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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 7676
Experience:  UK Lawyer holding practising certficate for England & Wales.
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My wife is a 71 year old Panamanian to whom I met in 2006

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My wife is a 71 year old Panamanian to whom I met in 2006 and we have been LEGALLY married for 6 years.(2008). She usually comes to stay with me every year as a tourist and I do visit Panama every year as she does not intend to live here. Since past march 2013 she has came here 3 times to nurse me as I got 3 operations to remove cancer in the intestine and liver and I’m expecting to start with quimiotherapy for 6 month starting march 5th.
In her last trip (10.01.2014) my wife was delayed at the custom for some time. She was told she would not be allowed in because she had been here to the UK three times in the last year. She explained the reason for those visit and they recommended her to get a wife visa but no other explanation about how and where to get it.
About the year 2010 on returning from a trip from France the custom’s officer advice us to get a visa so my wife could go through customs without delays.
We tried to obtain the visa without success. She was advised to go to the British Embassy, she did. They said they could not help. She was told to go to the Panamanian Embassy. They could not help.
I’m a British citizen and I can support her so she doesn’t need to ask for any benefit from the government.
I’d like to know if she has any option to get a visa as a family member, family permit or any other option according to the UK Law and the procedure to follow.She has all the marriage documents in English and Spanish.

We will much appreciate any help from your specialized organization.

Thanks for your question.

Just to confirm (I think I know from your excellently drafted question), is it the case that your wife does NOT intend to live permanently here in the UK but does require a form of visa which would allow her multiple visit's to the UK?

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, She usually came here for 3 months every year since we met, but in this ocassion due to my health problems( 3 operations for cancer since september 2013, november and january) ,she had to come here in march 2013 for 3 months, september-3 months and january 3 months Now that I started with chemotherapy for 6 months, she probably will have to stay with me or go to see her family and come back again soon.


We'll like to know if she has to get a visa as a wife, family member according to the english law in her country (Panama) to enter without problems when it will be necessary to look after me or she has to apply for it here, what will be the procedure and its cost.


She doesn't intend to live here as she has a big family in Panama and

also she doesn't need any benefit from the government as she buy health insurance any time she comes to my country.


My thanks in advance for your answer



Thanks for your reply.

Drafting your answer now. 5-10 mins please.

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Just to be sure. will you answer my question in 5 -10 minutes or you need more information. I'll continue waiting. Thanks a lot


Thank you for your question and patience, I’m Tom and I’ll try to help you.

Panamanian citizens do not normally require a visa for shorts visits to the UK. However, each entry under these conditions is still technically at the discretion of the immigration entry clearance officers. Which means, if the ECO’s consider that the is a possibility that a breach of the immigration tules will occur if they let a person enter the UK then they can refuse entry.

This tends to happen more with visitors who are married to persons based in the UK, because statistically there is a greater risk of them overstaying due to marriage.

The important thing to note is a visitor’s visa – any visitor’s visa – subject to the visitor not spending more than 6 months in any 12 month period in the UK. This is because they would regard this as “residence” as opposed to “visitation”.

Provided that your wife will at no point in the future need to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months in any 12 month period then the most appropriate visa application would be a multi-entry visitor’s visa.

A multi-entry visitor’s visa is a visit visa which is granted over a period of time (2, 5 or 10 years). It allows a person to entry/leave the UK as many times as they like within the specified period but subject to the 6 out of 12 months restriction.

In these circumstances, she would be visiting you so she needs to apply for a multi-entry family visitor’s visa.

The new immigration website is absolutely dreadful (it’s only a week old) and I would for one minute blame anyone for getting utterly exasperated with it. However, the relevant page on this is here:-

You will see the incremental fees for the visa application. Because the fee for the 5 years visa is considerable I would strongly recommend that you instruct a local immigration solicitor to draft the application for you and advise you on the appropriate supporting documentation.

You have to try and show them that she has continuing obligations in her home country which will continue after the visit and therefore convince them that she is not a risk of overstay because she at present has compelling family and social/work ties to her home country which mean that she will not attempt to secure a permanent stay here whilst she is visiting. Things like a letter, return flight tickets, evidence of continuing accommodation (eg. tenancy agreement of evidence of ownership of a property), bank statements showing the money she has available, letters from relatives/friends confirming any obligations she has to them, letters about her conditions, etc.

