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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

As many of you all have been in, the boy and I have been engaging in a long distance relationship travelling back and forth across the pond:

- Aug 2010: Me in UK (19 days)
- Aug 2011: Me in UK (14 days)

- Sep 2011: Him in US (14 days)
- Nov 2011: Me in UK (11 days)
- Jan 2012: Him in US (11 days)
- Feb 2012: Me in UK (5 days)

Well, my last trip to the UK was a bit intense. As I approached UK Border Agency in London Heathrow, they had interrogated me saying I had been coming to the UK every 2 months, what my intentions were, and even hinted that they were concerned I could be smuggling drugs into the country! I had no idea how to respond, as I knew I was doing nothing wrong, visiting my bf/fiance, and having a return ticket back to LA. Eventually, the immigration officer let me through as there was nothing I was doing wrong.

I have only 3 days holiday left until September, and my fiance has 36 days holiday, so he will be coming over here in LA a lot more in the next 6 months:

- Apr 2012: Him in US (11 days)
- Jun 2012: Him in US (5 days)
- Jul 2012: Him in US (11 days)
- Sep 2012: Me in UK (10 days)
- Oct 2012: Him in US (5 days)
- Nov 2012: Him in US (5 days)

Basically, he and I are a bit scared that it will become increasingly harder and harder for him to come here to LA and for me to go there in London. He comes over on the Visa Waiver Program and I go there on the Visitor Visa. We have never overstayed or broken any laws. What do we say? What do we bring... in order for US Customs and UKBA to be assured that we are not going to break any immigration laws or overstay our visa allowance.

He has a flat with 2 of his mates, but is now on a month-to-month so he has no long term contract anymore. He works for the Telegraph (almost 2 years now). He has family and friends back home. Vice versa goes with me. I work for a finance firm, I'm in an apartment but on a month-to-month lease now, and all my friends/family are here in California. What documents based on this information would be pertinent to show to US Customs/UK Border Agency to prevent them from not letting us in?

(I will post this in the US forum as well for advice).

Thanks everyone!
 

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Just for accuracy sake, Immigration/Border Control regulates people entering and leaving a country and Customs regulates what people bring into and take out of a country.

It's always best to be truthful with immigration officers. As you both have jobs, you should be able to get letters from your employers stating that you are expected back to resume your duties and on what date and of course a return ticket to back that up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply nyclon!

Should we not disclose the fact that we are in a relationship? And say we're just on holiday, sightseeing, visiting friends? I suppose it's not lying, as much as it is not fully disclosing. But I guess my concern is that how often do you visit friends in LA right before it starts to look suspicious...

I don't see a problem with getting letters from our employers stating expectations of our return to resume our duties. Should we include bank statements? Utility bills? Personal letter stating we have friends/family/close ties back home to return to?

Seems over-the-top as it's not even a Spouse Visa application, but I'd rather be safe and overcompensate than sorry.

Thanks again!
 

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Thanks for the reply nyclon!

Should we not disclose the fact that we are in a relationship? And say we're just on holiday, sightseeing, visiting friends? I suppose it's not lying, as much as it is not fully disclosing. But I guess my concern is that how often do you visit friends in LA right before it starts to look suspicious...

I don't see a problem with getting letters from our employers stating expectations of our return to resume our duties. Should we include bank statements? Utility bills? Personal letter stating we have friends/family/close ties back home to return to?

Seems over-the-top as it's not even a Spouse Visa application, but I'd rather be safe and overcompensate than sorry.

Thanks again!
What they want to see is that you have ties to your home country and reasons and responsibilities to go to go back to like a job, mortgage/rent, school, medical procedure, care of a relative, event to attend, contracts you need to fulfill, you get the picture. Anything you can provide to back that up will help including bank statements and utility bills. Are you planning a wedding? In which country?

Immigration officers are trained to spot red flags which is why you were likely stopped. Your pattern of visits triggered something they are trained to look for. Saying you are visiting friends rather than a fiance could come back to haunt you when one of you actually does apply for a spouse visa. Or, as you said visiting "friends" every couple of months could set off alarm bells for the immigration officer which would lead to further questions, the truth and then the aforementioned problems with future visas or even visits.
 

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I would be truthful. You are coming to visit your boyfriend/fiance. Carry proof of anything that shows you have ties to the US with you, like a letter from your employer stating when you are due back, take out a travel insurance policy that is only valid for the time you are in the UK, and unless one day you decide to go for it and are traveling with a fiancee or spousal visa, make sure you have a return ticket. If stopped and interrogated, be open and honest. You're in the UK for a holiday to visit your boy and see the country. If you're not engaged yet, say you have every intention of doing things legally if and when your relationship progresses to that stage. If you are engaged and they ask you about it, again, tell them when and where you're planning the wedding and that you will be doing things legally and apply for the visas when you are ready, but this trip is just for a visit. In short, try not to freak out if they stop you, but always be honest or it could come back to haunt you. Best of luck to the both of you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you Liz_in_UK and nyclon.

