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I am a British Citizen and my wife is American and has been living and working here in the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain since 2007. Her Mother, who is the only family she has, visits regularly from the US to see her and our 2 year old son.

Last year she had a real hard time convincing border control to let her in, and she did stay slightly over 6 months that time. So when she got back home, she applied for a visa. It was denied for the following reason:

I am not satisfied you are seeking entry to the UK in the spirit of conditions of a genuine visitor.

She has no intention of trying to live here in the UK. With her application was a LOT of evidence showing that she only wants to visit for around 3 or 4 months a year to spend time with her daughter and grandson. She has tens of thousands in savings, owns her own home in the US debt free, is a Pastor in her local community etc... She stays with us while she is here and is no burden on the tax payer.

Is there anything else she can do to prove that she is not trying to live here? Also can she still visit even though her visa was denied, or will she be turned away at the border?

Edit to add scan of refusal: enter image description here

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    You're saying she had a "real hard time convincing border control to let her in" and then subsequently overstayed on that trip? Why? If she already had trouble before, why would she make the situation even worse by overstaying? – Zach Lipton Jul 15 '16 at 19:20
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    Seen, great to have such a quick reaction. Now be patient because your best bet on here is to get an answer from @GayotFow. In the meantime you could have a look at our awesome archives with similar tags and our search function for V 4.2 (b) – mts Jul 15 '16 at 19:22
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    Oh my, you didn't mention she had a failed in-country application. Was it a settlement application? What was she applying for "...previous unsuccessful application to remain in the UK..."? Oh my... I'll start composing an answer – Gayot Fow Jul 15 '16 at 19:23
  • @ZachLipton While she was here she(wrongly) applied for a FLR(O) visa based on advice from a lawyer. She had to send her passport off with the application and it took 5 months for them to process the application. She had already been here 2 months when she made the application, so she couldn't leave without her passport. The application was eventually denied and her passport was sent to the airport for her when she left. – superphonic Jul 15 '16 at 19:25
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    Have you ever lived in another EU country? – phoog Jul 15 '16 at 20:29
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Your mother-in-law (American) applied for entry clearance as a visitor and was refused. In her previous visit she applied to live here permanently {FLR(O)} and was refused and likely was issued removal paperwork.

Her current refusal cites 4.2 (b), they use this if someone has spent more time in the UK than in their own country...

will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home

They don't like it when people do this because when the person builds up a private life in the EU they can make a claim under Article 8 to live there permanently. The 'buzzword' for your particular type of case is called 'chain migration'.

Is there anything else she can do to prove that she is not trying to live here?

But that's what she's doing. The ECO wrote that she visits on the average of every three months and last year she was here more than in her own country. And although it may have been bad advice (I'm not sure it actually was bad advice), it can be said that genuine visitors do not file for FLR(O).

Once a visitor tries to settle, it basically 'tips their hand' that there's a secondary agenda at work and the person loses credibility. And that's what has happened... "I am not satisfied you are seeking entry to the UK in the spirit of conditions of a genuine visitor." Or to put it directly it reads: "I don't believe you".

What's left to be done is for your wife to arrange a consultation with a solicitor who specialises in family immigration. Kingsley Napley or Laura Devine or Bates Wells (disclaimer: I know them) or any of the others listed at ILPA to see if the visitor routes make sense going forward. I don't think they do, but it's really a solicitor's call.

Also can she still visit even though her visa was denied, or will she be turned away at the border?

There is no requirement for an American to get an entry clearance to visit, but they can refuse to admit her. People in your mother-in-law's situation get entry clearances voluntarily because they want to avoid the distress of wasted airfares and port side removals. Her history shows she is a big-time risk so she's emphatically advised not to travel without an entry clearance.

On the plus side, once a non-visa national successfully applies for entry clearance, it basically wipes the record clean and gives the person a "fresh slate" (or at least a claim to one). They can stop applying each time they want to visit.

  • Thank you so much for this. It's frustrating because she didn't spend more time here than at home voluntarily, she couldn't leave without her passport. She wanted to leave at Christmas. We'll get in touch with one of the solicitors you mention. It seems crazy there are not set rules, and it is basically down to what the immigration officer at the border is is feeling like that day... Thanks again. – superphonic Jul 15 '16 at 20:46
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    @superphonic you can print this out and send it to them as background, save a little time/money perhaps. – Gayot Fow Jul 15 '16 at 20:56

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