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Travel from/return to the UK soon before FLR expires

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My wife's FLR expires in mid December and she's eligible for ILR in mid September.

 

If we travel to Thailand together in November, will she have any issues in re-entering the UK with her BRP? Especially if there are delays and she ends up arriving a week before her FLR expires.

 

Some background:

 

We were already overdue a trip to Thailand when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and pushed back our May 2020 trip to this Christmas. I was relying on the Super Priority service and paying the extra £800 to ensure that her September application was processed well in time for December. Unfortunately, Super Priority has been withdrawn and the Coronavirus Immigration Helpline just gave me a stock response saying "These services will continue to be paused for now." They did not answer my second question, which is whether my wife would be able to switch an existing application to Super Priority if it were already in progress.

 

I'm fairly sure we cannot travel outside the CTA after the application has been submitted on the slow track, which could possibly even go beyond the six months (hard to be sure). This is based on searching online and finding immigration lawyers talking about section 34K of the immigration rules. Assuming my wife gets her passport and BRP back (I think that's how it works now but we haven't tried it), she'd still be deemed to have cancelled her application if she leaves the CTA.

 

So we considered our options:

 

1. Get the application in ASAP on the slow track, hope (but don't assume) it'll be done in time for Songkran. For various personal reasons we really don't want to leave it this late.

2. Move our booking forward to early November, aiming to return to the UK around 3 weeks before her FLR expires, allowing for a bit of a delay and submitting the ILR application.

3. Leave things as is, hope Super Priority returns by mid November and that we can keep our current Christmas trip in place; but if not, we've delayed starting the "six month" application by a further couple of months.

 

I've written to my MP asking that 34K be suspended for as long as Super Priority is suspended. I have no expectations this will help, but wanted to make my opinion known anyway.

 

All of the above assumes that we're willing to go through the cost and hassle of 2 week's quarantine in Thailand, leaving a week or two for seeing family (not exactly the holiday of a lifetime then!) and that we can quarantine when we get home (no problem for me, manageable for my wife). 

 

If we go with option 1, can we do the application 28 days before my wife becomes eligible for ILR? (The form asks how long you've been in the UK, so she'd have to answer 4 years and 11 months).

 

If we go with option 2, how much hassle are we likely to get at the border when returning to the UK?

 

TIA!

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I wouldn't use any of the options you have listed, to be honest.

 

My wife and I have been discussing a trip to Thailand to catch with friends and family.

 

For ease of travel and to avoid disappointment we have decided to aim at May 2121 at the earliest.

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Posted (edited)

I presume you mean 2021, but yes depending on personal circumstances waiting is going to be the best option for a lot of people, and we too will have to consider that.

 

An added complication is that we're expecting to start fertility treatment next year and they won't do it for 6 months after we've travelled to a country that has a risk of the Zika virus, which currently includes Thailand. If we go in December it'll probably delay the treatment by a couple of months, e.g. from April to June. If we go next April, that pushes back to October - and we already pushed back because of Covid.

 

My wife isn't happy about the idea of what could turn out to be a 4 year gap between visits to Thailand (and to be fair, I miss it too!)

Edited by fbf

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20 hours ago, fbf said:

I presume you mean 2021

Yes, indeed I do. Sorry.

 

Although, with a bit of luck the Covid19 situation may well be passed by 2121. 🙂

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On 8/2/2020 at 3:50 PM, fbf said:

I presume you mean 2021, but yes depending on personal circumstances waiting is going to be the best option for a lot of people, and we too will have to consider that.

 

An added complication is that we're expecting to start fertility treatment next year and they won't do it for 6 months after we've travelled to a country that has a risk of the Zika virus, which currently includes Thailand. If we go in December it'll probably delay the treatment by a couple of months, e.g. from April to June. If we go next April, that pushes back to October - and we already pushed back because of Covid.

 

My wife isn't happy about the idea of what could turn out to be a 4 year gap between visits to Thailand (and to be fair, I miss it too!)

From a website about the Zika-virus:

"Zika virus is present in Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and parts of Africa." 

Quite a large part of the world where people go as a tourist,but as far as I know, authorities in Thailand are talking more about Dengue-fever than the Zika-virus at the moment. 

