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Entering the UK on vacation as a UK-citizen with a non-UK partner

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This is a question about UK border control. Sorry if this is considered off-topic, but I figure there are people on this forum with experience.

I'm a British citizen. My partner is American. We are not married. We live in the US. We're visiting my parents in the UK soon (but only for a couple of weeks and with no intention of getting married in the UK so they won't need a visa as far as I can tell).

I have two questions:

  1. What will happen at the Heathrow border? Do we split up and go to EU and non-EU immigration control separately? Or do we go through together?
  2. If we get separated at immigration, does my partner need to avoid mentioning me? (I know the standard -- possibly bad! -- advice when entering the US as a non-citizen is to avoid mentioning boyfriends/girlfriends.) Should she carry proof of plans to return to the US, US residence, etc.?
Edited by xyguy

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This is a great question I was thinking the same thing for myself and my hubby when we go in March. We're flying into Heathrow as well but he's a green card holder and we're removing our restrictions this January

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1. We usually split up, but it's not strictly necessary. You can stay with her in the "slow line" or you can ask one of the officers if she can join you.

2. After you go through immigration, just wait for her after the guards. There's plenty of space there. Don't have her lie to the officers, she should just be honest and say it's a holiday. I assume you have a U.S. Visa or greencard and if they ask her any questions if she is honest and you are behind her waiting then if they do have concerns they can ask you. I assume she has a return ticket anyway if they question it.

Have a good trip!

Americans don't need. Visas for the UK btw

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American's can stay up to 3 months in the UK, I believe, just on their passport. I never had any issues flying in through Gatwick. I always told them I was visiting my fiance and his family, and I never got a second look.


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This is a question about UK border control. Sorry if this is considered off-topic, but I figure there are people on this forum with experience.

I'm a British citizen. My partner is American. We are not married. We live in the US. We're visiting my parents in the UK soon (but only for a couple of weeks and with no intention of getting married in the UK so they won't need a visa as far as I can tell).

I have two questions:

  1. What will happen at the Heathrow border? Do we split up and go to EU and non-EU immigration control separately? Or do we go through together?
  2. If we get separated at immigration, does my partner need to avoid mentioning me? (I know the standard -- possibly bad! -- advice when entering the US as a non-citizen is to avoid mentioning boyfriends/girlfriends.) Should she carry proof of plans to return to the US, US residence, etc.?

A few things first. Is your final POE going to be Heathrow or do you have a connecting flight? The last several times I traveled with my fiancé there was no need to split up. The officer encouraged us to come up together, since we were traveling together. One time we were interviewed separately standing next to each other, another time we were interviewed at the same time.

You should be aware that the UKBA, is often no friend of non-EEA citizens, especially young females (but seen it happen to spouses too!), and may give her a hard time. There is a real possibility of denial, especially with current immigration behavior there now. However, for the many bad experiences people have had, including one on this forum just recently, some still manage to get through fine. I say this only as a caution and it may not reflect your experience. You have something that often works in your favor: and that is bona-fide evidence that you exist, since you are standing beside her. That being said, be prepared for any outcome if it comes to it.

You should never lie to the UKBA. Dead serious here. Don't even try to cover it up or twist it a little. Not mentioning you and coming in as a single female would draw their ire perhaps even faster. She should never attempt to enter the UK without as much evidence as you can muster of proof of ties and proof to return to her home country (yes even despite this evidence I have seen denials, but if she brought none, she'd be out instantly). If she is employed bring a letter from her employment, or school, if she has some sort of home or mortgage, a return ticket is absolutely necessary, travel insurance with return date too, hotel booking if you have one. One of the UKBA's sticking points will be the issue of money and support. They may question her if she brings too little money in cash holdings, or too much. It's obvious that most people have bank cards and credit cards, but they still insist and like hard cash on the person. They will certainly ask where she is staying, who with, and who is supporting her. Has she entered the UK before? This can also sometimes work in her favor as proof of successful entry/exits.

All you can do is try and give it your best and be prepared. Good luck. :)

Edited by yuna628

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I never traveled with into the UK with my now husband when we were dating, but we've been a few times together since we were married, and always gone through the EU line together. We asked the officer working the line a few times, and that's where they told us to go. I never got any hassle about it. Always a good idea for her to bring proof of returning to the US, but they may not ever ask for it, especially if you both have a good record of not abusing the privilege (passport stamps).

I'd suggest asking the officer working the immigration queue where you should go. They're likely to send you into the EU line (which is always pretty short since Heathrow also has the facial recognition scan/passport scan for EU holders, so most of the EU passport holders go that way). Worst case you wait in the slow line with her.


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Go through together in the EU line. Don't act guilty or defensive. Act like a couple who lives in the U.S. who are on holiday to visit the UK parents for a couple of weeks.


