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I am a Saint Lucian and will be traveling to Manchester, UK soon about which I am a bit nervous.

Run Down:

  • I own a small business in my country (in the Caribbean), I have a certificate mentioning the details of the business from my Government.
  • I pay rent in my country, but I do not have any loans (I hate owing).
  • I pay life insurance in my country.
  • I have a US B-1/B-2 visa (Visitor & Business).
  • I have visited the US once (last year November) on my US B-1/B-2 visa.

What I will be doing in the UK:

  • I plan to spend three months out of the six months which would be granted if I get leave to enter stamp.

  • I plan to skydive in the first week and spend a few nights at an Airbnb.

  • I plan to visit the Manchester Football Club stadium, I'm not the biggest of football fans but since I'm in Manchester, why not!

  • I plan to do some more sightseeing and enjoy my time there.

  • After the first week I will be staying with my female friend who owns an apartment for the rest of the time showing me around and helping me experience the UK lifestyle until June.

Why I'm leaving in June:

  • I am a WordPress enthusiast (I'm a Programmer) and WordCamp EU will be happening in France this year so I plan to fly from the UK to Paris where I will spend three days then take another flight from there to my country.

How my flights will be:

  • I will be taking a one-way Thomas Cook flight from my country to Manchester but will be purchasing my ticket for Manchester to France ahead of time so I could show Thomas Cook as well as Immigration that I don't plan to stay.

My concerns, could someone address them point by point please?:

  • I have a bank account but I just use it for collecting easy payments from my clients and pay for expenses. I store my savings in a credit union because of higher interest rates paid than the bank. When I applied for my US visa I showed a credit union statement showing my total balance. I'm seeing online that I should provide statements but these statements would look very bad since I my bank account is just for expenses... I mean it sometimes gets as low as $30 then, when my monthly earnings come in from clients, I withdraw savings to the credit union and leave what I need in the account for expenses. I read another post and it said people with bank statements showing poor spending might have difficulty but it's simply because the account is used for expenses not savings.

  • For the later stages of my visit (after the first week) I will be staying with my friend. I will simply be staying with her to save on cost of Airbnbs for the next two months three weeks, even though they could be cheap, free is better right?

  • I will be booking the Airbnb, skydiving and tours prior to traveling to the UK, will that help?

  • Is my stay too long for staying with someone? I won't be depending on her for anything since I have my own funds...it's just convenient that she has a place where I could stay. If it is then I don't have a problem shortening my stay to 1-2 weeks and just head back to my country and take a separate flight to Paris in June.

I am nervous because I really want to visit the UK and see my friend, I am also not sure if the minimum amount of time that could be given to a visitor is six months? What if I get a round trip for two weeks and the Immigration officer gives me exactly two weeks stay, is that possible? Or is the minimum they could give six months?

Your help is very much appreciated, I want soon to try backpacking (nomad life) but I don't think my poor heart could take the stress of worrying about immigration :(

Update

Since people in the comments are asking about my relationship with the friend I plan to stay with even though she's from my country originally but now a UK citizens and we are simply friends.

  • What is your nationality? – Michael Hampton Jan 11 '17 at 3:13
  • @MichaelHampton St. Lucian – Wiyo758 Jan 11 '17 at 3:15
  • I have no problem producing all statements, I'm worried that me mentioning I would be living with a friend for the majority of the time might lower my chances of passing through. I would rather not rent airbnbs for so long – Wiyo758 Jan 11 '17 at 3:47
  • @GayotFow No one is meeting me at the airport in Manchester, I am traveling alone. I am attending those events (skydiving etc) alone because I have looked them up already, I will spend the remaining time with my friend and explore more places until WordCamp EU. WordCamp EU is a WordPress meetup happening around the World every year. I went to WordCamp US in November, you could learn more about WordCamp EU here: 2017.europe.wordcamp.org WordCamp US 2016 here: 2016.us.wordcamp.org I intend to walk with fliers about WordCamp EU – Wiyo758 Jan 11 '17 at 4:03
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    Because of the WordPress mention, are you a programmer/UI designer? That is, would it be easy for you to work while in the UK? Remote/online work is still in a grey area when it comes to travel and visas. You may need to be able to say that you do NOT plan to work while in UK. – mkennedy Jan 11 '17 at 18:47
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What if I get a round trip for two weeks and the Immigration officer gives me exactly two weeks stay, is that possible? Or is the minimum they could give six months?

6 months is the default and maximum leave they'll grant a visa-free national. Should they suspect you intend to live in the UK and/or seek employment, they may well grant a shorter leave. To be frank, though, if they aren't convinced of your intentions, more often than not they'll simply refuse you entry.

Personally, to err on the side of caution, if I were you I'd bring any documentation proving your participation in the events (including the one in France), as well a copy of your bank statement, onward flight confirmation to France, employment contract, and anything else proving your purpose for visiting the UK and your intention to return home. Of course, do not present all of this to the IO upfront, but have it to show them if asked.

Unfortunately, you being friends with a British citizen of the opposite sex is very likely to raise a red flag, and you already understand why (if she wasn't British, it would not be as bad). Again, documentation, documentation, documentation, proving every single tie you have to St Lucia, as well as your flight confirmations to France and back home, are a great idea to have.

I also think you should screenshot the Thomas Cook booking page showing fares for different dates and print it out, to be able to prove why you're travelling on your dates. It just might come in handy - you never know.

Furthermore, a letter of invitation from your friend is something I would recommend, stating the duration and motive of your stay, as well as the fact that she will not be financially supporting you (because if she did, it would be a reason for you to stay illegally)

Collect all these documents in an A4 soft binder, so you have them neatly organised. You may also want to include a print-out of section V4 and Appendix 3 of the Rules to refer to if need be.

Last but not least: trying to shy away from explaining to the IO your exact circumstances in accurate detail (like you're doing here on Travelstack), especially with your fairly "high-risk" plans, will lead to you being refused entry and removed. If this happens, you will have a much harder time re-entering without a visa.

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