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Is it possible for my wife to go from Australia to the UK on a tourist visa and then apply for a settlement visa when we get there, without having to come back to Australia again?
March 21, 2009 4:25 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible for my wife to go from Australia to the UK on a tourist visa and then apply for a settlement visa when we get there, without having to come back to Australia again?

Hi Guys.

Wife and I are thinking about visiting the UK at the end of the year and, if we like it, possibly staying there to live for a while. However, we want to try it out first, so were thinking about going for a "holiday" first and then seeing what we want to do when we get there. I'm a British Citizen (dual-citizen), so I can just go over and do whatever I want, but we were wondering if it's possible for her to go over on a tourist visa and then change to a settlement visa once she's there, or if she'd have to come back here first (which would be a pain!)? I've tried googling this with no luck, and the embassy wants to charge you $10 just for picking up the phone and ringing them.

Any help (including possible places to look) would be much appreciated.

Thanks!
posted by ranglin to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The visa you need is a SET - M. And you have to apply for it from outside the UK. Pertinent paragraphs:
Your husband, wife or civil partner must obtain permission to enter the United Kingdom before travelling here. We call this permission (entry clearance). It will be in the form of a visa or entry clearance certificate. To obtain it, he/she should apply to the British diplomatic post in the country where he/she lives. For information about visas, see our visa services website.

When your husband, wife or civil partner arrives in the United Kingdom, he/she will be given permission to live and work here for two years. Near the end of the two years, if you are still married or in a civil partnership and plan to live together, your husband, wife or civil partner may apply to live here permanently. See Settlement for details of how to apply for permanent residence.

In some cases, we can give your husband, wife or civil partner permission to live permanently in the United Kingdom as soon as he/she arrives. To qualify for this, you must:

* have married or formed a civil partnership four years or more ago;
* have spent those four years living together outside the United Kingdom;
* now be returning to the United Kingdom to settle here together; and
* your spouse/partner must (unless aged 65 or over) have sufficient knowledge of the English language and about life in the United Kingdom.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:03 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, I don't think so. This page says you can only apply for settlement as a partner if your temporary stay was for more than six months, which is the length of the tourist visa. Australians without leave to remain must apply for visas through the British High Commission in Canberra, we can't do it through the Visa Application Centres.

This page refers to an accompanying spouse visa, which your wife could apply for before you go, but I searched for that term on the UK Australia site and there were no results. I think you apply for that through a settlement visa (here is the form). Here is the UK Border Agency guidance page for partners.

Good luck! Let us know when you get here and we'll have a meetup!
posted by goo at 5:35 PM on March 21, 2009


Gah - should read "This page says you can only apply to change to a settlement visa if your temporary stay was for longer than six months". Sorry.
posted by goo at 5:49 PM on March 21, 2009


Problem is, the settlement visa costs AUD$1100, hence the desire to "try before we buy" so the speak.

As an aside, does anyone have any experience with the "indefinite" visa Happy Dave mentions? My wife and I have been together for about 6 years, but only married for 3. Does this mean we qualify for the "indefinite" settlement visa, or do we have to have been married for 4 years? I'd be a bit more inclined to pay the $1100 if it meant we could go for a visit, then come and go as we please after that (which doesn't seem to be the case with the 2 year version, since you need to stay in country to get the "indefinite" version later).
posted by ranglin at 6:13 PM on March 21, 2009


No, you must return to your country of residence and apply from there. My husband's just applied and we are currently waiting the requisite 2-3 months for it turn up. Processing times are nuts right now out of Canberra. You don't want SET (M) btw, it's VAF4a (updated in December).

As for the ILR (permanent residence/'indefinite') you must have been married for four years. And it's a cruel joke now anyway because you still have to take the Knowledge of Life test first, then pay a further 750 pounds to get ILR endorsed.

I have found the ukresident.com forums very helpful, but take the comments there with a grain of salt as there are some very anxious people posting!

Feel free to MeMail me if you want more info, we're right in the middle of it now, and have other friends just about to start the process.
posted by wingless_angel at 9:31 PM on March 21, 2009


sorry rather the visa is SET (M) but the FORM is VAF4a
posted by wingless_angel at 9:32 PM on March 21, 2009


Is your wife under 30? If so she can get in on a 2 year visa with work privileges.
posted by Wolof at 1:21 AM on March 22, 2009


As an aside, does anyone have any experience with the "indefinite" visa Happy Dave mentions? My wife and I have been together for about 6 years, but only married for 3. Does this mean we qualify for the "indefinite" settlement visa, or do we have to have been married for 4 years?

There's normally two levels of visa - you get the FLR (AKA the SET-M) which gives you Further Leave to Remain for two years, then after those two years, you get an ILR, or Indefinite Leave to Remain. I think if you guys have lived together for 4+ years, have documentary proof of that and got married three years ago, you may be able to skip the FLR step. Your best step is to make an appointment at the British Consulate closest to you and go and ask them.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:30 AM on March 23, 2009


Happy Dave - no, this is not possible. It is based entirely on marriage. And you can't make appointments at the BHC - applications are online only (or drop in at Canberra, but you can't speak to anyone).
posted by wingless_angel at 3:59 PM on March 23, 2009


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