate of the costs of the trip, that you’ll cover it all from income/savings, and that you’ll give her a weekly/monthly allowance for personal expenses whilst she’s here (if that’s your intention).

This may seem like overkill but if she’s arriving with little funds of her own, she may need to prove there and then that you can afford the visit. In effect, she should have all the documents that she’d need were she to apply for a visa with you as the 3rd party providing maintenance and accommodation.

It goes without saying that you must be at the airport to meet her and be available for any contact from Immigration during her landing interview. Also that she must be very careful in her conversations with Immigration, and to ensure she has nothing at all with her that might be interpreted as indicating intention to work during her visit.

  • Thanks for your answer. Yes of course I plan to pick her up from the airport. It's Birmingham, I don't know if any airports are more laid back? Would you advise us to make the trip shorter, would that increase her odds of being let it? Thanks – Jordan Apr 25 at 21:10
  • @Jordan It would be safe to assume Immigration is equally rigorous at all airports. Just my opinion, but yes, I would advise making the trip shorter, especially as this is her first visit to the UK. One other consideration is how well she speaks English? My own partner speaks little English and this has made completing the landing card and the landing interview itself quite stressful for him each time he visits. – Traveller Apr 25 at 21:15
  • Would you say cutting it to 3 months will make it better or would they still think that is a long time for a visit? She isn't fluent in English but she speaks and writes it pretty well. – Jordan Apr 25 at 21:19
  • @Jordan Again, just an opinion but yes, I do think 3 is much more credible than 6. And - on the plus side - not staying longer would mean she gets to enjoy the best of the UK summer but doesn’t have to adapt to our winter, or be kitted out with warmer clothes etc :-) – Traveller Apr 25 at 21:29
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    @Jordan you can avoid the stress of possible refusal of entry with a visa application. You can send in the application with all the documentation (proof that your landlord has given permission for her to stay, for example, if you rent, and proof that you can afford to support her, and that you have acquired your funds by legitimate means), and then wait at home for a response. You can even have an immigration lawyer prepare it for you, or at least advise you. Once it's approved, buy the tickets. – phoog Apr 26 at 4:56

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