You will both have to execute sworn statements confirming why you don’t live together, why you won’t in the future and how you understand the limits of the visit visa. In your you would have to state the terms of the visit, that you are to return at the end of it, that although you are in a relationship with her you both know that she MUST leave at the end of the visit because it would harm the chances of any future application made to secure leave to remain on the basis of that relationship, that you shall accommodate you and shall pay the costs of any unforeseen expenses that should occur during his stay so that nether of you will need to access public funds.

You will see that the following link tells you how she can apply but the solicitor that you instruct will do this for her in practice:

My goal is to provide you with a good service. If you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up issues specifically relating to your question.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Tom: I have 2 or 3 more questions to you:


1. I've been reading in the site of Border Agency about a EEA family permit which is a form of "entry clearance" (similar to a VISA) and it is for nationals of countries outside the european Economic area (EEA) who are family menbers of EEA nationals. Does it apply to her and give her a better clear entrance without customs problems


2. Do your organization deal with the procedure (the one finally we proceed with) and how much will be the quote (aproximately).


3. Is it possible according to the law that her visa can be obtain through the British Embassy in Panama as she is near to back to her country (march 20) to see her family but planning to come back to look after me due to my chemotherapy process?


4. In your experience how long does it take to get the visa and if she cans come in the next 3 months due to the problem to get the entrance in the custom as I explained to you before?


Thanks a lot Donald Merritt

PS That plan for one week free you are offering comes with the payment of 60 pounds I've submitted to you?

Hi Donald,

1) An EEA family permit is genreally only available for spouses of EEA nationals (not UK citizens) who exercise their treaty rights in the UK by working here. The only time a spouse of a UK citizen can get a family permit is if they move to another EEA member state with the UK spouse, then the UK spouse works in the other EEA state, then both spouse and UK citizen return to the UK to settle permanenntly.

She would only be able to get an EEA family permit if you both move to another EEA member state and worked there for 6 months and it is only for when both parties intend to live permanently in the UK, which you do not so it's not really relavent to you.

2) No. This is a simply question/answer service. You would have to instruct a local immigration solicitor to prepare the application for you in the normal way. You can find immigration solicitors near you by using the Law Society find a solicitor search engine:-

3) NO. She would have to apply online (though your solicitor would do this for her). After applying she would have to book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre in Panama to give her biometrics (ie. photo and finger prints.

4) Generally it takes about 6 weeks to get the visa from the date she applies but it might be quicker or it might be longer. It's very changeable unfortunately.

I'm afraid that I'm just an expert. I just answer questions and don't know what plan you have signed up for but if you refer your enquiry to customer services they will assist.

Kind regards

Thomas and other Immigration Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I'm very pleased for your answers Tom.My last question is if you can provide me the name of an organization to get a free or cheaper service from an immigration solicitor to process my documents?


In the P S I asked you if the payment I've made will give me one week free as your first plan established or do I have to apply for the plan and pay 61 pounds?



Your help will be most appreciated Tom.


There are immigration companies that offer services but, to be honest, I've only ever heard bad things about them. I would steer clear personally.

You might consider calling solicitors after you've drafted the application for a "check-only' services rather than preparing it from start to finish to limit your costs.

As to the PS: I'm afraid that I'm just an expert. I just answer questions and don't know what plan you have signed up for but if you refer your enquiry to customer services they will assist.

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Tom. Thank you for your offer. Following your response, my wife expects to start the process to get the multi-entry visitor next time she comes here. She'll leave to her country next week), but after three visits in one year last year (march 30 to june 20), september 13 to december 11 and january 9 to march 19 ), which was the reason for the stop at the custom, when cans she come back to start counting the 6 months she's allowed to be here?


Thanks a lot donald merritt

Hi Donald,

The 12 months will be counted back from the date she intends to enter.

At the moment, she has roughly 240 days in the last 12 months which is over the limit by a quite considerable amount. Therefore she will have to wait a considerable number of months before her days in the past 12 months reduce.

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Tom. I would like my wife (Ellie) to be here to look after me during my proposed 6 months of chemotherapy. Elle's trips since last year were to be "my nurse" in relation to the cancer surgeries I had. Is this grounds for extending the overall staying time? Of course once I am cured and/or no longer need such care we will get back to the normal allowed quotas. All the facts mentioned have been documented and can be verified by the Cancer specialists.


Donald Merritt




Well, she would have to make an application whilst she is here arguing that they should exercise their discretion in the circumstances. It would be difficult and you would certainly need to instruct a solicitor to give her the best chance.