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On 8/3/2020 at 4:16 PM, Max69xl said:

Quite a large part of the world where people go as a tourist,but as far as I know, authorities in Thailand are talking more about Dengue-fever than the Zika-virus at the moment. 

Thanks, but the only thing that matters is the guidance that NHS trusts and private fertility clinics follow.

 

On the subject of visa applications, I am still not sure if it's possible to submit a non-priority ILR application before the applicant has been in the UK for less than five years.

 

Possible, not possible, possible provided the biometrics appointment is after the five-year mark?

 

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So do all these issues fall away if you don't travel abroad, fbf?  My Thai wife and I are also rebooked from a May 2020 trip and have rebooked for late November 2020, but I doubt we'll be able to go without quarantine and will have to push out to mid-2021.  

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11 hours ago, torturedsole said:

So do all these issues fall away if you don't travel abroad, fbf?  My Thai wife and I are also rebooked from a May 2020 trip and have rebooked for late November 2020, but I doubt we'll be able to go without quarantine and will have to push out to mid-2021.  

In our circumstances, we would need to wait until at least 2022 and it could easily end up being 2023. I wouldn't even be sharing sensitive health information under my real name, but it doesn't take a genius to work out that if a couple is having fertility treatment, and if the treatment cannot start until six months after traveling to a country listed as having a risk of Zika virus then, it's going to take a while to go through the treatment, whether successful or not.

 

Sure, not traveling is an option, it's not life or death. But I'm willing to trade money and effort/hassle in exchange for the possibility of a trip to Thailand so that my wife doesn't end up going such a long time without seeing her family. If your situation is different then hopefully the trade-offs involved for you are less severe.

 

Although I posted all the above for context, I'm more interested in practical information that will help me make more informed choices.

 

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On 8/1/2020 at 12:25 PM, fbf said:

My wife's FLR expires in mid December and she's eligible for ILR in mid September.

 

If we travel to Thailand together in November, will she have any issues in re-entering the UK with her BRP? Especially if there are delays and she ends up arriving a week before her FLR expires.

No; as long as her LTR and BRP are valid. If they are not, then she wont get as far as the UK border because the airline will refuse to carry her without valid entry clearance for her destination; the UK.

 

If she is unable to leave Thailand due to Covid 19 travel restrictions then I can't say what the situation would be. But whilst flights into Thailand are restricted, there are still flights from Thailand to the UK. When we returned to the at the end of April UK only EVA were flying BKK to LHR; one flight every other day. I don't know if that's improved.

 

On 8/1/2020 at 12:25 PM, fbf said:

1. Get the application in ASAP on the slow track, hope (but don't assume) it'll be done in time for Songkran. For various personal reasons we really don't want to leave it this late.

 

If we go with option 1, can we do the application 28 days before my wife becomes eligible for ILR? (The form asks how long you've been in the UK, so she'd have to answer 4 years and 11 months).

Yes, provided all the other requirements are met she can apply up to 28 days before she completes the residential requirement.

 

I'll let you do the calculation, but that's roughly mid August; about now, in fact.

 

On 8/1/2020 at 12:25 PM, fbf said:

2. Move our booking forward to early November, aiming to return to the UK around 3 weeks before her FLR expires, allowing for a bit of a delay and submitting the ILR application.

 

If we go with option 2, how much hassle are we likely to get at the border when returning to the UK?

 None, providing her FLR and BRP are still valid. See above.

 

Remember, too, that when she submits her ILR application she must hold a valid LTR in the UK. If she is stuck in Thailand and can't return before her current LTR expires, she may have to start the settlement process all over again from the beginning! Sounds harsh, but I imagine UKVI's response being that she knew the situation, knew the risks and should have obtained her ILR before travelling. They'd have a point!

 

You are correct that once she has submitted her application if she travels outside the CTA before it is determined then the application will be deemed to have been withdrawn. Good luck with your letter to your MP, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

 

My opinion is that she should apply for her ILR asap, which is about now, and plan your visit for after she has received it. Even if it does take the full 6 months to process, she should have it by mid January, which will leave you plenty of time to arrange a trip to Thailand for Songkran.

 

Assuming the pandemic has cleared enough for Thailand to reopen it's borders to visitors from the UK by then!

 

 

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