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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My boyfriend and I met online and have been together for 3 years. He is 25 and I am 23. He's been to my home country (USA) twice. I've made several trips to the UK for long periods of time. Twice for 3 months, several for a week or two and most recently, 5 months. In total, I've spent just over 1 year in the UK without a visa (because Americans can come as tourists for 6 months out of the year).

Each time I've come to the UK, I've been detained for questioning because I quit my job to be able to spend long periods of time in the UK. My boyfriend is able to financially support me. However, the last time I was granted entrance, I was advised that I would need a visa the next time I make a trip because it's "suspicious" that I have no means of income and that I'm able to spend long periods of time in the UK.

Back home, I live with my mother who financially supports me so I've chosen to not work so that I can be flexible with flight dates to be with my boyfriend. His job is very demanding and he can't request time off for more than a week, which is why he can't "live" with me in the U.S.

We do not want to get married just for the sake of being able to live together so we were looking at the unmarried partner visa. It seems perfect for our situation except for the whole "proof you've been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for a minimum of 2 years". He owns his own home and we do "live together in a relationship akin to marriage" when I'm in the UK. But, if I'm being advised to get a visa before I can return, how are we supposed to live together?

Is this is a very strict rule that can mean automatic rejection for a visa? Are there any other options? We want to live together in the UK and we do plan on marriage in the future but again, we don't want to feel "forced" into marriage because the border agency has given us no other choice. Any advice?
 

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The unmarried-partners ruling of living together more or less continually for a period of 2 years or longer is there to prevent non-genuine applicants abusing this route into the country. Unfortunately, you won't qualify unless you can prove that you have lived together more or less continually for a period of 2 years or longer - very hard to do when the visa rules of two countries actually prevent it. It's strictly applied and rejection will be more or less guaranteed unless you can provide this proof in your travel records and shared assets such as property, utility bills etc. As a result, the people who mostly make use of this visa are applicants often already in the UK and living with their partners whilst on another visa (e.g. student visa), or people in countries where they have been able to live together for a minimum two years without visa restriction and both want to return to the UK together.

As you are Canadian, there is one other possibility that might be open to you. If any of your grandparents was born in Britain you may be eligible for the Ancestry visa: UK Border Agency | UK ancestry. Failing this, the only other avenues would be to come to study in the UK as an international student (expensive) or yes, become engaged to your partner).
 

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I forgot to add about visiting...

Yes, it can be fraught. The way to get through it is to convince border officials that you have very compelling reasons to return, and that's where you have your biggest difficulty: you gave up your means of support and income and that does indeed look suspicious as far as UKBA is concerned. The irony is that by having a job, although you wouldn't be able to stay here for long, you would have an easier time entering the UK.

All I can offer is that you bring with you evidence of anything and everything tieing you to Canada and which offers convincing reasons why you intend to return (property you own or rent, a course you intend to study, and maybe go back to work as that will definitely help). Another trick is to not ask outright for a full 6 months stay: book your flights with an airline which allows you to change your return date, then book your initial return date for no more than 3-4 weeks after your arrival in UK. If you are allowed into the UK and are given a full 6-month stamp, you can then change your flight's return date from within UK. It carries a risk whereby UKBA might only give you leave to remain until your declared flight return date, but on the other hand might not set off the usual alarm bells and (as said) you could then revise your return date to stay to the limit of your passport stamp).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you so much for your advice! After talking about it with my boyfriend, I think I'm going to try for a tier 2 work visa. I've been offered positions here before but never considered it until now. Time to research!
 

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Good luck!

If successful and you plan to live with your boyfriend whilst here, one piece of advice I CAN give is to have as much as possible put in joint names (tenancy agreement or mortgage, utility bills, bank accounts etc). This would mean that, if you do ultimately want to apply for an unmarried-partners visa later, you could start building your dossier of 'living-together' evidence right from the start. This evidence is actually useful for all 'settlement with partner' visas (even married partners need to prove they've actually been living together for the duration of being in the UK before they can qualify for an Indefinite Leave To Remain visa).
 

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Thank you so much for your advice! After talking about it with my boyfriend, I think I'm going to try for a tier 2 work visa. I've been offered positions here before but never considered it until now. Time to research!
It is extremely difficult to qualify for a Tier 2 work visa. Sponsors must 1st prove that there is no one in the UK or EU who can fill the position. That's about 500 million people. Unless you have some unique talent, specialized skills, advanced qualifications and years of experience the chances of you qualifying are pretty slim.
 
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