I am planning to marry my Uruguayan fiancé in Santiago Chile and we are looking to head back to the UK (I am a British National) to visit my family early next year.

Would my wife be able to travel with me on a normal visitor visa, or would she need to apply for a spouse visa to enter the UK, even though we are not planning to stay there immediately?

I have read a plethora of information and so far I have found nothing to clarify the above. I have read that once we are married she would not be allowed to enter the UK until she got a spouse visa. Is this correct?


1 Answer 1


You are a British national and your wife-to-be is Uruguayan, a non-visa national. You want to travel to the UK with her for a visit.

A spouse visa is not required if they do not plan on settling in the UK; it's the wrong visa for visiting. A non-visa national who intends to maintain family relationships in the UK would apply for leave to enter as either a FAMILY VISITOR or GENERAL VISITOR. People do this all the time.

Having said that, if your wife does not have a credible peripatetic history, or it is her first visit to the UK, the Immigration Officer may (or may not) conclude that she is attempting to evade controls and remain in the UK. If that happens, she will either get a temporary admission or she will be served with a removal notice at the airport.

If you are not certain of the outcome and wish to avoid the stress of removal at port, she can apply for entry clearance as a FAMILY VISITOR in either Uruguay or Chile. If it is granted, there will be no problems landing and entering the UK. Note that there is no requirement for Uruguayans to obtain an entry clearance, and this step is undertaken for expedience and comfort only.

"...The rate of refusal of leave to enter at the port to visitors from some non-visa national countries ... is higher than for visitors from other countries. It can therefore be advisable for nationals of those countries to obtain entry clearance, and the rules permit though they do not strictly require it (para 23A). Even before the Immigration Order 2000 SI 2000/1161, entry clearance would ease the traveler's passage through immigration control and help to avoid wasted airfares and the distress of refusal at the port..."

(source: "Immigration and Asylum Law", Gina Clayton, LLM, Oxford University Press, 2004).

To summarize, your wife has two options...

  1. Apply for leave to enter upon arrival using her Uruguayan passport; or

  2. Apply for entry clearance as a FAMILY VISITOR in Uruguay or Chile.

The choice is hers and should be the one she feels most comfortable with. And a spouse visa should only be applied for if she intends to enter and settle in the UK. It is not needed for visits.

  • 1
    Thank you for your kind response. I am indeed grateful. With regards to the family visitor visa, would this allow us both to travel back together or would I need to head back to the UK first before she applies? The purpose of this trip would be to spend some time together after going though a horrific miscarriage, allowing me to begin to fulfil the financial requisites for us to apply for the initial two years residency. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    – Alex
    Dec 18, 2014 at 19:18
  • 1
    @Alex, you can travel together
    – Gayot Fow
    Dec 19, 2014 at 4:41

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