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I am a US citizen and my wife is a UK citizen. We have been married since 2016 and been living and working abroad together since then (not US either, have never used spouse visas). She recently moved back to the UK for a job in February, and I was hired for a position in Switzerland starting in early April.

I came to the UK in the middle of March to visit and drop off bags from our old apartment prior to starting my new position. I used visa-free entry available to US citizens for a stay of up to 6 months. Due to COVID, my start date was pushed until mid-May for the new job and I was also locked down in London. I have been here since then.

I started my position remotely from the UK in mid-May with the expectation of soon going to Switzerland as restrictions ease (expected in next 2 weeks), but have just found out it's not likely I will be going to Geneva until December or even next year. I want to stay in the UK if possible, so we can live together, save money by sharing costs, and also be nearer to the time zone of my job than if I were back in the US. Please note that my job is an international civil servant position with a United Nations organization, however that may impact your response.

What's the best way to stay in the UK in a legal and responsible manner?

Is a spousal visa the only possible way? I do not plan to leave this position, so would eventually expect to move to Switzerland for a period of time, meaning I wouldn't permanently live in the UK (although I would be visiting for long weekends around twice a month). We had originally planned to apply for this visa and move permanently to the UK around 2-3 years from now, not immediately.

Related, how and where would I apply for this? Based on what I've read, it might not be possible to even apply for a spousal visa from within the UK on my current status.

Can I remain staying on my visa-free entry, given I will never exceed the 6 month limit, I am not obliged to pay taxes and my role is technically based out of Switzerland?

Who would be best to talk to for more detailed discussions and responses? Immigration lawyers in the UK?

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    Where were you both living previously? As you mention, it is generally not possible to convert your status from visitor to any other immigration category from within the UK. Nor can you use the visa-free entry route to live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/… If you don’t intend to make the UK your main home your best bet may well be to get advice gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser – Traveller Jun 8 at 11:50
  • We were both working in sub-Saharan Africa on separate work visas. Thanks for the link to the immigration adviser, that looks like a good option. – MrSethward Jun 8 at 11:59
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    "I started my position remotely from the UK in mid-May": you have already violated UK law. You should find a solicitor. The UN aspect might help you, but I wouldn't hold my breath. – phoog Jun 10 at 2:21

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