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Old Oct 9th 2011, 4:36 pm   #1
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Default UK Settlement / Citizenship Requirements

Hello Folks,

I have a question with regards to my US wife who is currently in the UK immigration system (as I'm British). At the moment, she is a couple of months away from the end of her "Indefinite Leave to Remain" after which she will be applying for "Settlement" with the eventual aim of applying for Citizenship after 12 months. Now - to complicate matters I (the Brit) am in the US system and been given my US Green Card (applied for CR1 but will be given IR1 upon entry as we've been married over two years now) which means that we need to be living and working in the US by March 2012. As you can imagine - it's not particularly pleasant having to run our lives at the timing of the US government when you consider we have homes and careers to consider too… But hey, there you go!

Any how - my question is concerning the situation with my US wife. If we are living in the US is it still possible she is able to apply for UK Settlement and Citizenship? We understand that the Settlement Visa lapses after being away for two years. But we will certainly be back in the UK every two years, if not more often. Will it still lapse even with frequent visits back? The reason being is that some point in the future we will probably want to live back in the UK for a period and would like to make that timing on our terms and given the hassle we're going through, not on whim of any government. In addition to this, having been through Passport Control on many occasions with my wife they've not been particular pleasant and it's a hassle we'd like to avoid.

Any comments appreicated...

Many thanks
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Old Oct 9th 2011, 6:31 pm   #2
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Default Re: UK Settlement / Citizenship Requirements

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Originally Posted by stoke_bloke View Post
Hello Folks,

I have a question with regards to my US wife who is currently in the UK immigration system (as I'm British). At the moment, she is a couple of months away from the end of her "Indefinite Leave to Remain" after which she will be applying for "Settlement" with the eventual aim of applying for Citizenship after 12 months. Now - to complicate matters I (the Brit) am in the US system and been given my US Green Card (applied for CR1 but will be given IR1 upon entry as we've been married over two years now) which means that we need to be living and working in the US by March 2012. As you can imagine - it's not particularly pleasant having to run our lives at the timing of the US government when you consider we have homes and careers to consider too… But hey, there you go!

Any how - my question is concerning the situation with my US wife. If we are living in the US is it still possible she is able to apply for UK Settlement and Citizenship? We understand that the Settlement Visa lapses after being away for two years. But we will certainly be back in the UK every two years, if not more often. Will it still lapse even with frequent visits back? The reason being is that some point in the future we will probably want to live back in the UK for a period and would like to make that timing on our terms and given the hassle we're going through, not on whim of any government. In addition to this, having been through Passport Control on many occasions with my wife they've not been particular pleasant and it's a hassle we'd like to avoid.

Any comments appreicated...

Many thanks
I am not sure what you mean by your wife applying for a "Settlement" at the end of her ILR which she already has. Surely, citizenship is the next step after obtaining ILR? ILR and Settlement are the same thing according to the UK Border Agency.

"After you have lived legally in the UK for a certain length of time, you may be able to apply for permission to settle here. This is known as 'indefinite leave to remain'."


http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/vi...on/settlement/

For returning residents, you can be away for 2 years with ILR status but then she will not meet the residency requirements for citizenship. It looks like Cameron is going to tighten the rules even further next year.

Last edited by johnh009; Oct 9th 2011 at 6:42 pm.
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Old Oct 9th 2011, 7:16 pm   #3
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Default Re: UK Settlement / Citizenship Requirements

Hello John,

Thanks for your reply.

My wife's 'Residence Permit' which is 'Spouse/Partner' Leave to Remain expires in January 2012 - but we will only have been married a little over two years at that point - so not sure what the next step is, as apparently with citizenship you have to be married three years...
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Old Oct 9th 2011, 7:50 pm   #4
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Default Re: UK Settlement / Citizenship Requirements

Ahhhh, she has "Leave to Remain" not "Indefinite Leave to Remain". There's a definite difference between the two. The next step is for her to apply for ILR, not citizenship. I know ILR status doesn't expire, but that's about all I know. I don't think frequent trips back will enable her to keep her status, especially if she can't prove residency. If she has no home/council tax/utility bills/etc, I don't see how she could residency, if she had to. If she loses ILR, then she will have to start all over again with a spousal visa, if you plan on moving back to the UK at some point in the future.

Maybe someone else can come along and say for sure if frequent visits back would allow her to maintain her status. Unfortunately one of the many disadvantages of international relationships is suffering through the government timelines and intrusions. There's not much you can do except follow through and become naturalized to avoid future visa complications.

Last edited by Bluegrass Lass; Oct 9th 2011 at 7:52 pm.
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Old Oct 9th 2011, 11:35 pm   #5
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Default Re: UK Settlement / Citizenship Requirements

OK, you really should have waited for your wife to become British before getting your green card. But what's done is done. ILR is intended for people who want to live in the UK, which is not the case with you. If they find out that you actually intend to live in the US they may not approve the application.

Both of you need to stay in the UK until she applies for ILR. Get an in-person appointment. Once she has ILR, she needs to stay in the UK for one more year to get her UK citizenship, but you're free to go to the US. On the date of the application, she needs to have been in the UK 3 years before, and can't have left the UK for more than 270 days in the past 3 years, and 90 days in the past year. If she writes her reasons for leaving the UK as visiting husband / working, then they may refuse the naturalization application. After that she can probably leave but still needs to wait a bit for the ceremony and the passport.

ILR can be cancelled at the border if the immigration official thinks she is not living in the UK regularly, and being away for 2 years is an indication that that is the case. If you need to start again from spousal visa, it's going to be 5 years from now, and who knows what the requirements for naturalization will be then? Thus I'd strongly recommend she gets a UK passport as soon as possible, unless you intend to live in the US for the foreseeable future in which case your application is more important.
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Old Oct 10th 2011, 5:49 am   #6
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Default Re: UK Settlement / Citizenship Requirements

Quote:
Originally Posted by stoke_bloke View Post
My wife's 'Residence Permit' which is 'Spouse/Partner' Leave to Remain expires in January 2012 - but we will only have been married a little over two years at that point - so not sure what the next step is, as apparently with citizenship you have to be married three years...
An applicant who is married to a British citizen needs to be resident in the UK for 3 years, and married at the time of application - they do not need to have been married for 3 years at time of application.

An applicant married to a British citizen also doesn't have a minimum period of holding indefinite leave to remain (aka permanent residency) when applying for citizenship - but they do still need to hold indefinite leave to remain.

You need to confirm if the visa label has an expiry date because it's "limited leave to remain" (would most likely have a 2 year or 27 month validity period), or if the visa label shows indefinite leave to remain but your wife's passport expires in January 2012.
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