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Moving back to UK from Germany, with non-EU wife


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#1 Sokratees9

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:53 PM

Hi Everyone,

My wife and I will be moving to the UK before the end of the year. Our situation is as follows:

I am a British citizen (born there).
She is from Hong Kong, and has a HK passport.
We currently live together in Germany, and have been for the past 4 years (2 years married).

I thought moving back to the UK would be a formality, and called the UK Embassy in Germany to find out what procedures we needed to follow. It turns out no one seems to be able to give me an answer.

We've been told by different people:

that we need a settlement visa, which would cost 403.
that we could get an EEA family permit, which would cost nothing.
that we can simply go to the UK an make applications when we get there.

I can't believe that we would need a settlement visa, as why would a british citizen have to pay 403 for the right to bring their spouse to the UK, when an EEA citizen can get a permit for free. But I've also read in numerous places (including this website) that a British citizen shouldn't use a EEA.

I'm also quite skeptical about just going back home, and hoping we don't run into any problems when we try to register my wife or get her a work permit. We'd like to have everything sorted out before we go, so that if she finds a job there she can start immediately without any problems.

I find it a little annoying that we can't get any 100% concrete info about this, as I thought it wouldn't be a complicated situation, and that quite a few people would have had to go through similar processes, but i've found very little on the net about it. In Germany it wasn't a problem at all for my wife to stay here when we got married, all we had to do was present out passports and marriage cert, pay 10 and it was done.

Does anyone else have experience of a similar situation?

Thanks for your time
Stephen



#2 Victoria

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 03:12 PM

You do need a settlement visa. Crazy, but true. If you can prove that you have been living together for 4 years then your wife will be granted Indefinite Leave to Enter, which gives her permanent residency. Otherwise, she will be granted a two year visa, which can be changed into permanent residency at the end of the two years.

All the info is on www.ukvisas.gov.uk

And the application must be made before she enters the UK.

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#3 Sokratees9

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 03:47 PM

Thanks for your replay Victoria.

I come from Northern Ireland, therefore I am also eligible for an Irish passport. If I do get one, can I then simply get an EEA family permit?

Thanks
Stephen

#4 Victoria

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 04:01 PM

Yes, you can, but it will take longer for your wife to get permanent residency if you take this route.

If you are relocating to Northern Ireland then she may be able to get irish citizenship quicker than she'd be able to get British citizenship, but you will need to check with the Irish Embassy.

Victoria

#5 John

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 05:40 PM

Sokratees9, given that you have been exercising your treaty rights in Germany for years ..... certainly for at least 6 months .... you are even permitted to apply for an EEA Family Permit using your British passport ... in view of a Court Judgement known as Surinder Singh.

And if you are going to apply for an EEA Family Permit then indeed apply to the British Embassy rather than the Irish one. The Irish have a reputation for being extremely slow in dealing with EEA Family Permit applications. You will get a far faster service at the British Embassy using your British passport.

But as Victoria has correctly alluded to, going that route will slow up the possible application for British Naturalisation by your wife. So it really comes down to .... pay 403 for spouse visa and she can apply for naturalisation after three years in the UK .... or pay nothing and she will need to wait 5 years.

#6 JAJ

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 01:12 AM

You do need a settlement visa. Crazy, but true. If you can prove that you have been living together for 4 years then your wife will be granted Indefinite Leave to Enter, which gives her permanent residency.


Isn't the requirement to have been married for 4 years (or in a civil partnership), not just living together?

If you are relocating to Northern Ireland then she may be able to get irish citizenship quicker than she'd be able to get British citizenship, but you will need to check with the Irish Embassy.



Three years residence in Northern Ireland would be needed. But anecdotally, the Irish authorities are taking a very long time to process naturalisation applications.


But as Victoria has correctly alluded to, going that route will slow up the possible application for British Naturalisation by your wife. So it really comes down to .... pay €403 for spouse visa and she can apply for naturalisation after three years in the UK .... or pay nothing and she will need to wait 5 years.



Including the time to get permanent residence, the choices are, for a person married to a British citizen:

Spouse visa:
- Permanent residence after 2 years (if immediate settlement is not possible)
- Eligible for naturalisation after 3 years in total
- Cost EUR403 + fee for ILR after 2 years
- Naturalisation fee additional

EEA Family Permit
- Permanent residence after 5 years
- Eligible for naturalisation immediately afterwards
- No cost for the visa or permanent residence status.
- Naturalisation fees would apply as normal.

#7 Sokratees9

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 06:44 AM

Cheers for the info everyone.

It looks like it boils down to the two options. I'll have to sit down with my wife and discuss what exactly are our plans before we decide which route to take.

Thanks for your time
Stephen

#8 John

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:13 AM

Isn't the requirement to have been married for 4 years (or in a civil partnership), not just living together?


No, there are two paths clearly set out in the Immigration Rules. In practice those can get combined together to form a third path :-
  • Living together, unmarried, outside the UK for 4 years or more
  • Living together, married or in Civil Partnership, outside the UK for 4 years or more
  • unofficially, a combination of the two, adding up to 4 years or more
The third path exists, unofficially, because it is considered to be ludicrous for a couple, say living together unmarried for 3 years 11 months, then getting married and a couple of months later applying for spouse visa, being denied ILE .... whereas had they stayed unmarried they would have qualified.

#9 ppron747

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 08:07 AM

I wondered about that third path when I saw JAJ's post, but couldn't find it in the Visas DSP - can you give a reference?

#10 John

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 08:59 AM

Paul, no I can't .... but I am aware that it happens ... thanks to boards such as this.




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