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I am a spouse of a British citizen and have a valid spouse visa (expires Oct 2015). I lived with my husband for two years in the UK, but both me and my husband have left the UK to work in the Middle East at the start of 2015. I am travelling to the UK for 4 days this summer, without my husband, to meet my friends. Can I travel on my valid spouse visa, or do I need to apply for a visitor visa? I'm unsure because I'm travelling to visit the UK and not staying there, as my husband no longer lives in the UK. I have checked the immigration rules and find them unclear.

If I am unable to travel on my spouse visa, can I actually apply for a visitor visa, even though I already have a valid spouse visa? My spouse visa is a multiple exit/entry one. I can evidence a return ticket if the customs/immigration officer at Heathrow asks me.

  • Have you tried asking someone at the consulate? – phoog May 15 '15 at 17:50
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During your landing interview, the Immigration Officer will see your spouse visa and open a line of questioning like...

How long have you been out of the country?   (4 months)
Are you still married?  (yes)
Is your husband in the UK?   (no)
Where is he?   (middle east)
Is he living there?  (yes)
Are you living with him there  (yes)
How long has he been been living there (...)

At that point the IO will ask you to wait and he will go away to check your details on the secured computer. He will then return, possibly with the Chief, and ask a few more questions. Nobody can predict exactly what he will ask, but it's likely to be about what you are doing on this trip to the UK and if you intend to renew your visa in October. The answers you give will determine whether your spouse visa is still valid or not.

If they decide your spouse visa is still valid, you'll get stamped in and can proceed to start your visit.

If they decide that a spouse visa is not right for your situation, they will ask you to sit down at one of the waiting chairs until they finish sorting out the other people. As long as you have played it straight up, you'll be fine. There is no hard requirement to inform them when you move away and based upon what you wrote you haven't broken any rules. They have several options: curtail your spouse visa to expire in a few weeks time; or curtail your spouse visa to expire immediately and give you a temporary admission as a visitor; or admit you as a visitor on your own passport (if you qualify for visa upon arrival). Finally, if they decide to curtail immediately and your passport is issued by a visa-national country, matters will be worse; but this would be an unduly harsh measure and (to my mind) unfair.

For your other question about applying for a visitor visa... Yes, you can do that. But a person can hold only one immigration status at a time, so if they issue a visitor visa, your spouse status will be forfeited without knowing whether or not it was still valid. Also, a consular officer at a British issuing post is not authorized to cancel a person's existing visa (it's unlawful), they will have to make a referral to the Home Office and that will take a lot longer.

NOTE: everybody can have their opinion but the real decision lies with the IO, who is required to get clearance from the Chief in situations like these.

NOTE: what I have described is a likely scenario. For all I know they could wave you through with no questions at all.

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  • I have asked the the consulate and the UKBA office however no one is giving a clear answer. All they say is it depends on the IO officer at the time. I do not mind applying for a visitor visa if it makes the situation easier. As I am not going to renew my spouse visa as we intend to stay in the Middle East for atleast 2 years, I do not mind if the visa is forfeited. In this case, would you suggest that I apply for a visit visa only? – sareena May 16 '15 at 12:05
  • @sareena, what is your nationality? Also, no need for thanks, please read stackoverflow.com/help/someone-answers – Gayot Fow May 16 '15 at 12:20
  • @ Gayot, my nationality is Pakistani? My passport is issued by a visa-national country. Does this make the issue more complicated? – sareena May 17 '15 at 13:24
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Paragraph 8.1.10 of the immigration directorate instructions for appendix FM 5 year routes state that :

When considering paragraph E-ECP.2.10. and paragraph E-LTRP.1.10., the decision maker must be satisfied that the applicant and their partner intend to live together permanently in the UK. Under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules “intention to live together permanently with the other” or “intend to live together permanently” means an intention to live together, evidenced by a clear commitment from both parties that they will live together permanently in the UK immediately following the outcome of the application in question or as soon as circumstances permit thereafter.

Because you will have failed that requirement during some part of your stay the Immigration Office may have the right to cancel or curtail your visa. But like Gayot Fow said, it all depends on the Immigration Officer, and what questions he asks you. Because you're intending not to come back to the UK I would suggest you apply for a visitors visa and explain in detail all your circumstances, including your current relationship situation, why you are not living in the UK anymore, and what new ties you have to the place where you live (e.g. work, study). You will need enough evidence to convince the Case worker that you have a stable life in your new country, you have enough money to travel and come back, you have no intention to remain in the UK, and additionally enough details about your relationship.

The caseworker may decide to cancel your current visa and give you a visitor one, or just give you a visitor one or request an interview to clarify the situation, but I think that's the best way to proceed if you really want to go to the UK again.

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