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I have a Serbian girlfriend who I have visited in Belgrade 4 times now and she is planning a trip to the UK for her 2 weeks vacation in 2 months from now (more details here).

When applying for this visa she must state the main reason for her visit, which is for her to see me and stay with me, also some travel to meet my friends and family etc. Thus, she must also state her relationship to me.

However, various people who have some experience of/heard stories about UK visa applications for such reasons are constantly telling us that we should never mention that I am her boyfriend or that she is my girlfriend, as she may then be refused. However, we plan to marry after my divorce (in process) is completed in 3-4 months time, so I do not under any circumstances wish to be deceptive so as to risk jeopardising our subsequent application for her to come here on a fiancée/marriage visa, as I read about here.

Do the "rumours" hold any truth? Should we do as I suggest and declare that we are boyfriend/girlfriend? Is there anything specific we should be aware of to document and declare about our releationship for the initial Standard Visitor visa?

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    These rumors are 100% false. It is the people who tried to hide the relationship, and then were caught in the deception, who get refused. But they don't mention that important part because it is embarrassing. – Michael Hampton Aug 3 at 6:46
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    Always be truthful when filling out a visa (or any legally binding document for that matter), if you use invalid information and get caught you may find your barred indefinitely from entering the UK. – sixones Aug 3 at 12:57
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First of all, I applaud your resolve to be truthful in the application. Definitely tell the truth.

Having said that, visiting a boyfriend or girlfriend can indeed be a bit of a red flag to immigration, though it is not an insurmountable one.

The key parts to successfully getting a visitor visa are convincing the officer reviewing the application that the person applying does indeed intend to come only as a visitor and that they have both the means to support themselves during their stay and both the means and intent to go home after their stay in the country.

What the immigration officer will be evaluating is whether your girlfriend is really just coming for a visit or whether she intends to stay in the UK with you and is trying to use the visitor visa to circumvent the normal immigrant visa requirements.

So, her application should definitely state her real purpose for the trip, but it should also supply any available information regarding ties she has to Serbia that will help demonstrate that she does, in fact, intend to go home after the visit. Owning or having a long-term rental agreement in place on her residence in Serbia will help with this. Having a job in Serbia will help with this. Family connections and other similar things tying her to Serbia will help with this. Any of that sort of information that she can supply with the application will help her case to demonstrate that she does intend to go home after the trip.

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    +1. For a visitors's visa, the interesting part are the reasons for leaving again, not necessarily the reasons for coming. – Jörg W Mittag Aug 4 at 7:15
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    Having proof of a return flight is often a great sign that you are legitimately visiting. – Brendon Dugan Aug 5 at 13:55
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    @BrendonDugan True. I originally had that in there, but someone commented that the UK specifically advises people not to book non-refundable travel plans before getting their visa. The comment had a good link on the subject, but the comment is gone now. – reirab Aug 5 at 14:36
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    @Brendon Dugan The UK does not require evidence of a return/onward flight booking when considering a visa application (see section 4 gov.uk/government/publications/…). It will of course be required when entering the UK after receiving the visa. – Traveller Aug 8 at 19:03
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From personal experience I don’t believe this is true, and I do believe it is always best to tell the truth in any visa application.

My partner is Cuban. It is notoriously difficult for Cubans to get a visa for any destination, and it’s virtually unheard of for a Cuban to be able to meet the financial eligibility requirements in their own right. I have successfully sponsored him for two visitor visas (3 months and 10 weeks respectively) in the last three years. Both the application and my covering letter clearly stated that we are in a long distance relationship, where and how we met, and that my travel history going back several years shows that I regularly visit him in Cuba. He was able to demonstrate stable employment and family ties.

Edit: I believe the key point here is that my partner provided credible evidence to demonstrate his intention to leave. If that had not been the case IMHO the visas would have been refused, but on the basis of simple ineligibility rather than because of the relationship itself. “My gf/bf can pay for me to visit them but I don’t meet any of the other eligibility criteria” will likely lead to a refusal from pretty much anywhere, not just the UK.

  • Thanks for your useful answer! – ajmedway Aug 5 at 8:14
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Yes and no.

In any case she should always tell the truth and not hide information.

Having a parent or a boyfriend could be a cause of denial or a help to get the visa. Such fact is not enough to have a decision, but it should be interpreted with all other information.

If she does not have a job nor connection to her home country (and especially if r comes from a much poorer country or where the law is not followed fully), the officer should check further the intention to return.

But in some other cases, it helps getting a guarantee of funds and not working in UK.

In your case: you say you plan to marry them. This will help: marrying a person who is in UK illegally is troublesome.

The important part: officers check that an applicant will not work in UK, and she will return home on time (with reasonable doubts). All information helps the officer to make the decision. Having or not a "boyfriend" is just extra information (which can work both ways).

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    This may be splitting hairs on word meanings, but (unless an applicant has a prior record) ECOs can’t ‘check’ that an applicant will not work in the UK or return home on time. All they can do is assess the likelihood of illegal working and/or overstaying based on the information and evidence in the application. – Traveller Aug 3 at 8:22
  • Thanks for your useful answer! – ajmedway Aug 5 at 8:14

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