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I would go in the EU line together. It's faster.

I have been going to the UK for 7 years, since I was 21 (oops now you know how old I am. I only say to point out that not all young women have issues) to see my fiance. I've been 14 times. I have never once had an issue. I've always been honest and said I was visiting my boyfriend/fiance. They ask what he does, what I do, and how long I'm staying. That's it. Once they wanted to see proof of my return flight. The difficult experiences are not universal.

Go in the line together. Have proof that you're going home and don't lose sleep over it.

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A few things first. Is your final POE going to be Heathrow or do you have a connecting flight? The last several times I traveled with my fiancé there was no need to split up. The officer encouraged us to come up together, since we were traveling together. One time we were interviewed separately standing next to each other, another time we were interviewed at the same time.

You should be aware that the UKBA, is often no friend of non-EEA citizens, especially young females (but seen it happen to spouses too!), and may give her a hard time. There is a real possibility of denial, especially with current immigration behavior there now. However, for the many bad experiences people have had, including one on this forum just recently, some still manage to get through fine. I say this only as a caution and it may not reflect your experience. You have something that often works in your favor: and that is bona-fide evidence that you exist, since you are standing beside her. That being said, be prepared for any outcome if it comes to it.

You should never lie to the UKBA. Dead serious here. Don't even try to cover it up or twist it a little. Not mentioning you and coming in as a single female would draw their ire perhaps even faster. She should never attempt to enter the UK without as much evidence as you can muster of proof of ties and proof to return to her home country (yes even despite this evidence I have seen denials, but if she brought none, she'd be out instantly). If she is employed bring a letter from her employment, or school, if she has some sort of home or mortgage, a return ticket is absolutely necessary, travel insurance with return date too, hotel booking if you have one. One of the UKBA's sticking points will be the issue of money and support. They may question her if she brings too little money in cash holdings, or too much. It's obvious that most people have bank cards and credit cards, but they still insist and like hard cash on the person. They will certainly ask where she is staying, who with, and who is supporting her. Has she entered the UK before? This can also sometimes work in her favor as proof of successful entry/exits.

All you can do is try and give it your best and be prepared. Good luck. :)

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We've been to UK together and I came alone as well while dating, engaged and while married. Never have I needed more than my return ticket. I've been asked purpose of visit, length of trip, where staying and that's about it. The only issue we ever had was we were supposed to have fast lane for British Airways connection but I was not allowed to pass by the first agent. Second one said the first one was in error and let us go on. We did need an hour to make it to connection as heathrow system is not well planned or user friendly.

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A few things first. Is your final POE going to be Heathrow or do you have a connecting flight? The last several times I traveled with my fiancé there was no need to split up. The officer encouraged us to come up together, since we were traveling together. One time we were interviewed separately standing next to each other, another time we were interviewed at the same time.

You should be aware that the UKBA, is often no friend of non-EEA citizens, especially young females (but seen it happen to spouses too!), and may give her a hard time. There is a real possibility of denial, especially with current immigration behavior there now. However, for the many bad experiences people have had, including one on this forum just recently, some still manage to get through fine. I say this only as a caution and it may not reflect your experience. You have something that often works in your favor: and that is bona-fide evidence that you exist, since you are standing beside her. That being said, be prepared for any outcome if it comes to it.

You should never lie to the UKBA. Dead serious here. Don't even try to cover it up or twist it a little. Not mentioning you and coming in as a single female would draw their ire perhaps even faster. She should never attempt to enter the UK without as much evidence as you can muster of proof of ties and proof to return to her home country (yes even despite this evidence I have seen denials, but if she brought none, she'd be out instantly). If she is employed bring a letter from her employment, or school, if she has some sort of home or mortgage, a return ticket is absolutely necessary, travel insurance with return date too, hotel booking if you have one. One of the UKBA's sticking points will be the issue of money and support. They may question her if she brings too little money in cash holdings, or too much. It's obvious that most people have bank cards and credit cards, but they still insist and like hard cash on the person. They will certainly ask where she is staying, who with, and who is supporting her. Has she entered the UK before? This can also sometimes work in her favor as proof of successful entry/exits.

All you can do is try and give it your best and be prepared. Good luck. :)

I'm a young female, and I just returned from a trip to visit my fiance in the UK. Thankfully, the experience wasn't anything like what's described here! The officer asked me the purpose of my visit, and I told her straight up that I was visiting my fiance. She asked how we knew each other (university) and how long I was staying, etc. and then waved me through. It was no more intensive than any time I've come through US Immigration on re-entering the US. Of course, that said, it's never a bad idea to have supporting documents on hand, like the ones listed above - just sharing my experience.

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