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I am a US citizen employed at a company that is very flexible with working remotely. My girlfriend is a UK citizen and I want to live with her while continuing to work for my American employer in the UK for 1 year, and I intend to move back to the USA at the end of the visit.

My current understanding is that I can visit the UK for up to 6 months out of the year. Is that correct? Is there any other way to extend the stay up to a year?

If it is not possible to extend my stay up to 6 months, would it be possible to stay for 6 months, go back to the USA for a week or two, and then go back to the UK?

As a visitor is there any problem working remote/freelance while in the UK?

Is there any problem with renting property in the UK as a US visitor?

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    A few questions: Have you met your girlfriend? Have you visited the UK previously ever for any reason? Does she work? Does she have her own living accommodation in her name? You don't have to answer these questions, but answering 'no' to any of them will hopefully give you a realistic idea of what your chances are as these are rather insurmountable points as far as the UK Border Control is concerned. – ouflak Jan 18 '16 at 13:00
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    As of January 2016, your capacity for entering into a lease agreement with a private landlord becomes tenuous. – Gayot Fow Jan 18 '16 at 16:04
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    I have met my girlfriend, we've visited each other in the USA and UK 3 times each in 2015. She does work and I believe she has her living accommodations in her name. – mjw Jan 19 '16 at 15:14
  • @ThomasW-B, These are all positives in your favor then. The real big issue you have then is finances. – ouflak Jan 20 '16 at 7:36
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I lived in the UK for 5 years, and when I moved out of the country, I left my EEA partner there. In the end, I was never able to visit him because of this stuff. So I know a thing or two about this.

You will be allowed into the country with the visa waiver program for 6 months, as you mentioned.

If you are physically in the UK while you are doing work, it's considered working and would violate the terms of your UK visitor visa. Even if your work is unpaid, it's still classed as 'work' and would be seen as violation as long as you're doing it when you're in the UK. If you told the border agent this, I have serious doubts that they would let you in at all.

Now, would you be detected doing this? I don't know, it's probably quite difficult to catch people in this situation. But it's still a violation of the legal terms of the visitor visa, and if you told a border agent this, you would not be allowed entry. You'd definitely be breaking a few laws to do this.

As far as the 6 month to one year situation:

You can extend your visit to one year if you pay and apply (I'm not sure if 'visiting a girlfriend' counts as valid reason, though), but I doubt that you will be able to just leave in the middle of your 'stay' and try to get in again. The UK border force are cracking down on non-EU migration, and your case has several red flags:

  • Visiting a girlfriend (this would indicate to the border agent that you intend to overstay to be with her, even if you aren't).
  • Planning to work, against the terms of your visa (this would indicate the same thing; you can sustain yourself inside the UK, and your partner is there, so why would you leave?)
  • Several instances of 1x visa waiver entry, which indicates to the border agent that you are attempting to 'live' in the UK. This is one of the first things they look for.

There is no information online concerning how many times / how frequently a US citizen can enter the UK on the visa waiver program. It is up to the discretion of the border agent re: how much of a risk they think you are. Your case, as you've outlined it here, seems quite risky.

For context: I was in the UK on a 5 year student visa. I graduated, and then left the country for a conference. When I returned, I intended to pack up my things and leave two months later. My visa did not expire for 5 more months. I was detained because I was "presenting the risk of overstaying" and "once you graduate, you should have immediately left". I graduated the week before the conference.

I'm a US citizen also, and I was told that admission under the visa waiver does not GUARANTEE entry. I was eventually let in with a 6 month visitor visa, but only barely, and only so I could pack up my things and leave immediately.


Renting: You won't be able to do this legitimately with the terms you have outlined here. Tenant checks are in place and landlords are required to report that their tenants are in the UK legally. If you tried to sign a lease for a flat for a year when you're only there on a six month visitor visa, you will be turned down. You may also need a cosigner since you will have no UK credit information. Your cosigner would need to be a homeowner in the UK. You'd need to pay your deposit and all your rent up front.


If you're surprised, I was too. The UK government really hates non-EU immigration unless you are rich.

  • The ONS produces entry statistics by nationality. – Gayot Fow Jan 18 '16 at 16:02
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    Re working: when were you last here? suggest a read of appendix V. – Gayot Fow Jan 18 '16 at 16:08
  • Have you and your EEA partner lived together for at least two years? If so then you should be able to visit him under the freedom of movement directive (sorry for the delayed response; I did not see this when you posted it). – phoog Sep 2 '17 at 16:45
  • @phoog We weren't cohabitating, it was too early for that. This was 2 years ago and we've split since, so it's a non-issue. But thanks for the advice anyway! Hopefully it will benefit others in a similar situation. – la femme cosmique Sep 2 '17 at 17:04
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My current understanding is that I can visit the UK for up to 6 months out of the year. Is that correct?

That is generally true, but if you are obviously staying for a relatively longer period of time, they will ask questions.

Is there any other way to extend the stay up to a year?

Only for the most extreme emergencies, typically medical reasons requiring extended intensive care hospitalization/treatment.

If it is not possible to extend my stay up to 6 months, would it be possible to stay for 6 months, go back to the USA for a week or two, and then go back to the UK?

Even if you were allowed in for the full 6 months, which I doubt (though they might just wave you through), they are now conducting exit checks. They will know instantly if anybody is trying something like this. Not only would you almost certainly be denied re-entry, this would probably leave a nice black mark on the system against you. You could probably forget about visiting the UK again without having to apply for a visa.

As a visitor is there any problem working remote/freelance while in the UK?

No problem at all. You just can't do it as a normal visitor (visa waiver national. Business visitors are an obvious exception.) One of the first questions that will come up is how your are going to pay for this trip. Unless you can show verifiable bank accounts in your name with easy access to big piles of money, you will need to prove that you are going to be able to survive 6 months without needing any public assistance. You will also need to prove that your are returning to the U.S. after your visit and that you have several good reasons to do so. This all leads back to your job and the natural question that will be asked, "Do you intend to work while in the UK?". There won't be anyway around that question, and don't EVER LIE. They will find out the truth, and if they can't find out, they'll just send you back.

Is there any problem with renting property in the UK as a US visitor?

Unless you can pay the entire amount of the lease + deposit + renter insurance right up front, you can probably forget about that happening.

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