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BANGKOK 24 February 2019 00:40
jimn

UK Settlement Visa for Thai Wife.

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I am thinking of applying for a settlement visa for my Thai wife over the next couple of years. 

Firstly a bit of background. We currently spend about 7 months in Thailand and 5 in the UK. My wife has had 3 general 1 year visas granted and is currently halfway through a 5 year family visit visa. Whilst this works well for us, I want to explore options as I am not getting any younger. Now I know the rules and requirements in obtaining a settlement visa, but if we continue with our current rotation of 7 months in Thailand and 5 in the UK, I am not sure if she would qualify as she is expected to live predominantly in the UK. The question I would like an opinion on is this. The UK does not have any exit border checks, if my wife was granted a settlement visa, how would immigration know how long she is actually staying in the UK. I know you get stamped in every time you come but they would have no way of knowing how long she will have been out of the country. 

I would be grateful for any constructive thoughts especially from @7by7 and @theoldgit Thanks.

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I would want confirmation on this, but believe that UK Border Force receive information from the airlines on who is entering and leaving the country, when and how often.

 

There is no minimum time one must live in the UK per year when qualifying for either FLR or ILR laid down in the rules; though in both applications the applicant must show that they are a UK resident. This may be difficult to do if most of each year is spent in Thailand!

 

If she were to get ILR then there is a limit of sorts. If she were to spend a continuous period of two or more years out of the UK then her ILR would lapse.

 

In addition, if immigration at her port of entry to the UK believed that she was not a UK resident but merely using her ILR for visits then it could be cancelled on the spot; though she would be allowed in as a visitor on that occasion.

 

I'm not sure if this applies to FLR also. Though she must be in the UK to make her FLR and ILR applications. If she was out of the UK when her initial visa or her FLR expired then she would need the appropriate visa to enter the UK. which means for settlement she`d have to start the whole process all over again.

 

There is a definite minimum UK residence required were she to wish to apply for naturalisation as British. As the spouse of a British citizen she must have been legally in the UK on the exact day 3 years prior to submitting the application and during the intervening 3 years have spent a maximum of 270 days out of the UK with a maximum of 90 days in the final year. 

 

Edited by 7by7
Addendum

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Whilst the UKBA don’t have regular embarkation controls when exiting the UK.
A couple of years ago they introduced a scheme where carriers, including ferries and Eurostar, were required to include the data of all passengers they carry through or across the UK Border and forward that data to the UKBA.
Whilst the scheme was predominately to identify visa overstayers and for statistical purposes, they would have your wifes travel details in the system. Whether they’d use them or not is another question.
I suspect she wouldn’t have an issue with her initial application, but she might well do in later stages.


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@7by7 and @theoldgit. Gentlemen thank you both for your comments. It has definately given me something to think about. I had a feeling they had to have information regarding exits from somewhere. What you have said makes sense. Whether they would actually use this information or even care to look, would be interesting to find out.

The reason why I have been thinking of going this route is because although my wife has been successful in getting the family visit visa and staying with me in the UK for 5 months in every 12 months, I dont know if one day they might turn her down. So far on our visits the IO at Heathrow has just asked a couple of quick questions and in we go. Also in the future, I am 62 now, one never knows how things will be healthwise, I may have to stay in the UK for an extended period. It would be a nightmare if my wife had to leave the country due to her visa restrictions. I will keep what you have said in mind and make a decision at some point. Thanks again.

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