I'm a British citizen and recently got married in Japan to a Japanese woman. Eventually my visa ran out and I had to return to the UK, and the plan is for her to eventually move here.

Because it will be a while before I get a job, hold it for 6 months and be allowed to apply for a Spouse Visa, and because we can't stand the wait, she is coming over to visit for a few weeks. Since she's Japanese she should be visa-exempt for stays of up to 6 months.

I have heard that, if you have already applied for a Spouse Visa, it is unwise for a spouse to come to stay before it has been granted as it could jeopardise the application.

But is there any reason she shouldn't come to visit before we have even made the application? Will an Immigration Officer refuse her entry on the assumption that she'll probably try to overstay?

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    I've edited the question anyway, consider it very bad phrasing on my part. – user66266 Aug 8 '17 at 17:38
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    If your wife does lie, and say she is visiting friends, then this entry will surely be discovered by the entry clearance officer when she applies for the spouse visa. If they investigate, the ECO will find it inexplicable that your wife only visited her friends, and not her husband while she was here, and will wonder why this reason for visiting was concealed. This would be disastrous for her visa application. – MJeffryes Aug 8 '17 at 17:43
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    Youtube "UK Border Force". It's 20 episodes of watching people try to lie at Heathrow and get nailed. The funniest are when they totally nail them for lying, make them apologize on national TV, then just when they think their goose is cooked, land them anyway because the lie is not pertinent to immigration. It is also a primer for what to watch for; I think in your case they will worry that she aims to overstay, and will want to see proof of ties and obligations back in Japan that will assure she returns timely. – Harper Aug 9 '17 at 0:44
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    "just when they think their goose is cooked, land them anyway because the lie is not pertinent to immigration" - this seems like an extremely cruel way to turn a bureaucratic process into exploitative reality TV :( – pjc50 Aug 9 '17 at 8:20
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    @MarshallTigerus No. It makes matters worse. Please read travel.stackexchange.com/questions/47975/… – Gayot Fow Aug 9 '17 at 20:43
up vote 55 down vote accepted

"What is the purpose of your visit?"

"I am here for 3 weeks to maintain relationships with my husband."

"Where is your husband now?"

"He is in the arrivals hall."

"Where does he live and why are you living separately?"

"He lives in Cheshire and he is preparing to qualify for my spouse visa, hence we are living apart for an estimated 12 months. But it is still necessary and reasonable for us to maintain our relationship in the meantime."

"What do you do for a living?"

"My husband is the primary earner and he works at Car Phone Warehouse, I have an administrative position at the Mojo Dojo."

"Enjoy your visit"


It is absolutely reasonable for a husband and wife to maintain relationships. There is no punishment for telling the truth. And moreover, one of the things they look for in establishing the authenticity of a marriage is 'intervening devotion' which makes visits during lengthy separations massively desirable.

They get worried if it looks like one of the partners will enter breach. They will also get worried if one of the partners has a failed settlement visa. Remember that if you do get in and enter breach it may be very difficult to advance your status beyond settlement to get a British passport.


TL;DR

A reasonable premise and a transparent demeanour will prevail. We have pointed out in dozens of articles here about the importance of personal impact and articulation skills and how they govern the outcome of a landing interview. It's worthwhile to ask your wife to read them.

Should [someone] lie to immigration

No. Never. Do not even think of it. Absolutely not. Worst idea in the world. If you are found to be lying -- and trust me, the immigration folks are good at that -- then lying alone can be reason to deny entry.

