Alex Hughes : My name is Alex Hughes and I am a Solicitor based in London. I'm happy to help with your question today.
Alex Hughes : What is the purpose of the visits?
Having retired and bought a cabin cruiser in the UK, it would be hoped to come back regularly (more than once a year) in order to travel and tour the British waterways. Of course, I also now have a resident full term berth in a marina where my boat will stay when not in use and I am back in the States for family occasions and seeing my relatives. The boat also provides me with a convenient, cheap and practical base from which I can visit the other countries in Europe.
Alex Hughes : I would like to congratulate you on your retirement. Having a cabin cruiser is a perfect way to tour Britain.
Alex Hughes : in answer to your question: you do not actually apply for a visa when entering the UK - you can enter for up to 6 months. You really only need a visa if, for example, you have a criminal record.
I was aware of that but, having now already been here for six months, would I be allowed back in again in say a month's time. It would be nice to be here for Xmas!
Alex Hughes : Also the Border Agency do say that you should not return until a " reasonable amount of time" has passed and you should not "live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits." Unfortunately there is no definitive guidance on what is reasonable or what extended or frequent visits mean.
Alex Hughes : If you have just spent 6 months in the UK the likelihood is that a return after one month for a further visit is unlikely to be considered a reasonable amount of time. However if you were to return nearer to Christmas then you may well qualify. You can do one of two things: either return in the hope of being allowed entry for a further 6 months or leave it for about 3 -4 months and return then. Otherwise you could apply for a visa from the US to re-enter which save the possibility of a wasted journey and being turned away. Unfortunately there is no clear cut answer to your problem in the UK immigration rules or indeed the Border Agency website.
Obviously I was simply trying to avoid the possibility of applying for 'limited leave to remain' due to all the information and costs they require. However, is there any difference between that visa and the one they refer to as simply 'leave to enter'?
Alex Hughes : Yes, there is a difference. Leave to enter is essentially the permission you have to enter the UK for up to 6 months. But limited leave to remain means that you had permission from the UKBA to remain in the UK for the length stated on your passport which could be longer than 6 months.
Alex Hughes : I have looked at the possible visas available to a US citizen. The only permission that fits your purposes is tourism and unfortunately only 6 months can be granted.