We are eventually planning a wedding here in LA not until after October, and applying for the UK Spouse Visa. Both our parents are hesitant for us to apply sooner than that so in the meantime we are trying to save money and build our relationship more.

Because we are eventually going to be applying for the UK Spouse Visa, is it pertinent for my boyfriend to disclose he is visiting his girlfriend at the US border? We're not applying the US one, just the UK Spouse Visa in the distant future (6+ months away from now). I just want to be able to see him with no hassle, but not have it haunt me in the future of course.

As I'm typing all this, I'm thinking outloud... Knowing he is going to be coming to the US almost every 5 weeks this summer, it's probably best to just fully disclose he's seeing his girlfriend when he is at LAX, then provide all necessary documents aforementioned to corroborate a return back to the UK (and vice versa for when I come to the UK) right?

After watching that recent film ("Like Crazy") - nothing scares me more than immigration officers! It almost feels like a double-edged sword, trying to spend quality time together, but get interrogated to the threat of no-entry... *sigh*

(I hope I'm not being redundant here... thanks again everyone!)
 

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Should we not disclose the fact that we are in a relationship?
Also, something to keep in mind. There is no need give information/bank statements/letters, etc unless asked. You don't have to volunteer information, but if asked, be truthful.
 

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Yes, he should be just as honest about what he is doing and your future plans, but only if asked. (Same goes for you when you go to the UK.) For instance, he should say he is coming to visit his girlfriend on these visits if asked what the purpose of his visit is, and when he comes over for the wedding, if asked he should say he is coming to get married and then you will apply for the UK Spouse visa. Don't disclose information you don't want to if they don't ask for it, but if they DO ask, never lie. I can't guarantee you won't be hassled and that it will be smooth sailing, but if you're honest with the answers you give to their questions, you should be ok. I felt very intimidated a couple of times when I went through immigration in the UK, but I always told the truth and was never denied (Though I was held for over an hour once.) My (now)husband never had any issues with US immigration when visiting me. But you should be fine, perhaps a bit stressed but fine, if you're prepared to prove your intentions and are honest :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I felt very intimidated a couple of times when I went through immigration in the UK, but I always told the truth and was never denied (Though I was held for over an hour once.) My (now)husband never had any issues with US immigration when visiting me.
Thanks Liz!

A couple questions for you! How often did your (now) husband visit you in the the US? How often did you visit in the UK? How long were your stays? How many times did you both visit/years or months pass by before finally deciding to do the UK Spouse Visa?

I posted this question in the US forum as well and the moderator there had indicated that we should prepare ourselves for "secondary questioning" which was questioning away from the crowds and with a 2nd immigration officer. Did your husband ever have this type of questioning?

Thanks again Liz! I apologize for all the questions! Your situation seems very similar to mine, so I appreciate letting me pick your brain.
 

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I've had a think about it, trying to remember when we visited each other and for how long. So without looking for stamps in passports, here's a breakdown of our visits as best I remember it.

We met in 2006 while my husband was on a J1 visa working at the same summer camp. Relationship started following summer of 2007 when we both returned to the same camp, so we were together for about 3 months there. He left the US the last week in August and now for the break down of visits...(Let's call my husband G and me L)

G to US December 2007 for 2 weeks
G to US March/April 2008 for 2.5 weeks
G to US August/September for 6 weeks
L to UK January 2009 for 2 weeks
G to US February/March 2009 for 6 weeks
L to UK July-December 2009 for 6 months
G to US May 2010 for 2 weeks
L to UK July 2010 for 6 weeks
G to US December 2010/January 2011 for 6 weeks
G to US March/April 2011 for 6 weeks
G to US June/July 2011 for 3 weeks
L to UK July 2011 on Fiancee visa

So in other words, we had been together for 3 and 1/2 years before getting engaged and it was another 6 months after our engagement before I moved to the UK. When I came over for 6 months I was taken to a separate room, searched and interrogated, but was allowed to stay. My next visit, nearly 7 months after I left the UK, raised some red flags because of my previous long stay, but I had very strong ties to the US and my story was verified by a phone call from immigration to my (now)husband. However, the only problem with immigration that my husband ever encounters is that his J1 visa is still valid due to a mistake made when they issued it. (It was valid for 5 years instead of 5 months.) So he just explained he was in the US to visit his girlfriend and is not traveling on the visa. In fact, once he was asked what the purpose of his visit was and he told them he was visiting his fiancee, they only asked him for how long and then stamped his passport.

Keep in mind we were able to do this because my husband is self employed and was able to do some work remotely from the US and I always had jobs I either hated and was all to pleased to leave to go visiting the UK for extended periods, or jobs with short term contracts. Hope that answers some questions for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow. Thanks Liz for all this information. I'm sure I'll read it a bunch of times. I'll let you know if I have any other questions. Your response is very helpful!!
 
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