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    I understand your answer, but it doesn't actually give me any new information about my situation. Let me rephrase, is the any reason telling the truth could result in her being denied entry? – user66266 Aug 8 '17 at 16:13
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    I can give you that reason. If she says she is going to visit friends, then visits the UK for some time then goes back and applies for a spouse visa and lists that I was in the UK few weeks/months ago (after marriage) that might jeopardize the spouse visa application. They will definitely know why the visit took place. Although there is nothing wrong with that visit but any hint of lying to UKVI might weaken future applications – Hanky Panky Aug 8 '17 at 16:30
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    Oh, okay, so there isn't anything wrong with visiting your husband without a Spouse Visa? It seems like I must've worded my question strangely because that's the subtext of what I'm getting at: is her visiting me risky in any way? What's the strategy? – user66266 Aug 8 '17 at 16:39
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    @user6626 the UK issues immigration bans to people who lie to immigration officers, up to ten years if I recall correctly. I can find the relevant bit of the immigration rules if you're interested. Even if the chance of a lie failing is small, it is balanced by the disastrous consequences: your wife being unable to apply to enter the UK until 2027. – phoog Aug 8 '17 at 21:24
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    @user6626 "I mean, if she's gonna be denied entry for trying to visit her husband without a spouse visa anyway, lying just becomes a strategy that could fail. That's a lot better!" Not if there are serious consequences for that failure vs an honest denial. – deworde Aug 9 '17 at 8:13

Remember, the most important skill an immigration officer can have is being able to sniff out a liar. While we know your lie would be in good intentions (ah, l'amor, no?) they don't see it that way. Now unless your wife has professional training in espionage, she's probably not going to be a good enough liar to get through immigration control.

Almost every time I've been through immigration, I've been asked a question that I can say with 100% certainty is on the screen in front of the agent. They're looking for your reactions to the questions just as much as they are looking for the answers.

And in an age of ever-more-connected systems between governments (particularly western governments) there's a rather good chance they already know that you two are married!! So even if your new wife practices well enough to get through the questioning and maintain the bluff, they might have the fact that she's lying right in front of them. At that point, you can kiss any visa hopes goodbye.

And even if she was good enough to bluff it, AND they don't have the connected systems, AND it never comes up in questioning, there's still the moral argument to be made. Do you want to put her in that situation? Do you want to make her lie for that?

Look, I've been in a very similar situation. During the immigration process my wife and I were separated for months (and she had our child with her too, so I was missing her too!!) But we made it work. We skyped, we texted, we called. You make it work. If you're going to spend your life with her, maybe you get 50 years together. Do you really want to risk those 50 years because you couldn't settle for 49?

Do the smart thing. Don't lie to an Immigration Officer.

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    Man, I really should've worded my question differently because most of the focus is on the possibility of lying rather than whether the truth is even risky to begin with, which is what I actually want to know. I wasn't planning on making her lie, it was actually her idea! I'm just trying to find out if it's even necessary. – user66266 Aug 8 '17 at 17:23
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    @user66266 90%+ of questions like yours come down to "how can I trick immigration/consular officers into letting me through even though really I should be denied". – jwenting Aug 9 '17 at 8:10

They can and will deny entry if they think you may intend to stay longer the visa you arrived on. I am a British citizen and my Australian wife of 8 years was denied a British visa. I earned twice the income threshold for spouse visa in the UK but was denied because she entered as a visitor and we changed our plans and wanted to stay in the UK and we had 7 days to leave the UK with no right of appeal in the UK. We are now back in Australian and still in shock at the outcome (4 months later) and probably more significantly the lack of rights to appeal etc in the UK.

I am British citizen but I am not allowed to live in the UK.

We had to give the Home Office my wife's passport while the application so we could travel internationally while the application was in progress.

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    Wait, so what made them think you planned to overstay? Did she in fact overstay her visitor visa, or did she just stay longer than she originally planned to but still within her visa's timeframe? Or was it the fact that she visited at all? – user66266 Aug 10 '17 at 9:15
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    @user66266 be careful not to mix apples and oranges. He is saying that his wife got in as a visitor and then they "changed their plans" and wanted to stay which is generally interpreted by the Home Office to mean she lied to the IO about her visit intentions. Then they made a SETTLEMENT application from inside the UK which was refused. Your case is different so always be careful what you read on the net. – Gayot Fow Aug 10 '17 at 10:50
  • Yeah I found that confusing to read, thanks for clearing that up. – user66266 Aug 10 '17 at 16:56

protected by phoog Apr 7 at 12:22

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