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I am a UK citizen. My U.S. citizen fiancé travelled to the UK in:

  • May 2018 (10 days)
  • July 2018 (9 days)

And then returned in Feburary 2019.

  • 3 February – 30 July (6 months)

She had originally planned to stay for 3-4 months, but we got engaged in April 2019 (during a long weekend in Paris, the only time spent outside the UK), so she extended her stay.

Since then I have made a few short visits to the USA. We would both like her to come to London for 10 days at Christmas, but are unsure about whether she will be allowed into the UK. The rules seem ambiguous. We know each single stay cannot exceed 6 months, but not whether that is 6 months per annum. If she visits at Christmas it will be five months since she was here.

Will she be allowed entry to the UK if she tries to visit at Christmas?

Other possibly relevant factors:
• She now lives in rented accommodation in New York
• She works as an actor (so we cannot show that she is employed). She last worked in August 2019. She has an agent in NY and has been taking industry relevant courses there.
• The short to medium term plan (now – 2 years) is that she will continue to live between NY and LA, and that we'll alternate visits to the USA/UK every 8 weeks. • Longer term (1-3 years) the plan is that we will get married and she will move to London with a spousal visa.

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  • Will she be allowed entry to the UK if she tries to visit at Christmas? No one can answer this question. Clearly you already know she is in the danger zone for entry refusal. What really worries border officers is unemployment and relationships with UK residents, and she has both. I'd be collecting as much evidence as possible that I wasn't really unemployed, so evidence of courses is good and trying to get some kind of regular work, even part time. If she gets one refusal, it's really going to hurt her in future visit entries. But be assured, it won't affect future spouse visa applications. – MJeffryes Nov 1 '19 at 14:13
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    That looks like four visits to the UK, not three. Unless the UK conquered France while nobody was looking... – Michael Hampton Nov 1 '19 at 16:07
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The good news is that there is no rule preventing your fiance from visiting the UK for Christmas. The UK does not have a "cannot be here for more than so much time in a year" rule. It's down to the discretion of the admitting officer. As the comments say, you presumably know she is at risk of being considered that she is trying to live in the UK with repeated visits, which is against the rules.

My non-expert opinion is that she would be admitted, given that it's such a short visit, it's a reasonable amount of time since she left, she has obeyed the rules up to now, she has ties to the US, and that lots of people visit their fiances for Christmas. But that's just my opinion. And it assumes that there are no other red flags. A lawyer with expertise in the area would give you a better answer.

You have correctly identified the things you can do which will a) convince the border guard that she will leave when she says she will and b) not try to re-enter in a few weeks time. A return ticket, a rental agreement, an agent, and plans to take courses are all good things, and she should bring documentation to support all of them.

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    Thank you. This was a useful reinforcement of our understanding of the situation. All things considered the visit will be deferred to avoid the risk of further complications if she was sent home. – William Nov 4 '19 at 20:45

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