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I moved to Israel to be with my girlfriend in 2006. We lived together until 2008 when we got married in October. I own a property in the UK which I let when I left England and now we're on the verge of buying another larger property as my wife and I want to move back to the UK.

I run my own business (UK registered) and have paid UK taxes since 2006. I intend to employ my wife when we move. We have no problem at all proving that we do not need support from the state owing to years' worth of savings and my earnings.

We are travelling together to the UK next week to check out our shortlist of houses. When we get back a week later I want to begin the visa process. We want to move in early September.

I'd really appreciate it if you guys could help with my questions:

1. Am I right in assuming that my wife *cannot* come to England on a tourist visa and then apply for the spouse visa straightaway?

2. We are just a few months off being married for four years which would mean instant ILR. Is there another visa we could apply to tide us over until four years have passed? The alternative is proving we have lived together since 2006 which would involve an enormous amount of translation work from a notary as the docs are in Hebrew. My thought here is to cut short the time until she can apply for passport/full citizenship.

3. Docs I have include savings statements, business and bank statements for six months, mortgage statement on the existing property, birth certificate (in English), marriage certificate with apostille and gigabytes of pics of us together with her kids (that you can see growing up from year to year - wow!). My wife passed IELTS with a 7.0 grade and we have the cert for that. We can ask her bank for English statements on her savings. Do we need anything else?

Kids are grown up now so it's just the wife that is applying. I guess we're in good shape overall. But any help on these questions would be much appreciated!
On question one-NO. Your wife cannot switch to another visa category whilst in the UK on the visitor visa.

On question two-she should apply for the spouse visa, and depending on the timing, UKBA may or may not append the KOL REQ that would permit her to take the KOL test and then apply for the ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain, the settlement visa). The spouse visa without the KOL REQ endorsement is for 27 months to cover travel delays, and at the 28th day before her 24th month of residing in the UK with you, she applies for the ILR.

After residing in the UK for 3 years, she can apply for citizenship:

UK Border Agency | Who can apply for British citizenship and other forms of British nationality?

On question three-bank documents need to be from the brick and mortar bank, UKBA makes it very clear they will not accept website print-outs because those are so easily tampered with. 'Gigabytes' of pics should be pared down considerably, and submitted as printed snaps.

Other than that, your supporting docs sound great, but to be sure, download and read the Guidance Notes on the visa you will be applying for to be sure you have precisely what the UKBA is looking for:

UK Border Agency | Applying from outside the UK

Remember the forms are one-size-fits-all, and some of the questions will not apply to your wife; directions are on the form explaining how to deal with the N/As:)
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