help me think through visa and immigration for my partner and child
February 8, 2012 4:03 AM   Subscribe

I am uk citizen, my partner is Japanese and here in the uk on a working holiday visa which expires mid March. She is pregnant and will give birth in September, ideally in japan, and at the end of 2012 or the start of 2013 we’d like to return to the uk.

Somewhere in there we want to get married, and get the baby a passport, and apply for a visa for my partner, eventually she would need to work in the uk, but not straight away. We have a house in the uk that we can live in. my income in the uk at the moment is small.
Would it for some reason be much better to have the birth in the uk?
How best to go about all this?
Where is the best place to look for advice?
What kind of things should we be thinking about and probably aren’t?
posted by runrunrun to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Even though I'm not American, I found the UK Yankee forum extremely helpful and knowledgeable when sorting through my own marriage and move to the UK.
posted by tavegyl at 4:10 AM on February 8, 2012

I am a US citizen with a British child and British husband. I've lived in the country for more than 15 years.

If you get married and get her indefinite leave to remain as soon as possible, that will make things a lot easier for you. This costs around £400 all told I think? Maybe more now. But it means that your wife and child will have no problem coming home. You really need to do this sooner rather than later.

In the UK, your baby is not automatically a British citizen simply because the father is. Because I was married, my daughter was born here and I've been resident for ages, it was just a rubber stamp to get my kid her passport but I do know of other people who had a harder time.

Later your partner can go for the UK passport but this gives you both breathing space. The home office website has everything you need; her consulate can help you loads as well.

I loved the UK hospital where I gave birth, but your partner may feel a lot more comfortable with her family close and saying what she needs without having to translate.

I wuldn't have wanted to travel in my 8th month of pregnancy, and I wouldn't have wanted the stress of not being able to return to my home in the UK. IRL is the way you can take your time to decide :)

Many congrats to you and your baby bump!
posted by katiecat at 4:21 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh! And I should say that you won't want to or have time for administrative things once your baby is born. If you have ILR, you can start to set up things like child tax credits, child benefit, the well mother stuff that you could be eligible for on a lower income. Let me know if you have any other questions - I have a two-year old so it was quite recent for me :)
posted by katiecat at 4:47 AM on February 8, 2012

For visa information to the UK, the best place to start is:

Here's page specific information:

After reading all the stuff you have to do, then start visiting forums for advice.

I'm a dual British/American national. Here's how I came to the UK:

1. Got married in US, applied for spousal visa the next day
2. Got spousal visa within 11 days
3. Spousal visa is for 2 years only, after which you apply for...
4. ILR (indefinite leave to remain) which is good ~forever~ as long as you don't leave the country for too long (2 years is what my form said).
5. Applied for British citizenship (which means your better half has to give up Japanese citizenship) if desired.

I started 1 in 2007 and ended 5 mid-January 2012. I could've applied for 5 sooner but it was a money thing.

My spousal visa was $1,200, my ILR was about £800 (has since gone up) and my British citizenship was about £900 - £1,000 (has since gone up... yes, since October 2011. Yes, that's right, 2011.)

It isn't possible to get Indefinite Leave to Remain immediately for your better half, you have to get a spousal visa first.

*If you aren't married and don't want to be, you'll have to have been living together for at least 2 years, see

Please note to anyone reading this a thousand years later that these rules change all the time and so do the fees. In fact, they change 2-3 times a year.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to send me a Mefi mail!
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 6:31 AM on February 8, 2012

I'm Canadian, my spouse is Japanese, and we have two kids - one born in Japan, the other born in Canada.

From a logistical point of view, it's probably going to be easier to a) get married as soon as possible and b) have the child in the UK.

For one thing, you just deal with the embassy or your local consulate, and Japanese consular staff are *much* more efficient than (in my experience) the Canadian citizenship and immigration folks. I don't know about the UK.

On the other hand, you have to listen to your partner. Giving birth in a foreign country is never easy, but, then again, giving birth in Japan can be expensive depending on where you live.

But get married. There is absolutely no reason not to arrange for a simple ceremony to formalize things, and plan for a "real" wedding at some point in the future.

Getting hitched will make things so much easier, both in terms of logistics, and also emotionally.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:48 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

2nding KokuRyu on getting hitched.
The "real" wedding is the one that counts; not the paperwork.

UK passport while based in Japan comes via Hong Kong: 4 - 6 weeks in theory, but can be quicker. The UK consulate staff in Osaka were very good when we dealt with them. No idea about Tokyo, though.

Japanese hospitals treat giving birth VERY differently from UK ones. In the UK, your partner will be leaving with the baby very shortly after giving birth. If she's expecting the Japanese much longer stay style, you may find that this will be a shock for her. Public or private in Japan will take good care of her and your new baby.

Having said that, if money is tight, the UK may well be cheaper. In theory, you can get the bulk of the money back under the Japanese system, but I don't remember much about it. Maybe your partner's relatives can find this out for you.

I think you need to talk to your partner about whether she'd be OK on the NHS, and if not, work out how to make the most of the system in Japan (which may depend in part on your marital status).
posted by Prof Iterole at 10:57 PM on February 8, 2012

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